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[Help] Processor running at 100%

SpazMuffinSpazMuffin HeyCut it outRegistered User regular
Hey guys, I have a computer problem that has really been bugging me. I have Dell Latitude E6400 laptop which has been serving me well for around three years now, but lately from time to time the processor will start running at 100% and stay there. Doing some google searching leads to tons of people saying "virus, spyware, etc" but I know I have a pretty clean setup, plus this occurs when I boot to Win7 or Ubuntu on my computer. When this happens the machine inevitably over heats and just grinds to a halt. This happens when the machine is on a flat surface, and even elevated sometimes to help ventilation, so I don't think its heat causing it.

Some other points,
It seems to happen whenever I use Skype. This didn't always happen, but now if I video chat on Skype it seems like it will eventually run at 100%. Closing Skype does not fix the problem. Rebooting does not fix it, and even rebooting into Ubuntu doesn't help. Note, even when I switch to Ubuntu, and look at the the running processes right after logging in, there is nothing but the bare bones processes running, and nothing taking a significant chunk of CPU percentage, but still the graphs show the processor at 100%.

I have installed all the updated drivers I can find on the Dell site.

I have installed a new hard drive somewhat recently, and this didn't happen with the old drive. Though it also didn't start immediately with the new drive so I'm hesitant to blame it. Also I for the time being I can't locate my old drive (I have no idea how I misplaced a laptop hdd!) so I can't test one against the other.

As for fixing it, I normally just shut it off for a while and normally it will work after some time, as long as I don't use Skype video chat. But again, I don't want to blame Skype, because rebooting it immediately (even into another OS) doesn't always fix it.

Does anyone have any ideas on what could be causing this? I tried to post any info I thought would be relevant but please ask if I left any key points out. Thanks!

SpazMuffin on


  • BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
    Task manager will tell you which program is hogging the resources.

    So it'd probably be helpful to say which process is taking using (I'm guessing) ~95% CPU when it spikes.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Process Explorer will help you drill down deeper than taskmgr. Here's a tutorial (not mine) in case you don't want to just dive right in.

  • SpazMuffinSpazMuffin Hey Cut it outRegistered User regular
    IRT Burtletoy, I have looked at the task managers in both windows and linux and oddly there is nothing visible hogging the resources. Like I was saying, the graphs show 100% use, but adding the %CPU usage vals of the running processors may only total to like 20% or even less.

    IRT Djeet, thanks, I'll take a look at that, maybe it will show some stuff that I'm not seeing in Window's task manager or Ubuntu's system monitor. I'll let you know what I find!

  • SiliconStewSiliconStew Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Check the 2nd and 3rd line in Process Explorer for Interrupts and DPC's. Those can be excessive and won't show in Task Manager. If that is the case, here's a guide to find out what might be causing it: Updating bios or drivers for the affected device might fix it or could just be defective hardware.

    SiliconStew on
    Just remember that half the people you meet are below average intelligence.
  • finalflight89finalflight89 Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    If I had to guess, it's overheating and clocking down the processor speed. This will cause your CPU usage to spike dramatically. My Latitude was doing the same thing until I took it apart and cleaned the dust out of it's fan.

    finalflight89 on
  • SpazMuffinSpazMuffin Hey Cut it outRegistered User regular
    Yea finalflight89, I'm starting to think its that too. I checked out the Process Explorer program and it didn't reveal anything else. I guess that makes sense, since it's clocking down the processor, the regular load becomes a much higher percent of the available processing power. It would explain also why rebooting doesn't help, but waiting a while seems too.

    To top it off, yesterday it started hitting 100% while watching HD youtube, so I put my laptop on my air condition and turned it on full blast, and it did go back to normal. So I guess that really seals it :p . I'll see if it's dusty or anything but maybe I have a bad fan or something because this didn't always happen, and I use my laptop on a flat surface, so it shouldn't be reguarly happening.

    Thanks a lot for the pointers and advice guys!

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