Installing the CPU is one of the more delicate processes of PC building – especially if working with a non-LGA socket, where pins exist on the CPU itself. Following some simple guidelines and visual landmarks, it’s easy to ensure a CPU is installed and clamped-down correctly.
We like installing the CPU outside of the case, as it (1) allows us to perform pre-install component check, and (2) it’s easier.
How to prepare for a CPU installation
- Unlatch the CPU socket clamp on the motherboard. For X99 motherboards, this is a two-lever system (follow instructions with manual if confused). For most other boards, a single latch will clamp-down the mounting bracket.
- Intel non-X series motherboards will use a single lever and will cover the socket with a plastic shroud. This is to protect the pins from damage and serves a critical role. Do not touch the pins or interact with them more than necessary; they are exceedingly fragile and made of soft metals (gold).
- Remove the plastic shroud and save it with your motherboard box. The plastic shroud will be required by the motherboard manufacturer in the instance of an RMA or return.
- Open your CPU and separate the heatsink from the CPU itself. If AMD, your CPU will host its pins on the substrate (the green foundation). If Intel, it will host contacts on the substrate, but not pins. To this end, be exceedingly careful with AMD CPUs and with Intel motherboards, as anything with pins is fragile.
How to install an Intel CPU
- Intel’s CPUs have two notches that align with ‘bumps’ in the socket’s plastic. Locate these two notches.
- Align the notches in the CPU with the bumps in the socket. The arrow, located in the bottom left of the CPU, should align with the bottom left of the socket.
- Drop the CPU into the socket lightly, once aligned. There should be no force required. If force is required to socket the CPU, stop immediately and determine what is causing the hang-up. It is likely the case that the CPU is not aligned properly. Just make sure no undue force is applied as it may bend or break pins.
- Once installed, re-secure the latch to lock the CPU into place. It will require some force, but not much – stop if there’s a high force requirement.
The above image shows an installed Intel CPU. The latch, right side, is locked into place to secure the CPU. The CPU lid is exposed and ready to meet the CPU cooler, which we’ll get to momentarily.
How to install an AMD CPU
- Non-LGA AMD motherboards – which is all of them, at time of writing – will not be covered with a plastic shroud as the Intel boards are.
- Locate the metal lever for the AMD socket. Release the lever into an upright position.
- Match the arrow on the AMD CPU with the socket. If this proves confusing or leaves you uncertain, you can flip the CPU over and look at its missing pin locations, then match those with the filled pins in the socket.
- Mount the CPU – same as with Intel – by dropping it lightly into the slot. Close the latch after word.
How to install a CPU Cooler
If you’re running an aftermarket cooler – something that didn’t ship with your CPU, like an NZXT Kraken liquid cooler – then follow the instructions provided with that product.
The stock Intel cooler is pretty simple and requires no backplate. Socket the four pegs into the slots flanking the socket, then depress the tab and twist so that the anchor locks into the motherboard. There should be a slight “pop.”
Regardless of stock or aftermarket cooler usage, make sure that you’ve connected the pump and/or fan headers to their appropriate hubs on the board. There is a CPU_FAN header on every motherboard. The CPU fan goes there; do not use a SYS_FAN header, as the CPU fan is controlled by special logic in UEFI to account for thermals and load. – Steve Burke, GamersNexus