CPU Usage

By jacklbrt ·
This may seem like a newbie question.
I have had a HP PC for a while running an AMD 64 Athlon processor. I picked it up second hand from the business that I run and it has always seemed to me to be too sluggish for the processor speed that it claims, 2.2Ghz. When I pull up the Task Manager and look at Performance it has always shown CPU usage at between 70% and 100% despite everything that I've tried to streamline and "de-junk" my system and even when I hve no applications running. I know that there are processes always running in the background and I accepted this as the reason for this constantly high CPU usage.

But I just picked up another PC, a Dell with a Pentium 4, 2.5Ghz processor and when I pull up the Task Manager CPU usage is between 0% and 2% !! And this while I'm attempting to uninstall some software.

Can anyone explain why this is happening and what, if anything, that I might do to improve the performance of the HP PC?

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by TheChas In reply to CPU Usage

In task manager, take a look at the processes tab and see what is using up the CPU. This should point you at the process that is hogging the clock cycles and slowing things down.

Keep in mind that the CPU speed is in many respects a smaller and smaller part of the overall system performance. RAM, RAM speed, and free hard drive space play a significant role in system performance.


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Also you need to remember that different software loads

by OH Smeg In reply to CPU Usage

Require different things to be running in the background. You need to look at what is actually installed on the system and see what is required to be running.

Like on this particular computer with a 3.0 GIG CPU and 2 GIG of RAM with a 80 GIG HDD on the Boot Drive and a 250 GIG SATA Drive as a Data Drive and all of my software installed there are 97 Process Running in the background with 1.2 GIG's of RAM being used all the time. A complete Virus Scan takes over 15 hours to run on this system and during that time everything is slowed down considerably.

Without the AV product doing a scan the CPU Usage is between 0 to 13% and with the AV Product scanning the computer which it does daily the CPU usage is at the 100% mark.

So you need to find what is running in the background here by following what Chas suggested by looking in the Process Tab of Device Manager though this an tell you lies it is a good starting point. If the culprit is the System Idle Processes a clean install of the OS and associated Software.

Just remember that the more that is installed the more needs to run and the Amount of RAM. HDD Space and speed of the HDD access have a greater impact than CPU Speed. Also if the HDD is getting full the CPU usage will be considerably higher as it moves the Swap File Around to best suit the requirements of the system.


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Thanks for your replies.

by jacklbrt In reply to Also you need to remember ...

I have an 80 GB boot drive with a 160 GB drive that I recently put in for a second drive, I have 1.7 GB RAM. There are 46 processes running shown in Task Manager including SYSTEM and SYSTEM IDLE porocess.
SYSTEM IDLE process runs at 50 to 100 all of the time.
I guess that you guys are talking about I/O resources when you're looking at the device manager. If I look there the process are all mostly motherboard,IDE, PCI and other stuff directly connected to the system board.

Through the business that I'm in, I acquired both of these machines second-hand but they were not used by the business, they came from customers. So I don't have a WIN XP disc available to just wipe everything out and start all over.

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With XP M$ moved away from needing

by OH Smeg In reply to Thanks for your replies.

A Specific Disc to install XP. So any XP Install Disc of the correct version will enable you to install Windows XP Home onto these computers. So if you have a Windows XP Home M$ Branded Install Disc you can use this from another computer to install Windows onto the system. Though you will need to download specialized Drivers that this hardware requires.

The Product Key is on the COA {Certificate of Authenticity] a sticker on the case it is a 25 Digit Alpha Numeric String and can be a bit hard to read at times. But it can be used with any M$ Branded Install Disc. If these are made by one of the big OEM Makers you can purchase replacement Recovery Disc's for a few dollars from the System Maker.

Just one thing here the 1.7 GIG of RAM is a strange amount even for a All In Oner M'Board that is sharing it's RAM to produce the Video. Are you sure this is the correct amount of RAM?

Another thing is that M'Boards with the Video Onboard will be considerably slower than a M'Board with it's own Video Card fitted as the CPU has to do the work of the Graphic Processing Unit as well as the work that the Central Processing Unit does. These systems also use System Memory as Video Memory and as the GPU and Video RAM are considerably faster than System CPU and RAM the entire unit appears to perform slower because both the CPU and RAM is being used for things that they are not perfectly suited for.

