Monitor Your CPU Performance

Hi everybody! It’s Eddie Z here. I want to show you in this video how you can monitor your PC performance as well as some other useful tricks using something called the Windows Task Manager.

Now the main reason you want to monitor your computer’s performance is to test the overall capabilities of your machine. In other words, how much of your computer’s resources are you using on a regular basis, from 0% of its resources up to 100% of its resources?

So let’s go ahead and open something called the Task Manager. Now the easiest way to open the Task Manager is to go down to a blank area in the in the Task Bar. Right click on a blank area in the Task Bar and click on Task Manager. This window, called the Windows Task Manager, will open.

Performance Section

The very first thing you want to do once you have this window open is go ahead and click on Performance. Now what this tab shows is a couple of different levels of your computer’s performance, and those are listed here.

Now the very first one is something called the CPU. This is the most important. The CPU is the engine of your computer. It’s also called the Central Processing Unit or the processor, and it’s the engine of the computer.

Now you can see in this graph, we’re running from 0 to 100%. Right now we’re running at about 7% utilization. Here’s my processor right here, the Intel core i7-4790. (This is happens to be an older machine.)

Now, if you were running TradeStation and thinkorswim, and you had a number of other programs going at the same time, you would expect to see these numbers be much higher, probably closer to 20 to 25%.

If you open this tab and you have all your trading applications open and the market is open, and you find your CPU is running over 60, 70, or 80%, most likely it’s time to get a new computer. Your processor is not able to handle all of the real-time data that’s coming in via the Internet. It’s not able to run all your programs efficiently at the same time.

Target CPU Utilization Percentage

So that’s something really important. Really, your CPU utilization should be under 50%.

If, when the market first opens, you see your CPU utilization bump up to 60, 70, or even 80%, that’s okay because you’re taking in a tremendous level of real-time data. As long as it throttles itself back down to under 50% after the, say, first half hour of market action, you should be fine.

So there’s a couple of things to look at here on this tab. Again, you have your processor right here. You have your processor speed. This one happens to be running at 4.3 GHz.

Logical Processors Display

Another thing you can do with the CPU, this happens to be running on 4 cores. This particular machine is an older 4-core processor. And with something called hyper-threading, it actually appears as if it’s using 8 cores.

So something you can do is actually look at the CPU utilization of each core. And the way you do that is to right-click on the graph and go over here: change graph to logical processors. This will now show how I’m utilizing all 8 cores of the processor.

It’s kind of like cylinders on an engine… how well each cylinder, how much power each cylinder is utilizing. So we can see these two are using more power than these six right here. It’s not really that important. In fact, going to the overall utilization might give you a better picture.

Memory Section

Next, let’s take a look at the Memory tab. Now the memory tab is taking a look at your computer’s Random Access Memory, also known as the RAM, to see how much we’re using of it.

So right now we can see this particular machine has 16 GB of DDR3 memory. (This is an older machine I’m using at the moment.) We have 16 GB installed and I’m using about this much, which looks to me to be about a quarter of the total memory available. That’s how much we’re using.

Now if I go down here, there’s a couple numbers we can take a quick look at. It looks like I’m using 4.3 GB, so in use 4.3 GB. I have 11.5 GB still not being used. So I’m barely using any of my RAM, and that’s a good thing.

Now if you’re running all of your applications, you’re running all your trading programs, you have thinkorswim open, you have TradeStation open, you have five different browsers open, you have your email open, maybe you’ve got a video coming in, you could quickly get up to 80 or 90% of your RAM, and that is a problem.

When You Might Need More RAM

In general, you want to keep this below about 70% utilization. Once you start getting above 70, 80, 90% utilization, you potentially could have a problem.

The problem is, if you wind up using up all of your available RAM, the computer will start using your hard drive in the place of RAM. And your computer will really bog down as it keeps going back and forth to the hard drive to start looking for information that really should be in the RAM. So that is a huge problem.

In that case, you might consider installing more RAM, upgrading the RAM to 32 GB or 64 GB. Also, if you see you’re still running DDR3, you’re on an older machine. It’s time to upgrade to a new machine that can handle DDR4.

