CPU goes to 100% utilization when using certa

July 23, 2009 at 13:10:05
Specs: Windows XP
My PC runs fine except after visiting some
graphical or “intelligent” websites or seeing
videos for a few minutes. The CPU utilization
goes to 100%, the mouse works very slowly (if
at all), the keyboard does not get any cycles.
It can take up to 10 minutes to shut down
individual programs. The CPU utilization does
not return to normal even after shutting down
programs; I must reboot the system.

The types of web pages that cause this are
graphical or what I call “intelligent” such as
entering data on a form at LinkedIn on multiple
pages (it “remembers” what you wrote before),
running a video on YouTube, etc. It may take
5 to 10 pages to trigger this but once it starts,
it’s impossible to get out of it.

I’m running a 5 year old Dell Inspiron laptop
with a 1.6 clock, 2MB memory (maxed),
external keyboard, monitor, mouse, etc. All
software (XP Home), drivers, BIOS are up to
date. I’ve run extensive hardware diagnostics
concentrating on memory, graphic adapter,
etc. and everything checks out. I’ve scanned,
defragmented, optimized, etc. without any

I’m running Outlook 2003 (for work), Chrome (3
or 4 tabs open), Maximizer (a contact
manager), Outlook Express (for personal), and
occasionally Excel or PowerPoint.
Additionally I run McAfee antivirus, Ad-Aware,
SpyBot and other spam & malware programs.
Usually there is at least 50% or more memory
available although disk capacity is getting

I upgraded from IE 7 to IE 8 but then converted
to Google’s Chrome. The conversion to
Chrome has reduced the occurrence of the
problem. The problem began to appear about
6 months ago and has gradually become
worse (occurring more frequently). There was
no specific upgrade or new program that was
installed other than visiting web sites that use
“smarter” tools such as graphics, spell
checking, etc.

Most of the time, CPU usage is in the low to
mid range but here is something that is
causing the CPU utilization to hit 100% but I
can not see it on Task Manager. I also feel
that some software does not “clean up after
itself” if the problem persists after shutting
down all programs.

I plan to replace the laptop sometime after
Windows 7 becomes available but I would like
to find and correct the problem. Is there a
solution or has my system encountered it limit
as software, web sites and my requirements
have evolved?

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July 23, 2009 at 17:24:53
Have you checked any temperatures, preferably for the cpu in the bios ? Have you run hardware diagnostics on the hard drive ?

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July 23, 2009 at 17:41:15
Yes, I've run the complete hardware diagnostics including
memory and graphics board or chip. The BIOS is also up to
date and the fan runs frequently. I believe you may be headed
in the right direction. Someone suggested a failing graphics
component that heats-up when exercised. However, re-
booting takes only a few minutes and I wonder whether that
would be enough time for it to cool down to operate normally
until it's stressed again? I don't know whether the Dell
Inspiron 600m uses common memory for graphics or not but
the memory tests all ran successfully.

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July 23, 2009 at 18:00:42
I was asking specifically about hardware diagnostics on the hard drive. Rebooting probably wouldn't allow it to cool down that much. You could also check temperatures with software like Real Temp and GPU-Z, though that's less reliable.

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July 23, 2009 at 18:42:00
The diagnostics were available by hitting F12 when the
system boots (rather than loading Windows). I ran the
complete set of tests, memory, CPU, graphics, hard drive,
CD-ROM, etc. and everything passed. However, I recall that
the memory I purchased was not parity memory but suspect
that memory errors (with or without parity) would be detected.

As further info, I can trigger the CPU 100% utilization quite
quickly by running the flight simulator component that is
within Google Earth even when nothing else is running. I
suspect it really taxes the CPU and graphic processor.

I will check the temperature although the fan is often (but not
always) running when the problem occurs.

Thank you for your input and suggestions.

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