Have you noticed that your PC is performing slower than when you first bought it? Maybe it’s overheating more than usual or experiencing unexpected shutdowns? This could be because of a common process known as CPU throttling. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of CPU throttling, why it happens, and how you can test for it in Windows 11.
What is CPU throttling?
CPU throttling, also known as dynamic frequency scaling, is a technique employed by systems to manage power consumption and heat generation. It works by reducing the clock speed of the CPU when maximum performance isn’t needed or to avoid overheating when the system is working under intense loads. While this is helpful in preventing hardware damage and prolonging battery life, excessive CPU throttling may lead to reduced performance and an unsatisfactory user experience.
Learn more: Why is my CPU Overheating and How to Fix it
Testing CPU throttling in Windows 11
Testing CPU throttling can be tricky as it requires creating conditions where the CPU is likely to throttle. This is where stress test tools come in handy. For this guide, we’ll use a free, reliable tool called Prime95. Prime95 is popular among PC enthusiasts as it pushes your CPU to its limits, therefore creating the ideal conditions to observe throttling.
Step 1: Download and install Prime95
Navigate to the official Prime95 download page at https://www.mersenne.org/download/. Download the latest version that suits your system (32-bit or 64-bit). Extract the downloaded zip file and run the executable file to install it.
Step 2: Download and install HWMonitor
Next, download HWMonitor from the official website https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html. HWMonitor is a hardware monitoring program that reads PC systems’ main health sensors. It can report CPU temperatures, clock speeds, and other useful information.
After downloading HWMonitor, extract the file and install it just like you did with Prime95.
Step 3: Start the CPU stress test
Once you have both programs installed:
- Open Prime95.
- Click on “Options” in the menu and then “Torture Test…”. This will open a new window.
- Choose the test type as “Blend” which stresses both the CPU and the RAM.
- Click “OK” to start the test. This will push your CPU to its maximum capacity.
Step 4: Monitor CPU performance
Open HWMonitor while Prime95 is running. Under the processor section, keep an eye on the “Core #” (where # is the number of the core) sections. You’ll be able to see the current, minimum, and maximum clock speeds and temperatures of each core.
Now, carefully observe how your CPU behaves under this load. If your CPU is throttling, you’ll notice that the clock speeds will decrease once the CPU temperature reaches a certain point, despite the workload remaining constant.
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How to interpret the results
If you notice that your CPU’s clock speed decreases significantly under heavy load and your system’s temperature is high, this is a sign of CPU throttling. Throttling should only happen when the CPU is nearing its maximum safe operating temperature.
However, if your CPU is throttling at lower temperatures, it might be because of manufacturer-imposed power limits or an inefficient cooling system. To solve these issues, you may need to improve your PC’s cooling system, update BIOS or adjust power management settings.
NOTE: Prime95 pushes your CPU harder than most normal tasks. If you’re only experiencing throttling during the stress test and not during your normal usage, you may not need to worry. However, if you see CPU throttling while doing your usual tasks, you may need to consider the solutions mentioned above.
Recommended guide: 30+ Windows 11 Services to Disable for Better Gaming Performance
Testing CPU throttling for individual processes in Windows 11
Along with system-wide throttling, Windows 11 also offers an intriguing feature that provides insights into how individual processes are managed. This feature, known as Power Throttling, optimizes system performance and power consumption by intelligently throttling background processes, particularly when the system is running on battery power.
Enabling the Power Throttling column
To examine the impact of power throttling on individual processes, it’s necessary to enable the Power Throttling column in the Task Manager. Below are the steps to achieve this:
- Simultaneously press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys to open the Task Manager. As an alternative, you can right-click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager”.
- If the Task Manager is displaying the simplified view, click the “More details” button to switch to the detailed view.
- Switch to the “Details” tab to see a list of all active processes.
- Right-click on the column header (where it says Name, CPU, Memory, etc.) and click on “Select Columns”.
- Select “Power Throttling”. This action will add the Power Throttling column to your Task Manager.
Monitoring CPU throttling for each process
Now that you’ve enabled the Power Throttling column, it’s possible to monitor the CPU throttling for each individual process. In the Power Throttling column, you’ll encounter two potential statuses:
- Enabled: This indicates that Windows is actively managing the resources available to this process. It may throttle it to conserve power or if the system is under heavy load.
- Disabled: This status means that the process isn’t currently being throttled, and it can utilize resources as needed.
Spotting a process that is being power throttled, especially when your system is under heavy load, suggests that the CPU might be throttling to manage power consumption and prevent overheating.
Related resource: How to Set Process CPU Affinity or Priority Permanently in Windows 11/10
While CPU throttling is an essential process for preventing hardware damage and overheating, it’s crucial to ensure it only happens when necessary. Excessive throttling can lead to reduced system performance.
Stress test tools like Prime95 can help reveal if your CPU is throttling under intense loads. In Windows 11, these tests can provide valuable insights into whether your CPU is being throttled and the possible reasons why. Always remember to monitor your system’s health and address any concerns to ensure optimal performance.
The Power Throttling column in the Task Manager also provides an easy way to monitor which processes are being throttled by the Power Throttling feature. It’s an excellent tool for diagnosing any potential issues and for understanding how Windows manages power for different applications. Please note that power throttling is different from CPU throttling – the former is designed to conserve battery power, while the latter is a measure to prevent CPU overheating.