How to Change a Laptop Processor

By Kim Linton

Changing a laptop processor or CPU is not difficult once the laptop is disassembled. The most challenging thing about working on laptops is the small size of the components. It's also very easy to reassemble parts in the wrong order. Most laptop manufacturers have detailed diagrams and manuals that explain how each component fits in the housing. The laptop owner's manual also has information about the kind of processor you need for your particular model. For example, it may be something like a Pentium M 1.8 GHZ on 400 FSB.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop owner's manual
  • Assembly guide
  • New laptop processor
  • Thermal compound
  • Small screwdriver

Step 1

Refer to your laptop owner's manual and assembly guide as you disassemble the laptop. Touch something metal periodically to remove static charge, and work on a large table with a bright light source.

Step 2

Turn off the laptop and unplug it. Remove the main battery, CD/DVD drive and the hard drive. The hard drive is usually located in a slot on one side of the laptop. Remove the screw that holds the cover in place, then pull the hard drive sled out.

Step 3

Turn the laptop over and remove the screws on the bottom that hold the keyboard in place. Some of the screws may be covered with stickers or rubber plugs. Flip the laptop over, open it, then lift the keyboard up and out. Unplug the flexible ribbon cable that connects the keyboard to the motherboard.

Step 4

Unplug the heat sink fan. Remove the screws that hold the heat sink in place, then remove it from the laptop. Release or unscrew the mechanism that holds the original processor in place, then remove it from the laptop.

Step 5

Apply a thin layer of thermal compound on the processor. Make sure it is securely attached and properly aligned in the CPU housing, then replace the heat sink and fan. Replace the screws, then plug the CPU fan back in.

Step 6

Connect the keyboard to the motherboard temporarily. Plug in the laptop, restart it, then follow the instructions in your owner's manual to enter the system's BIOS. The new CPU should now be recognized by the BIOS. Turn off the laptop, unplug it, then remove the keyboard.

Step 7

Follow the guide carefully as you reassemble the laptop. Do not strip or over-tighten the screws. Replace any round stickers or rubber plugs you removed to complete the upgrade.

Tips & Warnings

  • Laptop components are very sensitive to cold, heat and jarring. Be careful not to hit, bump or drop any of the components during the upgrade.
  • If you don't buy the right type of processor, it will not work in your laptop. Also, a faster CPU will produce more heat. Make sure your CPU fan is clean and in good working order.