Thanks for the response, but I have no extensions installed, reinstalled Opera and ran Malwarebytes successfully (with no malware found). But sadly the problem persists.
If you tell me what information I can provide to you to help you, I will.
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I use Opera 26 on my 5 months old ACER laptop (Windows 8.1). It's equipped with an Intel Pentium Processor N3530 with integrated graphics and has 8GB RAM. Until two weeks ago Opera used to run fast and smoothly, but now - with no change to setup - it runs extremely slow and freezes every 20 seconds while using 30% of my CPU.
Of course I tried restarting and using other browsers. This problem is limited to Opera only.
I hope anyone can help me with this issue - I don't want to abandon my favourite browser.