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CPU load spikes every 0.5 seconds, regardless of idling or gaming. Why?

Last response: in Windows 7
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July 11, 2013 6:48:57 PM

First time posting here, hope I'm able to express my issue clearly.

Specs of my machine (if it's helpful): i3-2370M, 8 gb ram, 128 gb SSD

A few days ago I started having FPS drops occur while gaming, and games that ran on my laptop at a healthy 35 FPS would drop to single digits for a moment, return to normal, only to dip down again. Checking my CPU monitor revealed that every half-second or so my CPU load jumped briefly, along with power draw. Even while doing light web browsing, load would go from ~10% in one core to ~40%, and power consumption would jump from around 5 to above 10. When gaming, this spike is immediately followed with the brief drop in FPS.

In the "trough"


During a spike



My fan has been running louder than when I first got it while doing light tasks, but this was a gradual increase and has hardly changed from a week ago (before the problems started).

Antivirus (AVG) scan said no threats at all. When I looked into Task Manager, it would show chrome.exe and Steam.exe on the top, each using no more than 4% of CPU, in spite of the CPU load bouncing up and down. All the other processes were 0%.

The night before this issue began, I had left the laptop on while it downloaded and installed Autodesk Inventor. I got it from their website, so there probably wasn't a virus from that.

Does the signs of "phantom processes" mean I have gotten a very sneaky virus in the past week? Or could it be a hardware issue that I haven't found out about?

Any help is much appreciated!
a b 4 Gaming
a b à CPUs
a b $ Windows 7
July 11, 2013 9:09:35 PM

#1 Alarm here: your stating you ONLY have a 128 gb SSD and your running off it? If that is true, THAT is a BIG problem. SSD should ONLY be used to store / load the OS and Large applications and avoid 'general use' of it because it has a MUCH LOWER life expectancy then HDD in terms of read/writes. You should have all temp file, games, Documents, Music, etc. on the HDD and only the OS and large (say like Autodesk Inventor) programs installed to it. It takes alot of management to keep Windows from putting things on there it shouldn't just so you kno.

I do notice occasionally in Chrome if I have some addons, it will spike too, especially with multiple pages open. You also do realize your on a i3 is just a 'basic' model iCore, so you will have spikes occassionally depending on what is going on. BTW you said you were looking at Task Manager, did you click the square in the bottom Show Processes From ALL users? If not your not seeing EVERYTHING running.

Hope these help a bit
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July 12, 2013 5:48:20 PM

I forgot to mention that I do have a 320 GB HDD in place of my CD-ROM drive, and yes, I put autodesk and some of my games on there. :p  I didn't think that would really have much to do with the problem at hand. Thanks for the advice on the SSD, I will keep that in mind.

Hitting "Show processes from all users" displays the System process (NT kernel) bouncing between about 5 and 35%. When I'm playing world of tanks, the FPS drop occurs when the NT kernel CPU usage spikes, sometimes utilizing more of the CPU than the game. I'm pretty sure this was not always the case, is it worth worrying about?

Tom Tancredi said:
#1 Alarm here: your stating you ONLY have a 128 gb SSD and your running off it? If that is true, THAT is a BIG problem. SSD should ONLY be used to store / load the OS and Large applications and avoid 'general use' of it because it has a MUCH LOWER life expectancy then HDD in terms of read/writes. You should have all temp file, games, Documents, Music, etc. on the HDD and only the OS and large (say like Autodesk Inventor) programs installed to it. It takes alot of management to keep Windows from putting things on there it shouldn't just so you kno.

I do notice occasionally in Chrome if I have some addons, it will spike too, especially with multiple pages open. You also do realize your on a i3 is just a 'basic' model iCore, so you will have spikes occassionally depending on what is going on. BTW you said you were looking at Task Manager, did you click the square in the bottom Show Processes From ALL users? If not your not seeing EVERYTHING running.

Hope these help a bit


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a b 4 Gaming
a b à CPUs
a b $ Windows 7
July 12, 2013 6:09:46 PM

I believe that is a symptom and may be a good cause for most of the problem BECAUSE your trying to run more then 'casual' (think Angry Birds or Farmville) games on a i3Core. That is the low level, common everyday use core. If you plan to play World of Tanks and more, at least a i5 Core machine would be better, i7 being the best.

That said, what is the video card? Onboard?
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July 14, 2013 2:20:09 PM

Tom Tancredi said:
I believe that is a symptom and may be a good cause for most of the problem BECAUSE your trying to run more then 'casual' (think Angry Birds or Farmville) games on a i3Core. That is the low level, common everyday use core. If you plan to play World of Tanks and more, at least a i5 Core machine would be better, i7 being the best.

