processor usage never goes over 50% even when it should??

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by gryph, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. gryph macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2010

    on my MBP 4,1
    2.5 GHz
    4GB ram
    nvidia 8600m

    when doing high processor use tasks like copying 5 gb files or playing hl2 on steam the processor use always stays below 50% (istatpro)

    1) why is this the case ?

    2) if i could use more processor time would it improve performance of high use tasks?

    3) if this is not normal behavior what could cause this ?

    thanks for any help
  2. Ramphex macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
  3. kryptonianjorel macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2009
    Because HL2 cant utilize more than 1 processor, so that it maxes out 1 core, or 50% of your total power
  4. gryph thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2010
    note1: that this also happens when copying large files

    note2: the dual core usage option is selected by default in hl2 (so it is supposed to be using it but not????)(according to activity monitor it uses precisely 30% but my general question is why is it "restricted" to 30%)

    as for xrg it shows about the same results as istatpro
  5. iSpoody 1243 macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    weird i have the 2.4 Ghz version of your mbp and i sometimes hit 70% usage just watching a flash movie on newgrounds. weird?
  6. NJuul macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    Try to open a terminal window, and enter:

    yes > /dev/null
    This will cause one core to go to 100% usage (activity monitor will report 100% usage, meaning one core fully utilized).

    If you don't like terminal, you can also use this GUI wrapper:

    If your CPU still stays at 30%, something is wrong.
  7. gryph thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2010

    used cup test and everything seems to be in order yet i can run ten huge applications at once but the utilization does not go over 50%(total) my MBP just starts to lag to make up the processing difference

    note3: i think this is some battery or software issue as in win7 bootcamp processor utilization hovers near 80% under load

    note4: the 30% thing is utilization under hl2 only, but the computer ALWAYS (running applications) stays under 50% (except when i did the cpu load test just now)
  8. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Osx dosnt work like that it's 100% per core hence why you'll see 130% usage etc.

    Tbh op I would have it looked over. It could be a contact issue between the CPU and cooling causing the CPU to throttle at 30%.
  9. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    What is your temperatures? Do the fans spin on a lot?

    Might be worth cleaning the fans, and if you're not comfortable doing that yourself, an Apple Authorised Reseller will do it.
  10. boko macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2009
    Are you running the computer without the battery installed?
  11. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    Opening programs and copying files is not CPU intensive, they are I/O intensive . Opening the whole Adobe suite at once won't use up all of your CPU because it can't read from the hard drive fast enough. HL2 is a really old game, and wouldn't tax a newer machine as much.

    Converting a video, watching flash video etc will cause usage to max out on as many cores as the program can handle.
  12. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    First, as already stated, copying files is not a high-CPU task. The process of copying a file and writing it to another location does not take up very much CPU at all, particularly with current system designs being way faster than a single network or hard drive can keep up with. Additionally, most I/O and media control tasks are handled by a set of chips known as a Southbridge. The Southbridge handles the details of the I/O work, and the CPU only supervises. This is why it appears to take up so little resources.

    HL2 on Steam also won't appear to take up many resources because a lot of the graphic-intensive work is being handled by your 8600m GPU and the Northbridge. Again, the CPU is only supervising the graphics work, and handling other things (integrating keyboard/mouse inputs, talking with network interfaces that connect to game servers, delegating RAM and GPU tasks to the Northbridge, etc.).

    For copying files, no. your disks and network are already going as fast as they can.

    For game play, again no. Your 8600m GPU is handling the brunt of the work (graphics rendering) because the game was coded to let the GPU do that, AND because the GPU is designed to do this far more capably than your CPU could.

    There are some tasks that WILL max out your CPU. Tasks like data modeling, audio processing, and video encoding will easily max out one or both cores of the CPU, and you'll definitely feel the difference. You'll also realize why maxing out your CPU all the time is not desirable, and not something you want to be doing all the time. Your system will heat up, your fans will kick in, and performing other tasks will be a very sluggish process as your system gets bogged down.

    Oh yeah, and visiting a website with Flash will eat your CPU as well. Not because the system can't handle the things that Flash is being used to do, but simply because Flash is badly coded for unix/linux machines, including the Mac.

    It should also be pointed out that if you had a newer system (with say, a 9400m/9600 GPU, or a 320/330m), even video encoding won't necessarily max out your CPU if you use the right program, because OS X is written to use the GPU for video encoding tasks when possible.

    It's normal behavior, and it's caused by the fact that your computer and the software running on it is designed to do this.

    This isn't Windows XP, where everything rested on the CPU, and having the fastest processor always meant you can do more, faster. Modern operating systems like OS X (and even Windows 7) take into account that there's a lot more muscle to a modern computer than just a single CPU, and so tasks are distributed and delegated accordingly. It's no longer the case that you always have to max out a CPU to do a process as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    I think the real question to ask is: is your computer performing poorly when you're playing HL2 or when copying files? If not, then there's no need to worry.
  13. bsizz234 macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2010
    that's what I was going to say. I usually max out watching flash vids and doing handbrake encodes...
  14. gryph thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2010
    when under load the temps go into the 70-80's C
    and the fans spin up to 6000

    battery installed but "service required" health estimated to be 30% (istatpro)

    as to hl2 the worry comes from the 100 fps gap between win7 bootcamp and osx when i have seen 10-15 identical configs with the gap in the 30's-40's (steam forums) (valve has said there is a driver performance gap which apple will try and rectify in 10.6.4 but the reported gap differences are with the current setup)

    as to my copying issue well it runs slower then windows xp copying so.......problem (sometimes it starts copying files into the negative -1 files copies etc may be non issue)

    as to flash videos yes they increase system usage by about 20-30 % but i dont get the huge burden you are talking about (still total utilization below 50%)

    is there anyway to monitor my GPU load? (to see what the load is under strain)

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