How to Fix High CPU Usage in Windows 11

Troubleshooting high CPU usage on a Windows 11 PC

When a Windows 11 PC experiences excessively high CPU usage, you will typically experience poor overall performance. Individual apps slow down, it can take a long time to perform simple tasks or switch between windows, and apps may even crash. At 100 percent CPU usage, Windows 11 can become entirely unusable, and you may even need to restart your computer.

This article explains some of the most common causes of an overtaxed CPU and provides several ways to fix high CPU usage in Windows 11.

Why Is My CPU Usage So High in Windows 11?

Every program you run on your computer takes up some of the processing power of your CPU, including Windows 11 itself. Most Windows 11 PCs can run many programs at once, but it’s possible to overload even high-end CPUs if you try to run too many things simultaneously.

Here are the most common causes of high CPU usage in Windows 11:

  • Running too many apps: You will see high CPU usage if you have too many high-end games and other processor-hungry apps running at once.
  • Background apps: If you minimize apps instead of closing them, you’re likely, over a long period, to end up with enough apps running in the background to cause high CPU usage.
  • Malware: If your computer is infected with malware, you will often experience performance issues. Malware that runs background processes will often cause high CPU usage.
  • Windows services: In some cases, a Windows service will make excessive demands of your CPU for a short time or get stuck and cause extended high CPU usage.
  • Antivirus problems: Some antivirus programs can overload the CPU while scanning in the background. 

How Do I Fix 100 CPU Usage in Windows 11?

Since there are a lot of causes for high CPU usage in Windows 11, there is no one solution to solve the problem. In general, closing unnecessary apps or restarting your computer will fix the problem. In other cases, you will need to dig a little deeper.

If you’re having trouble with high CPU usage, then you can try each of the following fixes until you find one that works for you.

  1. Close unnecessary apps. The easiest fix is to close apps you aren’t currently using, especially if they’re using a lot of CPU. This process doesn’t require restarting your computer, so it should be the first thing you try.

    After opening Task Manager to close apps, select the CPU column. Apps using a lot of CPU will then appear at the top of the list.

  2. Restart your computer. If closing a few apps doesn’t fix your problem, the next easiest fix is to restart your computer. It will solve your CPU usage problem in most situations. If the problem reoccurs, return to this list and try the next fix.

  3. Update Windows 11. There may be an issue with a Windows service on your computer or another issue Microsoft resolved. In that case, you can fix the problem by downloading and installing the latest Windows 11 updates.

  4. Scan for malware. Your computer may have malware that’s causing high CPU usage in addition to causing other potentially unnoticed issues in the background. Start with the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, perform a full scan with your antivirus software, and scan everything with another antimalware tool like SUPERAntiSpyware or Malwarebytes.

  5. Check your antivirus program, and make changes if necessary. Antivirus programs can help, but they can also cause issues with excessive CPU usage. To check if this is the problem you’re having, open the task manager and locate your antivirus in the list of apps. If it’s using an excessive amount of CPU, try uninstalling it and switching to a different antivirus. There are many free antivirus options, so try a new one if the one you have is causing problems.

    Windows 11 also has a built-in antivirus called Windows Defender, so it’s safe to disable or uninstall your third-party antivirus as long as Defender is on.

  6. Disable background apps. Windows 11 allows apps to run in the background, which is convenient, but it can lead to excessive CPU usage. You can’t disable background apps altogether in Windows 11, but you can prevent specific unwanted apps from running in the background and using system resources.

    1. Click the Windows icon on the taskbar.
    2. Click Settings (gear icon).
    3. Click Apps.
    4. Click Apps & features.
    5. Click the three vertical dots icon next to any app.
    6. Click Advanced options.
    7. Click the drop-down In the background apps permission section.
    8. Click Never.
    9. Repeat this process for each app you want to prevent from running in the background.
  7. Disable Superfetch. Some Windows services, like Superfetch, can cause high CPU usage. Superfetch, in particular, is designed to pre-load data for commonly used apps, so they open faster when you open them. In some cases, this leads to excessive CPU usage, so disabling the service may fix your problem.

    Other Windows services, like Windows Search and Windows Update, have also been known to cause CPU usage issues.

  8. Check your hardware. In some cases, hardware issues are the root cause of excessive CPU usage. There may be an issue with your power supply preventing the CPU from receiving enough power, or the CPU may be running too hot due to a buildup of dust on the heatsink. If it’s a dust issue, cleaning your PC may fix it.

    If you aren’t familiar with testing and servicing PC hardware, you may want to enlist the help of a professional to test your power supply and other components.

How Do I Check CPU Usage in Windows 11?

You can usually tell if you’re having a problem with high CPU usage by the performance of your PC. If tasks that typically take no time at all are taking a lot longer, apps don’t load, or you’re having trouble switching between apps, you may be dealing with high CPU usage. You can check CPU usage in Windows 11 in the task manager to know for sure.

Here’s how to check CPU usage in Windows 11:

  1. Select the Search icon on your taskbar

    The search icon (magnifying glass) highlighted on the Windows taskbar.
  2. Type task manager, and select Task Manager in the search results.

    Task Manager highlighted in Windows search.
  3. Select CPU.

    CPU highlighted in Windows task manager.
  4. Apps that are using a lot of CPU can now be found at the top of the list.

    Windows Task Manager sorted by CPU use.
  • What is CPU usage?

    CPU usage is the total CPU capacity percentage being used on your computer. If you access CPU usage information, you’ll see a percent-utilization value. This number represents the total CPU processing power your system is utilizing. Today’s computers have multiple-core CPUs that are capable of multitasking.

  • How do I check CPU usage on a Mac?

    To check CPU usage on a Mac, open Spotlight Search and enter Activity Monitor. Select Activity Monitor from the search results and select the CPU tab. You'll see your overall CPU usage at the bottom as well as a breakdown of CPU usage by systems and processes. Select the % CPU column to see exactly how much CPU each app or process is using.

  • How do I lower CPU usage on a Chromebook?

    To reduce CPU usage on a Chromebook, remove unnecessary extensions, disable hardware acceleration, and ensure your Chrome browser is updated to the latest version. You can also try closing unneeded open tabs in the Chrome browser.

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