With AMD and Intel constantly going at it since 2017, today’s CPUs are much more powerful and efficient. Modern low-core count CPUs are great at handling simple tasks such as file browsing, web surfing, watching videos, etc.
However, even with these new CPUs, browsers such as Chrome can start using too much of the CPU, causing every other program to stutter or lag.
Why does Chrome use so much CPU? Is there a way this can be fixed?
Let’s take a closer look at all the reasons this might happen and their possible fixes.
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Reasons For High CPU Usage On Chrome
There are multiple reasons why Chrome would use so much CPU. It could be due to malware, a virus, or malfunction, but it could also be normal behavior.
Here are the most common explanations for high processor usage:
- Too many browser tabs open – The number one reason why any browser would use a large percentage of the processor is the number of tabs open. Having only a few tabs open shouldn’t affect the performance of your computer, but once you reach a dozen or so, CPU usage will quickly spike up. This can also cause high RAM usage.
- Too many extensions – Another culprit that you can easily address is your extensions. We’ve seen a lot of examples where people simply have too many extensions installed on their Chrome browser. It is also possible to have installed demanding extensions which can use a lot of CPU power.
- Watching videos in high resolution – It is no secret that many of us regularly watch videos and streams on YouTube or other platforms such as Twitch or Facebook. The more tabs with videos you have, the more CPU power Chrome will need. This is especially true if you are watching HD or 4K videos.
- Browsing unoptimized websites – Google is constantly introducing new rules for their SEO to ensure that only reliable, trustworthy websites show up on their results. However, many of today’s websites are still quite poorly optimized, with too many ads, auto-play videos, and content that can cause high CPU usage.
Solutions For Chrome’s High CPU Usage
With the most common reasons for high CPU usage explained above, let’s look at the possible solutions.
Close All Tabs Except One
The first fix you should try is also the easiest. Open Task Manager, “sort by CPU usage”, and then close all tabs on your Chrome browser except one.
Make sure the tab you leave open is not a video or a website loaded with animations. This should reduce your processor’s usage considerably.
It is common for browsers, especially Chrome, to consume more CPU power and RAM than they really need after longer periods of use. If Task Manager is showing that you have high CPU usage on Chrome, restarting the browser might fix the problem.
Disable All Extensions
Previously we mentioned that extensions might be the cause of your issue, which is why we recommend disabling all extensions as a solution. To do that, click on the three dots at the top right of your Chrome window, expand “More tools”, and click on “Extensions”. On this page, you should be able to see all of your extensions. You can disable them one by one by pressing the small blue toggle buttons.
With all extensions disabled, restart your browser and continue using it as you usually would. Take a glance or two at Task Manager to ensure that the CPU usage is normal.
If this solves your problem, you will need to slowly enable your extensions to find out exactly which one is causing the high CPU usage. Enable an extension, continue using your browser and, if everything is working fine, enable another one. Using this process of elimination, you should find the real troublemaker.
Remove All Extensions
If disabling all of the extensions on Chrome hasn’t resolved the issue, you might have to remove all of them instead.
Before you remove them, we recommend memorizing them or simply taking a screenshot of your extensions page so you can reinstall them.
Return to the Extensions page and, this time, click on “Remove” instead of the toggle button. Click Remove again on the confirmation prompt.
One by one, remove all of the extensions and then test your browser. Is the CPU usage still high, or did it drop considerably? If it dropped, you must have removed the extension(s) that caused the issues. To find it, you will need to work through the same process of elimination that we described in the previous solution.
Disable Hardware Acceleration
Hardware acceleration is a method that helps the software assign workloads to both the GPU and the CPU. This helps the program (in this case, the browser) work smoothly while providing both components with much more breathing room.
However, on some systems, hardware acceleration harms performance more than it helps. This is especially true for computers with weaker GPUs. In these situations, it might actually be better to disable hardware acceleration.
Click on the three dots in the top-right, click Settings, scroll down to the bottom, expand “Advanced”, find “Use hardware acceleration when available”, and disable it.
