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Old February 12th, 2011, 08:20 AM   #1
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Upgrading CPU DIY

I've installed hard drives/expansion cards/RAM by myself many times. Nothing to it.
But I've never replaced the CPU by myself. Somehow I feel I'd better pay for a technician to do it for me.
Am I wrong to be hesitant? Is it relatively simple? Does it also involve re-configuration in the MB Bios?
Any tips/links if I decide to do it myself?

Many thanks,
Jon.
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Old February 12th, 2011, 04:38 PM   #2
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To answer one question: With every modern motherboard I know of, you can swap in a new CPU and the motherboard will either automatically recognize and reconfigure or else it will reconfigure and send you to the BIOS to confirm that you want the configuration it has found. Almost always. With famous-name boxes, though (those from Dell, for example) there may be "issues" and you need to check the support pages of the website in case you run into one.

Not so sure I can give helpful advice on the other questions. While I think swapping a CPU is pretty simple, I realize that it can seem daunting for somebody who has never tried to do it. I also realize that folks have different machines and situations so I worry about being like the Microsoft help desk with its reputation for giving advice that is absolutely accurate and completely useless to the person with the question.

So, first thing: have you searched online for possible issues? Google the CPU name with your motherboard or computer model and see what comes up. Sometimes, "you can't get there from here." Sometimes, you need to know the secret word. You want to know about these kinds of issues before you try the upgrade.

The actual swap process is very simple with most motherboards. The manual for the motherboard will have three or four pages with large pictures to show how its done. The manual for my ASUS P6T v2 mobo covers a CPU installation/swap (including several permutations on coolers and fans) over six pages. These are 4"x8" pages which are mostly illustrations and photos, so it is easy to see how it is done. Basically, you start by releasing a couple of catches on the fan/cooler, then releasing a couple of spring-catches at the base of the CPU, then disconnecting the fan cable, and and then lifting the old CPU and fan out. Installation is usually the reverse although some mobo manuals say to mount the CPU and then the attach the fan to the CPU with the glue dots. The bottom of the CPU and the socket will have a pin pattern such that there is only one way to orient the CPU when plugging it in to the motherboard.

That simple part might require --- depending on how much stuff you've got in the box and how neatly it is or is not arranged in there --- a complicated bit of unplugging various interfering cables, removing interfering hard drives or drive cages, and pulling video and other card in order to get the space to be able to take the CPU in and out. You need the manual or map to be sure you get everything put back where it should be after you get the CPU installed.

I find all of this easy but realize that it can seem daunting to some.

So, the best advice here is read the manual (RTFM as they say).

Don't have a manual and can't find instructions? Or, maybe there's just too many cables and things to fuss with? Or maybe the manual is hard for you to follow? Or, do you just prefer to have somebody else do this work? Then, have some one else do it, by all means.
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Old February 13th, 2011, 02:58 AM   #3
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Thanks for the detailed reply Jay.
My system is a custom build (not assembled by me obviously), but access to the cpu and fan is not a problem. I'll find my mobo manual and take a look. From how you describe it seems like something I should manage, and in fact it should be a good thing to learn - I would like eventually to able to assemble my own systems from scratch by myself.

Only issue is cup-mobo compatibility. I want to breath some new life into a core2duo/4gb ram system by making it a core2quad/8gb. From the support page (asus) it should be possible but I am yet unable to google a definite compatible cpu list for my P5WDG2 WS PRO. Checking through the Asus forums right now...
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Old February 13th, 2011, 08:39 AM   #4
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Jon,

At this point you're better off getting the CPU used or buying a major new upgrade of CPU/motherboard/RAM to a newer platform. This is because Intel has stopped production of all except extremely-low-end CPUs for that particular socket (LGA 775). Therefore, all quad-core CPUs still available new will now cost significantly more money than what they are currently worth. In other words, the entire LGA 775 Core 2 platform is now officially obsolete.

