SmartByte Gives Videos More Bandwidth, Tells Windows Update to Take a Seat

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Isn't it the worst when you want to conduct a Skype call or watch a Netflix movie, but your computer often has other priorities? While you stare in disbelief at a grainy, low-res video feed or wait impatiently for buffering, Windows Update and Dropbox could be slurping bandwidth through an extra-wide straw. Enter SmartByte, a new software utility that will come preloaded on select Dell laptops and control which applications get priority connections and which ones can wait patiently for leftovers.

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Developed by Rivet Networks, the company behind the powerful Killer Networking Wi-Fi cards that appear in several Dell and Alienware laptops, SmartByte automatically detects when you're streaming video and gives that feed most of the available Internet connection.

The utility, which is enabled by default, works with both Intel and Realtek wireless chips. Systems with Killer Networking cards don't need SmartByte, because they already have network prioritization built-in, along with better reception overall.

Rivet Networks claims that in its lab tests, a laptop with a 10 Mbps Internet connection initially took 3 minutes and 59 seconds to play a 2-minute and 13-second movie trailer, because Windows Update was hogging so much bandwidth that the stream froze eight times. With SmartByte enabled, the video didn't freeze even once. 

In another test, the company says that a Skype video played at 320 x 180 resolution with SmartByte disabled and a much-higher, 960 x 540 with the utility turned on. The video call also went from having 13.6% of its data packets dropped to a near-zero error rate.

If you want SmartByte, you'll have to buy a new Dell system such as the Inspiron 27 7000, which comes with it preloaded. For now at least, Rivet Networks has no plans to make it available as a standalone utility.

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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9 comments
  • nomad13 Says:

    This software ruins the sound of my laptop I hear crackling on my dell laptop which was not there before. The problem is it keeps on installing every restart. I'll try the solution here:
    You can disable service SmartByte Network Service:

    Please go to Control Panel\ Administration Tools\ Service\ SmartByte Network Service\

    Click right mouse at "Automatic", then choose Properties, click: Disable in pop menu

  • John IL Says:

    Apparently not ever Dell user is happy with Smartbyte. Some claim it actually causes more network issues and disabling fixed them. Seems to me if you have a good connection and plenty of bandwidth this sort of feature really doesn't do much. Your router should be able to prioritize network traffic anyway. I use it on my Dell but haven't noticed any performance advantages with it, but I have a good router and decent ISP bandwidth. I've tried streaming video with and without Smartbyte with no significant differences. I guess for me, its neutral result and personally I would say its just another layer of potential problems that really serves little benefit.

  • JohnD Says:

    Good, it's just Dell-approved bloatware, the kind of crap we're accustomed to ruining our stuff.

  • Zacks Says:

    End up with BSOD .. bad mood ergg

  • Skandha Says:

    My dell 75xx laptop which on I've been using for about 3 years hung up and ended in BSOD all of a sudden on 10th July. I restarted add noticed they a application has been installed in my machine by Dell called "SmartByte devices and drivers". For the last 2 days my internet is terrible. My network service is stuck with the same DNS address (as it was at the time of installation) and doesn't change with change in networks. Unless I manually set a DNS internet doesn't work. Uninstalled this smart byte bullshit just now but no joy. This is the first time in facing such issues. Can someone help?

  • Jayson Says:

    My new Dell ethernet and wifi has been working slowest compared to Lenovo working superfast. Ethernet stops evert few minutes. Suffered for 6 months until found people talking about disabling SmartByte Network service. I just did, seems working, will test further.

  • Pauly Says:

    Have to agree to the first comments. Wifi speed is at about 100 Mbps for every laptop in my house, only my new dell suffered at around 3,5 Mbps!!! Tried so many things, even tested many possible solutions with the dell support for around 2 hours! Finally I found the tip to deactivate SmartByte Network Service and immediately the wifi speed was at expected speeds. Very poor...

  • EssFlo Says:

    Agree with Adrian!
    After realising how poor my internet speeds were, I spent a day googling and stuffing around with settings, resetting routers, network adapters, on the phone to ISP, all for nothing. At last i happened on another thread talking about other software (AMD) allegedly designed to speed up connections that was actually restricting it. I starting looking thru my preinstalled apps and came across smartbyte. A quick search and found this.... UNINSTALL THIS CRAP!!!

  • adrian smith Says:

    had issues with this software on my new Dell.
    Nearly out of the box i was getting poor connection speeds on Wi-Fi connections around one tenth of the speed, wired connections gave me full bandwidth. Took ages to discover the issue was down to smartbytes software being enabled by default. nearly a week to diagnose the issue and find the cause by accident when checking all pre-installed software. Turn it off and wi-fi connection back up to full speed. Not happy Rivet Networks!

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