Types of Upgrades
Generally speaking, there are three types of upgrades for a CPU. There is the chip-for-chip upgrade, the piggyback upgrade and the daughtercard upgrade. Though these upgrades aren’t too difficult, one should have all of their equipement ready, including a phone and tech support number in case you get in a jam.
- Chip for Chip Upgrades. When performing this upgrade, you first start by removing the old CPU and putting the new one in. Most of the time, you will be completely replacing the chip. However, there will be other instances when you may slip an OverDrive chip into a special socket, also located on the motherboard. The 486-Pentium Overdrive from Intel is an example, where you slip the overdrive chip into an extra socket (most of the newer boards do not have an OverDrive socket). These are usually found on boards where the original processor is not removable, whereas on most modern boards you have a ZIF socket where the chip is easily removed.
- Piggyback Upgrades. This type of upgrade is done by stacking the new chip right on top of the old one. These are easy to do, and can be done in 15 minutes if you don’t run into trouble.
- Daughtercard Upgrades. This upgrade involves a new chip on a card. The card has little pins on the bottom of it just like a CPU and the entire card is slipped into the ZIF socket.
Types of Sockets
The two main socket types are the ZIF socket (Zero Insertion Force) and the LIF socket (Low Insertion Force). LIF sockets are commonly called standard sockets. Most boards today are equipped with a ZIF socket with which a lever arm holds the chip in place, and the chip pops out when the arm is raised. On a LIF socket, there is no lever. Installing a CPU on a LIF socket requires force pushed straight down, as to avoid damage to the pins underneath. Removal requires a chip removal tool, similar to a little crowbar.
Another factor you must consider when upgrading your CPU is climate control. If it’s a newer chip, such as a high speed 486 or Pentium, it’ll generate a lot of heat. If it is not cooled sufficiently, it will overheat and burn. Such chips usually have a heat sink, which is a metal grill with little fins that helps increase the surface area of the chip and aids in heat dissipation. Some heat sinks come attached to the chip, while others come separately and must be installed after the chip is in place. The heatsink works by allowing air flow through the fins, which, in turn, cool off the chip. In most systems, the air flow generated by the computer’s main fan is enough to do it. Other CPUs have a separate fan mounted on top of the heat sink to help move more air through the fins.
Begin The Installation
Before you install your new CPU, you must first find out what chip you already have in your current system. To find out what you have, you can look at your manual, use a diagnostic utility such as MSD, or just look at the actual chip. You should also look at the board and find out what kind it is. Make sure that your board can handle whatever upgrade you’d like to put on it. A 486 board can’t handle a Pentium chip. If you already have a Pentium chip and want to upgrade to MMX Technology, the same holds true. You need to make sure your board can supports MMX.
- Next, locate the processor on your board.
- Check to see if it is mounted in a ZIF or LIF socket, or if it is soldered onto the board. A socketed chip will be siting snuggly in the socket. A soldered chip will have little wires coming off the sides of the chip. Do not remove a soldered chip. It is part of your motherboard and you do not want to tear it off. If your chip is socketed, look to see if you have an OverDrive socket somewhere on the board. If you are planning on doing a piggyback upgrade, skip on to step 4.
- If you are going to do a chip-for-chip or daughtercard upgrade, you’ll need to remove the old chip. If it has a CPU fan, you’ll need to first disconnect the fan’s power supply cord from the motherboard. If the chip is in a LIF socket, use a chip puller to pry the chip out. Do this gently, by prying each side little by little, taking care not to bend the little pins on the bottom of the chip. Also, be sure you are actually prying the chip, and not the entire socket. In a ZIF socket, simply raise the lever arm to a 90 degree position and the chip should raise out of place.
- Now it is time to install the new chip. It should fit snuggly. Make sure it is aligned correctly. Most only fit one way. Some have a bevelled fourth corner which lines up with the socket, while others have Pin 1 marked which you line up with Pin 1 on the socket. Once you’re sure that all the pins are lined up correctly, press the chip into place or lower the lever arm, depending on your socket type. If you are doing a piggyback upgrade, align both processors the same way, and press it down on the old chip until you feel it snap in place.
- If your new chip has a fan in addition to your heat sink, connect the CPU fan now. Just plug it into one of the power supply plugs. If you have no spare plugs left, disconnect one of your devices, plug the fan in, and then connect the device into the free end of the fan’s power cord.
- Now it is time to test your work. Turn the computer on. This is where things may get dicey — if it boots and runs great, pat yourself on the back. You have successfully completed your very own upgraded. However, on some occasions, your computer may not boot at all, or it may boot, but will not run correctly. For example, it may lock up after a few minutes or you may get numerous General Protection Faults in Windows. These problems may be caused by expansion of the chip with heat, causing it to lose contact with the socket. If you have these problems, you can either re-install the chip and hope for the best, take the system down to a technician or call tech support of the company that made your upgrade chip.
- If you’ve gotten this far, you’re pretty much finished. Install any extra parts that came with your upgrade kit, or re-install any parts you may have had to remove to make the chip accessible. You may also want to install any software that came with your upgrade kit.