Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Replacing or Upgrading Your CPU

When my Windows 7 upgrade disc arrived in the mail last week, it triggered in me an urge to do a more extravagant upgrade to the machine I intended to install Win 7 on. (See, the Law of Unintended Consequences.) An urge that I had previously been able to suppress– even though I am a capital “G” geek.
(We here at T4E Headquarters use “geek” as a compliment.)

Intel dual core CPU on mobo I had long ago decided that I was going to install Windows 7 in the 64-bit version (my machine is not too old, and so it has the required 64-bit hardware) as my trials with the beta versions of 7 had been so stellar. 64-bit computing is officially here for us Average Folk, and it has many advantages. One of the nicest is the ability to “access” more RAM memory.
(I cannot think of a way to write this article w/o using some of those durnded Geek Acronyms; so, I will make them ‘click-able’ to the relevant Wikipedia page.)

So.. in celebration of Win7, I decided I would pack in as much RAM as my board would hold. (I wrote about that here, Windows 7 64-bit Adventures.) That gave me 8 Gigabytes and a certain amount of bragging rights.
(When I started computing, way back in the day, I honestly never dreamed I would one day have this much.. 64 Megabytes was ginormous! See, A trip back to the land of Mega.)

That went well, so.. I decided I would pull out my low end Intel dual core E2200 CPU and replace it with a quad core CPU of the higher end variety.
And I found a good price on an Intel Q9550. So..

CPU Replacement – First Things First

The first step in the process is to determine what kind of processor your machine has now.
Why? When you’re intending to replace it?
Because this will tell us the manufacturer (AMD, or Intel), and by inference it will tell us the the type of socket our computer’s motherboard has. Knowing those two things are vital for shopping for a replacement that will fit and work properly. There are scores of CPU’s to choose from, but only certain ones (or “families”) will work in certain sockets.

1) Right-click on “My Computer” (just “Computer” in Vista/Win7) and click on “Properties”.

A window will open which tells you your system’s basic information.


In this sample, we have just determined that the computer in question has an Intel processor (not AMD), and that it is a 2.4 GHz, of the type “Pentium 4“, which was a very common chip, and the last of the Intel single-processor (aka “core”) chips.
(As an experienced Tech, it also tells me that we [probably] have just stubbed our toe.. but, let’s play it through.)

2) Now that we know the make and model of our processor, we need to learn which type of socket it uses. You can use a search engine, or simply click on the “socket” hyperlink three paragraphs up, and consult the table on the Wikipedia page. (Let’s say we did that) Look for the CPU name and find the matching socket.

Most CPU’s only use one type of socket, and so our Step 1 task is now done, and we know what type of CPU to be shopping for.

But, here, we have a “problem”. On the table we can find “Pentium 4” in the table next to Socket 423, and Socket 478/Socket N, and LGA 775/Socket T.
Hmmm… eenie, meenie, miney, moe? In this instance, I would open the computer’s side panel, and look at the motherboard for large lettering that told me the make/model of the motherboard. Or I would look in the computer manufacture’s documentation (usually found online) for the motherboard type. Looking up the motherboard specifications will also tell you the socket.
(Sometimes, the speed [GHz] will provide a clue. Wikipedia’s tables on the P4 indicate that the 2.4’s used Socket 478)

Knowing the socket determines our CPU “upgrade path”.

In wrapping up for today, we are going to pretend that we have determined that our hypothetical machine has a Socket 775 version of Pentium 4.. because then it might be feasible and/or practical to upgrade the CPU, and we can proceed to Step 2.

Because if it were Socket 423 or 478? I would not even think of doing an “upgrade”! I would be looking at a whole new machine. The overall cost saving and performance gain of a new system – in this example – is hands down the winner over “upgrade”-ing. Right now, stupendous deals can be found on the remaining inventories of dual-core, and first-gen quad-core, machines in the stores as they need to make room for the new “i” series and Windows 7 machines. (I humbly suggest you grab one while you can, if you are on a P4…)

So I will continue this tomorrow as if we had a “good” socket  …

update: See, Replacing or Upgrading Your CPU – Pt 2
update:Upgrading the CPU pt3 – Selecting A Processor
Upgrading Your CPU – Conclusion(s)

Related links: If you are considering upgrading your current machine, you may want to look at ZDNet’s Hardware 2.0 ‘Very Best Kit List’ for Nov/Dec 09 for some recommendations and ideas.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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November 3, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, dual-core processors, hardware, how to, PC, performance, tech, upgrading | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] So.. I will quit there, and do my best to avoid jargon from here on out. I remind you that I wrote a 4-part series on the ‘How To’s’ of upgrading your CPU, and suggest it as a starting point.. (please refer to part 1, Replacing or Upgrading Your CPU). […]


    Pingback by Part 2 | The Best CPU? « Tech – for Everyone | February 24, 2010 | Reply

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