Why Is My New Laptop So Slow? What You Can Do About It

This is an issue I’ve seen come up way more often than I would like. Someone buys a new laptop in good faith, and it’s as slow or worse compared to a laptop that’s a few years old.

The leading causes of a slow new laptop are bloatware, a slow primary drive, underpowered CPU or RAM, inadequate pagefile size, too many programs that load at startup, or insufficient cooling that causes CPU throttling.

To get a more detailed list accompanied with fixes, continue reading this article. It will provide you with lots more helpful information.

It’s a sad day when someone reaches out to me that complains about a brand new laptop that is frustratingly slow and doesn’t know what to do about it.

My number one suggestion is if you have recently purchased it and it falls within the date range for return, get your money back as fast as possible (or exchange it for a better model).

You have paid your hard-earned dollars for an insufficient product. Even an entry-level model shouldn’t be that slow that it causes concern or frustration.

a woman looking at a new laptop in a store

Common causes of a brand new laptop performing badly

Here are some common causes of a new laptop running like an old device from five years ago.

Some issues you can attempt to fix yourself, while others are out of your hands, and you have a slim chance of getting it resolved.

Remove bloatware

bloatware text with binary code representing software

Laptops are likely loaded full of software that you will never use, called bloatware. I feel that companies should be changing this, but the problem doesn’t seem to be going away.

You can go through and uninstall all the apps you are sure you would never use.

Common examples of bloatware

Anti Virus software

Windows Defender, the antivirus included with Windows for free, does adequately. There is no need for extra software unless you do something out of the ordinary. Manufacturers sometimes have trial versions or short-term paid-for offerings.

If you are having problems turning Windows Defender off after installing other antivirus or firewall software, I wrote this article to help you keep Defender turned off.

Spammy looking toolbars:

These kinds of toolbars can also indicate that your system might be infected with malware, viruses, spyware, or some other malicious software.

Install a program called Malware Bytes. Just use the free version for this occasion.

Run a scan and once you have removed all the harmful infections from your system, uninstall it to prevent any further drain on your system.

For the rest of them, go into the Settings app and select Apps. You can open the Settings app by opening the Start Menu and clicking on the gear icon.

Go through the list and find the corresponding names of the toolbar you want to remove, and uninstall it.

You can do this by selecting the item and clicking on the Uninstall button.

Browser add ons:

No matter your browser, go into the browser settings and find add-ons or extensions.

Find any extension or add-on that you don’t want and remove it.

If you get a little stuck, perform a Google search on doing this for your specific browser.

Manufacturer-specific:

There are loads of software packages that manufacturers install as proprietary software but are not needed in the slightest.

Open the Settings app once again and select Apps. Uninstall everything to do with your laptop manufacturer’s name.

Get rid of all of it in one fell swoop

Another option is to perform a clean installation of Windows from the Microsoft website. Then, download their Media Creation tool for Windows 10 or 11 to put the necessary installation files onto a USB drive.

Just make sure that any important files or emails are backed up before doing this.

After that, hit F12 as you power up your laptop to select the USB drive with Windows on it to start the installation process. Again, there are plenty of videos on YouTube about this.

Too many programs running at startup

how to disable a startup program in windows task manager

This is very common. Some programs are set to run every time you start up your computer.

Having too many programs run on startup is one of the most common causes of a computer running slowly.

It is especially true when it comes to a significant contributor to slow boot speeds.

This list of programs can get long very quickly.

So here’s how to get things under control:

  1. Open the Task Manager. Do this by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc, or by right-clicking on the Start button and selecting Task Manager.
  2. Click on the Startup tab.
  3. Disable all apps that you don’t need at startup by right-clicking on one at a time and selecting Disable.

Check the primary drive

a 2.5-inch notebook HDD with a m.2 SSD next to it

The primary drive, otherwise known as the operating system drive, is vital for performance.

You cannot have a slow drive for this, nor a full one.

Ensure there is enough disk space on it, which is most likely to be the situation given that it’s a new laptop. But if this isn’t the case, delete what you can to free up some space.

We need to determine what kind of hardware is present as your primary drive.

