Author Topic: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?  (Read 963 times)

alsoknownasDean

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High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« on: January 01, 2019, 07:04:18 PM »
I've got a fairly elderly MacBook Pro, with a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo, 8GB of RAM and an SSD. I've had it almost a decade and it's starting to show signs of age.

Lately I've noticed that many webpages use a substantial percentage of the CPU just in normal browsing. As you can imagine, there's also plenty of hot air coming out the back of the laptop. Even at idle it often stays above 5%.

Over the Christmas break I opened it up, cleaned out the fans and reapplied heatsink compound to the CPU/GPU/chipset to improve cooling. It's reduced the temperature by a few degrees but CPU utilisation remains high.

I've noticed it in Safari/Firefox/Chrome in OSX, and I've also tried Linux with similar high CPU utilisation.

I'm assuming it's the weight of JavaScript and ads and other garbage that many websites have nowadays, but I could have a decent browsing experience on mobile devices with less computing horsepower than the MacBook, or Chromebooks with shitty little Celeron CPUs.

What should I do? Are there any other browsers (for OSX or Linux) that are full featured yet less taxing on the CPU? Should I install and aggressively use ad blockers in a vain attempt to improve performance? Is it time to accept that the old MacBook might be ready for replacement?

Abe

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2019, 09:48:01 PM »
I have a similar system and had the same problem. I re-installed Chrome and it seemed to fix the issue. Also since you're using an SSD, make sure it's not nearly full.

cazio

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2019, 11:10:28 PM »
Are you sure it's actually the webpages causing the CPU to run high? My MacBook Air occasionally freaks and runs sky high CPU usage under kernel_task in the Activity monitor.

The fix for it for me is force quitting "bird" and "cloudd" (sometimes several times) and kernel_task will return to a normal CPU usage rate. Seems to be especially problematic for High Sierra.

Something about iCloud and cloud storage backups seems to cause the issue. Took me hours of scouring the internet to figure out the cause, but this worked for me. bird and cloudd never show high CPU usage but do show long CPU time.

Maybe that could be the issue?


bacchi

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2019, 11:11:53 PM »
Install uBlock or another ad blocker add on/extension to your browser.

And, yes, examine what is actually spiking the CPU. Figure out how to turn it off if you don't need it.

robartsd

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2019, 09:31:21 AM »
I'd check RAM utilization. CPU could just be busy shuffling things around because RAM is tight. I run a Core 2 Duo desktop machine under 64 bit Debian with 2 GiB of RAM and run into high CPU usage when available RAM gets low frequently (I've ordered a pair of 4 GiB modules which I hope will arrive this week).

getwiththeprogrammer

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2019, 06:05:36 PM »
You probably want uBlock origin over uBlock. Assuming you are right that it happens across browsers and OSs it likely is some particularly bad site(s). Chrome (and I assume other browsers) has a task manager to help you figure out which tab is causing you problems. Order by %cpu.

Papa bear

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2019, 06:28:10 PM »
I hear chrome will crush your RAM. I’m one of those extremely heavy tab users (mostly “cloud” based work required) with 15-25 pages open at once.

I switched some of my browsing to Vivaldi.  It seems to use less than chrome.


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Linea_Norway

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2019, 04:29:20 AM »
+1 for the add blockers.

You could also try the Opera browser. I use it at home on a Windows machine.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2019, 04:45:00 AM »
Thanks for the replies :)

Just a few additional things:

- In OSX (and Safari), the URL itself actually shows in Activity Monitor. Most of the time (but not all the time) the process using the most CPU is browser-related. There are some other processes in the background from time to time though.
- RAM usage doesn't seem an issue, there's plenty of RAM free in OSX (and Linux, currently in Mint Cinnamon using 2.6GB).
- Plenty of space on the SSD, especially in the Linux install (separate SSDs).

I've tried uBlock in Firefox and it seems to help a bit, and I'll give Vivaldi,  Opera and Brave a try as well. I tried Midori assuming it would be lighter, but it still uses a fair bit of CPU in some sites. The MMM forums are just fine, but other sites tax the machine a fair bit :)

It is probably almost time to replace the thing though. The bottom of the laptop gets very hot in normal usage, and while it'd be nice in winter, it's not great in summer. I had it on a desk at my parents' place when I was down there over Christmas and it felt like it was about to melt. :)
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 04:48:18 AM by alsoknownasDean »

robartsd

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2019, 09:22:01 AM »
It's probably ad and media intensive sites that are consuming the resources. On media heavy sites it can be a bit tricky to filter what to block and what to allow. I still occasionally use my 2004 Powerbook (thanks to projects that backport modern browser engines to OS X 10.5), but most of the web would slow to a crawl if I allowed pages to do everything they ask to do on my machine. It used to be that computers always remained just as capable at doing what they were good for when they were new, but the internet has changed that - the web just keeps on asking more of our increasingly powerful computers.

