Solved: No wireless and weird CPU usage on Toshiba Satellite Pro P300

This was a brand new P300 out of the box. Customer wanted XP on it, so we re-imaged it with the supplied recovery CDs and took it back from Vista to XP.

And wireless networking stopped working. It has an Intel Wifi Link 5100 card, which is definitely new enough, but 99% of the time it could see no wireless networks, and the few moments it could detect them, it couldn’t connect to them.

The strangest thing was the reported CPU usage – Task Manager reported the SYSTEM process to be using 20-40% CPU, all the time, yet the System Idle process was sitting at 99% as well.

Yes, I realise those numbers don’t add up. That’s what it was doing. I wish I’d had time to get a screenshot.

Same as with the Acer laptop a couple of weeks ago, I loaded Process Explorer and found the same old Deferred Procedure Call hog. Like the Acer, disabling a certain device made the problem go away; in the case of the Toshiba, it was the wireless card.

Toshiba Australia told me to re-image it with the recovery CDs again, and if the problem still occurred, to contact our supplier for warranty. Only after going through that process again and calling our distributor were we told there was a known problem with the P300s running Windows XP involving wireless, and the fix for it is updating the BIOS to the latest version.

Toshiba’s AU page is here, and it uses such a weird URL structure I don’t think I can give a direct link to the download page. It’s not that hard though – Support on the left, Drivers, BIOS, Utilities, Software in the middle, Notebooks -> Satellite Pro -> P300-(PSPCxA) depending on your exact model – first two links are Windows-based BIOS flashers, depending on whether you’re using 32 or 64 bit Windows.

I updated the BIOS, handed it to the customer, everything’s all good now. Don’t forget hardware-fault-looking problems on brand new hardware might be fixable with a BIOS update – even and especially on laptops where the problem device isn’t actually a component of the motherboard!

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