UPDATED: Dell owners complain of underperforming/overheating E6400/E6500 notebooks

Summary:It seems that some Dell Latitude notebooks fitted with E6400 and E6500 are suffering from underperforming and overheating issues.

It seems that some Dell Latitude notebooks fitted with E6400 and E6500 are suffering from underperforming and overheating issues.

The problem seems to date back to early this year and has been discussed on several forums (links via Slashdot). One banned (apparantly not banned) member of the Dell forum going by the name Tinkerdude went as far as to put together a 59 page report detailing the problem (download here). To make matters worse, some forum members are now claiming that Dell is censoring posts made to the forum, although I now believe these claims this to be completely false.

The problem, affectionately known as Throttlegate*, seems to cause the affected notebooks to have their performance throttled down to about 5% of their actual performance when running. Other owners are claiming that they their notebook won't ever got over 50% of the possible clock speed, no matter what the temperature. It's unclear what the cause of the problem is but it is likely that a BIOS update could clear up the problem.

Note: It's important to note that while this problem does appear to be widespread, it doesn't affect all E6400/E6500 notebooks.

At present there no official word or fix from Dell.

Over the past few hours I've heard from three people affected by this issue already. There folks seem to have worked the problem extensively with no success.

* I hate this "blank-gate" naming trend as much as you do, but I didn't come up with it.

Stay tuned for more information.

[UPDATE 2: It appears that one post relating to tinkerdude (Randall Cotton) was deleted, but that this was an issue relating to terms of service on the Dell forum (specifically the use of what tinkerdude calls "colorful language") rather than an attempt at covering up a problem. tinkerdude has writeup of what happen here, which also clarifies the issue relating to his account being banned. Extending to tinkerdude/Randall Cotton the right to reply, I now repost his comments on the Dell forum verbatim below:

--------------------------------------------------------

Regarding censorship and banishment for this thread in particular and the forum in general:

In recent days, Dell has been criticized on news sites and blogs for reported censorship and/or banishment regarding my posts on the ongoing throttling issue (the topic of this thread).

Some of you may remember that all three of my attempts to post a detailed report about this issue were censored by Dell when I first started looking into this back in July.

A short summary of that effort is here:

The stated reason for the first rejection was: "Your post contains language that we believe reveals non-public information about Dell or another company or person", though the specific offending text was not cited. I replied to the rejection notice, saying "Please specify which prohibited item of information I included so that I may avoid this in the future". I received no response.

For the second rejection, the stated reason was different: "Prohibited words and phrases include those in which certain letters have been replaced with alternate characters", though again, the offending text was not identified.

Now, it's true I used mildly colorful language that was slightly altered (for example, something like "blasted" with a "*" instead of the "a" - I can't use the real examples since this message would probably get censored 8-), so I replaced all those instances that might remotely be prohibited to read "<censored>" instead and resubmitted for the third time. This time, I never even got a rejection notice - it just never appeared in the forum (though everyone subscribed to receive posts by email apparently got a copy). If you want to see what I really said, see this PDF - it's all pretty tame.

After that, I gave up trying to post critical technical reports to this forum - why would I waste the substantial time required with an outcome like that?

So yes, those postings were censored in their entirety with only vague boilerplate justifications (or none at all), and my request for an identification of offending text was apparently ignored.

Now, this is consistent with and can provide the appearance of a deliberate attempt by Dell to prevent that critical and embarrassing information from appearing on their own site. It doesn't prove any such thing, of course, but it certainly leaves the door open to speculation that Dell decided to use vague, subjective criteria as an excuse to censor the information in its entirety and when faced with a request for explanation and persistent attempts to repost, to just ignore me until I gave up (which I did, posting the information elsewhere).

So that's a bad appearance.

Now, somewhere along the line it seems that based on what happened, someone jumped to the conclusion (and it was reported in multiple places) that I was banned from posting in this forum, which is not true. It is true that in both of the 2 rejection notices I received, I was threatened with this (by boilerplate text, probably, which said "Please keep in mind that continued violations of the Terms of Service may cause you to lose your posting privileges"). However, I was not banned.

With all the criticism in the blogosphere, Dell is jumping into action. They are rightly concerned about their reputation and they don't like this bad appearance (and the false accusation of banishment). I know this because I received a conference call this afternoon from several Dell folks who, it's fair to say, were bending over backwards to address this matter of censorship/banishment. They attempted to provide more specific, convincing justifications for my censored posts. Here they are:

1. Claim: the first post attempt was rejected because I included my own service request number (for the support case I filed with Dell). That was the "non-public information about Dell or another company or person" that was prohibited. This would carry a lot more weight if I had been revealing someone *else's* service request number. I don't find this justification to be compelling.

2. Claim: the second post attempt (which did NOT include my service request number) was rejected because of the "prohibited words" that I softened with "alternate characters". This is more compelling. It's tough to comply when you're not told what it was you wrote that's "prohibited", but other than that, I have no argument with this.

3. Claim: the third post attempt (which did NOT include either my service request number or "alternate character" "prohibited words") was rejected because I had substituted for the "alternate character" "prohibited words" with "<censored>". They valiantly tried to equate <censored> (yes, the word "censored" in brackets) as just another form of an "alternate character" "prohibited word". I found that premise exceedingly tenuous and, well, unconvincing. And I think I'm being charitable there.

They were eager to convince me that deliberate censorship due to the critical and embarrassing content of my post did not take place at all. Well, as they say, the horse is already out of the barn on that one - this all happened 5 months ago and the appearance is what it is - I don't see how we'll ever know whether there was any deliberate action (or convenient inaction) to censor this due to its embarrassing content.

But at least they agreed to finally post the thing. I asked them to post my last (third) attempt as it would have appeared (with a date of July 2nd, way back in the record), had it not been censored (with minor editing they wanted to take out the string "<censored>" wherever it appeared.) So, yes, it's now finally on this site at:

http://en.community.dell.com/forums/p/19247293/19512317.aspx#19512317

Now, keep in mind that this first report is dated and has since been superseded by my much more comprehensive 59-page report, now hosted at a high-speed mirror.

Regardless, finally posting this does help Dell's image as they try to recover from this.

Finally, I offered some counsel to the Dell folks I talked to. I told them that if they want to avoid this bad appearance in the future:

1. Why not just remove or substitute for "prohibited words" and send posts on through.

AND/OR

2. If they're going to reject posts in their entirety, at least they should identify what the specific offending text was.

Time will tell if they take that to heart.

Randall Cotton (aka tinkerdude)]

[UPDATE: Three updates. First, we have a TalkBack by Dell's Lionel Menchaca letting us know that Dell are on the case.

Secondly, tinkerdude does not seem to be a banned member on Dell's community forum (profie link here, requires registration).

Finally, according to a Dell spokesperson, posts from the forum are only deleted if they violate terms of service. Based on this assurance, and my experience of the Dell community I now firmly believe that claims stating that posts relating to this issue were deleted by Dell to be a totally untrue (but see UPDATE 2 above).]

Topics: Hardware, Dell, Laptops, Mobility

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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