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13148 Discussions

Processor Utilisation Capped at 23%


Providing support for a UK charity as a volunteer.  We use donated kit and so functional but old. 

We have a laptop which acts as the host for our remote control using remote desktop or VNC.

Connectivity works fine but the laptop is quite slow and checking on this CPU never exceeds 23%

The laptop is a Dell Latitude E6500 with a Core2 Duo P8700 2.53GHz processor, product name Penryn.

From this page..

The processor isn't even listed and so I assume it is far too old to have Windows 10 drivers.

From this page...

I can see that "Enhanced Speedstep Technology" is available but not "Demand Based Switching" 

I do not have physical access to the PC atm and so can't provide information from the BIOS which I do know is not quite up to date.

Windows 10 Task Manager shows the CPU speed as 800 Mbps not 2.53 GHz 

One thing I'm not sure of is what is needed for Speedstep to work, just BIOS settings and the CPU or does it depend on the Windows version/Windows 10 CPU drivers too? 

Without the BIOS information for now can anyone help as to why the CPU never exceeds 23% ? 





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6 Replies
Super User Retired Employee

With a laptop that is that old (14+ years), what is most likely happening is the thermal interface material (TIM, a.k.a. paste, grease, etc.) between the processor and the thermal dissipation mass (a heatsink or heatpipe usually) has dried out and, rather than facilitate the proper transfer of heat into the mass, it is preventing it. The processor is reaching its maximum junction temperature and, as a result, the processor is being throttled.

A repair shop can easily handle the task of replacing the TIM, but you may be able to attempt this yourself or find someone else willing to try. If you attempt to do so yourself, make sure you clean both surfaces completely of the old TIM and use a good product like Arctic Silver 5 as its replacment.

Hope this helps,


Super User Retired Employee

Another simpler possibility is that the laptop's blowers are not working or working poorly. Use a can of compressed air and blow them out thoroughly (do this outside).




Both are distinct possibilities, having resurrected an overheated donated desktop (2" layer of dust inside) and replaced the thermal paste (easier than on a laptop) the paste as suggested is completely dry.  Similarly on a different laptop there was a solid pad of "felt" completely blocking the air exit.

Laptops like washing machines, dryers and printers have built in obsolescence preventing easy repairs.. (end of rant).

Even though the dried out paste is by far the most likely reason I'm still interested as to the effect if any, of not having  Windows 10 drivers for the motherboard and CPU. 



Super User Retired Employee

First of all, there are no drivers necessary for the processor in your laptop. All necessary drivers are for the chipset (including the iGFX solution) and Microsoft provides drivers (such as they are) for all of these inbox. Bottom line, this has nothing to do with the issue.



Re the "processor is reaching its maximum junction temperature"

Is there a particular mechanism or scenario or timescale (second or milliseconds that is) for this? 

Also is this set anywhere or does it re-run every time the PC is booted up. 

With the laptop maxing out at 23% it would seem that something is reduced to a set figure and possibly as soon as it boots = high CPU as various things start up and vie for CPU cycles. 

I'm thinking here that with little or no heat transferred to the heat sink that the internal temperature will rise very rapidly and therefore whatever mechanism there is will kick in before any heat monitoring utility can register it as the laptop never has cpu higher than 23% that can be observed. 


Super User Retired Employee

Have you actually monitored temperatures to see what is happening? Run something like AIDA64, HWiNFO, HWMonitor, etc.

From off (cold), even without any heatsink at all (don't do this at home, children), I have booted into Windows 7 and not had it throttling yet (but not for long). Of course, a reboot when the heatsink is saturated is going to go there *very* quickly - and yes, likely before Windows can be booted and a monitoring mechanism put in place.