It is probably almost time to replace the thing though. The bottom of the laptop gets very hot in normal usage, and while it'd be nice in winter, it's not great in summer. I had it on a desk at my parents' place when I was down there over Christmas and it felt like it was about to melt. :)
Heat issue - it probably needs cleaning inside to restore proper airflow. Of course that might not be worth the effort to you and chip makers have been focused on energy efficient performance since Core 2 was launched, so newer hardware would cost slightly less energy to run.

I'm sure there's someone who would be willing take your old MacBook off your hands when you do decided to replace it. I wouldn't expect much money for it, but it's not junk yet.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2019, 03:20:11 AM »
It's probably ad and media intensive sites that are consuming the resources. On media heavy sites it can be a bit tricky to filter what to block and what to allow. I still occasionally use my 2004 Powerbook (thanks to projects that backport modern browser engines to OS X 10.5), but most of the web would slow to a crawl if I allowed pages to do everything they ask to do on my machine. It used to be that computers always remained just as capable at doing what they were good for when they were new, but the internet has changed that - the web just keeps on asking more of our increasingly powerful computers.

It is probably almost time to replace the thing though. The bottom of the laptop gets very hot in normal usage, and while it'd be nice in winter, it's not great in summer. I had it on a desk at my parents' place when I was down there over Christmas and it felt like it was about to melt. :)
Heat issue - it probably needs cleaning inside to restore proper airflow. Of course that might not be worth the effort to you and chip makers have been focused on energy efficient performance since Core 2 was launched, so newer hardware would cost slightly less energy to run.

I'm sure there's someone who would be willing take your old MacBook off your hands when you do decided to replace it. I wouldn't expect much money for it, but it's not junk yet.

Agreed with modern webpages being increasingly demanding. Yet, mobile devices and Celeron-powered Chromebooks still tend to manage OK. Speaking of Chromebooks, I'll potentially end up replacing this with one. I've considered installing Cloudready to see if I can cope. If it can run on a Celeron-powered Chromebook without issues, then maybe this old MacBook Pro should be fine for it too? :)

I've recently cleaned out dust and reapplied fresh thermal compound to the CPU/GPU/chipset.

I bought it in April 2009, and part of me wants to get it to the ten year mark, hence why I'm considering my software options to eke the last few months from it. :)

whodidntante

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2019, 07:50:05 PM »
Core2 Duo is old, and a dog by modern standards.  Time for an upgrade.  You can try a different browser if you suspect your chrome installation is somehow borked. 

alsoknownasDean

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2019, 04:53:20 AM »
Lately Iíve been trying to sort out my backups just in case the thing does meet itís end.

Iím trying to see how much I can do with my iPad for the time being. Iím looking at moving later this year, and depending on the space available wherever I move to, I might be able to buy/build a desktop to replace the MacBook.

I think I can make do with the iPad, just would take a bit of time getting used to not having a mouse or trackpad in iOS. Iíve still got the MacBook available if needed, and Iíve got an old Apple bluetooth keyboard which is useful if I need to type much (like this post).

Iíve had a look around at laptops, and a lot Iíve seen are either flimsy trash, older business ones that use the oldschool style trackpads that I donít like as much (I really like the trackpad on my MacBook), or expensive fancypants ones (I was eyeing the Dell XPS 13).

Linea_Norway

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Re: High CPU usage when browsing, any ideas?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2019, 06:09:38 AM »
Lately Iíve been trying to sort out my backups just in case the thing does meet itís end.

Iím trying to see how much I can do with my iPad for the time being. Iím looking at moving later this year, and depending on the space available wherever I move to, I might be able to buy/build a desktop to replace the MacBook.

I think I can make do with the iPad, just would take a bit of time getting used to not having a mouse or trackpad in iOS. Iíve still got the MacBook available if needed, and Iíve got an old Apple bluetooth keyboard which is useful if I need to type much (like this post).

Iíve had a look around at laptops, and a lot Iíve seen are either flimsy trash, older business ones that use the oldschool style trackpads that I donít like as much (I really like the trackpad on my MacBook), or expensive fancypants ones (I was eyeing the Dell XPS 13).

We just use old harddisks as backup systems. We had to buy a device to connect them. The laptop with connection device did not accept the harddisks from stationary machines. So we had to use the harddisk in the old laptop. That worked fine.