LisaRCT: Thank you very much for joining the Intel® Rapid Storage Technology communities. We will do our best in order to try to fix this problem.
Once you enter Task Manager please identify which is the program or application that is causing the high utilization of the hard drive while you open them. There are some cases when this problem is related to a specific program or even a virus.
We can try to re-install the Intel® RST to version 14.8:
Please provide the system report from RST:
Please install the SSU tool (System Support Utility):
Once you do that, the tool will allow you to save the information as a file, so, once you save it, please attach it to this thread, in order for us to see it.
Also, you can always run a tool to test the hard drive just to rule out a possible problem with it.
Any further questions, please let me know.
Regarding Task Manager and offending software:
I had been monitoring the Task Manager often to try to isolate the problem. Since I often work with audio files (conversion, tagging, renaming and moving to proper folders, analyze audio, etc) in J.River Media Center I did spend time on their support forum trying to isolate a problem in their program, which was not found.
I also found other programs to be causing the hard drive to be used at high utilization percentages. Aside from Comodo Anti-Virus or MalwareBytes, I also observed the "System" using high drive utilization in the background. Often, while trying to open a folder it will appear empty while a blue progress bar creeps along as windows reads the drive for a minute or two before showing the contents. I have had less powerful computers that never acted in this fashion, especially while simply opening a folder in Explorer.
I have done a full restore returning the laptop to original factory setup, but continued to experience this same issue of slow drive access being the machine's 'choke point'. Removing or replacing the A/V program did NOT resolve this either.
I have questioned whether this is being caused by simply having a slow drive or if their is some other issue at work here. If I can determine for certain that the drive is at fault I am prepared to replace it with a faster drive.
I have not yet attempted this as this laptop is "not user serviceable" (has no access panels for drive or ram) so I am hesitant to disassemble it unless absolutely necessary as this may cause irreversible damage, however at this point I am considering doing so regardless.
LisaRCT: Thank you very much for providing those files. Based on the information on them, it seems to be all the parts are fully compatible including the Intel® RST version that is installed on the laptop.
As you mentioned the problem could be related to the hard drive itself, in order to confirm that without replacing it, the best thing to do will be to run a hard drive test using either HP utility or Toshiba utility. Also, to contact HP to get further suggestions on this subject will be a good thing to do as well:
Any questions, please let me know.