Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tutorial: CPU's

I've done a lot with my computer over the years. Some of it good, some of it bad and because not many people in my area are capable of working on computer hardware, I've mostly had to figure stuff out on my own. By the time I got the internet things were really looking up with finding technical help. Still though, with a 54kb Modem and a spotty connection I couldn't effectively find everything I needed to find. That's why I'm posting this blog. I'm going to document here how to do stuff and how not to do stuff when working on a computer.

The first Tutorial I'm going to post deals with CPU's. Before upgrading or replacing a CPU there are some things you need to know about.
  1. Always have thermal gel. Thermal gel is applied between the CPU and the heatsink. The gel creates a solid layer allowing heat to transfer quicker to the heatsink than if there was an air pocket. Not using thermal gel is an easy way to kill a CPU. I personally prefer to use
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
  2. Make sure you know what your Motherboard can support. There are many different Socket types and many different models of CPUs. This can be checked through the Motherboard user manual. If for any reason you don't have the user manual, you can likely search the motherboard manufacturers website and enter the model of your Motherboard and find an online manual.
Once you have made sure you have the appropriate materials, remove the old CPU. You'll first have to remove the heatsink and/or fan. Most often if you have a heatsink/fan combination, the fan and heatsink are one piece and you should only remove the heatsink from the CPU. Once the heatsink is removed there may be a special mechanism holding the CPU in place such as a latch. NEVER force anything and always make sure you are following the user manual for removing and installing the CPU.

After the old CPU has been removed, take the new one and add a later of thermal gel to it. Take note however that some CPU's may come with thermal gel already applied and all you have to do is remove a covering. If not, then take the gel, and squeeze a tiny amount onto the side that the CPU will meet the heat sink. Using a toothpick or similar item spread the gel as thinly and evenly as possible. Place the CPU onto the motherboard and secure it.

To reinstall the heatsink, first clean away the old thermal gel. There are special solvents you can buy that can make it much easier. Once the gel is removed and the heatsink face is dry, apply a new layer of thermal gel the same way you applied it to the CPU. Again, it is imperative that you make sure the gel is thin and even as possible but still covering it.

Once the gel is applied reinstall the heatsink/fan unit. And there you go! The CPU should be working fine.

A few notes though:
Often if you upgrade a CPU, it will produce more heat than the previous fan. SpeedFan is a good program to monitor CPU temperatures. Upgrading the CPU fan, (or adding one if you don't have one) can greatly help. Always remember though that what counts is the CFM rating instead of the RPM of the fan.

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