Learn how to Upgrade CPU; “Your HTPC Guide to DIY Computer Repairs”

Want to learn how to upgrade CPU in your computer?

It’s very easy to do…

Upgrade the central processing unit as part of an HTPC build or desktop PC…

Changing out the CPU is just one of the things you can learn about your computer.

Even building your own PC, is quite simple and highly rewarding.

True; You can build a better PC yourself!

This is true because the parts can be better (we can help you pick them)…

…but also your PC will operate smoother without all the bloated software that PC manufacturers install onto their systems.

Better parts, less software bloat and lower costs equals a better HTPC or PC user experience.

How to start; “How to Upgrade CPU project”:

how to upgrade CPU or build htpc

Your PC is made up of six basic parts and sub parts;

• The Central Processing Unit or CPU

o Cooling unit and fan for CPU – how to upgrade CPU necessary parts.

• Motherboard

o Chipset, built in video processing etc

o Interacts with CPU, RAM, and other components

• Random Access Memory or RAM

o Ram speed in MHz

o Latency timings

o RAM type such as DDR2 or DDR3

• System Fans

• Hard Drive or HD

• Graphics Processing Unit or GPU

o If using an external graphics card unit (GPU)

There are other parts like the case, chipsets included on the motherboard and such not included here but those parts are included or more flexible in their use. (Such as the case and fans)

Your success with how to upgrade CPU and or building a new PC will depend on choosing the right parts for your PC.

If you plan to only change your CPU the section below on CPU swapping will be the only section you need.

But choosing the best CPU will depend on the other components in your computer such as motherboard upgrading.

We will discuss how to upgrade CPU and how to identify what else you may need.

The CPU swapping –What to do first with how to upgrade CPU:

Athlon 2 Phenom 3.4 Quad Core processor

If your computer is able to boot up look in the following location for your CPU information:

Click on these tabs on your own PC;

Start menu/control panel/system and security/ system/

Here you will find basic data about your computer. Under the processor heading read the type of Processor: for example, as I write this mine says;

“Intel® Core™2Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40 GHz 2.40 GHz”

Also listed here is the operating system you are using and whether it is a 32 bit or a 64 bit version; and the amount of RAM available. Mine says 4GB of RAM.

If you are using a different operating system than Windows 7 your access may vary a bit. But it should be in the control panel, and look for anything that reports the system data. Windows XP is very similar but the terminology is slightly different. (I cannot remember the exact terms)

That information about the Processor is referring to your CPU. This is the information you need to find out how to upgrade CPU -you will need to use with your motherboard.

Specifically, you need to know what the CPU socket that your motherboard is.

You can Google this exact processor and search for the socket type. Just type in something like this:

“your processor name – socket type?” There should be a number of results brought back for the specific socket you use and that processor. Once you know the socket type you can begin searching for a new CPU.

In my situation I found the Q9550 processor. But what I also found out was that the Q6600 is still a very good unit, just a bit old, and more importantly; it can easily take CPU overclocking. (If you have a motherboard that supports overclocking -how to overclock CPU article coming soon.)

Or just go to Newegg.com and type in “socket 775 cpu” in their search bar. Replace “775” with your processor socket type. This will bring back all the CPU’s that they carry for that socket. If there are none; you may be out of luck, or may need to find a used one.

You know what type of socket? You can do one of several things with how to upgrade CPU;

1.Replace your CPU with the same processor

2. Replace the CPU with a better processor which will fit your existing motherboard socket (if it is still working well)

3. Or upgrade your CPU, RAM, and motherboard as a whole.

a. This has some merits in some situations. If you processor is old and slow (obsolete) It may be better to just start over.

b. You can reuse some of your PC components like the case, PSU, and graphics card

c. You could increase the overall speed of your PC by upgrading to the latest style of RAM.

If you decide to just start over and upgrade the CPU, motherboard, and RAM -don’t limit yourself to your old socket type.

See what the newer socket CPU and motherboard combination could add to your PC speed and user experience. Just remember to also take RAM into consideration at the same time.

Often when replacing a CPU you may learn that your CPU socket is obsolete. This is truer of Intel CPU sockets than AMD.

Intel changes their most current socket types about every two years. AMD tends to hold onto their socket dies much longer and even makes them compatible with older versions in some cases.

You can often use an AM3 CPU in an AM2 or AM2+ socket of an older style board. AMD, to me is more upgrade friendly, and the processors are usually cheaper to boot. But nonetheless, just because you may not be purchasing the newest socket CPU from Intel does not mean that you cannot get a brand new board and CPU of like/kind with your older socket type. There are some very nice motherboards for the socket 775 of my Q6600 CPU still available.

Your mileage may vary with the CPU socket that you can find.

