Intelligent Computing. Computer help at your fingertips!

   Follow me on
I compute on facebook is Intelligent computing. Located in Coos Bay Oregon. Local On-Site service is QuickTech. Servicing PC and Mac.
(541) 260-2839
Networking help
Windows Help
Computer Shopping

I love helping people help themselves. If an article helped you consider giving a few dollars. Thanks.


Your Best Outlet

 It's okay to save Money

Computer service-

Coos Bay, North Bend, Lakeside, Hauser, Coquille, Myrtle Point, Bandon, Reedsport, Coos River, Allegany, Fairview and others. Call for more information.


How to change or upgrade your CPU (Processor).

These instructions are to help you change your own processor when you have a problem or just want to upgrade your CPU. The instructions and images here are for an Intel Socket 478 processor, but the instructions are similar in most desktop applications.

First shut off your computer.

Take the side cover off of your computer.
You should see a large fan and aluminum heatsink similar to this.

Intel Socket 478 CPU fan     
Click images to enlarge. The larger image will open in a new page.

On an Intel 478 CPU heatsink there is a lever on both sides of the top of the heatsink. Unlock them by flipping them over in opposite directions from each other.

CPU fan lever

Now the the levers are loose you need to hold the finned aluminum part of the heatsink and give it a light twisting motion to get it to come loose from the processor. I have actually had the cpu come out with the heatsink it was stuck on so hard. If gently twisting back and forth doesn't break it loose then you can try gently pulling up on the heatsink. There are four clips that hold the heatsink and fan down to the mainboard. Make sure that these are unhooked before trying to finish removing the heatsink. I have noticed that as you unhook one side the opposite side wants to hook itself back to the bracket on the mainboard. Just pay attention and you'll get it.

CPU fan clip

Now that the heatsink and fan are loose, don't forget to unplug the fan from the motherboard. It is three wire connector that normally has a brown end and plugs into the mainboard. There are adaptors that allow you to plug this type of connector into a Molex connection that comes straight from the power supply so if you don't see a connector plugged into your mainboard like the one in the image below, look  for the wires from your fan to be plugged right into your power supply.

CPU fan power plugin

The processor exposed after removing the heatsink. This CPU had the original thermal tape on it. To help keep the processor cool we will be changing that in the final steps.

CPU heat sink and fan Removed.

Unhook the lever that locks the processor in the socket. Depending on the system board manufacturer this may be plastic or metal. The one on this MSI board is brown plastic.

CPU socket locking lever

After lifting the processor lock lever up to its unlocked position, remove the old processor.

CPU Removal

Your next step is to blow off the dust from around the socket. Canned air will do well but if your board looks like this one did, you may want to unhook your computer and take it outside. This was a dead board so I didn't bother to clean it for the pictures. I felt guilty so I cleaned it for a picture. This is what it looked like after I decided to blow the dust off of it.
Note: Do not use a vacuum to the inside of your computer. The air and particles that pass through the plastic hose can build up a static charge that may zap your board and render it useless.

After cleaning dust off of motherboard.

Before inserting the new processor you need to make sure that you pay attention to the way you are putting the new CPU in. On this socket design there are two missing pins from one corner of the socket. This is so you don't put the processor in the wrong direction.

CPU Socket

Making sure the processor is oriented the right direction put the new processor in the socket and put the lock lever back in the locked position.

Remove old CPU and install new CPU

Now we need to put the heatsink back on. In order to do that and not have overheating problems we need to remove that thermal tape I mentioned earlier. The purpose of thermal tape is the same as thermal grease. It is to make a better contact between the processor and the heatsink as good as it can be. Most people don't like to use the thermal tape and feel that they get better contact with the paste. Either way, you will need to remove the old before putting on the new thermal compound. Now lift an edge and start pealing!

Heatsink to CPU thermal tape

The end result should look like this. Notice the black residue left behind. You can easily remove this residue with Lacquer thinner or Acetone and a paper towel. These should be used in a well ventilated area (read label on can).

Thermal tape removed

Heres what your heatsink should look like before you reinstall it. Some heatsinks have a copper core but these also need to have heatsink compound on them.

Clean or new heatsink socket 478

The compound of choice for most people is Arctic Silver. Now Arctic Silver is a brand name and has several types of compounds available. Most people (including myself) like the silver. The tube I have here is "Arctic Silver 5". A tube of this runs about $5 to $10 depending on where you purchase it. I did notice that Radio Shack had it in blister packs the last time I went in looking for something. It was $10 there and I got mine from a local computer store for $5.

Arctic Silver Heatsink Compound

If you cant find Arctic Silver 5 or want to get a Processor for your computer has all your computer and electronic needs! Click Here!

You will only need a little bit of this compound as seen in the picture below. Since this is a metallic compound I caution you to not use too much and have it make a mess on your system board. That might make the board short out. My rule of thumb is to put just enough on to be able to put a thin even coat across the face of the processor (about the size of a BB normally works okay. The heatsink compound is hard to get off of you. Don't get this stuff all over the place. Make sure to wear a latex glove or wash your hands right away if you decide to spread the compound out with your finger like I do. I keep some paper towels handy for emergency wipes and cleanup.

Heatsink compound on CPU

Now that the CPU is prepped and ready to go, put your heatsink back on and lightly twist it back and forth a little bit to seat it into the compound you put on. Make sure that all four clips are hooked to the bracket on the mainboard.

Processor Heat sink clips

Flip the two cam levers back to the locked position. (if you have this kind of heatsink

Heatsink Levers

Plug the processor fan back in where it was when you unplugged it. Notice that the one connector in the image below has two tabs on it that align with the terminal on the mainboard!

CPU fan Connector

Your processor should be ready for use.

Finished processor swap

Put the side cover back on your case and plug the power cord back into the tower. Hit the power button and enjoy!

Note: Some computers will give you a message about processor changes. Somewhere you should see a way to continue (normally the F1 or enter key). Once you have booted with the new processor in place and have told the computer to continue you should not receive the message again.

If this helped give with the PayPal Make a Donation button.

Please leave a comment with your Donation. Thanks... Dale
This recently added counter saves unique visitors. It does not count return visitors.