Obsessive CPU usage in WinXP?

By Justin
May 29, 2002
  1. Here's the specs:

    AMD Thunderbird 1ghz
    256mb RAM
    Maxtor 80gb HDD
    No clue on mainboard/CDroms (isn't located at my house)
    Running WinXP Pro

    Problem: On a fresh boot, while idle, the CPU usage is above 60% at all times. Never goes below 60% usage, even though it states that idle process is at 90-99% all the time. While in safe mode, it's at a normal 1-9% during idle, but on a normal boot it never goes below that. Kills playing anything on that box and makes everything slow to a crawl at all times.

    I've gone through everything I knew off hand. I checked services, I checked startup, we did two recoveries, uninstalled all installed programs, removed/reapplied all critical updates, tried several different driver sets. None of that worked. It DOES NOT do this in safe mode. I'm assuming if it doesn't do it in safe mode, it is a driver or installed app issue, but we've removed everything that was installed, removed updates, ran a deep registry repair, and done a repair using XP setup.

    Any suggestions? The box is not overclocked, AFAIK it is not damaged, the HDD is new and has been working fine.
  2. lokem

    lokem TS Rookie Posts: 672

    Have you checked which process that's taking up all the CPU time in the Task Manager?
  3. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    I thought I mentioned that.

    In the process list, with "show processes from all users" checked, the only thing high is system idle process, which SHOULD be. It is at 90-99%, and yet it still says CPU usage is 60%+ and is very slow.

    It also says system idle process has the majority of the cputime, like normal.
  4. lokem

    lokem TS Rookie Posts: 672

    Oops.. Sorry about that.

    Try running Ad-Aware and see if it picks up any adware. If it does remove it and see what happens.
  5. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    This is after a fresh install too. Fresh install, still says 60% or above.
  6. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,244

    That is very odd indeed. What other software is installed? Was this a problem before the Fresh Install? Were there any problems during the installation?
  7. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    By fresh install do you mean a clean reformat? Or just an install on top of the current filesystem?
  8. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    A clean reformat.
  9. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Maybe there's an onboard device eating cpu cycles. Do you have an onboard sound chip or network chip ? Do you RAID some of your drives ?
  10. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    Only one HDD, primary master, IDE, One CDROM device, secondary master, IDE. Nothing onboard. A voodoo3 PCI, a yamaha GX PCI, USB cable modem.
  11. lokem

    lokem TS Rookie Posts: 672

    Try disconnecting the USB cable modem and see what happens. Perhaps that's the one which is causing the OS to "poll" the device...
  12. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    I already tried that. I removed the modem from the picture, didn't even that the drivers installed or it plugged in... wasn't the problem.

    And, while in safe mode WITH networking support (able to get on the net via the cable modem) it wasn't doing this.
  13. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    The only problems during installation originally turned out to be a bad CDROM, but that has been taken out of the picture. I don't believe it was doing any of this a few weeks ago. Actually, now that I recall, it wasn't a clean format this last install so soon we will attempt that as well. If the clean format doesn't work I'll come back here.

    Thanks for the suggestions, real annoying this one is.
  14. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    Does your computer actually run slower though?

    This could jsut be a bug with the task manager.

    Also, System Restore might be running.
  15. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    It isn't my computer, but yes it was running considerably slower, most especially apparent when she was playing UO or UT, which were nigh impossible.

    The other night, out of nowhere, it dropped down to normal use and stayed there for a long time. Then, out of nowhere, it flared back up again, and eventually again died back down.

    This is a fresh install, and I've made sure the box is clean of virii/trojan/etc.

    AFAIK system restore has been disabled, but I will double check that.

    Thanks again.
  16. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Is the CPU overheating ?

    In my BIOS there's a throttle option in case the CPU overheats. It basically makes the CPU work as if it was at a much lower speed in order for it to cool down a little.

    CPUidle also has that option. If the CPU gets to a certain threshold, CPUidle takes a high priority & makes the whole system slow ( I know he doesn't have CPUidle installed but it's just for comparison matters ).
  17. Th3M1ghtyD8

    Th3M1ghtyD8 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 664

    I am having similar problems :- i.e. my PC boots and has 99% CPU usage. According to task manager this is caused by a process called Explorer.Scr. Does anyone know what this is? It does not seem to be important as I can end it without any advers effects.
  18. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Explorer.scr is most likely a virus. Normally, there's no such screensaver (though Windows users could confirm this).
  19. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    I wonder why I'm always thinking about ACPI when I see a problem like this.. :rolleyes:
  20. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    That's almost definitely a virus.

    Soul Harvester, check these links out:

    Explorer.exe Process Uses Many CPU Cycles When Windows Is Idle

    After You Install a Visioneer USB Scanner the CPU Usage May Be Unusually High

    Search for "excessive cpu usage"
  21. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    I already thought of that.

    However, this is a clean install of an OEM CD, then installing only a virus scanning program that I know is clean, and up to date. No virii, no trjoan, at all.

    EXPLORER.EXE isn't using up excess CPU. As I said before, system idle process remains above 90%, nothing else says it is chewing up the CPU time, but the "usage" reported is 60% or above. Originally I thought it was just an anomlie, a bug in what task manager was reporting, but the horrible system performance led me to believe otherwise.

    No scanner is installed on that box.

    I also already tried microsofts help, I did several google searches and searched this forum was well. I tried many fixes, none of which worked.

    I *would* assume virus except for the fact I know the CD is clean and I know the programs I was using were clean (since they were pulled off of a clean CD).

    If I can't get it resolved soon enough I'm going to do yet *another* format, and if it isn't solved then, I'll start swapping components again, just doesn't make sense.
  22. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,244

    Does it do this from a cold start? Or is the system always on? It sounds like problems I have seen before that are caused by heat, usually a manufacturing defect that only shows itself when hot. This could be easily checked with some freeze spray on the CPU. If there is a shorted or saturated component in the CPU then that could cause it to seem to be working when it is idle, though I usually find this in other ICs, but it is also possible for a CPU as it too is an IC.
  23. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    The virus idea is for Th3M1ghtyD8 who has an Explorer.scr process which isn't part of windows as far as I know.
  24. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. I didn't mean you have a virus, although that would have been an option I suppose. Since this is a clean install and all, it is highly unilikely now.
  25. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 942

    Now that you mention it, on a cold boot it does it unless you boot into safe mode - IF you boot into safe mode it doesn't. After a period of time being on, it randomly goes back down, can be used normally, then eventually flares back up again.

    It's most likely a hardware problem, but isolating is a little tough without many parts to work with.
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