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Dell XPS M1330 - Processor Activity at 100%

Posted on 2009-04-01
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I am using a Dell XPS M1330 laptop, with 2.0GHz in processor speed and 4GB of RAM. Recently, in the past one week, I've noticed that my processor activity hits 100%. I've only had a about 3 windows open, and everything becomes very slow. My warranty with Dell is over, so I really need some help to find out what's going on. How can I check if all hardware is functioning correctly (ie RAM, PROCESSOR, HARD DISC etc). What can I check and how do I rectify this problem.
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Question by:ben1211
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by:Awestin
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First Thought:

Most commonly, a high CPU resource usage comes from multiple applications open at the same time, especially applications that use a lot of resources; e.g. Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, etc. If you only have 3 windows open, I would assume that it is a background task.

Before we assume it is a virus, check your Task Manager, ( [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] ) and click on the 'processes' tab. Next, organize it according to 'CPU' or  'mem usage'.

From here you can determine which application(s) are running and how much of your CPU or Memory they are using. If they aren't any of the windows you have open, then that may be the cause to your issue.

Second thought:

If it all looks good in there, you might wish to check your 'Networking' tab, if an application or multiple applications are using up a lot of your network, this could be a cause for slow computer functionality.

Third thought:

Your registry needs to be cleaned. A registry full of invalid and/or infected files can slow down your computer. On Windows OS based PCs, the registry is the backbone. Every time you install an application, a registry file is added. If you've never cleaned out your registry, it can be full of invalid entries. I would advise a free Registry Cleaner:

Piriform CCleaner:
http://www.ccleaner.com/
Direct Download to CCleaner:
http://www.filehippo.com/download_ccleaner/download/56cf8dcde5b32d4b4e7c7bea1c8e7e37/

Fourth thought:

Your PC needs at least 2 GB of free space for the OS, in order to run smoothly. If you do not have much HDD space left, you might consider removing some applications and defragmenting your HDD. A recommended application from Piriform, again, is Defraggler:

Piriform Defraggler:
http://www.defraggler.com/
Direct Download to Defraggler:
http://www.filehippo.com/download_defraggler/download/7b98a8d0ebdf290472ec4e60a977c10e/
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nobus earned 350 total points
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>>   How can I check if all hardware is functioning correctly   <<   you have hardware diags on the drive, accessable at boot with Ctrl + F11 i believe
or download ubcd : http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
it has all diags and tests

malware possible ? then run ALL these :
     Spybot :        http://www.download.com/3000-8022-10122137.html
     MBAM  :   http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/                                                               online scan for trojans
http://www.spychecker.com/program/hijackthis.html                                   download
http://www.hijackthis.de/index.php?langselect=english                                check the log
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by:ben1211
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Nobus...when you say check the log...which logs are you referring to?
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by:nobus
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you did not try the link, didn't you?   that would show what log...
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by:ben1211
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I downloaded the cc cleaner, spybot and am using it. I even formatted my laptop but nothing has changed.
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by:ben1211
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Nobus...where do I locate these logs? I have clicked on the links and ran whatever needs to be done. Where do I locate the logs?
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by:ben1211
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How can I check what is the temperature of my laptop. How can I check if it is over-heating? The fans seems to be working, and I hear alot of blowing noises from the heat syncs.
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by:nobus
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ok - when you run Hijackthis  - ask it to create a log. You can check it on the second site i referred to (check the log)

>>   I even formatted my laptop but nothing has changed.  <<  you did a clean install ? - then no more  need to run those scanners
the temperature of the laptop can be checked in the bios, or monitor it with Speedfan :
http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php      
you can also google the max temp for your CPU
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by:Awestin
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You've reinstalled your OS and it is still overheating? That may be a hardware issue, not a software problem.

HARDWARE DIAGNOSTIC
Running a hardware diagnostic can give you a more in depth and specific distinction as to which of your hardware components may be failing or not getting enough cooling. Though, as a precaution,
I would advise you try to clean out your PC.

CLEAN OUT YOUR PC
Since you have a laptop, and not all of them are easily accessible, try using a can of compressed air to access the fan. Clean out the vent and, if you can reach, try to get the fan as well. Also, if you're able to access the HDD and CPU, I would ensure that the HDD is mounted correctly as well as the CPU fan. If you're laptop has ever been dropped, the mountings on your HDD or CPU fan may have been damaged, leading to a fan or HDD that still runs, but not as efficiently.

*If you're HDD isnt mounted correctly, it could be spinning off kilter. This could lead to friction caused by the hard disk wobbling and thusly overheating.
*The cause of the CPU overheating is obvious. Needs to cool down, but it does not get enough air flow.
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by:ben1211
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Nobus...yes i did a clean install. But despite doing that, as I installed my software, I noticed it started to slow down. I also downloaded alot of Microsoft Patches and the TrendMicro pattern file. I am uncertain if during this time, malware or whatever may have gotten into my system.

