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If you’ve ever taken a look at Windows Task Manager, you’ve undoubtedly wondered what all the numbers mean. This guide briefly explains each value and helps you familiarize yourself with what these values represent.

The performance information is broken down into four categories:

  1. CPU
  2. Physical Memory
  3. Kernel Memory
  4. System


CPU (Central Processing Unit) usage represents the percentage of CPU capacity currently being used by Windows and all running applications. This number should be low (< 5%) when you are not actively using your computer.

You may see more than one CPU graph even if you only have one processor (99.9% of all home computers.) Each graph shows the activity of each processor core. If your CPU uses hyper-threading technology, you’ll have two graphs for each core (i.e. twelve CPU graphs on a six-core i7.) (More about Processors and cores.)

Physical Memory

Physical memory is commonly referred to as RAM (random access memory)

  • Total—The total physical RAM in your system (in MB.) Divide this number by 1,024 to get the number in gigabytes
  • Cached—Physical RAM set aside by Windows for cached documents and programs. Cached memory is used to speed up Windows and is the first to be used when available memory hits 0MB
  • Available—Memory available for immediate use (standby and free memory)
  • Free—Unused memory available for immediate use

Kernel Memory

Kernel memory is memory dedicated to the operating system (Windows) and not applications.

  • Paged—Kernel memory which is mapped to pages of virtual memory (stored on your hard disk drive)
  • Nonpaged—Kernel memory which resides in physical memory


  • Handles—A handle is a pointer to a system resource used by an application. If you want to find out what handles a process has open, you can either use Handle or Process Explorer
  • Threads—A thread is a processor task, executed by a process. Most processes use two or more threads to execute tasks
  • Processes—This is the total number of processes running, on your PC, by all users
  • Uptime—The number of days : hours : minutes : seconds you’ve been running your current session
  • Commit (GB)—The minimum and maximum size (in gigabytes) of your pagefile


About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix them.

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One thought on “What Do the Performance Values in Windows Task Manager Represent?”

  1. Elaine says:

    Need to increase print to 100%

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