I posted this in a thread reporting on the same issues, but was requested to post it as a new question instead.
Ever since I got my Dell XPS 15 9550 (almost 2 years ago), I have noticed Windows 10 animations lag (minimize/maximize animations, resize, task view, ...) and Google Chrome runs even slower, becoming unusable at times. As per the thread linked above, I was hopeful to read about the Falls Creator's update resolving this issue for some (UPDATE: problem persists after Spring update). Unfortunately, I notice no difference on my computer. I have had a motherboard replacement, a screen replacement, and a full laptop replacement by Dell, followed up most recently now with an audio card replacement. Nothing has changed.
Judging from the information you can find online and the feedback from Intel and Dell support, this seems either to be a rare problem or people generally don't care. For example, in none of the XPS 15 reviews this problem is mentioned, although I have seen it firsthand on 4 laptops of the same model (my original laptop, the one with the motherboard replaced, the full replacement, and a similar model from a friend). However, this is definitely not an isolated issue!
Some sources mentioning this issue:
- I've posted this resize issue also on Microsoft Feedback Hub: https://aka.ms/Fjuwtk Probably most important observation here is: "It is only windows which near about 3/4th of the full 4k size (3840x2160) which stutter when maximizing."
- ... There might be more sources I can try to dig up based on my searches in the past, if this could be of any help.
Reproducible issues (Still persists July 21th 2018)
The following issues are not 'showstoppers' when considered in isolation. I merely list them since they are easy to reproduce and are indicative of the overarching problem: the Intel HD 530 graphics card (and possibly others) are unable to run Windows 10 smoothly in 4k, to the degree where I prefer to work on a (cheaper) non-4k system.
1. Opening up Task View on 4k always has reduced performance compared to full HD
Steps to reproduce: press WinKey-Tab repeatedly while several application windows are open.
In the following video, a 4k laptop (XPS 15 9550) is positioned on the left, and a full HD laptop (Lenovo T460s) is positioned on the right: XPS 15 repeated task view - YouTube
The 4k laptop only has a couple of windows open (file Explorer), whereas the Lenovo is running two instances of Visual Studio, IntelliJ, multiple Chrome instances, etc ... (my 'typical' work environment). Still, as can be seen, the animation shown when opening the task view (press Windows-Tab repeatedly) lags immensely on the 4k laptop compared to the full HD laptop. From this, I conclude this is not a performance degradation due to the system being under heavy load, but likely a bottleneck due to screen resolution. In an actual work environment (where I replicate the setup of the Lenovo on the XPS), 'every day' window management (dragging windows, resizing windows, switching virtual desktops) simply becomes unbearable.
2. Scrolling in list view of Windows explorer lags and maxes out GPU
Steps to reproduce:
- Open up a Window explorer window.
- Open up several folders in the list view on the left hand side so that there is a considerable region through which can be scrolled. E.g., open up "C:\Windows\System32".
- Open up the task manager, and select the "Performance" tab.
- Scroll in the list view using a touchpad (this might be related to XPS 15 9550's touchpad drivers specifically, although I have no clue where they are located or who is responsible for them, or why it would impact GPU performance).
You can notice there is an immense delay. The view continues to scroll seconds after the scroll action has been initiated while the Intel GPU spikes. To further demonstrate this is a bottleneck related to the GPU and somehow related to screen resolution:
- Resize the list view so it takes up half of the screen
- Scroll again.
This is demonstrated after another short 'task view' demonstration in this video: Windows explorer maxes out GPU when scrolling - YouTubeThe scroll operation is now even slower, lasting over 10 seconds, and the GPU spikes to 100%.
3. Scrolling in some applications is unacceptably slow for a high-end system
Steps to reproduce:
- Open a single Chrome window.
- Open a Microsoft Edge window.
- Place them side-by-side so they fill up half of the screen each.
- Scroll in both windows one after the other (or compare scrolling smoothness to a full HD system)
You can see that Microsoft Edge scrolls smoothly (as one would expect), whereas Chrome lags: Chrome vs Edge scrolling on 4k - YouTubeThis issue is exacerbated when Chrome runs in full screen. I am still uncertain why some applications are impacted whereas others are not, but Chrome seems to be the worst. However, even the built-in File explorer in Windows lags. Same test with Edge and Explorer here: 4k scrolling file explorer vs edge - YouTube
4. Window animations of larger windows are less smooth than window animations of smaller windows
Steps to reproduce:
- Open a window and resize it so it takes up less than 1/4th of the screen.
