Stress test your CPU on Apple OS X and monitor core CPU temperatures

Quick post showing how to stress test (max out) your CPU in OS X for an extended period of time.

I’ve recently been having some kernel panics and rebooting/crashing on my MacPro 1,1 running 10.6.8 and Lion and some suggested it could be my CPUs overheating. There was a suggestion to install SMCfancontrol and run all fans and a higher speed and keep an eye on temperatures whilst stressing the CPUs to 100% for a prolonged period. So below is a little bit on info on how to crank your CPU up to 100% usage and monitor core CPU temperatures.

Getting you CPU to 100%


There are several ways to max out your CPU, some suggest ripping movies using Handbrake or re-encoding your music library but personally I don’t want all the faff with that plus these methods are IO intensive for your hard drive which isn’t good. All I do is open up Terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal) and then once it’s opened type

yes > /dev/null

and hit return.

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Apple update 10.6.8 and Lion (10.7) cause Kernel Panics on MacPro 1,1

I bought my MacPro (MacPro 1,1) in September 2006 and nearly 5 years down the line it’s still going strong, or at least it was.

Some recent projects I’ve been involved in have required some serious processing power to render gigapixel images and the original 2xDual Core XEONs weren’t up to it. I found a matching pair of cheap E5345 QUAD core processors on eBay and fitted them (that’s another post that will be on here soon along with photos of the CPU swap out process). I threw some SSD’s in a RAID array in there for good measure too and the combination of those two things made a phenomenal difference to the rendering times. My Snow Leopard 10.6.7 install was nice and stable, not a single crash/hang/kernel panic or reboot.

Then Apple released a Snow Leopard update 10.6.8 to “ready you for Lion” so I dutifully upgraded the 10.6.7 I had installed on my SSD’s and it all went terribly wrong. The system now erratically rebooted itself and a look at the logs showed Kernel Panics all over the place. I have a second OS X 10.6.7 for emegency situations, booted into that and ran that for a few days and it was all fine. I rolled back my 10.6.8 to 10.6.7 using a TimeMachine backup and everything was stable again.

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ATSServer process using 200% cpu on OS X

ATSServerWhilst trying to work on a very large (800MB) photoshop file things just weren’t running as smoothy as I expected on my Mac Pro.

I opened up Activity Monitor to see if it was a RAM shortage when I noticed my CPU history was almost maxed out, but NOT by the photoshop process. My cpu cycles were getting chewed up by a system process called ATSServer .

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