How to lower CPU usage in 2024 – ways to fix high CPU usage

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It’s important to know how to lower CPU usage if you work on your PC, undertake large creative projects like rendering, or if you are an avid gamer. A powerful CPU will run quickly and effectively, even with twenty tabs open, but when you’re CPU is overworked you’ll notice drops in performance, slow response times and even crashing. So you’ll want to know how to fix a high CPU usage.

When you use your PC continuously for extended periods of time each day, you will wear out your CPU and shorten its lifespan. Putting a large demand on your processor can also cause its temperature to rise, which can lead to throttling and performance degradation if the CPU overheats. Here’s how to check your CPU temperature to be sure you’re not at risk of overheating. Now let’s go through a few ways to lower CPU usage.

How to lower your CPU usage

These methods are applicable for Windows and Chromebook operating systems, but may vary for Apple products. If you’ve noticed your PC crashing, responding sluggishly or reaching higher than normal temperatures, these methods may help to decrease the demand put on your CPU from day to day and to help the processor work quickly and more effectively. 

1. Close any apps or tabs no longer in use

In order to do this you can obviously look at your current browsing window and shut down any tabs that are open but not in use, as well as looking at your Task Bar to check what applications are still open and running when they do not need to be. You can also achieve this by accessing Task Manager, to load Windows Task Manager you can use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + T or right-click the Task Bar and select Task Manager from the menu. When the window opens you can go through and shut down the apps and tabs that are open and running, which you no longer need. This should reduce the amount of CPU resources being used on open windows that you don’t need. 

2.  Update your drivers

If you don’t know whether your drivers need to be updated, it is worth heading over to your CPU manufacturer to check what the latest version is. In order to do this, you’ll need to know what CPU you have. Go to the manufacturer’s website (e.g. AMD or Intel) and download the up-to-date drivers for your hardware. 

3. Check for malware

If you’ve noticed your PC slowing down, and if you use your PC internet browser frequently, you may have picked up some unwanted malware. Use an antivirus program to scan for malware, we recommend doing this fairly regularly if you use the internet a lot. If the antivirus software does pick up anything you can then remove the unwanted malware. 

4. Update your OS

If you notice your PC running slower than normal, it’s always worth checking to see if your OS needs an update. Windows are quite diligent with their software updates and sometimes these will happen automatically when you’re not using your PC, but otherwise the demand for an update can make your computer sluggish. Much like Apple with their IOS updates, the longer you go without updating, the lower quality performance you’ll get from your PC, so ensuring you check regularly in the Control Panel for updates, and try to update your OS as regularly as possible, this should help fix high CPU usage and reduce the stress put on your processor.

5. System Restore

If you’re trying to fix your high CPU usage, doing a System Restore will revert your settings back to a previous state in which your CPU usage was more stable. This may not be a top choice for everyone, but it will help to keep your usage down to a more normal level. Go into the Start menu and put System Restore into the search bar. You’ll have different options for restore point, so you can select one that predates your CPU usage climbing up. After you’ve selected the restore point of your choice, you’ll need to reboot your PC to apply the restore.

6. Overclocking

If you have hardware that can withstand overclocking, this is a good way at increasing your CPU’s capabilities without having to upgrade your components. Here’s how to overclock your CPU if you’re unsure how to. Important to bear in mind is that overclocking can cause your CPU’s temperature to increase, so if you are concerned about your CPU’s usage due to risks of overheating, overclocking may not be the best preventative measure. 

7. Upgrade your hardware

Like most hardware components, the older a CPU gets and the more duress it under will degrade the processor overtime, making it less effective and more likely to cause performance issues and random shut downs. A processor that is well-maintained, with an installed cooler, and is not put under regular, extended periods of demand, could last for quite a while; if you only use your PC for the occasional internet browse and YouTube video, your CPU could even last up to ten years before you notice anything wrong with it. If you’re running on an outdated processor, it may be time to consider upgrading to a more powerful processor. Here’s two we recommend. 

Why is my CPU running so much?

Its probably a good idea to close any background programs, tabs and applications that aren’t being used, as these will cause your CPU to be running a lot more than necessary. You may also need to update your software. 

Why is my CPU running at 90 degrees?

If your CPU is running at above the average temperature of 60-80 degrees Celsius, you’re at a higher risk of overheating. If your processor is under demand for extended periods of time this can cause its temperature to rise.

About the Author

Meghan Coon

Meghan Coon is a Tech & Hardware Writer for Videogamer