How to Limit CPU Usage for a Single Program in Windows


CPU utilization refers to the current percentage of CPU resources consumed by all programs. Some programs are judicial with their use of resources while others suck at everything they can get. CPU-intensive programs create a problem for the user as they lead to increased CPU usage.

If you notice that some programs are eating up your CPU cores, you can try setting a limit on their CPU usage. This guide will discuss all the ways you can limit the CPU usage of a program in the Windows operating system, so you can give your CPU a break.

Should your CPU be running at 100% all the time?

The processor is an important component of any system. It works in tandem with other components like RAM to execute instructions. If your CPU utilization is 100% at any time, you will begin to troubleshoot your system’s performance issues.

Unless you are running heavy programs on a fairly old CPU, your CPU usage should stay below 80%. Even though it pulls up to 100%, it should only be for a short period of time for a single application. Otherwise, it will slow down your system and you will notice that all your applications will seem slower than usual.

How to Limit CPU Usage of a Program in Windows Operating System

If a program is taking up your CPU a bit too much, here are some ways you can limit the CPU usage of a program on a Windows PC.

1. Change process priority

Windows has a process priority system to allocate resources to each process according to its needs. It is predetermined by the operating system and you don’t have much say in the matter. Process priority helps Windows allocate and deallocate the resources required by all active processes.

But you can change process priority of any process/sub-process in task manager. This is a tricky task that should only be done for non-system processes. You should leave the process priority settings of the main system processes unchanged.

To change the process priority, do the following:

  1. Hurry Ctrl + Shift + Esc key to launch the task manager. Now identify the process whose priority you want to change.
  2. You can also click on the CPU column to rank the processes in descending order of their consumption.
  3. Now right click on the process and select it Go to details context menu option.
  4. Under the details section, right-click the process again and select the Set priority from the context menu.
  5. Then select below normal Where Down. The Below Normal option will allocate slightly fewer resources when available. The Low option will allocate the least amount of system resources when available.
  6. A warning window will appear informing you of the effects of changing the process priority.
  7. Click on the Change priority button to apply changes. Now the process will not consume high system resources including CPU time.

2. Change CPU Affinity

Another method to limit the CPU usage of a program is to adjust the CPU affinity. It simply throttles the processes to use fewer CPU cores of your system. By changing CPU affinity, you can free up CPU cores that will become available for other processes.

To change the CPU affinity of a program, repeat the following steps:

  1. Hurry Ctrl + Shift + Esc key to launch the task manager. Now identify the process whose priority you want to change.
  2. Now right click on the process and select it Go to details context menu option.
  3. The task manager will highlight the process. Right click on it and select it Set affinity context menu option.
  4. You will notice that the process is configured to use the entire core of the system. Merely uncheck boxes of CPU cores that you don’t want the process to use.
  5. Click on the OKAY button. Now the process will use a limited number of CPU cores. Remember that Windows will reset the configuration after closing the program.

3. Use a third-party utility

If you want a more comprehensive solution for managing resource usage on a program, you can try Process Lasso. Although Task Manager can fix a high CPU usage problem, it resets your preferences after you restart the program. This is where a tool like Process Lasso comes in handy.

You can set attributes such as priority and affinity for a specific program permanently. Even if the program restarts, your preferred priority and affinity settings will not be reset. Additionally, you can create rules to limit the percentage of CPU usage of a program.

To limit the CPU usage of a program using Process Lasso, do the following:

  1. Open any browser on your system and navigate to the official Process Lasso download page.
  2. To download the appropriate version and install it on your system.
  3. Launch the Process Lasso app with elevated permissions.
  4. Right-click on the desired process and edit its priority and affinity according to your preference.
  5. Make changes by selecting the Still context menu option. If you choose the Running option, it will only be applicable until the program is restarted.

There’s a lot more to tweak, including process priority and affinity in Process Lasso. However, we suggest keeping things simple and doing a restore point before trying any big tweaks.

4. Change Maximum CPU State

Reducing the maximum power state of your processor can limit overall utilization. This setting allows you to limit the maximum speed your processor can reach. Adjusting this setting will reduce stress on your processor and prevent overheating.

To lower the maximum power state of your processor, repeat the following steps:

  1. Hurry Win + R to launch the Run command box. Type Control Panel in the text input box and press the Enter key.
  2. The Control Panel will launch. Find and click on the Power options characteristic.
  3. Click on the Change plan settings option located next to your system’s active power plan.
  4. Then click on the Change advanced power settings. A new Power Options window will open.
  5. Find and develop the CPU power management option. Click on the Maximum processor state option and modify the values. It will be 100% by default.
  6. Change it to 80 percent for both On the battery and Branch options.
  7. Click on the Apply button. Then click on the OKAY button and exit the window. Now your CPU will run at 80% capacity during peak loads.

Prevent programs from eating up your CPU

We have covered all the methods to limit the CPU usage of the program in the Windows operating system. Task Manager offers options to modify the program, but it is temporary. Third-party tools like Processor Lasso offer a plethora of modifications you can make to a program. Moreover, you can even apply these settings permanently for a specific program.


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