I also noticed that svchost.exe seems to be taking the most CPU processing.
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by:ben1211
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Nobus...once I have generated the log from running HijackThis....what should I look out for in the logs?
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by:ben1211
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Awestin...I can't tell if its overheating. I'm uncertain what's the normal heat temperature.
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by:nobus
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>>   what should I look out for in the logs?   <<   you paste it in the second link for analysis, and it tells you what to look for... obviously you ddid not read or understand what i posted...
you can also post your logfile here (attach file)
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by:nobus
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but i doubt that malware crept in in so short a time...
as for the overheating, i also posted you what to do :
check what cpu you have ,and google it's max temp, or post the model here
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by:Awestin
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Sorry Ben.

Your laptop's average CPU temp should be:

CPU idle at 800MHz - 42C, dropping to 39C when elevated by the 9-cell battery.
(Source: http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=3898)

As Nobus said, use SPEEDFAN to check your CPU temp;

SPEED FAN (link provided by Nobus)
http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php
Direct Download:
http://www.almico.com/speedfan437.exe

I have never used speedfan, so I do not know how it works, Im sure that Nobus could help you out in regards to that. You now have the average temp for your PC while idling. The source gives you more in depth information if you wish to check that out. As I posted above, there are some solutions if your laptop is overheating. Let us know how it goes for you.
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by:ben1211
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Hi Nobus and Awestin,

I ran speed fan and have attached a screen capture. Could you please take a look at the screen capture and advise me accordingly. I'm not sure what to look out for.

Nobus, my processor is: Intel(R) Core (TM) 2 Duo CPU T7250 @ 2.00GHz 2.0GHz
Temp---XPS-M1330.jpg
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by:nobus
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it tells you : both cores are overheating...!!!..should be green...
you could try renewing the heatpaste.
did you check if the fans operate correct ?
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by:ben1211
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How do I check if the Fans are Operating Correctly? Tell me what to do please? Do I use Speed Fan? Tell me how to check this please? I noticed that the fans used to make alot of noise.

Nobus...here's another thing I noticed. The moment I take my laptop into the air-conditioned room in my home, it works as normal. It doesn't slow down one bit.

Should I change my processors? If so, do advise me what as to what processors I should change to? My current processor is : Intel(R) Core (TM) 2 Duo CPU T7250 @ 2.00GHz 2.0GHz
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by:nobus
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there is something else wrong with your system; in tyhe laft panel (empty-now) the fan speeds should be listed.
do you hear a fan running ?
test your hardware - i suggest by starting with ram and disk ; download ubcd :
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

or- if you have warranty ; have it repaired /replaced !
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by:ben1211
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Hi Nobus....I was looking at the fan, and I don't think its running. From Speed Fan, are you saying that it should show the fans running on my laptop? If its not there, it means that the fans are not running right?
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by:nobus
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i suppose it does not list them if it does not see them, yes.
you can also feel at the vents, or check if it blows apiece of paper away
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by:ben1211
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Nobus...I can confirm that the vents are blowing air outwards. And I've confirmed that the fan is running. So if Speed Fan isn't showing any fans running, then what's going on with my system? Would you know how many fans would a Dell XPS M1330 have? How can I tell if the processors are over-heating and need to be changed? I'm rather lost and uncertain what I should do next. The laptop is out of warranty.
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by:nobus
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>>   So if Speed Fan isn't showing any fans running, then what's going on with my system?    <<  you have a problem, soft or hard.
since you have a clean, fresh install, the OS should be ok, so i think you have hardware problems.
i would open the laptop, and replace the heat paste on the cpu, while making sure the heatsink is fastened correct to it
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by:ben1211
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Hi Nobus, I got the heatsink services. It was cleaned and the fan which is close to the heatsink was also sprayed and cleaned. Those parts are working, but that hasn't solved my problem. The moment I sit in an air conditioned room, my laptop works perfectly. How do I determine which part of my laptop is over-heating?
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by:ben1211
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I got the heatsink serviced (not services)....sorry :)

My laptop is only 1 year old, I've never dropped it and have taken good care of it. Could the hard disk be heating up? Could this slow down the opening of programs and cause slowness to the system? How do I determine which part is over-heating?
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by:nobus
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there is a temperature problem - did you use heat paste?
this causes the cpu to throttle back , which causes the slowness.
if fan + HS are mounted ok, - you have a bad cpu or mobo
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by:ben1211
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What is heat paste?
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by:nobus
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one of the best known ones is arctic silver :  http://www.arcticsilver.com/as5.htm
you apply a drop to the cpu to get a better heat transfer to the heatsink
http://www.zalman.co.kr/ENG/product/CategorySecond_Pic.asp?categoryname=Thermal%20Greases&categorySecond=
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by:ben1211
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Hi Nobus and Awestin....I paid DELL for the warranty and they have changed my motherboard, my hard disk and the heatsink. It seems to be working fine now.

Here's something I noticed after the changes. Previously when my laptop was giving problem, one of the lights on the Network Card was burning continously (even though a network cable was not plugged in). And after some time, there would be a loud noise, the noise of a fan blowing. But after the changes these things stopped. The laptop isn't noisy and the light isn't burning.

But I can't actually tell what is the cause of the problem. Was it the Hard Disk, or the Motherboard. I doubt it was the heatsink, because I got that checked and cleaned it up, but the problem still persisted.

Thanks for your help. Much appreciated.
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by:nobus
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probably they changed everything to be s ure it would not return...
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