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How to Upgrade a CPU

Upgrading a CPU can typically be done in a matter of minutes. Upgrading to a new processor also provides the greatest improvement to your computer's overall performance. There are some important preparations to make first, and the following guide will walk you through the process of replacing your old CPU.

1 - Preparations to Make
If you are upgrading an older computer, you may need to upgrade the motherboard before you can upgrade the processor. Before you purchase a new CPU, you will need to identify the CPU socket that your motherboard provides. There are many different socket designs around, though the newest ones are AM3 for AMD CPUs and 1156 or 1366 for Intel CPUs. You will need to purchase a CPU which is compatible with the socket on your motherboard.
There are also other requirements to consider, especially if you are planning to upgrade to a particularly high-end processor. These include power requirements and BIOS updates. Before you purchase a new CPU, determine the manufacturer and model number of your motherboard. On the manufacturer's website, you should be able to find a list of processors which are compatible with your motherboard. If a BIOS update is needed, refer to the manufacturer's instructions for further details. Once you have purchased a compatible CPU, you will be ready to install it.

2 - Remove the Old Processor
Turn off the computer and leave it to cool for a short time. Unplug your computer and remove the case cover. Place the computer on its side and unplug the small cable which runs from the CPU fan to a socket on the motherboard. Locate the metal clips which attach the heat sink to the CPU. You may need to use some force to unclip them, but take care not to do any damage. Once the clips have been removed, you should be able to pull the heat sink and fan off the processor. If it is stuck, try to twist it around to loosen it. The processor will be exposed.
Remove the old processor by pulling up the clip beside it. The processor will slide backwards and you can then lift it carefully out of the socket. Place it safely aside and take care not to bend any of the pins.
3 - Install the New Processor

Simply slide the new processor into the socket having aligned it correctly. These days, all processors use a foolproof design which makes it impossible to install them the wrong way round. The processor should slide effortlessly into the socket. If it does not, then it is either the wrong way round or the pins have been bent. Once the processor is in place, pull down the clip to lock it into the socket.
Install the new heat sink and fan. Stock heat sinks normally come with a layer of thermal compound on the bottom of them. However, if you have purchased a third-party cooler, you may need to apply a layer of the thermal compound. Never install a heat sink without this.
Place the heat sink on top of the processor and place the retaining clips onto the socket housing. Pull down the clip to lock the heat sink in place. If you have installed it correctly, you will notice that it will be very firmly attached to the motherboard and it will not wobble when you try to move it.
Attach the fan cable from the CPU fan to the motherboard. Finally, replace the case cover, reattach the cables and turn on your computer. If you have installed everything correctly, your computer should work immediately. No drivers are necessary and you should be able to continue using your computer.


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