So that is the Memory tab. I’m using roughly about 28% of my memory. It has a quick summary right here.

Start Up Section

The next tab inside the Windows Task Manager I’d like you to take a look at is something called Start Up.

This is a very interesting tab because this tab shows all of the programs that load up in the background when you first start up your computer. The more programs you have running in the background, the longer it takes for your computer to boot up.

In addition, there are also programs in there potentially that could be spying on you or kind of keeping track of web pages that you go to. Maybe not, we might not call it spying, but they’re monitoring how you use your computer.

So here is a list of all my startup programs. And the first thing I would do is put them in alphabetical order. All you need to do is click on the name column and that will put it in alphabetical order.

Now the first thing I notice is that the first program I have here is Apple. I don’t use any Apple products at all, so I’m not sure how this Apple, the publisher is Apple, Apple Push got on my machine. So what I’ve done is I disabled it. And the way you would do that is you right-click, and you can enable or disable a startup program.

So, yes, it’s installed on my machine. Later, I’ll go uninstall it. But for now, it’s not going to load up when I first start up the machine. I have it disabled.

Disable Unknown Start Up Programs

Now go through the list. If there’s things that you do not know what they are, do not disable them. They might be important for the startup process. And if you disable it, you might hose up the whole startup process. And you don’t want to do that.

So like Delayed Launcher is from Intel. I don’t know what that is, but it’s Intel. I’m going to leave it alone.

I know what Dropbox is, GoToMeeting, and Intuit. I don’t know why it needs to load when I first start up the computer, but going to leave it alone.

If there’s anything that you know you never, ever use, you’re certain, like this is a mistake, or this is some program that I uninstalled a long time ago, you can go ahead and disable it here. All it’s going to do is prevent it from loading at startup. It’s not going to disable the program forever. So that’s the startup tab.

And again, the more programs you have in here, the longer it’s going to take for your computer to boot up. But with today’s solid state hard drives, it really doesn’t take a long time for your computer to boot up.

Processes Section

The next tab I’d like to point your attention to, and this is really good for troubleshooting, is the Processes tab. So the Processes tab will show all the apps you are currently running and how much of the resources they’re currently using.

So right now I’m recording this video using Camtasia recorder. It’s using about 6.5% of my CPU. And we can see out of all the apps I’m running right now, it’s really Camtasia that’s using up all the resources. I’m not running anything else.

It’s also using about 216 MB. That’s a fraction of one GB. It’s using very little memory; it’s using very little disk space, using a little bit of the graphics processor.

So if you were to load this Processes tab during the middle of the day using TradeStation and thinkorswim and everything that you use during the day, you could go in here and see how much of your computer’s resources are used by each program… What percent of the CPU, what percent of the memory is being used. This is a very important tab.

Program Force Quit

Now, if you’ve ever had a program crash, and it’s frozen on your machine, you see a message that says Windows is having a problem with this program. And then that little window gets stuck right there and it freezes. I don’t know why this happens. Every once in a while it happens.

But what you can do is right-click on the app, and click End Task. That will close out the app, whether it’s frozen or not, and will straighten everything out so you can reopen the program.

So every once in a while, that even happens to me where one of my apps crashes. Something freezes on the screen. Things are still running. The computer is still working. But one of my programs is frozen, and it’s still using up resources.

So what I do is, I just right-click on it. And then I click End Task again. Again, right-click and click End Task. And that’s all you need to do with the Processes tab. Very good for troubleshooting.


Now, you can play around and look at the other tabs at your leisure. If you go to Google, you can find a lot of additional information on the other tabs. But what I really like about the Windows Task Manager is being able to monitor my computer’s performance, specifically the CPU or the processor’s performance. And the memory, how much of the memory I’m using. Startup menu is very helpful as well.

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Thanks for watching, and if you haven’t already, please feel free to download our Complete Guide to Trading Computers by clicking the link. This guide is packed with great tips so you can totally optimize your trading experience.

Lastly, go ahead and check out our latest sale here if you are ready to upgrade your trading computer.

My name’s Eddie Z. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.