ThinkPad P52 sudden slowdown problem

There is an issue with the ThinkPad P52 where the CPU gets stuck at a low speed. This results in a sudden slowdown, the whole computer feels very slow.

Description of the slowdown problem

Both me and my colleague have bumped into the slowdown issue with the ThinkPad P52. I also got reports from other P52 users. It would seem at least the two top end CPUs are affected:

  • Intel i7-8850H
  • Intel Xeon E-2176M

I myself had it happen once, my colleague had it twice already. The thing goes like this:

The computer suddenly feels very slow to respond to anything. What you type appears with a long delay. The system reacts to your requests very slowly.

This can happen right after you logged in or woke your computer. Everything is working, just terribly slowly. Task Manager shows CPU activity, usually one or more cores are pinned at 100% as the computer desperately tries to do some things.

However, if you look at the CPU Performance tab, you will notice that the CPU speed is pinned at 0.78 Ghz. Even though the computer would like to do a lot of things, it cannot go faster.

I suspect this is some sort of thermal limit that gets stuck.


Make the computer sleep. Then wake it up. The CPU speed should now be back to normal, changing rapidly and constantly, as different workloads are thrown at it. (You can also opt to reboot)

More permanent solution 

Hopefully this will be fixed in a BIOS or driver update soon.

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8 Responses

  1. Svein Tore says:

    I’ve had this a couple of times too. But not yet this year.
    Same CPU. Very fun to start a multiplayer game and trying to finish it before sleep/wake process 🙂

  2. Samuli Partanen says:

    Thanks a lot! I have P52 with Intel i7-8850H and was wrestling with this problem for hours until I found this solution!

  3. Svein Tore says:

    Long time since it happened now, but I have discovered that unplugging power and plugging it back in also fixes it.

  4. Kari Vienola says:

    Thank God for this post. I was trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my laptop! The clock speed was stuck at 0.79 GHz. And you can add i7-8750H to the list of CPUs affected.

    • Lenard says:

      Hi Kari, glad the post helped. Try updating all your drivers and the BIOS as well – I have not seen the slowdown for some time now. Although none of the updates mention it, I suspect it has been fixed somewhere.

  5. Svein Tore says:

    The fix actually came yesterday.

    [Important updates]

    [New functions or enhancements]

    [Problem fixes]
    – Fixed the issue that system may perform low performance after resuming from

  6. Stanley says:

    As of May 2020 this was happening for me (P52 with i7-8850H, BIOS, drivers and Windows up to date) until I finally figured out the cause. The problem persisted after changing the BIOS thermal management settings for AC power to “maximize performance” as well as Windows power management settings.

    In Device Settings in Lenovo Vantage, Intelligent Cooling was turned off and set to “Cool and Quiet” – enabling Intelligent Cooling has completely stopped my CPU from being throttled to 0.78GHz.

  7. Svein Tore says:

    It still happens monthly, even while gaming, but my quickest fix is to unplug power and plug back in and it stops throttling.

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