How to Lower CPU Usage and Ensure Best Performance for your PC

Lower CPU Usage

Is your CPU running at maximum capacity and making your PC slow? This often happens when you use demanding software for graphic design, video editing, or gaming. It can be frustrating, especially when finding the cause is difficult. In this article, we’ll explore how to fix high CPU usage on your computer.

The CPU, often called the brain of a computer, controls all its functions. The performance and speed of your computer depend greatly on the CPU since it handles all processes. Most users have faced a “slow down” issue at some point. This often occurs with resource-heavy software like games. Sometimes, it happens for no clear reason, causing frustration. Usually, the problem is because the CPU is handling too many tasks at once. Before we discuss fixing high CPU usage and slowdowns, let’s look at common causes.

Why is my CPU usage so high?

When your computer slows down, you might check the Task Manager or another tool that shows resource usage. If it shows your CPU at 100% usage, your CPU is maxed out. This means it’s trying to do more tasks than it can handle, causing stuttering, lag, slowdowns, and even overheating.

Here are some common reasons for high CPU usage:

Background Processes

Many apps and processes run in the background, even after closing them. Some programs start when your computer boots up and runs without you knowing. If too many of these are running, or if they’re not optimized, they can use a lot of CPU power.

Resource-Intensive Applications

Some software, like video editing tools and games, demands a lot from your PC. Slowdowns can happen if too many of these applications run at once, or if your PC doesn’t meet the software’s system requirements.

Viruses or Malware

Viruses or malware can cause slowdowns by using resources without being detected. They often run in the background and can be hard to trace.

WMI Provider Host

The WMI Provider Host monitors systems on a network. Bugs or issues with patches can cause it to use a lot of CPU power.

Improper Configuration

Sometimes, a hardware setting can cause high CPU usage. For example, if your PC is set to use onboard graphics instead of a dedicated video card, a patch or Windows update might change this setting. Fixing it can solve the issue.

Dirty Fans and Cooling Components

Hot technology is slow technology. If your CPU gets too hot, it can’t work well and might overheat. Cleaning dust from heat sinks, heat pipes, and vents can improve performance. Check the thermal paste between your processor and the cooling device to ensure it’s not broken down.

Understanding these common causes can help you diagnose and fix high CPU usage issues.

Tips to Lower CPU Usage

Here are some common fixes for high CPU usage, including solutions specific to Windows 10 and others that work on any system:

1 – Restart Your Computer

Rebooting is often the first step to clear a high CPU load. It stops running processes, clears caches, and allows updates or patches to install fully. However, if your CPU usage is always high, this might not be a long-term fix.

2 – Manually Close Background Programs

Background processes can eat up CPU power. Close unnecessary programs but avoid essential ones like keyboard and mouse software, Windows applications, or device control panels. Use the Task Manager or an optimization tool to find and close unnecessary processes.

3 – Update Drivers and BIOS

Keeping drivers and BIOS updated is crucial. Update all drivers, including chipset and BIOS, for optimal performance. Windows updates may not always find the correct drivers, especially for hardware like video cards, so manual updates can be necessary.

4 – Check for Malware, Viruses, and Crypto Miners

Open the Task Manager, go to the Processes tab, and check the CPU column under the Details tab. Look for programs using a high amount of CPU, especially if you don’t recognize them. These could be malware or crypto miners. Run a trusted antivirus or anti-malware program to scan and remove any malicious software.

5 – Change Windows Settings

Adjusting certain Windows settings can significantly impact CPU usage. Here are some steps you can take:

Adjust Power Plan

  1. Open Power Options: Go to Start and type “power plan”. Select “Power & sleep settings”.
  2. Select High Performance: Click on “Additional power settings” and choose “High Performance” as your preferred power plan. This setting optimizes your system for maximum performance, which can help manage CPU usage more efficiently.

System Environment Variables

  1. Access Advanced System Settings: Search for “Advanced system settings” in the Start menu.
  2. Adjust Performance Settings: In the System Properties window, under the “Advanced” tab, click on “Settings” in the Performance section.
  3. Opt for Best Performance: Select “Adjust for best performance” to prioritize performance over visual effects like animations. Click “Apply” to save changes.

6 – Reinstalling Windows

If persistent high CPU usage persists despite other fixes, consider reinstalling Windows. This is a last resort measure, but perhaps something went wrong during update processes and your build isn’t working as it should. A fresh and clean install can improve things and extract a better performance from your hardware.

7 – Overclocking the CPU

This is one option that won’t work for all kinds of users. Don’t get me wrong, I mean this is for more experienced users and not for the Average Joe who is using the PC on basic tasks. Overclocking your CPU when possible will extract more performance. But there are other factors to consider like energy consumption and the thermals.

8 – Install a New CPU

Maybe the time has come for your old CPU. If none of the tips above help, then your CPU might be a bottleneck for your PC. You can upgrade your CPU as long as there is support on your motherboard. Pick one with more performance and you’re good to go.

Conclusion – Practical Ways to Reduce CPU Usage

Fixing high CPU usage or persistent 100% CPU depends on identifying the root cause of the problem. The steps mentioned above can resolve common issues. They can also serve as preventive measures, even if you’re not currently facing performance issues. Here are some tips that can greatly help in keeping your computer’s smooth performance.

  1. Regular Maintenance: Perform regular maintenance tasks such as cleaning your system of dust, optimizing software settings, and ensuring proper ventilation to prevent overheating.
  2. Keep Software Updated: Stay updated with the latest patches and updates for your operating system, drivers, and applications to avoid performance issues caused by outdated software.
  3. Monitor Resource Usage: Use task manager or system monitoring tools to keep track of CPU usage and identify any programs or processes consuming excessive resources.
  4. Hardware Compatibility: Ensure that your hardware meets the minimum requirements for the software you use. Upgrading hardware when necessary can prevent performance bottlenecks.

Follow these steps smartly, and you will be able to extract the best performance of your PC. Multiple factors can cause your PC to slow down, but if the CPU is the culprit you can try the methods above to remedy the issue. If none of them work, then you try to reinstall your OS and finally start to consider replacing your CPU.

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