For an immediate computer speed boost, there are few upgrades more effective than the central processing unit (CPU). Upgrading your computer's processor takes careful planning. It is important to have all of your instructions and tools ready before beginning, because your computer will be offline until the upgrade is complete. The process is quite rewarding, and does not require a great deal of technical knowledge.
Removing the Old Processor
Turn your computer off. Remove all cables from the back of your computer, labeling each one if you will not be able to remember where they go. Open the computer case.
Touch the power supply at the back of the computer case to release built-up static electricity, and locate the current processor. The processor will have a large metal block, called a heat sink, and fan covering it. If it is an Intel LGA775 processor, the heat sink will most likely have four plastic anchors -- one at each corner -- holding it to the motherboard.
Note: There are many different types of processor heat sinks. If yours does not look like what is described in this article, consult the instruction manual for installation and removal directions.
Release the anchors surrounding the heat sink using a flat-head screwdriver. Look for a cable extending from the fan to the motherboard, and disconnect it. Lift the heat sink away from the motherboard, using a slight twisting motion to dislodge the thermal compound between the processor and heat sink. This will reveal the processor. Set the heat sink aside.
Raise the lever next to the processor completely and lift the processor out of the socket.
Clean all of the thermal compound off of the processor and heat sink using cotton swabs dipped in acetone.
Installing the New Processor
Clean the surface of your new processor with acetone. If you will be using a new heat sink and fan rather than reusing the old one, clean it as well.
Put a small amount of thermal compound directly on the flat metal square (the "heat spreader") on top of the processor. With most brands of thermal compound, such as Arctic Silver, the amount needed is no larger than a grain of rice. Cover your finger with a plastic bag, and spread the compound so that it coats the heat spreader evenly.
Find a white arrow or dot on the processor. Line this up with a similar mark near the processor socket on the motherboard to determine the correct orientation for the processor. Place the processor into the socket and lower the lever.
Place the heat sink directly on top of the processor so that the plastic anchors line up with the holes around the processor socket. Do not twist the heat sink once it is in contact with the processor. Tighten all of the plastic anchors, and plug the fan cable into the motherboard.
Plug all of the cables into the back of your computer, but leave the case open. Confirm that the processor fan spins when you turn the computer on and that the processor operates as it should.
Close the computer after confirming that the upgrade is successful.
- A processor should go into and out of its socket easily. If your processor does not drop smoothly into place, something is wrong. Do not force it into the socket, as you can damage it and your motherboard. Check to ensure that the processor is oriented correctly. If it is, examine the motherboard's instruction manual to confirm that the processor type is supported.
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