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Setting Processor Affinity

Knowing how to set processor affinity in Windows 7, Vista and XP is an ingenious little trick that may significantly improve your computer's performance running certain applications. Not many people know how to adjust processor affinity settings, which is a shame... since besides being simple - it allows getting the most of a processor with multiple cores.

Changing processor affinity settings is a quick and straight-forward procedure, which is actually similar in Windows 7, Vista, XP. You just have to access Windows Task Manager by simultaneously pressing the Control + Alt + Delete keys on your keyboard (then clicking the "Start Task Manager" if you're using Vista or Windows 7).

Once you have reached Task Manager, you should be presented with a tab listing the "Applications" currently running in the system. Notice the tab "Processes" as well, since that's where you'll actually change affinity settings. Also, you may want to become familiar with the "Performance" tab if you aren't already, since you can use it to find real-time information that will help to ascertain the effectiveness of your chances to the processor affinity settings.

To change affinity settings on Windows 7, Vista or XP, you just have to find the applications you want to adjust and locate the processes associated with those applications. Then you just have to right-click the appropriate process and you'll notice an option called "set affinity..." in which you can assign the process to rely on just one of the processor cores (CPU0 or CPU1) or otherwise allow it to rely on all available processors.

If you require a more detailed explanation, the rest of this article will show you how to adjust processor affinity settings specifically on Windows 7, Vista or XP.

Changing processor affinity in Windows XP

Open Windows Task Manager by pressing the keys Crtl+Alt+Delete at once. Look for the "Applications tab" and locate the applications you'd like to set the affinity for. Look for the application name, right-click on it and choose the option "Go to process". Doing so will switch you to the "Processes" tab while high-lighting which process is associated with the application you're looking for.

Having located the process associated with the application you're looking to adjust affinity settings to, you just have to right-click on its name and choose the option "Set Affinity..." You'll then get the processor affinity menu, where you can assign which cores you want the application to use.

Changing processor affinity in Vista and Windows 7

Changing affinity settings is an identical procedure in Vista and Windows 7, and overall it's similar to the Windows XP procedure we demonstrated in the previous section.

You can also reach Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del and choose "Start Task Manager"; OR you can open task manager directly by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Once you've opened Task Manager, look for the applications currently running (check "Applications" tab); right-click the name of the application you want to adjust, then choose "Show processes from all users". This will highlight the appropriate processes in the "Process" tab; right-click each process whose affinity you want to adjust, and choose the option "Set Affinity". From this menu, you just have to select which CPUs the process will be allowed to execute on, and that's it! Final considerations on changing process affinity settings.

When you notice which applications are most resource-intensive, you can easily reassign each process, to make sure it takes advantage of your computer processor's dual cores. Ideally, you may want to set the most resource-intensive process to run exclusively on one of the cores, and assign the less demanding processes to run exclusively on the other. If you're using more than one heavy process, you should assign their affinity to different processor cores.

There are some additional considerations you may want to keep in mind. First and foremost, it's not a good idea trying to change affinity settings for System Processes; you will get best results if you only change affinity settings for resource-intensive third-party applications, like your Internet Browser (especially if you tend to keep many tabs open at once), video and sound-editing software, 3D graphics programs and such.

Finally, you need to keep in mind that affinity settings you specify will last only while the application is open. Once you close an application, its affinity settings will revert default so next time you run the application, it will use any of the available processor cores unless you repeat this simple procedure and assign it to run on a specific core.

Keep this advice in mind and you'll easily benefit from adjusting processor affinity settings. Doing so, you will find combinations that will deliver significant improvements in terms of performance, especially when it comes to resource-intensive applications.





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