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Remember the following when installing a CPU:

  • The CPU and motherboard socket type must match. The socket identifies the number and layout of pins.
  • In addition to the socket type, the motherboard must support the processor speed.
  • For newer processors released after the motherboard, you might be able to add support for the processor by updating the BIOS.
    • Typically, the processor will run at a speed lower than its rating if the motherboard does not support the higher speed.
    • As a best practice, you should update the BIOS shortly after installing the processor (you must have a processor and memory installed to update the BIOS).
  • The process size refers to the manufacturing process used to etch transistors onto the silicon wafer that will become the CPU. In general, the smaller the process size, the less power required by the CPU. Mobile processors are designed to use less power.
  • Use anti-static protection when installing a CPU.
  • A Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) socket uses a level to allow installation of the processor. Drop the processor into place, then push down on the level to lock the processor into place.
  • When installing a CPU, be sure to orient the CPU appropriately with the socket.
    • In most cases, the pin array is keyed so that the CPU can be inserted in only one way.
    • For processors that can be inserted multiple ways, be sure to line up pin 1 on the processor with pin 1 in the processor slot. Pin 1 is typically identified with a dot or a triangle.
  • When installing a processor in a multi-processor system, unused processor slots must be filled with a special terminating resistor.
  • When adding multiple processors in a multi-processor system, be sure that the speed of the processors are the same.
  • CPUs require a heatsink, and most desktop systems also use a fan for cooling.
  • When installing a heat sink, use thermal grease or a thermal pad between the processor die and the heat sink. This maximizes heat transfer between the processor and the CPU.
  • When the CPU includes a fan, be sure to connect the fan power to the motherboard.
  • Most motherboards automatically detect the processor speed. If not, you might need to use jumpers or edit the CMOS to configure the processor speed.
  • Most newer processors are 64-bit processors that can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications.
    • The biggest advantage of 64-bit processors over 32-bit processors is in the amount of memory they can use. 32-bit processors have a limit of 4GB. 64-bit processors have a theoretical limit of 16.8 TB, although operating system and current hardware limitations impose a much lower practical limit.
    • The operating system and applications must be written for 64-bits to take full advantage of 64-bit processing.
    • You will need to install a 64-bit operating system to take advantage of the 64-bit abilities of the processor (and the higher memory available). You can, however, install a 32-bit operating system on a computer with a 64-bit processor.
  • Unlocked processors are processors whose speed can be changed above their rated speed through overclocking.
    • With overclocking, you increase the speed and often the voltage to increase the performance of the processor.
    • Overclocking typically voids the CPU warranty and could lead to shorter component lifetimes.
    • Some multi-core processors (such as a triple core CPU) have additional cores that have been disabled. With the appropriate motherboard support, you might be able to unlock and use the additional core(s). However, stability of the extra cores is not guaranteed.