How to Install A CPU

How to Install A CPU

Whether you’re building a PC with brand new components or you’re upgrading and adding a new processor to your existing build, installing a CPU is a straight-forward process.

In this quick guide, we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to installing your new CPU, as well as discuss some important factors you need to be aware of before and during the installation.

Also Read: How to Build A PC Step-By-Step

How To Install A CPU in A Fresh Build

Installing a CPU in a brand new system is quite a bit easier than installing a new CPU in an existing build. You won’t have to remove the CPU cooler or clean the thermal paste off your CPU (and then reapply it). And, you can install your CPU before you install your motherboard in your case (which gives you more room to work with.)

Here is the step-by-step process to installing a CPU in a new build:

Install CPU

  1. Unlock the lever on your motherboard’s socket by pressing down on it, moving it away from the socket, and pulling it back.
  2. Remove the plastic CPU socket cover (for Intel CPUs).
  3. Take the CPU out of its plastic package, and hold it by the edges.
  4. Line up the corner with the triangle on it on the CPU with the corner that has the triangle on it on the motherboard’s CPU socket.
  5. Gently lower the CPU down into the CPU socket on the motherboard until it rests fully in place (do not try to press it into the socket or force it into the socket!)
  6. Lower the lever back down and lock it into place

Your new CPU is now installed. Now you can proceed to installing your memory, any NVME drives, and your CPU cooler, before you move on to installing your motherboard in your case.

How to Install A New CPU in An Existing PC

As mentioned above, installing a new CPU in an existing system is a bit more challenging.

The CPU installation process is the same as above, but you have to remove a few things before you can put the new CPU in, and unless you want to take your entire motherboard out (which will create even more steps), you’ll have to perform the installation while your motherboard is mounted inside of your case.

Here’s what you’ll need to do before you install a new CPU in an existing build.

  1. Run your PC for ~10 minutes so that it is warm to make it easier to get the heatsink off of your CPU.
  2. Turn off your PC and unplug the power cable and all cables connect to the case.
  3. Remove the cable that connects your CPU cooler to your motherboard.
  4. Remove your CPU cooler. This process will vary depending on your cooler. But typically, you’ll unscrew the four screws holding your cooler onto your motherboard or onto a third party bracket. For some coolers, you may have to undo clips that are holding the cooler in place.
  5. Gently twist the CPU cooler and, once loose, pull the cooler straight up.
  6. Clean the thermal paste off of your CPU and your CPU cooler’s heatsink.
  7. Unlock the lever on your motherboard’s socket by pressing down on it, moving it away from the socket, and pulling it back.
  8. Gently remove your old CPU from the CPU socket.
  9. Follow the instructions above starting at step 3 to install your new CPU

Once you’ve install your new CPU, you’ll have to reapply thermal paste to your CPU, reinstall your CPU cooler, and plug back in all the necessary cables.

Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building PCs and writing about building PCs for a long time. Through, I've helped thousands of people learn how to build their own computers. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

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