The next step is to install the processor onto the motherboard. Now, at this point, the motherboard should just be sitting on your work space, preferably inside of the static protection bag in which it came. Over the next few steps, we will be installing some hardware onto the motherboard before it is installed into the case. The reason is that, in most cases, it is a LOT easier to do this with the motherboard out the case than with the motherboard in the case. The chief reason being room to maneuver your big hands.
Installing the CPU is a pretty straight-forward process. The real risk is to the CPU. Doing this step too fast or carelessly can result in damage to the processor. Therefore, don’t get nervous. It is an easy step, but do it with care.
There are several common interfaces for CPU’s today: Intel currently uses Socket T (775) and AMD uses Socket 939. The older generation of boards uses Socket 478 for Intel and Socket 754 or Socket A (462) for AMD. The numbers correspond to the number of pins on the CPU. But, they all boil down to two basic types: The Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) socket and the slot. Most processors in use today use a socket to connect to the motherboard, and the type of socket in use is typically the ZIF socket. The ZIF socket opens and closes using a small lever. When the lever is down, the CPU is locked into place. When in the upright position, the processor is loose and can either be installed or removed.
All modern systems make use of the zero-insertion force (ZIF) socket. Therefore, this procedure is relevant with that setup. To install a processor using this type of interface, follow this procedure:
- Check the pins. Turn the chip over and inspect the pins. Are they bent? They should all stick straight up. If many of them are bent, then it is best to request a replacement processor. If only a couple are bent and the bend is not that much, then you may be able to use a screwdriver to gently bend the pins back into place. Do so VERY carefully.
- Open ZIF Socket. This is done by grabbing the lever on one side of the socket and opening it. Pull the lever from the closed, level position, to the open, vertical position. You may need to pull the lever out a bit before it will open. Do this slowly and don’t force it. You don’t want to break the socket. On the way up, you may experience a little more force. This is normal. The top part of the ZIF socket will slide over a bit.
- Orient The Chip. This involves locating Pin 1 on both the chip and the socket. This is easy to do. The chip is always marked at Pin 1. The mark may be a little dot on one corner, a slightly notched corner, or a mark at one of the pins under the chip. On the socket, there is usually a notch on one corner, or a big “1″. These corners will be matched up for correct installation.
- Insert Processor. Bearing in mind the orientation determined in Step 3, insert the chip into the socket. With a ZIF socket, the chip should install very easily. It should almost fall into the socket with all pins lining up. That’s why they call it the Zero Insertion Force socket. If not, the socket is probably not open all the way. If you do not have a ZIF socket (God forbid!), you need to exercise extreme care. Lay the chip on the socket. Make sure all pins line up. Then, slowly push the chip into the socket. Use your thumb and push on one side of the chip until it starts to go in. Then proceed to another side and repeat. Do this around the chip several times until it is completely installed.
- When done, there should be basically no gap between the bottom of the processor and the socket.
- Close ZIF Socket. Just close the lever. You will probably feel some resistance. This is normal and it should close anyway. If you really need to lean on it, though, check to be sure the chip is installed correctly. When down, make sure the lever snaps into place.
- Some retail processors come with the heat sink and fan already attached to the CPU, in which case you will need to attach the CPU fan to the socket at the same time as you close the ZIF socket. After you lock the CPU into place, take the retention clips on either side of the CPU fan (which should line up automatically for you if you inserted the processor correctly in step 4 above) and push them down until each side clips over the tabs on either side of the socket. Sometimes it takes using a screwdriver as leverage to be able to get the retention clips out and over the tabs, but if you do this be very careful not to slip and jab your motherboard with the screwdriver.