CPU-4: At idle or under a light applications load, the processor utilization jumps between 50% to 100% causing the system to experience extreme lag and or performance decrease

Article Number: CPU-4

When the computer is idling and/or while light load applications (such as web browsing, office applications, media players, etc.) are being utilized, the processor utilization jumps up to 50% - 100% usage continuously. In some cases, this may cause the system to become unstable (i.e. crashing of applications, crashing of the operating system), decrease in performance, experience processor temperatures above normal operating specifications.

The issue can be a result of the following scenarios, which can be resolved by the matching recommendation

  • A background application such as a Disk Defragmenter or a Virus Scanner is set to continuous scanning.
  • An application that was not properly launched or closed.
  • A rogue process stuck in a continuous loop
  • Spyware application running in the background
  • Virus(s)

The following recommendations can help resolve the issue:

  1. To determine if a specific application is causing the issueOpen the Task Manager
    1. Click on the "Processes" tab
    2. Click on the "CPU" identifier to organize the running processes by CPU utilization percentage
    3. Identify which process is taking up the most CPU utilization
      1. In an ideal situation, "System Idle Process" should take up 90% or higher of available CPU utilization.
    4. Verify whether the process is one that is expected to be running
      1. Research the process name to find out the purpose of the process running. You can find information about the process by typing the process name (i.e. winword.exe) into a search engine for more information.
    5. If the process is not a critical system process, stop the activity to see if it reduces the processor utilization
    6. WARNING: Some processes are critical system processes and disabling them may render your system unstable or cause it to crash
    7. To end the process, right click on the process and select "End Process"
    8. Once the process has been stopped, check to see whether the overall processor utilization has dropped to acceptable levels. The average utilization can be checked by
      • Clicking on the "Performance" tab and checking the CPU history graph or
      • Looking at the center-bottom of the Task Manager window and looking at the "CPU Usage" section.
    9. If the problem has been resolved by ending a specific process:
      • Reinstall the application or
      • Contact the application manufacturer for further resolution
    10. ​If the problem has not been resolved, check the Task Manager again and end the next high-utilization process using the same steps above
  2. To determine if a spyware application or virus is causing the issue
    1. Update your virus scanner and/or spyware scanner with the latest definitions
    2. Run a virus scan and/or a spyware scan on all system files
    3. Delete any infected files identified by the virus and/or spyware scanner

Applicable Products
All AMD Processors compatible with Windows Operating Systems


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