Every so often, CPU Usage spikes to about 65-70%...

Hello all,

I have a minor, but perplexing problem.

I'm running an Intel i7 950 3.06 Ghz Processor in a gaming rig that was custom built. I've got 12 Gigs of RAM, ASUS P6X58-E PRO Intel X58 Motherboard , with overkill case fans(5), 2 intake, 3 outtake, and massive amounts of ventilation(HAF X Full Tower Gaming case), plus additional cooling fans on the RAM sticks.

I keep running processes to a minimum, and I shut down all unneeded processes when gaming. I am religious with keeping dust out of my machine, the fans and filters get cleaned regularly.

All my temps run perfectly in range, my CPU Idles at between 39-45c, and gets up to about 60-65c under full load when gaming. My graphics card(ATI HD 5870 1 GB) idles at about 35-40c, and doesn't much get past the high 50s, sometimes getting into the low 60s when gaming under full load.

No temp issues at all or CPU usage issues, most of the time.

When I have the desktop up and running and idle, the CPU usage is about 1%-3%. With the internet open, and several other programs running, and videos or media playing, my CPU usage can go up to about 10%-15% usage. If I've got a game running as well, and I'm doing mutiple things, my CPU usage can go into the 20s or 30s but not stay there, dropping back into the 20ish range on average.

***HOWEVER, a strange thing happens like once every 45 minutes, sometimes even much less often - my CPU usage will suddenly spike to like 60-70% for a few seconds, and my CPU temp will go from the 40s up to around the high 60s, sometimes hitting 70c. This will last for a few seconds, then everything drops back down again to normal.***

I thought that perhaps Norton Internet Security's Updates were causing it, but it's still doing it even after I turned off Automatic Updates.

I do notice that my video card fans speed up for a few seconds when my CPU usage spikes. I'm running MSI Afterburner and I have custom fan profiles set up. Makes me wonder if my video card is doing something while it's running to cause the CPU spike. But I don't see why it would do that unless I was playing a game.

Maybe an update that is happening with my graphics card? But that can't be, usually you have to tell your system that you specifically want to update your driver or Catalyst Control Center, it would do that by itself.

Very strange.

Thanks in advance.
4 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Sounds like malware? Try running anti-malware scans on your computer. It could also be a problem with your motherboard maybe.. (can't help you there if it is)

    Malwarebytes anti malware is a good free one. Also make sure norton is completely updated to the newest version and latest virus listing (w/e term they use for virus stuff)
  2. Best answer selected by Oinkusboinkus.
  3. Hey there,

    Thanks for replying! I realize that there were a lot of views of this, and only your 1 response. Probably because I'm so overly verbose when I post, I force people to go through an ordeal, it's like reading a whole book when I post lol. :sarcastic:

    I tried your suggestion, but came up with nothing malware-wise. I run a subscription for Norton 360 on my system, did a full system scan, but it came back clean. I also tried a full system scan with Sophos. I then tried Malwarebytes, and did a full system scan with that as well.

    Everything came back clean.

    I think I have pinpointed it down to what it is. After experimenting, I noticed that the CPU spikes during two different events. The first one is during the FIRST MINUTE or of Norton's Live Updates. Must be something in the updates that takes up a lot of CPU usage for like the first 60 seconds or so. I read on other forums that Norton tends to cause that, during updates and also during system scans. So that problem is not isolated to my system.

    I also noticed that the CPU spikes when I have MSI Afterburner running. I use it for custom fan profiles to keep my gaming cards cool (HD 5870 1 GB x2 in Crossfire). Every so often, when the fans are running at profile speed, they run faster for a few seconds, and the CPU spikes up. But that only lasts a few seconds. The CPU will go literally from like 5% usage, to instantly arouind %55 or %60, sometimes 70%+, and then comes back down. Usually, when I'm in a game, and I have MSI running, the CPU doesn't much get out of the 20s or 30s percent under load.

    So any way, thanks for replying and for your suggestion, much appreciated!
  4. Yeah I've heard that about Norton too. Good that you figured out what was the cause of it from the software angle, glad it's not a hardware problem lol

    You can always try uninstalling Norton and go to a different antivirus, or free antivirus. (might have to use special software that digs down and deletes the stuff Norton leaves behind if you do that)

    Same for MSI, I don't use fan profiles, but if there is an equivalent software that does it maybe you could look into it.
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