Computer help forum: Laptop running slow, choppy audio/video

by: MikeBradleyS January 17, 2012 4:47 PM PST

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Laptop running slow, choppy audio/video

by MikeBradleyS - 1/17/12 4:47 PM

I have a Toshiba Satellite A505 with an Intel Core 2 Duo at standard 2.10GHz and 4GBs of RAM, and over the past few months it's been getting worse and worse with anything dealing with audio or video. It seems like the CPU is being bottlenecked in some way or another because if I run any program that is CPU intensive it gradually begins to lose performance.

For example, if I open up Firefox and go to YouTube and try to watch a video in 720p, the video will eventually become extremely choppy (like 5-6 fps choppy) and the audio crackles badly. If I close the tab and open a new one and try to watch it again, it will do the same thing and Firefox will run slow until I completely close it (kill the process in Task Manager) and allow the CPU idle process to go back to 98-99%. I've watched the Plugin Container for Firefox's CPU load while watching videos and it randomly jumps between anywhere from 10%-60%.

It's not only Firefox, however. Any program (games, media player, Zune software) will slowly decrease in performance until it's pretty much no longer usable if it involves audio or video. Sometimes when trying to watch movies in WMP, the audio will become out of sync with the video due to the video framerate drastically dropping and the audio will also begin to crackle badly. It's impossible to simply listen to music with Zune because the audio is immediately crackly and slow. The only program I've found that I can safely listen to music or watch movies with without completely losing performance is iTunes, which is odd.

This is a new issue, which wasn't very noticeable at first, but it's gradually gotten worse to the point where it's a hassle to do anything on my laptop. Even Firefox with a single tab of Facebook open has trouble running smoothly with the scrolling sidebar now. The clock on the taskbar will also begin falling behind the longer the CPU is under a heavy load.

I've tried dusting and cleaning out the fans because I thought maybe the CPU was overheating, but I checked the BIOS and temperature and it holds a steady 40 degrees Celsius on average load, maybe peaking around 44 or 46, which isn't exactly too hot that it should be losing performance on the level it is. I've tried checking for Spyware, clearing caches, restarting, defragging, cleaning the registry, etc, all the conventional methods for speeding up a computer and nothing has helped.

It seems like this may possibly be an issue with something a Windows automatic update changed or possibly drivers, because I haven't had any of these issues until the past few months and I've never experienced this with any other computer or laptop I've owned.

I need help from someone with knowledge of PCs apparently beyond me, so any advice would be appreciated.

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