There are two camps they can fall into:

  1. Mechanical hard drives (HDD).
  2. Solid state drives (SSD).

To find out what type of drive you have installed, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Windows Task Manager.
  2. Click on the Performance tab to select it.
  3. Look at the Disk with (C:) next to it. Just under the Disk number and (C:) there will wither be SSD or HDD listed there.

If your laptop has an HDD or mechanical hard drive, I recommend that you change it to an SSD by getting it replaced.

Please understand that not all mechanical hard drives are slow. But the HDDs supplied with new laptops generally tend to be of poor quality and perform poorly.

What to do if you already have an SSD

Just because an SSD is installed doesn’t always mean your laptop is destined for lightning-fast speeds.

Sometimes poor-performing SSD can be supplied with a new laptop, making things less desirable in the speed department.

Use a software solution called HW Monitor to determine the make and model of your drive.

Once you have found your solid-state drive, look at the temperatures and ensure that it’s not exceeding 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celcius).

My suggestion is to take action if your temperatures are close to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celcius). It takes a slight change in only a few variables to send the temperature up more.

If this is the case, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer’s support to resolve it. After that, you could replace it with something that can operate a little cooler as a last resort.

Reduce laptop heat

a woman with overheating laptop

Heat is also a widespread problem that plagues new laptops.

Some reasons for a new laptop overheating include:

  1. A poor design.
  2. Inferior quality thermal paste.
  3. Using your laptop on a bed or similar surface.
  4. Your laptop is in contact with direct sunlight while it’s turned on.

Contrary to what many people think, a laptop shouldn’t be used directly on your lap or any material or uneven surface.

There are intake vents under your laptop essential for the cooling system to perform its duty effectively.

Obstructing these intake vents can dramatically increase your laptop’s temperature, bringing your CPU speed to a crawl.

You can purchase a laptop cooling pad to help with the cooling problem and improve conditions for your laptop to operate on your bed or anywhere else.

Another thing, make sure that you are using the correct power adapter for your laptop to ensure the machine is getting the power it needs to function correctly.

Underpowered CPU or not enough RAM

two SO DIMM ram modules used in laptops

This can happen when purchasing a laptop at the lowest price possible.

Not only this, coupled with old stock being sold from a store, you have the recipe for underpowered hardware.

Tip: Be careful buying a virtually new laptop from someone trying to sell it second hand. It’s a good chance that the performance isn’t up to standard and they want to get rid of it to make it someone else’s problem.

CPU

If you have bought a laptop model with an underpowered CPU, there is precious little you can do. My advice is to try and return it as quickly as possible from the time of purchase.

An underpowered CPU will cause a permanently slow computer and deliver a poor user experience with no way to improve it.

There isn’t a way to upgrade the CPU to increase processing power with most laptops.

RAM

Now, this is something you can do something about.

Check the amount of random-access memory (RAM) by opening Windows Task Manager. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc on your keyboard, or right-click the Start button (the Windows icon that opens your Start Menu) and select Task Manager.

You may need to see more options by clicking on More details and resizing the window a little larger after opening the Task Manager for the first time.

Click on the Performance tab, and proceed to click on Memory.

The total amount of RAM will be displayed under Memory (the figure before the percentage used) or at the top right corner above the usage graph.

If you have a total of 8GB or less, I recommend installing more RAM (at least 16GB) to help speed your laptop up.

It’s incredible what extra RAM can provide in terms of performance when upgrading it from an insufficient amount.

Check your pagefile configuration

choose windows to manage all the pagefiles

Having enough virtual memory is essential. However, it should be correctly set by default unless someone has tampered with your laptop.

But to make sure, open your pagefile settings by:

  1. Open the Control Panel. To do this, Open the Start Menu and search for Control Panel and click on it.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Then select System.
  4. Click on Advanced system settings.
  5. Select the Advanced tab in the System Properties window.
  6. Click on the Settings button under the Performance area.
  7. Select the Advanced tab.
  8. Under Virtual memory click on the Change button.

Ensure that the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives is checked.

Double-check that the Currently allocated amount is 1.5X your total RAM amount or more.

If it isn’t, remove the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives checkbox option and manually set your C: drive to a paging file size of 1.5X your total RAM amount.