With hardware acceleration disabled, do some browsing on Chrome to see how it performs and whether it will hog too many resources.
Keep in mind that disabling hardware acceleration might have a negative impact on your browsing experience. For example, videos could lag, animations might stutter, etc. It depends on the website.
Clear Browsing Data
If none of these fixes have worked for you, it’s time to try some more serious solutions.
Some of your browser’s cookies, history, cache, or other data could be hogging your computer’s resources, specifically your CPU’s resources. In that case, you should clear all of the browsing data.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to remove any of your saved passwords or other sign-in data, as that is unlikely to have any impact on the browser’s performance.
Clearing browsing data can be done via Chrome’s settings. Head back there and look for “Clear browsing data“. If you can’t find it, you can use the search feature at the top-right of the window.
Once you’ve found it, select the “Advanced” tab and under “Time range“, select “All time“. This will remove all cookies and data from the installation of Chrome until now.
Select these: Browsing history, download history, Cookies and other site data, cache images and files, site settings, and hosted app data. Leave “Passwords and other sign-in data” unchecked.
With those options selected, hit “Clear Data“. With that done, close Chrome and launch it again. Start surfing, open a bunch of tabs, and check Task Manager to see how the browser performs.
If even this does not resolve your issue, it might be time to reinstall Chrome.
With the other fixes tested and none of them being the right solution, let’s try reinstalling Chrome.
First, head over to the Chrome download website and download the setup. Then, open the Start Menu, search for “chrome”, right-click the icon, and select uninstall. This will open “Programs and Features”. Find the browser, click “Uninstall” again, and follow the uninstallation steps.
With Chrome now removed from your computer, go back to the setup file you previously downloaded and run it. It should take only a few minutes for it to be installed.
Once it is done, run Chrome and browse as you would normally. See whether the CPU usage has stabilized.
Try Performance Boost Extensions
Disabling or removing all of the extensions might not have worked. What if there are extensions that might actually improve your browser’s performance, ultimately reducing CPU usage?
Chrome and most other browsers have many services running in the background, while many websites have lots of demanding content, including ads, animations, videos, and others.
Fortunately, some add-ons can help avoid some of that content for better performance, so it might be a good idea to try some of them.
A popular option is currently FasterChrome. This extension preloads websites before you even click on them. This means CPU usage usually spikes before you even open the website, but once you are browsing it, CPU usage drops.
Of course, this is not a magical extension that will instantly fix your issues. Even so, it is worth a try.
Alternatively, you can try Web Boost. This extension blocks trackers and other unnecessary content and also uses a different caching technique that helps the browser open websites.
Entirely blocking ads could also help with high CPU usage, so make sure you have uBlock Origin installed.
Try A Different Browser
If no solution works, it could be a sign that the original issue is not with the browser but with your computer itself.
To ensure that Chrome is not the culprit, we recommend trying a different browser. It is probably best to try Mozilla Firefox as it is the most similar software to Chrome.
Download Firefox and install it. Once you are familiar with the browser, start opening multiple tabs, watch videos, etc. and see how well it performs. If there is no CPU throttling and high usage, it means that Chrome really is the issue.
In that case, it might be best to completely switch to Firefox or try the lighter version of Chrome called Chromium.
Other Possible Causes
With so many solutions listed above, if none work, the issue might be with your computer. Here are some possible causes:
- Malware, viruses, Trojans, etc. – High CPU usage is commonly related to malware, viruses, Trojans, and other types of intrusive software. The malware could be attached to your browser, or it may be deep within your operating system. To get rid of intrusive software, you will need to download antivirus software.
- Operating system issues – It isn’t uncommon for Windows to get bugged, corrupted, or something similar. So, the issue might be with your operating system. A possible fix is to reinstall Windows but do this only as a last resort.
- Weak processor – In the end, the problem might not be a mystery at all. It might be that you simply have an older/weaker processor. These days, processors with a core/thread count lower than 4 are largely bottlenecked. Chrome and other browsers are being optimized for higher core count processors, such as Intel’s 11th gen processors or AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series.