Properly seat a processor

Edited by Rich, Eng, Charmed, Graeme and 1 other

Installing computer parts into a motherboard is incredibly easy thanks to plug-and-play construction. All devices and motherboards have matched tabs and cutouts, which ensure the component fits correctly. Starting a computer with an incorrectly placed processor, will short out the motherboard. To prevent users from placing a processor incorrectly, manufacturers typically employ two types of cutouts. Either tabs are cutout from two sides of the processor, though this method is uncommon, or a triangular slot is cutout in a corner of the processor. The cutouts fit over raised tabs on the socket.

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Seat a Processor

Before starting this project, there are a few things you should have already done. Match the motherboard with appropriate components by reviewing the manufacturer's compatibility lists and create a safe, static-free work environment. It would be a waste to lose money due to static discharge. The optional parts in the necessary parts list reflect the difference between applying your own thermal paste to a heat sink and replacing the current processor in an old motherboard. The instructions will signify the differences in steps. Never seat a processor, or any computer component, into a connected and powered motherboard. Also, follow proper grounding procedures and lay the motherboard onto a rubber or soft-silicon mat while working. This will prevent damage to the bottom of the motherboard.

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Necessary Parts

  • Computer processor.
  • Heat sink
    Processor with vertical heatsink.JPG
    A close-up photo on that.
    Processor With Vertical Heat Sink - closeup.JPG
  • Optional: Thermal Paste.
  • Optional: Isopropyl alcohol.
  • Optional: Lint-free cloth.
  • Optional: Compressed air.
  • Optional: Screwdriver.

Instructions for Replacing a Processor

These instructions will describe how to replace a processor in an old motherboard. Skip to step 11 for the instructions pertaining to new processors and new motherboards.

  1. 1
    Unplug the power supply cord on the computer.
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  2. 2
    Open the computer case
    Current computer cases are secured with one or two threaded screws and held in place by slotted groves.
    1. Remove the screws and slide the side panel towards the back of the case.
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  3. 3
    Disconnect internal components
    The internal components need to be removed before the motherboard can be unscrewed. Disconnect:  
    1. Power supply connections.
    2. Fans.
    3. RAM.
    4. Graphics.
    5. Ethernet cords.
    6. Hard and disc drives.
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  4. 4
    Unscrew the motherboard
    Motherboards are typical fastened to the case by eight threaded screws. Remove these screws and carefully lift the motherboard out of the computer case.
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  5. 5
    Unfasten the heat sink
    Heat sinks connect through screws or plastic snap fasteners which go through the motherboard. The plastic fasteners are released by turning the end caps. Simple remove the screws to unfasten the heat sink.
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  6. 6
    Remove the heat sink
    Gently pull the heat sink straight up to break the vacuum seal, which connects through the thermal paste to the processor.
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  7. 7
    Remove the thermal paste
    Dab a lint-free cloth into isopropyl alcohol then rub gently to remove the old thermal paste from both the heat sink and the processor.
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  8. 8
    Raise the socket retention device
    Unhook the retention hook and lift the bar. The socket retention frame will lift, revealing the processor underneath.
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  9. 9
    Remove the processor
    Gently lift the processor straight up. Do not bend or turn the processor in any way as this may damage the socket.
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  10. 10
    Prepare the motherboard for a new processor
    Clean the motherboard with compressed air but do not face the air towards the processor socket. If you have purchased a new motherboard make sure to remove all of the protective plastic before continuing. Raise the socket retention bar and remove the metal or plastic socket cover, if necessary.
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  11. 11
    Prepare the processor
    Remove the processor from any packaging and line up the tabs or corner cutout with the motherboard tabs.
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  12. 12
    Fit correctly
    Gently ease the processor into the socket. It should slide in with little resistance.
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  13. 13
    Secure the processor in place
    Lower the socket retention bar then secure the hook firmly into the provided hook slot.
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  14. 14
    Installing a heat sink
    Generally, processors ship with a dab of thermal compound. This compound will work fine, but many people like to replace the provided compound with a high performance alternative. If you will be using the provided compound then skip the next two steps. Otherwise, read on!
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  15. 15
    Clean unwanted thermal paste
    Dip a lint-free cloth into isopropyl alcohol then slowly wipe in a circular motion until the thermal compound is removed.
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  16. 16
    Place new thermal paste
    Next, place a pea-sized dab of compound onto the center of the processor.
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  17. 17
    Place the heat sink
    Gently press the heat sink onto the processor. This will spread the thermal compound completely.
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  18. 18
    Secure the heat sink
    Connect the heat sink by the provided manufacturer's method. Some manufacturers lay the heat sink directly on the processor; others employ plates and frames to levitate the heat sink above the processor. Reference the instruction manual for the particular device for instructions.
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  19. 19
    Fasten the connectors
    Either snap the plastic corner pieces into the motherboard or use the provided screws to secure the heat sink.
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  20. 20
    Connect the power cord
    Finally, connect the heat sink three-pin power cord to the proper motherboard fan connector. Typically, the proper connector is labeled as CPU FAN on the motherboard.
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  21. 21
    From left to right
    1. Processor with both cutouts and triangle directional indicator.
    2. Vertical heat sink showing CPU FAN connection.
    3. Close-up of heat sink mounting, connectors, and CPU.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Check compatibility. Always check compatibility with the motherboard manufacturer to make sure the voltage of the processor is supported before purchasing.
  • Be gentle. Never force a component into a motherboard slot, when placed correctly they should slide in with minimal pressure.
  • Hands off! Don't touch the bottom of the processor! Oil from your hands will remain on the processor and will affect productivity.
  • Logical placement. When installing the heat sink it is convenient to have the power chord face the direction of the motherboard pin connector.
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Referencing this Article

If you need to reference this article in your work, you can copy-paste the following depending on your required format:

APA (American Psychological Association)
Properly seat a processor. (2017). In VisiHow. Retrieved Mar 28, 2017, from

MLA (Modern Language Association) "Properly seat a processor." VisiHow, Accessed 28 Mar 2017.

Chicago / Turabian "Properly seat a processor." Accessed Mar 28, 2017.

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Categories : Hardware

Recent edits by: Graeme, Charmed, Eng

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