Thanks for the idea, I did try the updated BIOS but no effect. It ended up being the strangest thing although it makes sense after I think about it. I had left it on all night running some bench tests. I had been using it on battery for a while before I left it plugged in. When I checked it out the next morning I noticed the battery was still in a charging status -- red flag! I shut it down, pulled the battery and restarted it. Guess what? No more performance issues! It never even occurred to me to check out the battery. It makes sense it would do that if it were, say, sucking over half the input power for a terminal downward spiral charge... how could the processor possibly operate at full capacity when the battery's eating up its power? Thanks everyone.