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How To Check CPU Usage on Your Ubuntu Laptop

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Monitoring your computer’s CPU usage is essential for troubleshooting system issues and evaluating system performance. In this article, we will explore several ways to check CPU usage on your Ubuntu laptop.

Quick Answer

To check CPU usage on your Ubuntu laptop, you can use the HTOP command-line tool, the System Monitor GUI tool, or the top command. These tools provide real-time information about CPU usage and system performance. Additionally, you can use other commands like cat /proc/cpuinfo to get detailed information about your CPU.

Table of Contents

  1. Using HTOP
  2. Using System Monitor
  3. Using the ‘top’ Command
  4. Using Other Commands

Using HTOP <a name=”HTOP”></a>

HTOP is a powerful, interactive process viewer for Unix systems. It provides a real-time, color-coded overview of running processes and system performance metrics.

To install HTOP, open your Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and type the following command:

sudo apt-get install htop

This command uses the sudo privilege to run the apt-get install command, which installs the htop package.

After installation, you can run HTOP by typing htop in the Terminal. The CPU usage will be displayed at the top in a graphical format.

Using System Monitor <a name=”SystemMonitor”></a>

System Monitor is a GUI tool that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. It provides an overview of system resources including CPU usage, memory footprint, network traffic, and disk usage.

To access System Monitor, press the “super” key (usually the Windows key on most keyboards) and search for “system monitor” in the dash. In the “Resources” tab, you’ll see a real-time graph of your CPU usage.

Using the ‘top’ Command <a name=”TopCommand”></a>

The top command is a traditional command-line tool that provides a dynamic, real-time view of the running system. It displays information about CPU usage, memory usage, and running processes.

To use the top command, open your Terminal and type top. The CPU usage will be displayed in the third line of the top output, under %Cpu(s).

The top command provides a lot of information, so it might seem overwhelming at first. However, it’s a powerful tool once you understand how to read its output.

Using Other Commands <a name=”OtherCommands”></a>

There are other commands you can use to check CPU usage and related information. For instance, the cat /proc/cpuinfo command provides detailed information about your CPU.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Open your Terminal.
  2. Type cat /proc/cpuinfo and press Enter.

This command uses the cat command, which reads files sequentially, to display the content of the /proc/cpuinfo file. This file contains details about your CPU such as its type, make, model, and performance.


Monitoring CPU usage on your Ubuntu laptop is easy, thanks to the variety of tools available. Whether you prefer a GUI tool like System Monitor or a command-line tool like top or htop, Ubuntu has you covered. By regularly checking your CPU usage, you can ensure your system is running smoothly and troubleshoot any potential issues before they become problematic.

Remember, each method has its own advantages and may suit different preferences. Choose the one that works best for you.

Can I check CPU usage on my Ubuntu laptop without installing any additional software?

Yes, you can use the built-in System Monitor tool that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu to check CPU usage. It provides a graphical representation of CPU usage and other system resources.

How often should I check my CPU usage?

The frequency of checking CPU usage depends on your needs. If you are troubleshooting system issues or monitoring performance, it is recommended to check it regularly, such as once a day or whenever you suspect a problem. However, for general usage, occasional checks should be sufficient.

Can I check CPU usage for specific processes?

Yes, you can use tools like HTOP or the ‘top’ command to check CPU usage for individual processes. These tools provide detailed information about running processes, including their CPU usage.

Is high CPU usage always a cause for concern?

High CPU usage can indicate various things, such as a demanding task running in the background or a malfunctioning application. While high CPU usage is not necessarily a cause for immediate concern, it may impact system performance. If your system becomes sluggish or unresponsive, it is worth investigating the cause of the high CPU usage.

Can I limit CPU usage for specific processes?

Yes, you can limit CPU usage for specific processes using tools like cpulimit. This allows you to control the amount of CPU resources a process can utilize, which can be useful for managing system performance or preventing certain processes from hogging CPU power.

Can I monitor CPU temperature along with CPU usage?

Yes, you can monitor CPU temperature alongside CPU usage using tools like HTOP or the ‘sensors’ command. These tools provide information about various system sensors, including CPU temperature, which can be helpful for monitoring system health and preventing overheating.

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