kernel_task takes up 500% of my CPU when plugging in external monitor
Since I plugged in an external monitor (via thunderbolt) my kernel_task ramps up to 500% and can’t do much on my MBP.
I researched a lot online and did the following:
- Disabled Energy Saver - Automatic Graphics Switching on both Battery and Power Adapter mode
- Disabled Spotlight indexing for specific types of content and also added folders like “/System” in the Privacy settings
- Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)
- Performed the Apple Diagnostics test (ADT - some older websites called it the Apple Hardware Test - AHT) and had no issues come from that.
- I also use Google Drive’s “Backup and Sync” and do lots of web development with `node_modules` folders, that can have 10s of thousands of small files which I think results in CPU churn. I’ve disabled it now.
- Shut down the computer and turned it back on. Still get same issues with the external monitor.
Now with no external monitor plugged in, every once and a while the kernel_task rises up to 300% and sometimes rarely to 500%. I’m curious if it is a software thing or a hardware thing. To me it seems more like a software thing.
I use VS Code for programming which can have a lot of background tasks, same with using node/npm which can probably be doing lots in the background. I also run iStat v6.30, and sadly I have only 21 GB of free space on my HDD (out of 500 GB…). Often I also have Slack open, and I know that’s a web app using Electron to run as a desktop application, which can be notorious for performance.
Often the fans can run high as well. I often suspect it is either due to the VS Code/npm/node/Slack thing, or kernel_task, or maybe something else I’m unaware about.
When checking memory usage via iStat, I can see that kernel_task is using 1.61 GB (oof, Firefox is using 6.36 GB).
Things I haven’t tried yet:
- Cleaning out more free space from HDD
- Using plain HDMI cable into the HDMI cable port
- Taking MBP apart and cleaning any potential dust
Has anyone had similar experience with this issue and how to address it?
Processor: 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7
Memory: 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M370X 2048 MB, Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB