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What can cause a computer (CPU/GPU) to slow down!

by Ben K.

When troubleshooting a bad performing machine, we often forget to look at other factors that could also cause bad performance:

  1. Increased Usage -
    Although CPU performance doesn't degrade over time, on the other hand, our usage increases over time in most cases. That can cause an illusion that our CPU is slowing down, but the new software that we are using is just more demanding.
  2. Dry CPU paste -
    The CPU paste is drying up (very possible after 6 years) or the heatsink came a little loose and is not sitting properly on the CPU. That can cause the CPU to overheat and the clock speed to go down.
  3. Wrong CPU/GPU -
    You might have purchased a CPU the is just not fast enough for the task in hand.
  4. CPU throttling -
    Insufficient cooling causes the CPU to throttle and slow down. The clock speed is going down in order to reduce the amount of energy and with that the heat.
  5. Ambient Temperature -
    Room temperature.
  6. HDD (Mechanical hard drive) -
    Reading of files from a Mechanical hard drive (HDD) is much slower than on an SSD!


Increased Usage

Increased usage is not about the amount of time you are spending on the computer. But it is about the changes that happen to your software overtime after each upgrade. Over professional software naturally evolves over time, it expands with new features and some of those new features demands more resource from the hardware.
Another way of looking on increased usage is with our own projects. The same way software evolves, our projects evolve as well. Our projects become more complex and larger in size over time.
It reminds me the first time I gained weight, till at some point I thought my clothes got shrunk (I'm not trying to offend anyone!). Then I realized it was the other way around ????

Dry CPU paste

Thermal paste is a very high heat conductive paste that is used between the heatsink and a CPU/GPU to get better heat conduction. If and when the CPU paste dries out, the cooling of the CPU will less efficient and the temperature of the CPU will rise up. When that happens the performance of the CPU will go down.
So, How often or when to change thermal paste? Well, it really depends on the compound, some last a few years and dries out and some last 5-6 years.
Just by applying fresh thermal paste, you can lower the temperatures by 4 degrees (a 5% improvement). It is also very cheap!


Well... most of us made that mistake at some point - buying the wrong tool for the job! The reasons are very, e.g. someone (with not enough knowledge) recommended you to buy this specific CPU/GPU, you thought that the more expensive CPU with the extra cores will be better, or maybe you just wanted to save the money and bought a cheaper CPU/GPU. Take that into consideration, maybe you are not using the right tool?
I know, buying the right tool for the job can be very challenging. The software companies giving us Min. Requirements, which doesn't help a lot. Asking for help from others can also be a problem since many times our needs are different from others. So what to do?! Well, I can tell you 2 things - first, nothing beats experience and second, this is the reason TESREG has been founded.
TESREG is about benchmarks of specific real-life tests that were tailored specifically for each software. That means those specific test results on various hardware configurations, can help you predict and choose the right hardware for your need.

CPU throttling

CPU throttling is additionally known as a dynamic clock or dynamic frequency scaling. The essential thought is somewhat similar to the throttle in your vehicle, in this manner the "CPU throttling" name. At the point when there's a little load on your CPU, running it at a lower speed keeps it cooler and uses less power, particularly when joined with voltage throttling. That is on the grounds that power use in a CPU is linear with clock frequency and superlinear with voltage. Particularly on a mobile device, CPU throttling is the thing that gets you a long runtime in case you're not spending all your time running the most demanding software.

Pretty much all modern PC-class CPUs have one important issue to contend with: they have such a high power density that, if cooling ought to fail, they're going to almost xx self-destruct if nothing is done to handle the emergency. As a result of this, desktop and laptop chips alike embrace heat monitoring circuitry. Particularly on laptops, there’s alternative heat monitoring that may, as an example, keep you CPU fan spun down if there’s not much heat.

But in the event of overheating, your CPU will throttle right down to keep itself from suicide. This was truly a fairly common downside in a number of the first i7 laptops. while these had mobile processors and really slow clocks speed by modern standards (1.6GHz), they may still overheat. generally simply on their own, doing perfectly normal things.

Also an issue for any computer however particularly for laptops could be full or partial failure of the cooling system. the typical desktop computer features a massive old heatsink and fan sitting on the CPU, and once the bearings on that fan begin to travel, you hear it. you've got some risk of dust bunnies invading your floor-standing computer (for those people still with large enough systems to warrant a spot below the desk), however, it’s not usually a regular problem. however, a laptop typically features a heat pipe on the CPU that drags the heat out to a fast, tiny fan on the edge of the unit. That fan is fast and efficient, however, the gap is sometimes pretty small, therefore once (not if) that fan gap gets blocked by even darker dust denizens, your computer could begin to overheat even at fairly moderate CPU rates. that will slow down the CPU, presumably shut it down completely if the throttling doesn’t cool it enough.

Intel’s version of this technology, once used just for downclocking in mobile processors, was referred to as SpeedStep and later increased SpeedStep (EIST)… still in there, however, they don’t really build a big deal of it any longer. several of its current processors have an extra dynamic mode, referred to as Turbo Boost, that’s watching CPU activity and will upclock one or 2 cores during a multi-core processor if the other cores are quiescent because the chip package and cooling design can take care of the additional heat.

AMD has had a CPU throttling system referred to as PowerNow!, originally, for mobile processors. This was extended as Cool’n’Quiet for all CPUs, and Turbo Core once they beginning intensifying in speed, not simply down. The new Ryzen line from AMD contains a power management modules referred to as Pure Power and exactitude boost that may cut back power while not losing performance or upclock, supported a full-chip analysis of heat, not merely the load on specific cores.

Ambient Temperature

A lot of this is common sense: as the ambient temperature increases, a computer will run hotter and the fans will ramp up to try to keep the components running cool.
Of course, every CPU, CPU cooler, GPU, chassis, and fan configuration is different, but overall, the ambient temperature will have an effect, on some more than others.

HDD (Mechanical hard drive)

In short, Upgrading to an SSD would speed up your computer in several ways:

  • Boot times will be significantly reduced.
  • Launching applications will occur in a near-instant.
  • Saving and opening documents won't lag.
  • File copying and duplication speeds will improve.
  • Overall, your system will feel much snappier.
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