You will be prompted to restart your computer after successfully making the change.

When browsing or internet is slow

While the cause of this is most likely something to do with your home network, there are still a few things to check to optimize WiFi speed.

Check your WiFi signal strength

Make sure that your WiFi signal strength is sufficient. Here is a simple way to help determine if there are any problems caused by where you use your laptop.

Move your laptop closer to the router

To rule out the possibility of your router not having a powerful enough signal from your location, sit in the same room as your WiFi router to establish any signal strength improvement or any WiFi performance increase.

Distance isn’t the only factor. Walls containing certain materials can contribute to signal strength decay.

Even a plain, typical wall does the same, so too many of them obstructing in between your laptop and the router can also cause an attenuated signal strength.

Run a speed test for your internet to confirm any changes in speed once you have relocated into the same room as your router.

Get in contact with your internet service provider

To help solve slow internet issues, contact your internet service provider. They can often put you onto someone who can help walk you through some steps to solve the problem.

This often involves restarting your router, but sometimes they can suggest more things to try beyond that.

Another good suggestion is to move your WiFi signal channel on your router to another one that is less congested by neighbors.

Too many programs running at once

Sometimes you may be in a position where you have a few programs running simultaneously that are using up bandwidth.

Check that you don’t have too many programs set to run at startup. To do this, open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and select the Startup tab.

Check through all the startup programs. Ensure that the ones set to Enabled in the Status column are important enough to run on every startup.

If not, right-click on the item you wish not to startup every time, and select Disable.

After that, click on the Performance tab of the Task Manager and click on the WiFi connection that seems active.

If the main graph stays almost full all the time, you have an active application that uses a lot of bandwidth.

If this is the case, select the Processes tab in the Task Manager.

Arrange everything to the heaviest network load application or service column by clicking on the Network heading. There will be a small arrow pointing downward once you have done this.

If the arrow points up, click it again to reverse its direction.

The programs or services at the top of the list will be the ones that are consuming the most of your internet bandwidth.

To stop any of these, right-click on it and select End task.

Also be aware, that your laptop does periodic Windows updates. You can see whether system updates are being downloaded and queued up for installation by opening the Settings app and clicking on Update & Security.

These automatic updates can happen anytime, so give your computer a chance to deal with these before letting your frustration mount.

Update your WiFi adapter’s driver

To make sure that your WiFi adapter is operating at its best, follow these steps:

  1. Take note of the model number of your laptop. It will most likely be written somewhere under it near the serial number.
  2. Visit the manufacturer’s website that made your laptop.
  3. Search for your model.
  4. Open the drivers area for your model.
  5. Download and install the latest WiFi adapter drivers.

This will go a long way to help your WiFi device to operate more stable and at peak performance.

Check the power saving settings

light bulbs on laptop screen representing power savings

It’s always a good idea to double-check that you have the correct power-saving settings and plan chosen.

Start by selecting the right power savings plan:

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Type power into the search box on the top right-hand corner.
  3. Click on Power Options.
  4. Select High performance if possible. Otherwise, select the Balanced power plan.

If you want any of these plans to be restored in Windows 10 or 11, enter the appropriate command into the Command Prompt (To open, right-click Start Menu Icon and select Command Prompt (Admin) or Powershell (Admin)):

Balanced

powercfg -duplicatescheme 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e

High Performance

powercfg -duplicatescheme 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c

Ultimate Performance (Windows 10 Build 17101 or later and Windows 11 only.)

powercfg -duplicatescheme e9a42b02-d5df-448d-aa00-03f14749eb61

Replace your WiFi adapter module

When these fixes haven’t helped, you can try replacing your WiFi adapter card inside your laptop.

You can find many good videos on YouTube showing you how to do this.

If you don’t feel confident doing this, send your laptop to a local repair shop and have them do it instead.

Make sure that you install the correct driver afterward to ensure proper operation of the newly added component.

Conclusion

I find it a common mistake to blame a laptop for being slow when it’s a WiFi or slow network causing the problem.

Make sure you know which problem you are facing before putting a ton of effort into solving the issue.

That being said, checking over the steps included here for solving your slow network speeds won’t hurt either.