From the computer, we increasingly perform different tasks simultaneously (listening to music while writing a report, receiving files by email and downloading videos), which involve executing commands, and sending and receiving data. Over time, computer performance can suffer if CPU usage is not optimized.

But what is a CPU?

CPU stands for central processing unit. The CPU itself is the brain of a computer, on which most calculations and processes are performed. The two components of a CPU are:

  • The arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which performs arithmetic and logical operations.
  • The Control Unit (CU), which retrieves instructions from the memory, decodes and executes them, calling the ALU when necessary.

In this diagram you may see that the CPU also contains the memory unit, which contains the following elements:

  • The ROM (Read Only Memory): It is a read-only memory; that is, you may only read the programs and data stored in it. It is also a primary memory unit of the computer system, and contains some electronic fuses that can be programmed for specific information. The information is stored in ROM in binary format. It is also known as permanent memory.
  • The RAM (Random Access Memory): As its name suggests, it is a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly, any byte of memory without handling the previous bytes. RAM is a high-speed component on devices that temporarily stores all the information a device needs.
  • Cache: The cache stores data and allows quick access to it. Cache speed and capacity improves device performance.

Its crucial role in the computer operation

By its components, the speed and performance of a computer are directly related to the CPU features, such as:

  • Energy consumption. It refers to the amount of power that the CPU consumes when executing actions, the higher the quality, the higher the power consumption.
  • The clock frequency. It refers to the clock speed that the CPU has and that determines the number of actions it can execute in a period of time.
  • The number of cores. The greater the number of cores, the greater the number of actions that can be performed simultaneously.
  • The number of threads. It helps the processor handle and execute actions more efficiently. It splits tasks or processes to optimize waiting times between actions.
  • Cache memory. It stores data and allows quick access to it.
  • The type of bus. It refers to the communication that the CPU establishes with the rest of the system.

Relationship between CPU speed/power and computer performance

Impact of speed and power on system effectiveness.

CPUs are classified by the number of cores:

  • De un solo núcleo, en el que el procesador sólo puede realizar una acción a la vez, es el procesador más antiguo.
  • Two-core, which allows you to perform more than one action at a time.
  • Four cores, separate from each other, which allows them to perform several actions at once and are much more efficient.

Considering this, we understand why current CPUs have two or more cores to be able to perform several operations at the same time or balance the load so that the processor does not become 100% busy, which would prevent performing some operations.

Consequences of a slow or overloaded CPU

When a CPU is overloaded, the consequences are as follows, and in the indicated order:

  • Loss of performance, encouraging task processing.
  • Overheating of the computer, a sign that the components receive more demand than the capacity they have.
  • If the temperature of a processor exceeds its limit, it slows down and can even lead to a total system shutdown.

With this, if you do not want to reach the last consequence that puts your equipment at risk, the CPU load must be optimized.

Importance of Reducing CPU Usage

Benefits of optimizing CPU load

When CPU consumption is minimized, the benefits become noticeable in:

  • Energy savings: Lower power consumption, avoiding unnecessary use of processor resources.
  • Battery life: It extends battery life by reducing power consumption.
  • Higher performance: Performance improvements at all times.
  • Lower processor overheating and exhaustion.
  • Lower environmental impact: With lower energy consumption, the carbon footprint of the organization is reduced and it is possible to contribute to ESG goals (Environment, Social, Governance).

Monitoring CPU usage in IT environments

Role of IT support service agents

To give continuity to the business, it is always necessary to supervise systems and equipment to ensure service delivery without interruptions or events that may put the company at risk. IT support agents precisely provide face-to-face or remote support at:

  • Install and configure equipment, operating systems, programs and applications.
  • Regularly maintain equipment and systems.
  • Support employees on technology use or needs.
  • Detect risks and problems in equipment and systems, and take action to prevent or correct them.
  • Perform diagnostics on hardware and software operation.
  • Replace parts or the whole equipment when necessary.
  • Make and analyze reports on the state of equipment and systems.
  • Order parts and spare parts, and, if possible, schedule inventories.
  • Provide guidance on the execution of new equipment, applications or operating systems.
  • Test and evaluate systems and equipment prior to implementation.
  • Configure profiles and access to networks and equipment.
  • Carry out security checks on all equipment and systems.

Remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools for effective monitoring.

In order to carry out the functions of the technical support service agent, there are tools for remote monitoring and management. Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) is software that helps run and automate IT tasks such as updates and patch management, device health checks, and network monitoring. The approach of RMM, of great support for internal IT teams as well as for Managed Service Providers (MSPs), is to centralize the support management process remotely, from tracking devices, knowing their status, to performing routine maintenance and solving problems that arise in equipment and systems. This becomes valuable considering that IT services and resources are in hybrid environments, especially to support the demand of users who not only work in the office but those who are working remotely. Tracking or maintaining resources manually is literally impossible.
To learn more about RMM, visit this Pandora FMS blog: What is RMM software?

