Easy home fix to Kernel_Task CPU usage on MacOS

by | Apr 10, 2020 | Cool Tips, MacBook pro

Is your MacBook Pro running slow? Is your Kernel_Task using CPU at a high level? There are a few things we can do at home to try to resolve the issue. This test was done on Macbook Pro 13-inch, early 2011 with macOS High Sierra installed and worked 100% perfectly, another test was done on MacBook Pro, retina, 15-inch, mid-2014 with MacOS Catalina installed and seen significant improvement in Kernel_Task CPU uses.

Kernel_task

Kernel_Task which at high CPU usage

Declaimer: This solution needs some sort of knowledge about MacBook pro opening and plugging, however, it is NOT 100% guarantee that ONLY this process will resolve the issue yet I would suggest it’s worth trying.

My old MacBook Pro (Early 2011) which I used during the first years of Master University become my wife’s work-from-home equipment for the moment is running on macOS High Sierra. Being an engineer, I do my stuff, for example, changing the battery, computer hard disk, memory card etcetera. I have already upgraded the computer with additional RAM and hard disk been replaced recently, yet the laptop is running very slow compare to old resources.

It’s been while my wife is complaining about her laptop performance, I thought there must be some sort of software that is causing the issue, I give it a test removing unwanted software and cleaning the memory cache. No difference in performance!

Again, I give another try using antivirus software so-called, CleanMyMac and CCleaner FREE versions. The free version obviously wouldn’t allow me to do many kinds of stuff, but I can see they are not helping either! Which lead me to check what exactly causing using Activity Monitor on my MacBook pro.

The activities monitor gives me some sort of problem I can start digging into, which is good indeed :). The Kernel_Task is consuming so high memory that most of the time there is zero memory in the idle table in activities monitor. The user’s activities are barely using 3-5% of all memory. I couldn’t even take a screenshot when the Kernel_Task is using more than 90% of all system memory. I have to restart three times to get the screenshot.

One thing for certain now, the Kernel Task is causing the issue. But what else can I do beside Google!, Yap, I Google result lead me to this article, where below in the article, there are users feedback with highlighted text. That makes me think that there is something related to the MacBook Pro thermometer.

There are answers to my many questions for example:

  • Why my MacBook Pro is so hot?

  • Why Kernel_Task is consuming high memory?

  • Why My MacBook pro is frozen?

To understand easily, MacBook Pro uses the thermometer sensor to indicate the heat of the computer,  it is the sensor which is sending the message to Kernel_task to hold the task so that MacBook Pro can be cool. Remember, Kernel_task is the one which helps manage MacBook temperature by holding the processes that profoundly uses CPU. This leads me to open my MacBook pro to see how if I can see anything related.

Please follow the guideline or Google, how to open MacBook pro, you need a small screwdriver especially made to open MacBook pro. Careful, if you doing it for the first time, take a picture and follow the guideline one at a time. The keep the screw pins in place so you can hook them later, remember some pins are long and some are not, remember which one where. Every small details matter.

How I resolve Kernel_task issue on my MacBook pro?

      1. I opened my MacBook Pro and I can see the huge amount of dust.
      2. I quickly unplug the battery, and dry cleaned the backside of the MacBook cover. As I said it’s home fix, so I use a vacuum cleaner to clean the dust.
      3. Assemble everything and start the computer.

Not working again!!!

Then, I Google again to see where is thermometer sensor located? It is actually located in the same place which I just clean but it’s pointing toward keyword!?? So, I decided to give it one more vacuum cleaning of the keyword side. Oh, you won’t believe, a powerful vacuum clean took some dust I can see from my eyes!! Something like long hairs and some liner of clothes kind, not sure what’s that. Then I restart my computer, trust you won’t believe, it’s like rocket sky now.

The kernel_task after fixing the issue.

So, I believe, there must be some dust, which was causing issue for the thermometer sensor, which eventually telling Kernel_task to hold the memory so the laptop can cooldown. 

Further steps:

If this does not resolve your Macbook kernel_task issue, there may be other reasons your MacBook is slow, not enough resource e.g. CPU, RAM or storage. One of the key reasons is also if your MacBook battery is dead relatively fast, which also somehow related to slowing down your computer. But given all these, this is a home base quick-fix solution and does not cost anything if you have tools at home, it worth trying. Do let me know if you also try anything like this!

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