Your CPU provides the central brain power for your computer. On the plus side, this means that when you buy or build a new PC, you can focus most of your attention on a single specification. However, this also means that the rest of your hardware may be throttled if you have a CPU that can’t match your processing power.
A CPU may not be easy to replace, but you can find ways to minimize how much CPU processes your various software processes use and to push your computer to its reasonable limits. Of course, you should always be careful because over-messing with your hardware configurations can easily lead to an overheating problem. If you’re wondering how I can fix high CPU usage, we’ll cover some of the safest and most effective ways to lower CPU usage and get more for your money.
If you have a problem with the technology, proper troubleshooting is usually the right answer. This applies to high CPU usage as well as everything else. If you’re not familiar with the troubleshooting process, you can imagine diagnosing a medical condition. We start with solutions that are easier to implement and lower overhead, and we will slowly move on to more complex solutions.
If the first step doesn’t solve your problem, you don’t have to worry. There is a chance that at some point you will find the way to a workable solution, and there is a good chance that you will see slow improvements in your processing performance with every step.
Restart your computer
The easiest action you can take – and one action you should always try first if you have a problem with your computer – is to restart your computer. Nothing is too complicated here. Do not force start by holding down the power button. Instead, you need to click through the Windows 10 Start menu to restart your PC. Ideally, you just want to turn off your computer, give it a few minutes to sit, and then start it up normally. Hopefully, when you open Windows, you’ll see an improvement in your CPU usage.
Identify power hungry processes
If a restart doesn’t fix the problem, you need to make sure that there are no processes that affect your overall processing performance. Fortunately, Windows makes this process pretty easy through the Task Manager interface. You can reach the Task Manager by holding Ctrl + Shift + Esc. This will take you to Task Manager, which you can use to monitor the overall functionality of your computer and make adjustments if necessary.
By clicking the Processes tab, you can view all the different apps and processes that are running on your computer. Many software programs have default settings that cause them to run in the background even when you are not actively using them. If you find that the CPU is 100% busy when you are not running labor-intensive programs, there is likely at least one CPU process that is slowing down the work.
That doesn’t mean that you can fix a high CPU by just ending processes prematurely. If you don’t understand what a process does on the Processes tab, do a little research before exiting. When you identify a process that consumes all of your usage and can safely be closed, you can click on the processes and then click on “End Process”. Clicking End Process will stop the processes in the here and now, but will open the next time you restart. You should make sure that you manually access your app settings so that they do not repeat each time Windows is restarted.
Search for threats
Malware and viruses are some of the most common causes of high CPU usage. If you haven’t found a problem yet, you should click through your antivirus software to determine a possible risk. If you don’t have anti-virus software yet, you can download one now. We don’t have enough space for all the antivirus programs supported by Windows, but with all programs, you can click through some menus to scan your computer.
In any case, you want to click through and do a full scan of your computer. This can take hours if you don’t scan your computer often, but it’s worth the time. Once you’ve run your antivirus software, you’ll want to reboot, open Task Manager, and evaluate your CPU usage and CPU performance to identify any remaining processes that may be causing a problem.
Update your drivers
Your Windows operating system may not know how to work natively with the hardware on your computer, but drivers do offer a reasonable solution. They are essentially translators and explain to Windows 10 how the hardware can be used most effectively to achieve faster processes and more effective CPU usage. However, if your drivers are not up to date, you may not notice it. An outdated driver can lead to higher CPU usage, which you may not be able to see through your Task Manager.
And it’s not necessarily your CPU drivers that are causing a problem. For this reason, you want to update all drivers to ensure that your CPU usage is as efficient as possible. However, upgrading your drivers doesn’t take a lot of work. In Windows, navigate to the Start menu and click Settings. Click the Updates & Security tab, and then click Check for updates. Windows automatically adjusts your drivers. Reset your computer as usual and open Task Manager to assess the various processes, CPU usage and apps.
Adjust the energy settings
The standard Windows power settings are designed to strike a balance between performance and efficiency. This is especially true for laptops. These settings are ideal for everyday activities with low CPU usage. However, you can significantly improve performance by manually adjusting your power settings.
Click on “Edit energy plan” in the start menu and then on “Energy options”. While you can use sliders to manually adjust a number of different aspects of power consumption, most users don’t need to be as precise. Instead, you can simply select the “High Performance” setting. This decouples your CPU so that it works with the highest settings.
Keep in mind that the high power setting can quickly drain your battery when using a laptop. Regardless of which PC you are using, you can assume that the high-performance setting puts a greater strain on the cooling system of your desktop or laptop.
Reinstall your operating system
If none of the above steps solve your problem, it may be time to take more drastic action. We usually do not recommend reinstalling your operating system except in the most serious circumstances. So only do this if your CPU performance is really suffering and you know that your CPU should perform better than it is.
Reinstalling your operating system used to mean formatting your PC – and deleting all of your personal files and software. Fortunately, the latest version of Windows offers a much tastier solution. By clicking on “Reset this PC” in the main settings of Windows, you can reset your PC to the factory settings without deleting your personal data. The process should be safe, but we recommend that you back up all of your data before performing this step.
Some users have a solution where the PC does not have to be comp
letely reset. The system recovery function in Windows allows you to return to a previous status of your PC. If the problem causing your CPU throttling has been occurring since the last restore point, your CPU usage should be back to normal.
Unfortunately, system protection is not natively activated in Windows. If system protection is disabled, we generally recommend that you enable it. Creating backups takes up a little more space on your hard drive, but gives you the option to reset your CPU settings back to normal without taking drastic steps. System recovery points can help you diagnose a variety of problems that go beyond the core efficiency of your CPU.
All that is needed is a single slow process that dramatically affects your CPU. Clicking the End Process button can improve CPU performance, but is only a short-term solution. If you want to get as much performance as possible out of your PC, we strongly recommend that you work through all the suggestions in our manual on CPU usage. However, users who are experiencing a general slowdown can benefit if they identify only the biggest problem.
In any case, there is no unique magical solution. If you are running software with high CPU usage such as AAA games or multitasking, you can generally expect some slowdown. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything to optimize your CPU performance. And if you find that your current CPU simply doesn’t meet your requirements, we recommend that you look in our manual for the best CPUs on the market.