You may be able to upgrade to a faster CPU (Central Processing Unit
) if the new CPU is compatible with your motherboard's CPU socket and chipset. Check your Motherboard manual for compatible processors. Also, a new Computer build will most likely require you to install a new CPU.
A CPU will get very hot during operation which is why it requires a large heatsink and fan (cooler) to keep it cool. Thermal paste is used between the CPU and heatsink to ensure that there is efficient heat transference to optimise the cooling of the CPU. If you upgrade to a newer, faster CPU then your existing cooler may also need to be upgraded or you can purchase a new CPU that comes with its own certified cooler. You could also use a better aftermarket cooler or try water cooling.
The two main types of CPU socket (shown above) include the ZIF (Zero Insertion Force
) socket, and the LGA (Land Grid Array
) socket. A ZIF socket has a grid of holes and the CPU will have pins that locate into the socket while the LGA socket has a grid of pins and the CPU has pads that make contact with the socket. Both types of socket require no force to fit the CPU but the ZIF socket will have a lever to lock the CPU into position and the LGA socket will have a latch plate which is closed and locked into position with a lever.
Upgrading your desktop computer CPU
Back-up all of your important files.
Make sure the power is unplugged and press the power button to drain any power from the computer.
Follow anti-static procedures
, and have your tools at hand. Open the computer case.
Locate the CPU socket.
If you need to remove the old CPU then you will need to remove the CPU fan and heatsink assembly. The heatsink and fan assembly can vary considerably but is usually held in place by some retention clips.
Once the CPU fan and heatsink (Cooler) assemble have been removed then unplug the fan power cable from the motherboard fan power header.
The CPU can now be removed from the socket by lifting the socket lever up (ZIF socket) and opening the latch plate (LGA socket) and pulling out the CPU. Do not touch the pins or contacts of the CPU and place it in an anti-static bag.
When inserting a new CPU then handle it carefully at the edges without touching the contacts or bending the pins.
Make sure the lever and latch plate is open on the CPU socket and correctly align the CPU with the socket. The CPU will have a gold arrow on one corner which lines up with the arrow mark on the CPU socket.
Gently place the CPU into the socket without using any force. Check that the CPU is seated correctly and that it doesn't wobble.
Close the lever (ZIF socket) or latch plate (LGA socket) and lever to secure the CPU.
Now you need to apply some thermal paste to the top of the CPU which needs to be spread in an even and thin layer. You can put a blob of thermal paste onto the CPU and spread it evenly with a bit of card or an old credit card. If you have a new heatsink then it may already come with pre-applied thermal paste.
Make sure the heatsink is clean where it comes into contact with the CPU and then re-attach the heatsink and fan (cooler) assembly by securing the retention clips. This may take some force as the heatsink has to fit tight to the surface of the CPU.
Once the heatsink and fan are attached to the CPU then remember to plug the fan power cable into the motherboard fan power header.
Testing your desktop computer CPU
Once the new CPU, and cooler is installed, the CPU fan connected, and the computer re-assembled, you will want to test that it works okay.
Make sure that the computer boots up correctly, and the CPU fan is running. If the computer fails to boot then you will have to reseat the CPU and make sure that there are not any bent pins. Bent pins on a CPU can be straightened by using an old credit card along the rows of pins and gently bending them into shape. A jeweller's screwdriver can be used to gently straighten any bent pins on an LGA socket.
If the computer boots okay and you have a Windows operating system then go to the 'Control Panel' and select 'Device Manager' and click on 'Processors'. Make sure the name of your processor is listed. If it lists another processor then delete these entries and then reboot the computer so that Windows will recognise and detect your processor.
With a Windows operating system you can click START, then right-click on COMPUTER and select the SYSTEM PROPERTIES tab. This will tell you which processor you have along with the speed. You can also download the small CPU-Z utility at www.cpuid.com
which will give you detailed information on your CPU along with core speed, FSB speed, cache size, and the type of socket in your computer.
The main concern with a CPU is heat and making sure that it runs at a suitable temperature. If a CPU gets too hot it may slow down, switch off, or even get damaged. You can usually check the CPU temperature on the CMOS setup page or you can download a useful program called 'Hot CPU Tester' from www.7byte.com
. This program will thoroughly test your CPU under load and give you a detailed report including any problems.