Help needed from new XPS owners: Report serious BIOS bug to Dell

Discussion in 'Dell XPS and Studio XPS' started by stackPointer2.0, Nov 7, 2015.

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  1. stackPointer2.0

    stackPointer2.0 Notebook Consultant

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    I am not sure if this is a bug that also applies to the new XPS 13 but I think XPS 13 users should check to see if they have it. I would strongly suggest users here spend the time to check for this since it is in our best interests to get Dell to fix this if it is a real issue. I am confident it is a problem with the XPS 15.

    Essentially the problem has to do with the CPU frequency getting capped at a much lower speed than what the processor is actually rated for. This happens every time on my XPS 15 when you unplug your AC connector and re-plug it. This will greatly reduce the speed of your computer and reduce your user experience.

    To see if you have it, do the following:
    Connect your laptop to the power and reboot. I have found that if you start out connected to the power and you reboot, everything should work properly.

    Set your power policy to "High performance" and/or run your favorite benchmark like Geekbench, CPU-Z, etc
    This is just meant to stress the CPU to get the frequency up. You can also use the benchmark to get an idea of your current performance. While this is going on, open up the task manager and look at the reported CPU speed. On my machine this tends to be about 3.3-3.5 GHz.

    Now unplug the power after a few moments you should see the CPU frequency level out at some level that is lower than what you previously saw (about 2.57 Ghz on my machine). This is to be expected as the machine wants to conserve battery life.

    Now plug your system back into the power, now you would expect things to return to what you originally saw but instead the CPU will get stuck at some much lower frequency and won't be able to return to normal unless you sleep and wake up the system or reboot it all together. I find in this situation my CPU is stuck at 1.67 GHz, dramatically lower than where it should be.

    This is an unacceptable bug with the Dell BIOS/Firmware since we are paying money to get a high end Intel CPU but we are getting the performance of a much lower processor. If other users can confirm this, I think we need to report it to Dell. Hopefully they already know.

    Evidence of the fact that the firmware is limiting the CPU EVEN while on AC power can also be found in the event viewer in Windows:
    "The speed of processor 6 in group 0 is being limited by system firmware. The processor has been in this reduced performance state for 70 seconds since the last report."
     
  2. othersteve

    othersteve Notebook Evangelist

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    Similar BIOS issues exist with the Latitude E7440 laptops in my experience. It isn't a constant and pressing issue in that situation; the machine must be heavily stressed and get quite hot normally for the permathrottle to be introduced. However the issue has never been completely resolved in the instances where I've encountered it. Some of my clients received board replacements from Dell and it fixed their problem.

    Hopefully in this situation a board replacement will not be necessary, and perhaps a mere BIOS update would suffice.

    Can you run ThrottleStop and force it back to normal Turbo frequencies?
     
  3. stackPointer2.0

    stackPointer2.0 Notebook Consultant

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    Yep ThrottleStop can be used to bring the CPU back up to any supported frequency but it no longer will scale with load like it usually does, so this would kill your battery pretty quickly at high frequency.

    FYI all you have to do to induce this "perma throttle" is to unplug the power and plug it back in, it is very easy to induce.

    I am almost certain that this is simply a bug in the BIOS and can be fixed with a bios update, my main concern is whether or not Dell knows about it. Dell potentially won't do anything about it unless we users complain about it and this is the kind of problem that less technical and less attentive users may not even realize exists. I have had a very similar problem in a previous HP laptop and HP never issued a single bios update for that laptop, I really don't want Dell to do that. If Dell does not acknowledge the problem soon, I might consider returning this laptop even though I love everything else about it just because I don't think we should have to put up with such problems after paying such a large amount for a premium product.
     
  4. AliasZ

    AliasZ Notebook Enthusiast

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    Was able to successfully reproduce the error, don't know why this isn't getting any attention. Where/who should I file a report to to make sure this gets the most attention?
     
  5. stackPointer2.0

    stackPointer2.0 Notebook Consultant

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    Yeah I've been complaining about this in the other thread but not sure why most users aren't taking it seriously. We are all paying for these expensive Intel i5s and i7s and are sometimes getting sub-i3 performance, it is unacceptable for Dell to leave things in this state but I'm worried they will ignore it unless some people complain about it. I also noticed that if you repeatedly unplug the system and plug it back in all while keeping the CPU loaded, you can induce some system lock ups (which seem to last about 10+ seconds and then eventually recovers). I have already tested these problems on two separate XPS 15s and am fairly confident that the source of the problems is indeed the BIOS, which needs an update.

    There is obviously some work to be done as far as fixing the BIOS and Dell has released it in an incomplete state. I am trying to figure out what the best way to inform Dell is, but I'm not sure. I think talking to their tech support would be a waste of time since they are unlikely to understand this very well. Anyone have suggestions?
     
  6. Annihil

    Annihil Notebook Guru

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    I will test that asap, by the way, what is your BIOS version ?
    Have you install the v1.0.3 from here ?

    Have you tried another OS ?
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  7. othersteve

    othersteve Notebook Evangelist

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    I will mention this to my colleagues at Notebookcheck to try and ensure it receives attention/exposure if it still exists.
     
    flashheart8 likes this.
  8. jedolley

    jedolley Notebook Evangelist

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    Are you using the Dell Power Companion? I remember there being a similar issue on the XPS 13, but this only occurred when using the Power Companion.
     
  9. stackPointer2.0

    stackPointer2.0 Notebook Consultant

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    Yes I have flashed that BIOS from the dell support page, it is actually an older bios than what shipped with the laptop. The actual timestamp on this BIOS (not the date listed on the website) is 9/28/2015. Basically I ended up downgrading and I have no way to upgrade until Dell posts the latest BIOS update on their website.

    Unfortunately the issue exists in both BIOS versions. I have not tried another OS.
     
  10. stackPointer2.0

    stackPointer2.0 Notebook Consultant

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    No, I am not using it. Just a direct AC connection to the wall using the provided power adapter.

    Much appreciated, thank you.
     
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