How Do I Find Out What Program Is Using All My CPU?

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My machine is slower than molasses in the winter time. I suspect that one or more programs are simply using up all of the available CPU time. How do I tell which ones they might be so that I can turn them off, or whatever?

Yep, that sounds slow.

It happens to me from time to time as well. A program decides it has something very, very important to do and uses all the computer’s processing power to do it.

The good news is it’s pretty easy to find out which program that might be.

Read moreHow Do I Find Out What Program Is Using All My CPU?

Footnotes & references

1: For previous versions of Windows, I tend to prefer the free download Process Explorer, also from Microsoft.

2: Actually, the definition is a little weirder than that, from what I can tell.

What’s the difference between i3, i5, and i7 processors?

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I was looking at some ads for various computers and noticed some confusing CPU info. For example:

  • Acer desktop with i5-650 @ 3.2GHz
  • SYX Gamer desktop with i7-950 @ 3.06GHz
  • Sony Vaio laptop with i7-740QM @ 1.73GHz

I always thought an i7 was better than an i5, which was better than an i3. Based on the above, is the Acer CPU better (as in more powerful, efficient, and faster) than either of the i7s? And why would one i7 (the SYX) be about 75% faster and more powerful than the Sony i7?

To call it confusing only scratches the surface of the processor nomenclature and configuration. In my opinion, it’s more complex than mere mortals can comprehend.

Sadly, I am but a mere mortal.

However, I will share my priorities, which the average consumer may share when selecting a computer. In so doing, I’m sure I’ll annoy some of the geekier members of my audience. Smile

I’ll also look at a few more things about the processor configuration mix, and compare the three processors you list.

Read moreWhat’s the difference between i3, i5, and i7 processors?

Footnotes & references

3: Or, I suppose, 1,073,741,824 operations per second, if using a “powers of 2” approach to a billion: 1024*1024*1024.

4: As always, prices change. These “snapshot in time” prices are only meant for comparison.

Why won’t my program use more than 25% of the CPU?

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I am running a VERY LONG Excel’03 Spreadsheet (can be configured to loop calculating alternatives for hours using an embedded Basic Program/Macro). I am running this on a Quad Core Intel Q6600 with 4 GB.

When I check in Task Manager, the System Idle Process will not drop LOWER than 75% and the Excel Process will max out at 25%. I’ve tried upping the priority of the process and have checked the “affinity” to ensure it’s using all 4 processor cores. The Performance tab does show activity / load on all 4 processor windows.

What’s up? Why can’t I utilize more than 25% of my system when I want to use it for a high priority and very lengthy task?

It’s one of the most frustrating things to experience. Here you go and spend extra money to get that super fast quad- (or more) core processor, throw a huge task at it expecting it to go two or four times faster…

And it just pokes along.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that there’s nothing wrong. The bad news is that … there’s nothing to be fixed. This is completely expected, and depends entirely on the software you’re running.

Read moreWhy won’t my program use more than 25% of the CPU?

Footnotes & references

5: It’s never used to refer to the box that sits on your desk or floor to which your monitor, keyboard and mouse are connected. That’s the “computer”. It contains the CPU and a lot more.

Why is only one core on my multi-core processor being maxed out?

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I’m experiencing a strange quirk using one of my programs. At times of intense calculations, the program itself stops responding. Yet my PC remains perfectly usable. I’ve looked into the resource manager and I notice at these times, the program is using exactly 25% of the available processor power. That figures constant until the program unfreezes. My processor has 4 cores and all are available. The program is allowed to use all the cores though none of them are registering high usage at the time the program freezes other than the one. Do you have any idea why this might be happening and possibly a way to get the program to use the rest of the resources that it has available to it?

I experience almost the exact same thing from time to time. I too, have a quad core machine and occasionally it will be running at exactly 25% CPU usage as only one of the cores is maxed out by some program that I’m running.

But I know why.

Read moreWhy is only one core on my multi-core processor being maxed out?

Would it be worthwhile to upgrade my RAM?

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Hi Leo. I know that in the past you said that increasing the RAM on your machine is probably the first thing that you would do to increase performance. But I’m wondering: These days, when machines come with generous amounts of RAM already installed, if that would still be your advice? I have an HP computer that came with 8 GB of RAM, but it will take 16 if I sacrifice the two 4 GB wafers. Do you think this would be worthwhile? I’ve already optimized the machine by fitting a Solid State Drive and this has made a big difference in performance. A RAM upgrade seems the other obvious thing to do.

Machines are definitely coming with more RAM these days. Prices dropped, so increasing RAM became very feasible for manufacturers to do.

So, let’s talk about RAM.

Read moreWould it be worthwhile to upgrade my RAM?

Can I replace my processor with a faster one?

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I have a Lenovo Tabletop C series with 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive. I love it all except the speed of the processor. How hard is it to replace the processor with a faster one?

To be perfectly honest, it’s rare to replace a CPU simply, much less replace it with one of a higher speed.

Speed is typically tied to the motherboard. Even when you can replace the CPU (and we’ll talk about a couple of scenarios where that can happen), the motherboard determines the speed. It’s the motherboard that is most often the limiting factor.

As for speed, let’s look at what you can do about that.

Read moreCan I replace my processor with a faster one?