Tips for reducing CPU usage on Chromebooks and Windows

Closing tabs or unnecessary applications

This is one of the easiest methods to reduce CPU usage. Close any tabs or apps you’re not using in your web browser. This frees up resources on your computer, allowing you to perform other tasks.
To open the Task Manager on a Chromebook, press “Ctrl” + “Shift” + “T”.
Right-click on the Windows taskbar and select “Task Manager”.
In Task Manager, close any tabs or apps you’re no longer using.

Disabling non-essential animations or effects

Some animations and effects can take up large CPU resources, so it’s best to disable them. First go to system settings and look for an option called “Performance” or “Graphics”, from which you may turn off animations and effects.
On Chromebook, go to Settings > Advanced > Performance and turn off any unnecessary animation or effects.
In Windows, go to Dashboards > System & Security > Performance and turn off unnecessary animations or effects.

Driver update

Outdated drivers can degrade computer performance, leading to excessive CPU usage. To update your drivers, visit your computer manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers for your hardware. Install and then restart your computer.

Hard drive defragmentation

Over time, the hard drive can fragment, affecting computer performance. Open the “Disk Defragmenter” tool from the Start menu to defragment it. Select “Disk Defragmenter” from the Start menu. Restart the computer after defragmenting the hard drive.

Malware scanning

Malware is malicious software that aims to cause damage to systems and computers. Sometimes malware can take up CPU resources, so it’s key to scan your computer and perform a scan on a regular basis to find malware. For that, use a trusted antivirus program. Once the scan is complete, remove any malware that may have been detected.

System restoration

If you are experiencing high CPU usage, you may try performing a system restore. It can be a drastic solution, but it will return the computer to a previous state where it worked normally. To do this, open the Start menu and search for “System Restore”.
Click the “Start” button and type “System Restore”.
Choose a restore point that was created before you started experiencing problems with high CPU usage. Restart the computer.

Software update

Outdated software also causes performance issues on your computer, including high CPU usage. To update the software, open the Control Panel and go to the “Windows Update” settings, check for updates and install those that are available.
In addition to these tips, it is recommended to use RMM tools and agents installed on the company’s computers, servers, workstations and devices, which run in the background in order to collect information on network activity, performance and system security in real time. Through its analysis, it is possible to detect patterns and anomalies to generate support tickets (and scale them if necessary according to their severity) or, ideally, act preventively.
Proactive monitoring by internal IT teams or MSP providers is also recommended to ensure a stable and safe IT environment for users. Importantly, proactivity reduces the costs associated with equipment repair and data recovery.

Advanced Optimization: Overclocking and CPU Switching

Explanation of advanced options such as overclocking

overclocking is a technique used to increase clock frequency of an electronic component, such as the CPU (processor) or the GPU (graphics card), beyond the specifications set by the equipment manufacturer. That is, overlocking tries to force the component to operate at a higher speed than it originally offers.

Considerations on installing a new CPU

While it may seem like a simple matter to install a new CPU, there are considerations for installing a new CPU to ensure your computer’s performance. It is recommended to have the following at hand:

  • A screwdriver: Depending on your PC and the content that is installed on it, you may need one or more screwdrivers to remove the screws from your CPU and even the motherboard, in case you need to remove it.
  • Thermal paste: This is a must when installing a new CPU, especially if you do not have a CPU cooler with pre-applied thermal paste.
  • Isopropyl alcohol wipes: You will need them to clean the residual thermal paste of the processor and the contact point of the CPU cooler. You may even use isopropyl alcohol along with some very absorbent paper towels.
  • Antistatic Wristband: Since fragile and expensive components such as the CPU, motherboard and cooler will be worked on, we suggest using an antistatic wristband to protect the components from static discharges.

With this at hand, we now let you know three important considerations:

  • Take static precautions:
    The CPU is sensitive to static discharges. Its pins are delicate and work at high temperatures, so you have to take precautions. It is recommended to wear an antistatic bracelet or take a metal surface to “unload” yourself. In case the CPU has been used in another machine or if the fan is being replaced, you may need to remove the old thermal compound with isopropyl alcohol (not on the CPU contacts). There is no need to remove the battery from the motherboard during CPU installation. This would cause saved BIOS configurations to be lost. A minimum force must be required to lock the CPU charging lever in place.
  • Motherboard compatibility:
    It is important to check the documentation of your motherboard to know the type of socket that is used. Remember that AMD and Intel use different sockets, so you can’t install an Intel processor on an AMD board (and vice versa). If you can’t find this information, you may use the CPU-Z program to determine the type of socket to use.
  • Correct location and alignment:
    The CPU must be properly placed in the socket. If you do not do it correctly, the CPU will not work. You should make sure to properly install the fan and heat sink to avoid temperature problems.

In a nutshell…

The demand for resources on our computers to be able to process multiple tasks simultaneously has made it clear why attention should be paid to using the CPU with speed and power. For that reason, remote supervision and management tools are a resource for IT employees (or Managed Service Provider) in order to be able to know from a central point the status of systems and equipment and undertake maintenance and prevention actions remotely, such as driver updates, malware scanning, software updates, among others. The results of these efforts will be energy savings, increased performance, and extended battery life, along with reduced processor overheating and reduced environmental impact.