A slow boot problem
Recently I was helping a friend with an older laptop running Windows 10 that seemed unusually slow to start.
Though Windows seemed nimble once it started, the boot and shutdown times felt excessively slow: minutes instead of the seconds it should take. And it wasn't like Windows itself was doing anything in this state either: the machine was silent, instead of the fans powering up, and there was just a black screen following the Windows logo.
Fortunately, with some frantic searching, I stumbled on a potential solution: the cause might be a particular AMD graphics problem, especially with two graphics cards, integrated and discrete. And the laptop I was looking at did indeed have AMD Radeon hardware.
ULPS is an initialism used by AMD to refer to Ultra Low Power State, and is the feature that can lead to this slow boot problem. As the name suggests, this is a power saving feature.
With the particular Windows install I was looking at, I didn't try updating drivers beyond those that were automatically found by Windows itself. However, reading around, the drivers may never have been fixed for legacy hardware anyway.
The fix I found was to disable this ULPS feature in the registry.
First, open the Windows Registry Editor. (In the Windows 10 search box, search for "regedit" and then run "Registry Editor"; I can't remember, but these edits may require you to be running the Registry Editor as administrator, so you may need to right-click on "Registry Editor" and then choose to run it as administrator.)
EnableULPS, set any
1 values to
0. There are also
EnableULPS_NA settings but I read conflicting reports of whether to
set these to
0 or not; in the end, only changing the
settings was sufficient to resolve this issue for the laptop I was
Hopefully, that should cure the problem. It's certainly a possibility that subsequently installed graphics drivers could reset these overrides and cause the symptom to recur, but, if that's the case, the problem is easy to spot.
After disabling ULPS, both booting and shutdown were much, much faster. The downside is that disabling ULPS may make the battery deplete more rapidly than if it were enabled. But the boot up and shutdown times were so slow without this fix that I think it's a necessary trade-off to make your PC usable day-to-day, should you require it.
There are other causes of a slow booting Windows installation, but if you are dealing with a slow starting PC with Radeon graphics, particularly with two display adapters, it's worth trying to update the drivers and, failing that, seeing if this fix works.