Could high CPU usage just be a throttled CPU?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by pierat, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. pierat macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2010
    I have a mid-2011 Mini that recently started to have high CPU usage problems. The fan has been running hard, CPU running on the hot side. Today, I opened it up, saw how filthy it was and cleaned it out really well. I thought the problem must be that the CPU was throttling due to heat, therefore processes that normally wouldn't have any problems with CPU, were all of a sudden running CPU to 100%. I figured cleaning would be like a miracle. After cleaning, the problem remains. We are not talking about anything crazy, just opening Chrome will shoot it up to 100% CPU. This has never been a problem. This Mini is strictly a media player and it has been running with the exact same setup for years without a problem. RAM is usually pretty wired, but not much page outs. Point is, this thing ran perfectly until a few weeks ago when this started.

    Next thought was Intel Power Gadget to see if my CPU is actually getting it's supposed clock speed or not. Chrome simply shouldn't use 100% of a 2.5ghz processor with one window open. Power Gadget will install, but will not open. I keep getting an error. Everything fit the compatibility requirements: 2nd generation Intel Sandy Bridge i5 2.5ghz, OS 10.7. It just won't open.

    So my next thought... Since this is a new problem, I am left to assume that something changed. Since I have not changed any software, only thing left is hardware. I am going to assume, maybe incorrectly that my CPU is throttled and the only thing left to do is reapply thermal paste. I didn't want to take it apart without a second opinion. Is there any other way to verify current clock speed of a CPU if Power Gadget won't open? I could maybe upgrade the OS, but I worry about the Mini's minimal resources on a newer OS. I would be willing to upgrade OS just to see if I could get Power Gadget to install, verify my theory and then just restore back, but there will be headaches involved to do that. Any other recommendations or ideas?
  2. vddobrev macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2016
    Haskovo, Bulgaria
    Is only Chrome taking 100% CPU, or is it any task? Not very familiar with Chrome, but can you disable any and all plug-ins and extensions? Can you create a new user and see what happens from the new user account?
  3. pierat thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2010
    I did some more fiddling. I think I may have narrowed it down to Arc Welder. I have been using it for many years without a hitch to run the Pandora Android app, but it looks like it has started to hog CPU. However, on my other Mac that is new and very fast, I just recently saw CPU hogging while loading a few tabs in Chrome. Again, for the first time ever just in the past week or so. I have a very fast computer and it was using over 90% CPU to load a few pages on a forum. On that one, it had just updated Chrome automatically right before this happened, so I assume it's the new version and haven't tried reverting it yet. Overall, it seems Chrome is the hog one way or another.

    Any other ideas on getting Power Gadget to work?
  4. djc6 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
  5. pierat thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2010
    Interesting, that at least provides a clue to if the CPU is throttled. I guess I can start up the offending application, Chrome, and watch kernel task in Activity Monitor to see if it increases CPU load. This will only be a clue, but a helpful bit of info you provided, thanks! I still wish I could get Power Gadget to work, I'd have my answer in seconds. Oh well, in the meantime, I've stopped using that offending plugin and I have not had a problem since. I'd still like to use it, but I may need to try some updates and version changes to find a combo that works as it used always has.
  6. Sam Luis Obispo macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2006
    By any chance, would you be visiting a website that is mining currency through your browser?
  7. casperes1996 macrumors 68040


    Jan 26, 2014
    Horsens, Denmark
    The CPU usage percentage doesn't work like that though. If it says 40% used, it'll say 40% almost regardless of whether you run your CPU at 1mhz or 2ghz, assuming the process has no sleep time. If it's running at 100% it's likely that it's not a process that sleeps or finishes quickly enough that throttling would at all be meaningful in terms of the usage percentage.

    Regarding Power Gadget, what happens when you try opening it? Try installing it with Home-brew cask instead.

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6 February 10, 2018