Introduction: How To: Replace the Processor in a Desktop Computer

Required Materials:

  • Computer
  • Replacement processor
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Thermal Paste

Before you begin:

  • *Caution: Make sure that the replacement processor is compatible with he socket on the computer's motherboard
  • *Caution: Turn your computer off and unplug your power cord
  • *Caution: Discharge any static electricity by touching a large piece of metal that is grounded

Additional Notes:

  • Depending on your processor’s manufacturer (AMD or Intel), the pins mentioned in step 5 will be located on the processor itself (AMD) or the socket (Intel)
  • The CPU cooler for air-cooled systems is the unit containing a fan screwed on top of an almost equally sized piece of metal (known as the heatsink)
  • If you would like to upgrade your computer’s CPU cooler, do so at step 11
  • Installation instructions for the CPU cooler may vary, so be sure to consult the manual included with the cooler

Step 1: Remove the Computer's Side Panel

  1. Use screwdriver to remove panel screws (if the panel has them)
  2. Once the screws are removed, pop the panel off

Step 2: Locate and Remove the CPU Cooler

  • If the CPU is air-cooled
    1. Unplug the cooler's fan from the motherboard
    2. Unscrew the cooler from the motherboard
  • If the CPU is liquid-cooled
    1. Unscrew the cooler's waterblock from the motherboard

Step 3: Clean the Cooler’s Contact Patch

Using isopropyl alcohol, clean the cooler's patch of any thermal paste

Step 4: Lift the Retention Arm of the CPU Socket

Unlock the processor from the socket to by lifting up the retention arm, which locks the processor in place

Step 5: Remove the Old Processor

  1. Remove the processor without touching the pins on the socket or processor as this can bend the pins
  2. If you plan to reuse the processor, remove the old thermal paste using isopropyl alcohol

Step 6: Insert the New Processor

  1. Locate the corner of the CPU socket marked with a triangle and line it up to match the corner of the new processor with the triangle
  2. Gently drop the new processor into the CPU socket
  3. Lower the retention arm of the socket to lock the processor into place

Step 7: Apply Thermal Paste

Following the instructions on the tube of thermal paste, apply the appropriate amount (about 1 ml) onto the the new processor as seen in the picture below

Step 8: Reinstall the CPU Cooler

  1. Being careful not to overtighten any screws, screw in the cooler by tightening the screws on opposite corners to avoid uneven pressure on the motherboard
  2. Plug the cooler’s fan into the motherboard if it was unplugged in step 2

Step 9: Reattach the Side Panel

Reattach the side panel by placing the screws back in the original location to finish up