how do i get my computer to stop eating the cpu?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by nickXedge, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. nickXedge macrumors 6502

    nickXedge

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island
    #1
    I have a Macbook (Late 2007) and I use iStat Pro to monitor my computers internal behavior. In my particular case its not even needed because anyone who knows anything about computers, and notebooks specifically, knows that it is eating up the cpu.

    iStat Pro shows that my "System" is ALWAYS using ~35% of the cpu whereas the "User", me, is only using ~1-15%. Because of this, it shows me that my CPU is ~175ºF and because of that, my fan spins ~6200 RPM.

    All in all my notebook is louder than a jet engine and I don't do anything with it to warrant that kind of behavior. I am a college student and I use applications such as iTunes, Safari and Word. I don't do anything with any kind of demanding applications.

    How do I find out what is using my CPU in the "background" I guess and fix it? Or shut it off? This is going to be very bothersome once I go back to school in 2 days and have to sit in class typing notes on a rocket ship taking off for Mars. Please help. Thanks.
     
  2. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #2
    Open Activity Monitor (in Applications > Utilities) and select "All processes."

    From there, see which process is using your CPU.
     
  3. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #3
    Quit using iStat. No, really. It burns CPU cycles for no good reason other than to report the fact. Actually, most widgets do. The only time my temps & fan crank up is during WinClone sessions. As far as what's eating the CPU, whatever needs to, honestly. Unless you've installed a bunch of background stuff, the system determines what gets allocated as needed. Mere humans don't get to decide that one. ;)
     
  4. nickXedge thread starter macrumors 6502

    nickXedge

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island
    #4
    I don't want to say I'm still "new" to Macs as I got this, my first ever, back in February, however I am definitely still learning.

    This is the first I have heard of Activity Monitor and it certainly is what I was looking for. "WindowServer" was eating up a lot of CPU power so I quit that and it immediately got better, however it had to log me out and then log me back in after I quit it, I don't know why.

    Anyone know what WindowServer is tied to? I have no idea and I'd like to maybe delete whatever it is that I don't think I use. I'm very careful with installing things but I'm baffled. Thanks again. I appreciate your time guys.
     
  5. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #5
    If I remember right, windowserver is what actually draws the windows on the screen, it's kinda important - you might not want to quit it again.
     
  6. Warbrain macrumors 603

    Warbrain

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #6
    Windowserver is a major component that you need to have running. It really only causes problems when it goes ******* and it decides it's log needs to fill the remaining space on your HDD.
     
  7. nickXedge thread starter macrumors 6502

    nickXedge

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island
    #7
    Haha, that explains why it logged me out and back in and then started back up. But either way, it was using way more CPU than it needed and it does that often so I'm going to continue to quit it when it gets out of control and maybe I'll take my Macbook to a Genius Bar and show them and they can maybe do something to get it to relax more. But either way, it's a quick fix that doesn't seem to have any negative side effects. If some pop up, I'll be sure to update.
     
  8. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #8
    I don't think you need to worry about the OS using your spare CPU cycles.
     
  9. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #9
    There's nothing wrong with your system, relax.

    Again, the user (that's you) doesn't get to decide how much CPU usage an application or process gets. The OS is determining that in real-time, and as you have already discovered, shouldn't be messed with "just because." Every time you open, close, move, or switch focus from one window or app to another, WindowServer gets used. The more windows open, the more use, and the higher the CPU demand. That's its job. And it's only one of anywhere from 50 to 150 processes running at any one time.
     
  10. nickXedge thread starter macrumors 6502

    nickXedge

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island
    #10
    You have not seen or heard what my computer is doing and if you had, you'd be questioning it as well.

    Right, that's all well and good. However, when I open the lid to my computer and there is literally nothing open and after 3 seconds it starts going ******* and then I check Activity Monitor and it shows WindowServer using 55% or more of my CPU for no reason whatsoever, and then because of this my fan starts spinning at 6200RPM because the CPU is about erupt in flames, I get a little curious.

    And as for "mess[ing] with [it] just because," that's not what I did at all. I appreciate the help but don't read what I post and then insult me or act like I'm a kid who has no clue. I messed with it because my computer was hotter than it needed to be and freaking out. What I did seems to have fixed the problem and hasn't caused any damage. So next time you can kindly say "That might not be a good idea, the computer should know what's it doing. Maybe if it's acting up, take it to a Genius Bar and have them look at it."

    Thanks.
     
