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So the other day a dude I work with, Sam, told me I should up the refresh rate on the 2nd monitor I have set up at work which I connect my Dell Inspiron 9400 17” laptop to. So, being the curious geeky always-wanting-better performance customizer that I am, I happily obliged. And all seemed well…
A few days later things started going south. After a few hours of normal use, the CPU use jumped up to 100% and didn’t show any signs of subsiding.
I fiddled around as best I could on a system running at top speed (which ironically slows it down to a crawl), killing processes and frantically trying to ascertain what could possibly be causing such slowdown but alas, I could find no reason or rhyme.
Looking through the Task Manager I could find no process using anywhere near 100% of the CPU so I figured it must have been something else. I even downloaded Process Explorer from Microsoft TechNet, which provides detailed information on processes and other information, but could still find no culprit!
After several days of this kind of behaviour from my computer and hours spent on troubleshooting, I remembered that I upped the refresh rate on the monitor and figured that could be a possible cause.
Turning down the refresh rate helped, but the PC continued to experience slowdowns. I got the bright idea to turn off the dual monitor support and that stopped the CPU drain completely. So I’m left to conclude that the video card on my little beast is dying.
Luckily, a quick review of my Dell warranty plan revealed that I still have over 6 months warranty left! So I emailed them today telling them about my problem. Hopefully, they’ll come around and get it fixed this week so I can do some actual work.
UPDATE: So I called Dell Tech Support today since they hadn’t gotten back to me yet and explained the problem in more detail to the thickly-accented, presumably Indian lady at the other end of a very crackly and degraded line.
After several long alternating periods of explaining and waiting on hold she returned with the news that a technician would be contacting me to arrange an appropriate time to install a new CPU fan on the lappy.
While I found it a little strange at the time that a CPU fan could be to blame, on hindsight it makes some sense but I really hope that’s actually it. She said to make sure the problem was fixed before I let the technician leave, so I’m going to have to try it out for a while with some CPU intensive tasks. I’ll have to see what I can come up with.