How Can I Upgrade My Processor?

Written by ryan maxwell
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How Can I Upgrade My Processor?
Upgrading to a faster processor can provide a significant improvement to your computer performance (Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

One way to improve the performance of your computer is to upgrade your processor. The processor is the brain of your computer. The processor upgrade capability of your computer is dependent on your computer's motherboard. A motherboard is only capable of supporting a specific range of processor speeds, and this range varies among motherboards. The majority of commercial computer manufacturers tend to sell their computers with the installed processor having a speed that is already on the high end of the support range, making a significant processor upgrade difficult without upgrading the full motherboard. Check the documentation that came with your computer or refer to the manufacturer website to see the processor range and processor type your system can support.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Static grounding strap
  • Small flat-blade screwdriver
  • Thermal grease
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs

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  1. 1

    Shut down your computer and unplug all cords from the back of the tower.

  2. 2

    Move your computer tower to a well-lit flat surface. If possible, it should be in a room without carpeting. This will help to reduce the chances of an accidental static discharge, which can damage computer components.

  3. 3

    Remove the side access panel from your computer tower. On some computers, you may have to remove one or two screws from the back of the computer to remove the access panel. Refer to your computer documentation for the specific process.

  4. 4

    Remove the heat sink/fan from your processor. The heat sink is a copper or aluminium device that is set on top of your processor to dissipate heat created when the processor is functioning. The fan attached to the heat sink helps to disperse the heat that is removed via the heat sink. To remove the heat sink, disconnect the power cord leading to the motherboard, lift up the two retention levers on the sides of the heat sink, then carefully lift it away from the processor. If you are unable to lift the retention levers by hand, carefully use your flat-blade screwdriver to pry the levers open.

    If you have disengaged the retention levers and the heat sink still does not lift away, it may be fused to your processor. Fear not, there is a way to remove it without risking damage to the processor or heat sink device. See the Tips section for details; otherwise proceed to the next step.

  5. 5

    Lift the processor retention lever up to disengage the processor lock. Your processor will move slightly when you lift the lever. You can then lift the processor from the socket.

  6. 6

    Carefully insert your new processor into the socket. The processor only fits into the socket one way, so make sure that the pins are lined up with the ports in the socket. Do not force it. The processor should drop freely into the ports. If you push it, you will likely bend pins and damage the processor. Once the processor is properly seated, lower the retention lever to secure the processor to the motherboard.

  7. 7

    Dip cotton swabs in rubbing alcohol, and carefully scrub any thermal grease residue from the heat sink.

  8. 8

    Place a pea-sized amount of new thermal grease on the centre of the processor and reattach the heat sink. Plug the heat sink/fan power cord back in on the motherboard.

  9. 9

    Return the side access panel to the tower, and reconnect all of the cords.

  10. 10

    Boot up your computer.

Tips and warnings

  • If you find that your heat sink is stuck to your processor, you can loosen it up by heating it up. The best way to do it is to plug your heat sink/fan back into the motherboard, reconnect your power cord to the tower and turn the computer on. Let it run for about 10 minutes; then shut down your computer, quickly disconnect the power cord and lift the heat sink away from the processor. Use gloves when doing so, because the heat sink will be hot.
  • Always use a static grounding strap when working on the internal parts of a computer.

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