Removing and Installing Processors

Ever wondered how to install a processor? We cover the basic installation steps in this guide.
Things to know

CPU Removal/installation is fairly straight forward, however it requires utmost care when handling the unit because even a slightest nudge can render a CPU/motherboard useless. Current CPU manufacturers for Desktops, notebooks and servers are Intel and AMD.

These are the components involved when installing a cpu:

1)      CPU

2)      Motherboard

3)      Socket

4)      Retainer system

5)      Heatsink

6)      Fan (optional)

Sockets on the board come in two different styles. For Intel desktop and server CPUs, socket on the board contains the pins, while the CPU itself contains contact patches. For Intel Mobile CPUs, pins are located on the CPU itself, and the socket on the board has holes that correspond to the pins.

For AMD CPUs, this is reversed. Pins are always located on the processor itself. The socket on the board contains the holes.


You must avoid contact with the pins during the installation of the CPU. Nothing should be touching the pins. You should always have the socket covered installed until you’re ready to install the CPU.

If you accidently damage the pins on either socket or the CPU, the warranty will be void. The only thing you can do at that point is take it to a skilled technician who can try and fix the pins manually.


Major differences

Next up, I’m going to break down the most common methods of installation for both AMD and Intel CPUs.

Intel CPU – desktop and server models have a full cover retainer bracket

AMD CPU – no cover, only retainer to lock the pins into place

Intel Mobile CPU – no cover, screw-type retainer for locking pins into place, custom heatsink on top.

ALL CPUs  - have indicators of the correct position. CPU can only be installed 1 way. There’s usually a small triangle (arrow) on the CPU as well as the socket. Match these two when installing the CPU.



Intel CPU – Desktop

To remove a standard desktop CPU by Intel, you first need to remove the heatsink and the fan.

OEM heatsinks can be removed by turning each plastic screw (total of 4) counter-clockwise. Once all screws have been locked in, they can be lifted up one by one. Disconnect the fan from the motherboard and remove the heatsink.

Aftermarket heatsinks can sometimes have similar setup, but can sometimes use actual screws. Coolers by Prolimatech, Noctua, Cooler Master etc usually have 2 or 4 screws holding the heatsink down. In order to access them, the fan(s) should be removed.

Once the heatsink is off, you should clean the CPU and the heatsink with a paper towel. Make sure to re-apply the thermal paste upon re-installation of the CPU.

Press down on the retainer pin then away from the CPU. This will allow the cover to lift up. Lift the cover up out of the way. Grab the CPU around it’s edges with your thumb and your index finger and lift straight up. Make sure that you do not drop the CPU back on the socket, or that you drag the CPU across the socket as you’re lifting it up. Doing this will damage the pins on the socket.

If the CPU will be out for a while, make sure that you re-use the motherboard socket cover and keep the pins protected until a CPU replacement is ready to be installed. Covers also go in one way, make sure that you align them properly upon installation.


AMD CPU – Desktop

AMD CPUs also have a heatsink that needs to be removed before you uninstall the CPU. OEM heatsinks use a latch mechanism on one side that needs to be lifted up and over to the opposite side. This releases the tension in the heatsink, allowing it to move freely. You then take the bracket of each plastic tab and the heatsink can be lifted out. Remember to disconnect the fan.

Clean the cpu and heatsink from thermal paste, reapply upon installation.

Push the retainer pin away from the CPU and up. This releases the CPU and it can be lifted straight up.

All other steps and precautions can be followed as per Intel instructions above.

Since the pins are on the CPU, make sure that you do not set the CPU flat on its pins. Use the OEM plastic cover or some other safe method of keeping the cpu intact.


Mobile versions

Mobile CPUs are retained by a screw which has to be rotated in order to release the CPU. After the heatsink has been removed, and CPU cleaned, rotate the screw to the unlock position. The CPU will come straight out. Make sure that you keep the CPU somewhere well protected.

Installing each CPU can be done by following these steps in reverse.

Again, it’s very important to use utmost care at handling the CPUs. Even the slightest damage will cause your warranty to be void. The purpose of this guide is to give you general instructions on how to remove your CPU and send it for RMA if needed, and also things you have to worry about as you remove the CPU.

If this guide seems complicated or you do not feel comfortable performing this job, it’s best to leave it to the professional who can remove the CPU for you without damaging it or other components.

If you have additional questions or problems, feel free to post in our help desk section.

*Disclaimer: AVADirect and its Staff are not responsible for any damage to software/hardware, loss of data or personal injury by following our How-To guides. These guides are provided only as an aid to help you troubleshoot system problems. If you do not feel comfortable performing these steps its always best to send in your system to a local repair shop or contact an appropriate technical support line for additional assistance.