Setup: Windows 7 Ultimate, running in a VMware box inside Windows 8, VMware Tools installed; VMware Workstation is the only application launched in win8). Aero is on.

Starting a few months ago, on and off, performance is extremely sluggish in all applications. Checking process explorer shows high CPU usage by dwm.exe (20-30%) and svchost.exe (30-40%) when system is idle, nothing open but Explorer.

Killing dwm.exe does not change anything; dwm resumes its high cpu usage when it restarts.

Services in svchost are:

  • Audio Endpoint Builder
  • CSC Service
  • Netman
  • WDI System Host

Turning off Aero helps slightly, but I want to actually solve the problem. This problem didn't exist before; it wasn't sluggish, dwm.exe only had high usage when it was actually compositing windows together; I never noticed any high usage from that svchost.

edit when I'm running one app at a time, occasionally large areas of the app go black, like in the olden days with Win 95 when it would run out of system resources.

  • 1
    Sounds like you have a video adapter problem. Are you using the latest driver offered by the manufacturer? Sep 24, 2013 at 15:12
  • Windows 8 (the host OS) is completely fine. The problem only occurs inside Win7. Win7 does not directly access the video drivers; it goes through VMware. So I'll check and make sure VMware drivers are up to date.
    – Snowbody
    Sep 24, 2013 at 16:25
  • Ahh my bad -- I thought it was the other way around. :) Do you have the VMware client tools installed? Sep 24, 2013 at 16:44
  • Yes, I'll update the description
    – Snowbody
    Sep 24, 2013 at 17:49
  • capture a xperf trace of the high cpuusage: pastebin.com/pgE11HRD Sep 24, 2013 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


I would check the amount of video ram VMWare is allocating the the Guest OS. I don't know where the exact configuration options would be inside of VMWare as I don't currently have access to an instance, but I would recommend running dxdiag.exe from within Win7 run prompt and looking to see how much memory the primary display adapter is registering. If this number is low (between 1-128MB), you probably need to allocate more video memory to the guest OS.

DWM is the desktop windows manager which will tend to use resources from the video card. Like an OS installed directly to hardware, if win7 finds that video resources are lacking, it will try to pick up the slack by using CPU resources to compensate.

It also couldn't hurt to either reinstall VMWare tools, or check if there is a newer version available. Since 'Tools probably has components that contribute to the virtualization of video resources, this may be similar to updating your video card driver.


I have a similar problem when docked with my Windows 8.1 Lenovo T530. It is fine when not docked, and when docked, the screen flashes and suddenly it is sluggish and dwm.exe takes a ton of resources, etc.

The only thing I have noticed is that the Graphics card goes into a "power saving mode" when not docked. Try updating your graphics card drivers (as mentioned in another reply) but also check the settings to see if there is one that would be relevant. I would start with power-saving mode or options to disable graphics acceleration etc.

In your case, maybe try it both on the host system (interaction with VMware) and see what VMware shows for a graphics processor from inside the VM.


I had very similar problem with guest OS Windows 10 and host OS Ubuntu 16.04. After reading the answer by TheEmpireNeverEnded I have played with various VM graphics settings in Display - Screen tab. Finally changing the Graphics Controller to VMSVGA appeared to improve performance. Unfortunately you lose nice feature of dynamic screen resize then - you can only chose between few 4:3 resolutions.

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