- Open a window and near-maximize it (not maximized, this facilitates triggering the animation repeatedly)
- For each, minimize and restore repeatedly by pressing WinKey-Up, WinKey-Down.
You can see the animation of the small windows is smooth as expected (same as maximized windows on full HD laptops), whereas the near-maximized window has a reduced framerate: Resizing small vs big windows 4k - YouTubeIn the video I only have Chrome and Edge open (and in this case it is Edge which lags, just to demonstrate it is not application-specific). Similarly, resizing small applications is smooth, whereas the larger you make the window, the more the resizing operation 'slows down'. Even simply dragging larger windows around on the desktop is less smooth than smaller windows (less visible in the following video, but try it out for yourself!): Dragging big window vs small - YouTubeAgain, this is indicative of a bottleneck. This might look minor here, but becomes (unpredictably/irregularly) worse during normal system operation where more windows/virtual desktops are open. One thing which is interesting to note (but might be totally coincidental), the 'threshold' where animations seem to slow down seems to be windows which exceed full HD resolution (1/4th the size of 4k); they thus don't even need to be near-maximized.
5. Some games run smooth in windowed mode, yet rendered at the same resolution, stutter when full screen
Games tested on: Teslagrad, OxenfreeSteps to reproduce:
- Open task manager so that you can view load of both GPUs
- The dedicated GPU should be used to render the game. If this is not the case, configure the executable to run using the dedicated graphics card in the NVIDIA control panel.
- Run one of the tested games in windowed mode, rendered at full HD
- Press alt-enter
A reduced/irregular framerate can be observed in full screen compared to maximized: Games: simple game (Teslagrad at 1080p) - YouTube
More interestingly, you should be able to see that the dedicated GPU is used to render the game (GPU1 in my case), but the integrated graphics card (GPU0) is maxing out regardless. (will add a screenshot soon of Oxenfree)
A 'solution' is to change the resolution of the laptop to full HD prior to launching the game. In this case everything runs smooth.
Although I personally can see the reduced framerate by looking at the video, I know it may be hard to see. Again, let me instead highlight the fact that there is a bottleneck. As shown at the end of the video 'GPU Copy' operations spike tremendously in full screen compared to windowed mode. In addition, the game does not always run as smooth as shown in the video, at some points 'responsiveness' of input was entirely gone and the framerate would (irregularly) drop to 10-15 fps or so.
I don't play a lot of games, and mostly non-demanding ones like point-and-click games. Yet, I notice these heat up the laptop unnecessarily much. In case you want to replicate, I suspect trying the same with any game/application made in the Unity engine might have the same effect, regardless of what is rendered by the dedicated GPU.
6. Random delays, quirks and rendering errors, particularly in Chrome
Unfortunately not a reproducible issue, but to give one example of where all of these earlier listed issues culminate in a totally unusable system (and why this is not just me bitching about small reduced framerates), this is me trying to use Trello in Chrome: Chrome at its worst on Dell XPS 15 9550 - YouTube
I found the answer on the Super User post interesting:
I've since added a second ram module, to have the ram operate in dual channel mode now. The animations have improved on the 4k laptop monitor so much so that the choppiness is virtually gone!
He has since reported in the end the problems still occur, but perhaps Intel support can provide more insights into whether/how much of a difference this could make?
I currently have 1X16GB. Is there any chance buying another 16GB stick would make any difference? By now, is it known where the bottleneck is coming from? To me (judging on the maximize animation only stuttering above a certain resolution), it could be related to memory size where no big enough buffers are available (or allocated) in the operating system. Using hWinfo, I can tell the Intel HD 530 card currently is allocated 1GB of RAM, which unfortunately I can not change to be more from the Dell BIOS to try out this theory.
Another user mentioned that the main problem is with Windows 10 and that things supposedly run fine on Kubuntu. I will try switching from Windows to Linux next.
Above all, I am interested in hearing whether these issues can be replicated (by either Intel, or other users on this site). Are they related to my specific hardware, and have I perhaps been unlucky with all the computers I have gotten so far? Or, am I doing things which most people don't or are not bothered by?