Underpowered processor
August 30, 2005 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Laptop power management.

It's running on an Athlon 64 3200+, which as I understand (and correct me if I'm wrong), should run at around 2 ghz. It has some "power management" feature that causes the processor to slow down when the computer is inactive, but even when I'm charging it and running otherwise strenuous tasks, the most it'll run at is 1 ghz, and 500 mhz when running off the battery. Anyhow, for all the purported convenience of such a feature, the battery usually only lasts about an hour and a half when it's not charging. So, I haven't found a way to get the processor running at its full speed, but I'd appreciate it if anyone knew how to go about doing so.
posted by jimmy to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Have you looked at the Athlon Cool'n'Quiet software management utilities?
posted by Rothko at 9:35 PM on August 30, 2005

Hmm, neither the Cool'n'Quiet nor PowerNow! programs are compatible with the notebook, but the CPUInfo software on there just confirms my suspicions that it's only running at half its max speed.
posted by jimmy at 9:49 PM on August 30, 2005

Check the windows control panel for "Power Management" my IBM laptop has an "Advanced Settings" tab (Not just the "Advanced" tab) with CPU power management options. Which I can toggle between Automatic and Disable. Beyond this there's IBM software where you can define power schemes such as High Perfomance or Power Saver. Within this are settings for the CPU: Maximum, Adaptive, Slow, Very Slow. Your laptop may have a similar feature.
posted by borkencode at 1:13 AM on August 31, 2005

Run a program that will let you monitor the temperature readings. There are many such programs available, for windows you might try hmonitor.

If you find that your CPU temperatures are excessively high (60 - 70 degrees C or more) then your heatsink is probably gummed up with dust and hair. A bottle of compressed CO2 from the office supply store should be able to blow out all the gunk from the vents without taking anything apart. The chipset or control software will usually throttle CPU speed if it gets too hot, because this reduces the amount of heat generated. But if the vents and/or heatsink are blocked by junk, the CPU will not be able to maintain a low temperature.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:41 AM on August 31, 2005

This is a funtion of AMD's PowerNow software (their version of Intel's SpeedStep). You can turn it off by changing the Power Profile in the Power Settings Control Panel from Laptop to Always On. Use an third-party application to keep an eye on the temperature of your CPU, and use AMD Dashboard to check the true speed of the processor (the Windows reading is often wrong). If, after turning off PowerNow, you still don't get the expected cycles out of your processor, you may need to upgrade the BIOS and processor drivers for your laptop.
posted by benzo8 at 1:50 AM on August 31, 2005

It can be surprisingly difficult to peg a modern CPU to 100% usage. The most reliable way I've found is to run dnetc. Even then, it may not exercise the whole chip. Anyway try running that for awhile and see if your system runs at the speed you expect?
posted by Nelson at 2:20 AM on August 31, 2005

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