I hope that is of some assistance.


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I came into possession of both

by jacklbrt In reply to With XP M$ moved away fro ...

of my PC's through the company that I work for. However they were not "company use" PC's, therefore not identical or running the same OS (one runs XP Pro the other XP Home). They were the prior property of a couple of customers. So I personnaly have no copy of an install or recovery disc.

With the RAM I mentioned earlier I just rounded the number. I added some extra RAM myself. Direct X diagnostic shows memory at 1790 MB RAM and page file 294 MB used, 2015 MB available.
I also added a NVIDIA GeForce 7100 GS, 512 MB video card and a Sound Blaster Audigy 4 sound card in an attempt to both improve video and sound quality and take a load off the M'board/CPU. Are the "integrated" (original) video and sound devices still consuming system resources?

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I would disable the in the bios

by Dumphrey In reply to I came into possession of ...

to be on the safe side.
In task manager, what process does it show is using all the CPU? A normal/healthy computer may have 1-15% cpu usage in "idle" but not 70-100%...

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system idle

by davyjones74 In reply to I would disable the in th ...

if the system idle process is using around 70% of the processor that means that 70% of the processor is doing nothing ie its idle so nothing to worry about.

What you will probably find is that the computers run slowly due to the amount of software which will have been loaded onto them since windows was installed, each new piece of software added to the system since then will affect the overall performance, even if some of the applications have been removed they often leave bits and pieces behind which drain your systems resources.

Though I cannot recommend one I would run a registry cleaner on the system to remove any redundant entries and if you feel confident run msconfig from the start menu and in the startup tab disable any programs which YOU ARE SURE you do not need, this will help speed the system up.

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In his post he said he looked in

by Dumphrey In reply to system idle

performance, not processes, and saw a huge cpu usage, this would not be the system idle process, but a collection/single process using the cpu... hence i put "idle" in quotes.
A point of note is that opening the task manager will cause cpu usage to spike. Leave perf mon open a while to see if it drops or stays the same over say 5 minutes.

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Well as you do not have access to any XP Install Disc's

by OH Smeg In reply to I came into possession of ...

You can still buy replacement ones from HP and Dell respectively and return both or one of the system to a as New Factory Fresh install of all the Required OS Functions and Software that was originally provided with the system when new.

Personally I don't mess around with any Windows OS that has been installed any longer that 12 months as they gather too much junk to slow them down and this even includes my own computers. I have made a Image of the Base OS with all required Drivers Installed and the Mission Critical Software which I re image from. I could reinstall it all from scratch but it's quicker to use a clean image with the stuff that I really need and then I can replace what I need further to the base Install. I use Ghost for this not for any other reason that I've been using this for a long time and am comfortable with it. The fact that I'm constantly updated with the latest version for free helps not to have a need to find something else as well.

As stated above the On Board Sound & Video shouldn't be affecting anything now but it never hurts to switch them off in the BIOS as Windows doesn't always follow the rules and work the way that it's supposed to. I would say that you have to disable the On Board Sound anyway so the On Board Video will not hurt while you are in there is there is a setting to do this of course.

Then as both of these systems should support Dual Channel RAM & with the Odd RAM amount it's a fairly safe bet that that one isn't running Dual Chanel RAM and is slower than it needs to be for that reason alone if nothing else. With Dual Chanel RAM you need Identical Sticks on the Paired RAM Sockets so you need to sticks of the same size & Speed RAM in 1 pair and then another 2 sticks of identical Size & Speed Ram in the other pair of RAM Sockets if you have 4 RAM Slots. If you only have 3 RAM Slots on the M'Board then you need to run an identical Pair in Slots 1 & 2 and leave the third socket empty.


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OK..well a RAM "mismatch"

by jacklbrt In reply to Well as you do not have a ...

could certainly be one thing. The sticks are probably dual channel, though not certain, and I have no idea if they are running at the same speeds. So that's good to know.

The whole process of "imaging the Base OS" is something I'm not familiar with and seems to me a bit daunting at this time. But it will give me another thing to learn about.

I'll take a look at the BIOS for disabling the onboard audio and video stuff.


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