My brother asked me to find a new CPU for his laptop and the technology was obsolete –even though the PC was nearly brand new. (a Wal-Mart holiday bargain PC)

I could not find a single CPU to fit his motherboard and they don’t even make the processors anymore. It seems Intel was using up some old stock of their CPU dyes and intended to liquidate them during the holidays. My brother got a cheap PC; but he has absolutely no upgrade path.

Cooling the CPU; how to upgrade CPU and then keep it cool:

You can always use the stock cooler that comes with your new CPU. All CPU’s that I know of; come with a basic CPU cooler that in most situations will get the job done. There are a few things about stock CPU coolers that are generally not of great value:

1. Noise caused by small inadequate fans spinning at high RPM’s (the norm for stock coolers)

2. Inadequate cooling allowing temps to get much hotter than is optimal for the CPU.

CPU’s will run much better and be more reliable if you can keep the temps as close to room temperature as possible.

Yes, many processors are designed to run hot, but that does not mean that you should allow them to do so.

Heat kills processors. If you can keep yours cool, it will last much longer and be less prone to damage. (Which may be why you are reading this page to begin with)

A good aftermarket CPU cooler should have…

• A large fan of at least 80mm (in my opinion)

• A large heat sink area (fins) to disperse heat into the cases air flow

• A flat contact area to mate well with the heat spreader on the back of the CPU. (this is difficult to know until you own it)

o The heat spreader is nothing more than the shiny metal backing that is opposite of the pins on the CPU. The pins insert into the motherboard. Heat spreader is on top.

o It spreads out the heat so that it can be efficiently transferred to the CPU cooler base plate.

A good heat sink may be supplied with the CPU you that you purchase; but don’t bet on it. Most of the stock coolers are inadequate at best and junk is more likely.

A good heat sink is not free. Expect a nice CPU cooler to cost between $30.00 and $60.00 USD.

You can spend several hundred dollars on a CPU cooler or heat-sink; but these are usually for hard core gaming or for video editing where the PC is being pushed very hard, runs hot, and is often overclocked –which generates more heat.

If you are not a gamer and do not use difficult programs you may be able to get by with the stock cooling unit.

How the Motherboard interacts with the CPU -how to upgrade CPU:

Your motherboard is more important than you know. It can be responsible for crashing and all kind of system instability problems. You get what you pay for here -so get a good one.

How the Motherboard Relates to the RAM you can Use:

RAM –the motherboard will determine the type of RAM you use as well as the CPU socket.

You cannot put DDR2 into a DDR3 motherboard unless it was specifically designed to be able to use both RAM types. If you don’t know if yours can take both –it probably cannot.

Dual RAM type boards are rare, and they can only run one RAM type at a time –not both. So don’t try to stick both DDR2 and DDR3 ram into the same motherboard. You can overload the RAM controller and fry something.

DDR3 RAM is the current best RAM on the market. If building a new PC use DDR3 RAM. It is faster and now even cheaper than the older DDR2 RAM it is replacing.

If your motherboard is set up for DDR2 RAM you can still find good DDR2 sticks available, so it is not always best to buy a new motherboard that accepts DDR3. DDR2 is still good. But the newer DDR3 is just a bit better –DDR3 is actually cheaper now than DDR2 as well.

Also take into consideration the speed of the RAM and the maximum speed supported by your Motherboard:

The days of just slapping any old supported RAM into your motherboard are gone. You can do it –sure, but you will not glean the highest performance from your PC that it may be capable of.

With DDR3 RAM this is even more true. Motherboards will default to DDR3 1333MHz by default unless the RAM is rated lower than 1333MHz. The RAM you buy may be capable of 1600MHz or higher speeds, but if you don’t set this in the BIOS it will continue to run at 1333 MHz forever. It won’t hurt anything, but again; maximum performance will not be achieved by the “insert it and forget it” approach.

DDR2 800 is 800MHz RAM and it is faster than 667MHz RAM.

The MHz number is the speed in MHz in which the RAM can operate; the faster the better.

DDR3 RAM is commonly faster with RAM speed of 1333MHz or higher. Get the highest speed RAM for your motherboard that it can support and that you can afford. Generally speaking higher speed RAM is more expensive than slower speeds –for good reason!

There are plenty to reasons to learn how to upgrade CPU and other PC parts for your Home Computer, Office PC or HTPC:

This is just a quick approach to helping you understand a bit more about the basics and how to upgrade CPU and pick out your parts. Beyond this you will have to become a bit more educated about your specific PC and the right combination’s for you.

I learned the hard way so You don’t have to!

The information supplied here I had to learn myself by going through this exact process.

I’m not a computer expert so this is taken from my personal experience. I certainly hope you find it helpful.

If you have any questions about how to upgrade CPU; submit them through our comments section below or through the About US page at the bottom.

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Return to Home Speaker from: How to upgrade CPU

How to upgrade CPU. Coming soon – how to overclock CPU and build your own computer rack.

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