A+ Certification / Beginners

Installing a Processor

Now that you understand some of the popular processors that exist today, take a look at how to install a processor. This section identifies installation decisions you have to be aware of before actually attempting to install the processor.

Will it fit in the socket?

The first thing you need to verify before you purchase a new processor for your system is what socket type you have on your motherboard. You want to make sure that you purchase a processor that fits in that socket. For example, if you have Socket A on the motherboard, what processors fit in Socket A? If you said Athlon, Athlon XP, and Duron, you are correct.

Also be sure you know how many pins the socket has, because some processors support a few different-size sockets. For example, Intel makes both Socket 423 and Socket 478 versions of the Pentium 4, so you need to make sure you get the correct version of the Pentium 4 for your socket.

CPU voltage and transistor integration

Another important CPU characteristic that you have to watch for when upgrading your processor is the voltage the processor requires. The voltage is the power the processor draws from the main motherboard, which the motherboard receives originally from the power supply.

A processor is designed to run at a certain voltage. You need to ensure that the motherboard you are placing the processor into provides that voltage. If a motherboard supports more than one voltage, you can typically change a jumper on the motherboard, which will then control the voltage used by the processor.

Performing the installation

Because most systems today are using ZIF sockets and PGA chips, I will discuss installing a processor into the ZIF socket. After you have verified that your new processor will work with your motherboard, you are ready to install the processor. To install the processor, first remove the existing one by pulling up on the lever on the ZIF socket. When you pull the lever on the ZIF socket, the existing processor should rise out of the socket a bit.

Be sure to ground yourself before touching the insides of the computer. It is a great idea to get an antistatic wrist strap and clamp it to the computer's chassis so that you have a constant ground.

When the processor has risen a bit out of the socket, you can then gently lift the processor out. Be sure to lift the processor straight up so that you do not bend any of the pins.

After you have the old processor out of the socket, you can install the new processor by first finding out where Pin 1 is on the processor chip. Pin 1 is located in one of the corners of the chip and is usually indicated with a gold line marked on the bottom of the chip that contains the pins. If you don't see a line indicating where Pin 1 is, you will notice that one of corners of the square PGA is cut off - this corner is Pin 1.

After you have located Pin 1 on the PGA chip, you also need to figure out where Pin 1 goes in the socket. Again, you can figure this out by finding the "cut-off" corner of the socket. This corner is where the cut-off corner of the processor goes.

When you have matched up Pin 1 on the PGA chip with Pin 1 on the ZIF socket, carefully place the processor into the socket and then pull the lever down to lock it in place.

Just lay the chip into the socket; don't push it in. The whole point of a zero insertion force socket is that you don't have to risk damaging the pins by applying pressure.

Now that you have the processor in the processor socket, you need to install something to keep it cool, such as a heat sink or fan - or maybe even both.

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