How to Put a Laptop Processor in a Desktop PC

By Alexander Rudinski

Upgrading the processor on your computer is a sure-fire way to breathe new life into an old machine. A faster processor speeds up everything that your computer does. It doesn't require major surgery to install a new processor, and the cost savings over the purchase of a new machine are immense. To save even more, you can reuse a processor from a laptop. There is no inherent difference between the two types of processors, so if the laptop processor is compatible with your motherboard and has the same style socket, then it can be installed in your desktop.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop processor
  • Desktop PC
  • Small set of screwdrivers
  • Anti-static wrist strap
  • Thermal paste

Step 1

Ground yourself and your work station. A static electricity discharge can destroy a computer, and grounding yourself eliminates this threat. Before beginning work, you can discharge the electricity in your body by touching a piece of metal, such as the computer's chassis. For extra protection, work on a wood or tile floor and wear rubber-soled shoes.

Step 2

Wrap an anti-static wrist band around your wrist and clip it to a grounded surface, like the computer's chassis. Some wrist straps plug into the ground receptacle of an electrical socket. If you have one of these, plug the strap in to the socket before starting work.

Step 3

Open your desktop computer's case. Most cases are held on by a handful of screws in the back. Once you unscrew these, the case should slide off either up or backwards. Set the case and its screws aside.

Step 4

Locate your computer's processor. It will be located on the computer's motherboard, which is the largest circuit board in the computer. The processor itself is hidden beneath a large metal object with fins called a heat sink, which helps dissipate the heat a processor produces.

Step 5

Remove the heat sink by unlocking any mechanism that is holding it in place and gently twisting it while pulling upward. Do not force it. If it's stuck, apply some heat by blowing a hairdryer on it, and then attempt to remove it again. If there is a fan attached to the heat sink, gently unplug the cable connecting the fan to the motherboard before removing the unit.

Step 6

Take out the processor. This part is held in place by a lever that can be pulled upward. The lever releases the processor from its seat in the motherboard and also lifts it upward so you can take it out easily. Gently pull out the processor, lifting straight up and taking care not to force it.

Step 7

Insert the new processor in exactly the same way the old processor was oriented. Processors are designed to literally drop into place by the force of gravity. You do not need to push on the processor at all. If it does not drop into place, carefully reorient the processor until it does fall into its socket. Slide the locking lever back into place.

Step 8

Reinstall your heat sink. Apply a thin layer of thermal paste to the top of the processor. Thermal paste helps heat transfer between the processor and heat sink. Do not use your finger; Use a cotton swab or plastic applicator to spread it evenly. Place the heat sink back on top of the processor and re-engage the locking mechanism. Re-connect any fan to the power supply.

Step 9

Reattach the case by sliding it back on the same way it came off. Screw the case into place.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some computer cases require several different screwdrivers to remove. If you see a screw with an asterisk-shaped head, you need a "Torx" screwdriver.
  • To get a cheap laptop processor, buy a used machine with a broken LCD or other major defect. Just make sure the processor is functioning properly.
  • If you're worried about static electricity, there are many specialized products specifically for eliminating it while working on computers, including floor mats and gloves.
  • When working on computers never force anything. Pieces are designed to go in easily, but they only go in one way. Before you break something, make sure you're putting it in the right way.