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80% CPU load on idle?!?!?!

Last response: in Systems
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October 24, 2011 11:18:13 PM

Hey tom's hardware community! I have a serious problem with my home built computer that I hope you guys can help me with.
I'm at a loss on why my computer is running so slowly even when it's doing nothing. Here's the problem:
I get fluctuations of 1%-80% CPU load when I'm at my desktop. Also my RAM usage is hovering at 1.8 GB.
Consequently my mouse stops and starts and it's almost impossible to get anything done (let alone game!)
I have NO background programs running except for AVG which is turned off and my USB headphone driver and Razer Mouse driver.
What could this be??? I recently defragmented my hard drive and it's now 0% fragmented and it's still running slow.
What could it be?
Here are my system specs:

Windows 7
NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (at 2.81 GHz)
ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
4 GB DDR2 RAM 666 MHz (linked with CPU FSB, not sure how fast it is right now)
1 TB HD

Thanks so much

More about : cpu load idle

October 24, 2011 11:31:00 PM

From experience a windows program called system idle process can sometimes make use of most of the CPUs resources. I do not know what it is for or why it is so demanding.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 24, 2011 11:44:23 PM

When you say whats running are those the tasks or processes. Could be a virus hidden in processes.

I've seen the same virus over and over, it's always a string of random letters(ie HyfGpAd34oKLBxa1) usually it's flagged as the User(your name) opened it. I'd check for that.

Also when looking at the processes you can see which ones are using so much RAM(1.8 is a tad on the high side if nothing is open/running)
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October 25, 2011 12:08:26 AM

wynne1 said:
Hey tom's hardware community! I have a serious problem with my home built computer that I hope you guys can help me with.
I'm at a loss on why my computer is running so slowly even when it's doing nothing. Here's the problem:
I get fluctuations of 1%-80% CPU load when I'm at my desktop. Also my RAM usage is hovering at 1.8 GB.
Consequently my mouse stops and starts and it's almost impossible to get anything done (let alone game!)
I have NO background programs running except for AVG which is turned off and my USB headphone driver and Razer Mouse driver.
What could this be??? I recently defragmented my hard drive and it's now 0% fragmented and it's still running slow.
What could it be?
Here are my system specs:

Windows 7
NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (at 2.81 GHz)
ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
4 GB DDR2 RAM 666 MHz (linked with CPU FSB, not sure how fast it is right now)
1 TB HD

Thanks so much




I agree with cmcghee358 - probably a virus. I had a similar problem and had to reformat my hardrive to finally get rid of the virus.
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October 25, 2011 2:32:12 AM

There's no suspicious processes though!
That was one idea I had. I really don't use that PC for anything other than gaming. I use my mac for browsing the internet, etc. I also have AVG on my PC so that should reduce my risk too.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 25, 2011 4:23:10 AM

I'd suggest a reformat
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October 25, 2011 6:07:10 AM

ross_mitchell said:
From experience a windows program called system idle process can sometimes make use of most of the CPUs resources. I do not know what it is for or why it is so demanding.


its literally nothing, empty cycles. system idle process is what your processor does when its not doing anything
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October 25, 2011 6:53:45 AM

to tell the truth AVG is what sets my red flags waving..i personally tried to help a friend get rid of their "anti-virus" it was worse than trying to get rid of AOL..just my humble opinion.
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October 27, 2011 1:46:30 PM

Ok, new developement:
I completely wiped my hard drive clean and did a clean windows 7 install. It is still going slow! There are no programs loaded on this computer and I can barely even get to google and download steam.
I've done a hard drive fault check- nothing
memtest- nothing


Do you guys have any ideas??? I have no idea where to start
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
October 27, 2011 8:13:39 PM

What PSU are you using?
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
October 27, 2011 8:31:06 PM

Check your temps with HWMonitor. Also run CPU-Z. If your CPU is throttled back because of heat issues you'll be able to tell.

Beyond that I would be looking at the northbridge. Those nVidia chipsets are problematic, especially with heat. HWMonitor may report a high board temp also.
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October 27, 2011 10:35:03 PM

I'm using a FSP au-700 (80+ gold rated)

My idle CPU temp is 48 C.

Core speed is 1874.9 MHzX6 multiplier
FSB: 1250
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
October 28, 2011 1:40:18 AM

Your FSB is 1250? That would mean it's actually 312.5, which checks with your other figures.

I can see that causing issues over time with that northbridge, unless you had some special cooling on it.

Or it could be a virus. I would expect your "idle" multiplier to be at 9 though in that case. It's at 6 indicating to me that it's not your CPU that's the issue, but some part of your board, north or southbridge. But, you could be having a lot of HDD activity that would tie up your system but not your CPU... but then again your HDD controller going out would look similar also.
So your DDR2 is probably running at 625Mhz, btw.
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October 28, 2011 2:11:05 AM

The mobo came with an optional fan but I didn't install it. Maybe my chipset went bad?
If so, how would I test for that?

I am pretty sure it can't be a virus because I reformatted and reloaded windows 7 today (second time this week). Still no change.

I am thinking it might be some sort of hard drive failure. I ran the windows hard drive test and it came up with no errors though.

Thanks so much for your replies so far. Hopefully we'll figure this out.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 28, 2011 2:23:58 AM

I personally don't see a hard drive failure making the CPU work at 80% at idle.

I do see a hard drive failure(or just an old/slow/hot hard drive) causing the slow down you're reporting though.
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
October 28, 2011 2:35:55 AM

Well, windows drive indexing could account for the CPU fluctuations in a new installation, and be unrelated to the general slowness you might see from failing hardware.

Aside from grabbing board temperature readings I don't have a good way to test.

Prime95 and HWmonitor, so you can see all the temps. You might see if Speedfan will see board temps better than HWM.

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October 31, 2011 8:10:00 PM

Best answer selected by wynne1.
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October 31, 2011 8:11:16 PM

Solved:
Problem solved! Reapplied thermal paste to my CPU and my idle temp is down to 25-27 Celsius! Also, no more slowness! Thanks for your help guys!
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
October 31, 2011 8:20:27 PM

Glad that cleared it up.
You remind me that we need to be more pushy about getting accurate temp readings under load as well as idle :)  We might have solved it earlier.

You see, 25-27C idle temps are not possible, unless the room is at 10C. So whatever method you are using to get temps is not accurate. Or you might be getting the Tcase temp instead of cores.
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October 31, 2011 8:31:53 PM

I'm using HWMonitor. Anyways, it's like night and day...I'm so happy. Best Halloween ever :-p
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
October 31, 2011 10:43:19 PM

Probably HWMonitor's fault then. If you get a chance could you try RealTemp or CoreTemp?
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October 31, 2011 11:03:43 PM

RealTemp tells me it's at 33 Celsius. Still pretty low! That's 20 degrees difference before thermal paste :-)
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b à CPUs
November 1, 2011 5:21:21 AM

That's a more realistic temp for sure, and excellent.
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