That said, what is the video card? Onboard?


I'm on integrated Intel (3000). I just find this weird because the FPS has dropped suddenly to unplayable rates, and this is also happening in Source games, Minecraft, and other low-stress stuff.

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a b 4 Gaming
a b à CPUs
a b $ Windows 7
July 14, 2013 3:06:27 PM

Yeah integrated video is NOT going to hold up well for Games and AutoDesk or such. Your 'needs' are way above the level of the system, even as a baseline. Don't forget also when you install AutoDesk, 3D Modling, and other high end software, you usually installing some sort of Database Server in the background to handle the data requirements and object cataloging. This usually will be found as a Service, but will attempt to run 24x7 with the computer, so again more demands that the little system isn't built for.

If you wish to validate my assertion easily do a google on iCore Differences. For example http://apcmag.com/intel-confirms-core-i3-as-entry-level... just in its name alone demonstrates as a 'entry level' your processor, not 'workstation' or 'high-end' class which is was games and Autodesk, etc. all demand as minimums.

"The entry-level Core i3 if you need power but are on a bit of a tight budget, the mid-level Core i5 when you want solid performance and capability, and if you’re a real power-user you go for the Core i7." So adding and demanding more as you progress through what your doing causes things to slow down and reduce in quality / performance as the poor system tries to keep up but can't.
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July 14, 2013 5:36:44 PM

Tom Tancredi said:
Yeah integrated video is NOT going to hold up well for Games and AutoDesk or such. Your 'needs' are way above the level of the system, even as a baseline. Don't forget also when you install AutoDesk, 3D Modling, and other high end software, you usually installing some sort of Database Server in the background to handle the data requirements and object cataloging. This usually will be found as a Service, but will attempt to run 24x7 with the computer, so again more demands that the little system isn't built for.

If you wish to validate my assertion easily do a google on iCore Differences. For example http://apcmag.com/intel-confirms-core-i3-as-entry-level... just in its name alone demonstrates as a 'entry level' your processor, not 'workstation' or 'high-end' class which is was games and Autodesk, etc. all demand as minimums.

"The entry-level Core i3 if you need power but are on a bit of a tight budget, the mid-level Core i5 when you want solid performance and capability, and if you’re a real power-user you go for the Core i7." So adding and demanding more as you progress through what your doing causes things to slow down and reduce in quality / performance as the poor system tries to keep up but can't.


I get the point that my system is sort of pathetic but how does the limitations of the hardware explain a sudden drop of performance in the last week? I've had this laptop for six months running the aforementioned games quite fine, and I don't think the solution is to cave to Intel's pressure and get a better machine.

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a b 4 Gaming
a b à CPUs
a b $ Windows 7
July 14, 2013 6:50:21 PM

I am sorry if your misunderstanding me, your system isn't "sort of pathetic", it is perfectly fine as a "entry" or beginner's computer just to surf, watch youtube, play farmville, Skype or such of the 80-90% of the users normally do in a day. Your demands are different.

Further Your response has the expectation someone who had this problem can just say "yeah add this patch, remove this update, etc." and poof your back to what things were. That what happened 6 months ago, how the system was, is EXACTLY as it should be today.

If the system NEVER connected to another computer (Internet), NEVER installed any different software then when you first unpacked it, NEVER got a single patch or update, then you would be absolutely right. But your demands are much different, and over time changes as you use it (install software, remove software, patch a driver, etc.) till now your trying to Haul a 1Ton Rock from 0-60 in 3 seconds in a Hyundai.

What your demands are for this system are way over the top and too much for this low end equipment (i3 Core and Integrated Video). Over time it accumulates till it reaches a point (now) where it becomes negative to the performance. Yes if you uninstalled AutoDesk, didn't go with the higher end games, stuck to the stuff likes Skype, Email, and such, your performance would return. If you are going to require workstation performance to do heavy load application, then different hardware made to support it is needed.

This not just some Intel Fanboy speech, a Hyundai can't haul a 1Ton Rock, but a F150 Truck can. Want 0-60 in 3, need a Ferrari not a Hyundai. You need the right tool to do the job your demanding is all, and unfortunately this one won't cut it.
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July 16, 2013 8:19:06 AM

It had nothing to do w/ anything above. Wifi driver was probably the issue, b/c I tethered it to my phone's wifi, disabled my own card, and poof! gone.
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