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Laptop XP CPU Usage/Slowness problem

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It's a Dell Latitude C400. I don't remember checking the task manager.
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The Skeptic

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I don't know where the problem is but my opinion is that it's something that is related to the system not working well after warming up. My first suspicion goes to the video card. It's very possible that the video processor is faulty. Another possibility is the main cpu. Maybe the cpu itself or the cache memory act unstable when warming up.

It could be the battery or charger. Try to work wiithout the charger. Try to work with the charger alone.

It could be the ram. Try to run Microsoft memory diagnostic tool for at least two hours and see if there are any errors. (a link in my signature).

It could be the hard disk. Run a thorough test with the disk's manufactirer diagnostic tool (you have to create bootable CD to run it in DOS mode).

Practically it can be any chip or lead on the printed circuits (North/south chipset, busses, cmos, almost anything). If the battery/charger, ram, HD tests end without problems then you have a motherboard/cpu problem.
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