The processor is one of the most critical components in a computer – here’s how to choose the suitable model for your PC. Among the many components that make up a desktop PC, the CPU can be considered the heart of the whole system: it is to it that we owe the greater or lesser calculation capacity of our computer and a good portion of its performance. We don’t want to say that it depends on the Central Processing Unit, but that if you need high-end performance, you’ll never get it from a low-end CPU.
Of course, however, then you must also enable the CPU to work at its best, adding the right amount of RAM, a fast storage unit (better if SSD or NVMe), and, if you do graphics or video games, even a video card . with good performance. So if you need more speed today, you should start considering changing the CPU (also). But how to choose the right CPU and, immediately after, how to install it on your old PC?
The CPU Sockets
Not always wanting is power: even if you have the money to buy the best CPU of the moment, it is by no means certain that you can install it on your motherboard. This is because the housing on the motherboard that houses the CPU, the so-called socket, may not be compatible with the processor of your choice. For this, before even going on the Internet to look for the best offer for a new CPU, open the motherboard manual and find out which socket will have to host the new heart of your PC. It’s not just about the differences between Intel CPU sockets and AMD CPU sockets(each of the two manufacturers has its sockets). There are different sockets for processors made by the same company. In principle (but always check carefully before buying):
- LGA-1155: Supports Intel CPUs from 2011 to 2012
- LGA-1150: Supports Intel CPUs from 2013 to 2015
- LGA-1151: Supports Intel CPUs from 2016 to present
- LGA-2066: Supports Intel X series CPUs
- AM3: Supports AMD CPUs from 2009 to 2011
- AM3 +: Supports AMD CPUs from 2011 to 2016
- AM4: Supports AMD CPUs from 2016 to present
- FMI: Supports the first 2011 AMD APU (formerly Fusion) CPUs
- FM2: Supports AMD APU CPUs from 2012 to 2013
- FM2 +: Supports AMD APU CPUs from 2015 to 2015
- TR4: Supports AMD Threadripper CPUs 2017 to present
How To Choose The CPU
From what we have said so far, it is clear that if you do not intend to change the motherboard as well, then you will have to choose a CPU from the same manufacturer that is compatible with the socket of your current motherboard. The choice, therefore, narrows a lot, and the factors to be taken into consideration for the option become mainly two: the number of cores and the clock speed of the CPU with the exact nature and clock, an Intel and an AMD processor will perform differently, depending on the software you are using. Confused?. In theory, but only in view, if the cores increase and the GHz increase, your PC’s performance increases. In practice, however, this is not the case: to take full advantage of multi-core optimized software is needed to divide the workload across multiple cores.
With the same roots, however, a clock increase is always heard. Even in the world of video games, which today are among the software that most put a strain on the CPUs, there are examples of titles that ” scale ” well with many cores and others that do not get significant advantages by increasing the available seats. In professional software for graphics, video and 3D, however, usually, multi-core optimizations allow you to take full advantage of a more significant number of processing units. In the end, We give you some advice: start with the software you use the most and for which you need more power and then search the forums for authentic experiences of real users with the processors you are considering buying.
How To Change The CPU
Here we are: you have figured out which processor is suitable for you, checked the compatibility with your motherboard socket and bought it. You need to install it on your motherboard, removing the old one. Either you have a technician, who will ask you for money, or you do it yourself. If your choice is the latter, continue reading because now we will explain how to replace the CPU step by step.
Open The Case And Locate The Processor
After disconnecting the power from the PC and waiting at least a couple of minutes for the capacitors to discharge, you can open the case. With a Phillips screwdriver, remove the screws and open the side of your case to access the motherboard. You’ll find the processor here, but you won’t see it at first sight – it’s covered by a large heat sink topped by an equally large fan. Three electrical wires run from the fan and connect to the motherboard, not very far away.
Remove The CPU Cooler
After disconnecting the fan power, you need to remove the CPU cooler. To do this, you must act on a release mechanism, which varies according to the socket. Third-party heatsinks can also use proprietary MB hooking mechanisms. You shouldn’t use too much force, so you may be doing the wrong maneuver if the heatsink does not release. Take it easy, or you risk damaging the CPU, which is below.
Remove The CPU From The Socket
Once the heatsink is removed, you will finally see this infamous socket that houses the CPU (which will seem very small after removing the heatsink!). If the CPU looks dirty, it’s normal: it’s the fault of the thermal paste, a sort of cream used to improve the passage of heat from the CPU to the heatsink. Each socket has its CPU latching / unhooking mechanism – usually a latch held in place by a clip attached to the motherboard. Gently act on this mechanism to free the CPU and extract it. But be careful: once the CPU is released, nothing keeps it adherent to the MB, and it could fall. After removing the CPU, clean the thermal paste with a soft cloth if you want to keep it.
Insert The New CPU
Take the new CPU out of the box and insert it into the socket paying attention to the orientation: there is usually only one way to slide a CPU into its slot, so if the processor does not fit easily, it means that you are wrong. If it doesn’t work, don’t push – you could bend one foot and say goodbye to your new CPU. When the CPU is in place, it securely attaches the socket latch mechanism to the motherboard.
Mount The Heatsink On The CPU
Now you need to put the heatsink back on the CPU. But first, you need to spread a thin, even layer of silicone thermal paste over the processor so that there are no parts that don’t touch the heatsink ideally. At this point, a clarification is necessary: the old heatsink may be insufficient for the new CPU, and you will be forced to buy a new, more performing one (unless you have already purchased a CPU + heatsink bundle).
Some more performing heatsinks are also very heavy, so they come with a plate to mount under the socket (on the other side of the motherboard) to keep everything in place. If you have any doubts, read the instructions carefully and check if the heatsink manufacturer has a video on YouTube showing you how to assemble the product. Remember to connect the heatsink power supply to the same connector as before as soon as you are done.
The Unknown Power Supply
At this point, you are done: your new processor is mounted on your old PC and is ready to express its full power, and you can close the case and reconnect the power. But we must tell you one more thing: watch out for the power supply. It is not always true, but a more powerful CPU often consumes more power. If the new CPU has high electrical demands, your current power supply may fail to meet them. Before changing the CPU, find out how many Watts are needed to make it run properly and check if your power supply can supply them on the line dedicated to the power supply of the CPU.