  11. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #11
    Oh I have that too. Dashboard uses 20%, WindowServer uses like 20%. It doesn't bother me. When I run Photoshop or do some video encoding the Dashboard and stuff magically decrease to like .5% CPU. ;)
     
  12. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #12
    I wasn't insulting you, but if you feel the need to be offended, go right ahead.

    The point that you think the fan is too high, the CPU usage is too high, or the temps are too high doesn't mean anything if we don't have any metrics or trends to look at.

    How long does the CPU stay at 35% (or 55%)? It can use up to 200% (dual-core) if it thinks its necessary.

    How long does the fan stay at 6200 rpm? It will move up and down, on its own, in response to anticipated temperature increases/decreases.

    How high do the temps go, and how long are they there? Which temp are you talking about? (iStat reports several). Your CPU can safely run at 180F/80C for extended periods.

    In other words, nothing you've mentioned makes me think there's anything necessarily abnormal here.
     
  13. logana macrumors 65816

    logana

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2006
    Location:
    Scotland
    #13
    There must be something going wrong here - the first thing I thought of was PrintMonitor - is there a print job somewhere on your machine that is still active - a print that you never completed ?

    The temperatures and fan-speeds and cpu activity are not normal for a MacBook.
     
  14. *Sandy* macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    Always in a path of a Hurricane!
    #14
    My Macbook Fans can never be heard always under 1800 RPM's.
     
  15. Bobioden macrumors 68000

    Bobioden

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Location:
    Denver
    #15
    Check and see what you have loading at startup. Maybe something is loading that you are not aware of, that is using a lot of resources.

    With Safari, iTunes and Word running your fans should not be running at 6500.
     
  16. nickXedge thread starter macrumors 6502

    nickXedge

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island
    #16
    The CPU [was] always at 55%, even when nothing was running. The fan [was] always at 6200 rpm, from when I popped the lid to 5-10 seconds after I shut it. The abnormality mentioned here is that I wasn't doing anything to warrant this kind of action. I use my computer for Microsoft Word, iTunes and Safari, that's literally it. I had the computer 4 months before it started having these problems and out of nowhere it started doing this, nothing changed on my end.

    Thank you for the assurances that I'm not crazy. The PrintMonitor is not active, but thanks for the suggestion.

    This was my concern. Only recently did this start happening. For the first few months of having and using my Macbook, the fan was very rarely heard.

    Again, thanks for the assurance. It's nice to know that this isn't something I should be dealing with.

    In response to all of this, after learning of the Activity Monitor I was able to see that WindowServer was using 55%+ of my CPU and for no reason as there were hardly ever more than 2 or 3 windows on the screen and none of them requiring any kind of cpu intensity. After quitting the process my Macbook let me know it would have to log me out in order to perform the action and I accepted. It then logged me right back in and the process started right back up, but with modified behavior. I suppose it learned that I meant business and hasn't acted up since.

    So at this point it has been 2 days with a good amount of use, as classes started up again yesterday, and I haven't had the problem come back. I assume perhaps WindowServer was stuck in a cycle or maybe confused or agitated by something. However, quitting it seemed to do the trick. If the problem should start up again, you guys will be the first to know.

    Thanks again for the input, it really is appreciated. It's great to know if I have a problem I can get immediate feedback on it.
     
  17. Chappers macrumors 68020

    Chappers

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2003
    Location:
    At home
    #17
    Have you tried something like IceClean a system maintenance tool.

    http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/31818

    Once its main window opens (don't press anything in that window) but go to the "Maintenance" menu and drop down to "All Maintenance tasks and reboot".

    This will take several minutes to happen - be patient.
     
  18. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #18
    Couple of questions: First, did you upgrade to 10.5 recently, or is the current installation a migration from a previous system, or any combination of those? Second, are you using an external display or have you changed displays recently?

    If either of the above is true, then my thinking here is the windowserver.plist may be in need of reset/rebuild. Corrective steps (in order):
    • Reset NVRAM (Command-Option-P-R at boot). If this has no effect,
    • Delete windowserver.plist (/Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist, and ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/com.apple.windowserver.xxxxxxxxx.plist)

    Don't worry about deleting plists, the system will rebuild new ones on reboot.

    Other areas to think about:
    • Desktop Picture. This eats up resources like crazy and will drive windowserver way up, particularly if you change background images frequently (on the "every 5 seconds" interval)
    • Widgets. Ironically, iStat drives process and cpu usage up substantially so the reading you get are not typical for an idle machine.
    • Applications that are part of Login Items but run in the background. Some are nasty on cpu cycles. EarthDesk, EyeTV are a couple that are examples of this.
     

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