Also, I have just checked the CPU support list for your motherboard on the Asus' USA site. It does not support any of the recent 45nm Core 2 Quad CPUs at all. Your motherboard is simply too old for such support. The only quad-core CPUs that it supports are those very early 65nm models with a 1066MHz FSB - the Q6600, the Q6700 and the Core 2 Extreme QX6800. None of those CPUs are available new any longer - and if you find a NIB (New In Box) CPU in that series, expect to pay much more than most of the i7 CPUs, motherboards and RAM combined.
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Old February 13th, 2011, 02:13 PM   #5
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Hi Randall.
I know you are right about my money being wasted on an old platform. I was thinking building a new i7 machine but unfortunately my laptop just choked on me over the weekend, and I may need to replace it urgently. Getting a new laptop and a new desktop is over my budget right now.
I found a BIOS update on the Asus forum that is supposed to make my mobo work with 45nm core2 cpu's, and the 9650 is still available here in Israel for about 350$. Not a wise investment, I know, and a bit risky with an unoffical BIOS mod, but perhaps better than nothing, and still much cheaper than a new machine.
I'll think about it, thanks for the advice :)
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Old February 13th, 2011, 05:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Shohet View Post
Hi Randall.
I know you are right about my money being wasted on an old platform. I was thinking building a new i7 machine but unfortunately my laptop just choked on me over the weekend, and I may need to replace it urgently. Getting a new laptop and a new desktop is over my budget right now.
I found a BIOS update on the Asus forum that is supposed to make my mobo work with 45nm core2 cpu's, and the 9650 is still available here in Israel for about 350$. Not a wise investment, I know, and a bit risky with an unoffical BIOS mod, but perhaps better than nothing, and still much cheaper than a new machine.
I'll think about it, thanks for the advice :)
Officially, only the 45nm dual-cores are supported on that mobo.

By the way, the Q9650 costs way too much money new these days. In fact, I would not spend more than $150 or so for that CPU.

Last edited by Randall Leong; February 14th, 2011 at 12:39 AM.
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Old February 14th, 2011, 06:08 PM   #7
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What motherboard do you have, specifically? and i agree, $150 is a fair price.
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Old February 14th, 2011, 10:16 PM   #8
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Panagiotis,

The OP already stated the particular mobo in his rig:

Asus P5WDG2 WS PRO (based on Intel's old 975X chipset).
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Old February 18th, 2011, 07:42 AM   #9
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Jon,

I don't know if you've taken any action yet, but I'll throw in my opinion: Don't fret too much about wasting money on PC upgrades. The technology becomes obsolete so fast, there is no way to stay ahead. Spend the money on what you need, and don't look back.

I agree with Randall that your best bet is to swap out the MOBO, CPU, and RAM. I find the biggest problem with trying to upgrade older systems is the lack of memory support and the price of "old" memory. Usually, the memory with the older interface is much more expensive per GB than the newest items. If your old items still function, it might be a good idea to list them on an internet auction site. A little extra money never hurts, and it beats sending the old components to a landfill.

The CPU brand (Intel or AMD) is up to you, but a quad-core or better is your best bet. AMD tends to support their socket designs longer, but my personal choice is Intel. My current rig has in i7-920 overclocked to 3.4GHz.

Don't forget to check your power requirements. You may need to purchase a new power supply. Newegg.com has a power supply calculator which is pretty helpful in determining how much power you need. I've repaired many PC's with power supplies that were rated too low. Not having enough power can cause all sorts of problems, including the dreaded Blue Screen Of Death.

If you've already upgraded HDD, memory, and expansion cards, you're more than ready to fully build your own rig. I've been building my own for at least 15 years. They usually cost a little more than equivalent Dell or HP non-business models, but I'm confident that I have higher quality components. Down-time on my builds is extremely rare.

Good luck.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 10:37 AM   #10
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Thanks Guys for the interest and advice. As I've stated I just lost use of my laptop and it is a higher priority to replace it right now. I understand that 250$ for a Q9650 is overpriced (and not even certain my current Mobo will support it, although judging by the ASUS support forums, it should). But realistically what sort of i7 CPU/Mobo/RAM combination could I possibly get at that price? I don't want to compromise too much on cheap mobo/ram. My current build may be ridiculously outdated, but I invested in quality components and it has been rock solid, over 5 years without one single problem (touch wood).

Perhaps my best best right now is to keep my eyes open for a reasonably priced second hand Q6600, and if the opportunity doesn't arise, I'll hold on a little while longer until I could build a new system properly.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 10:12 AM   #11
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Re: Upgrading CPU DIY

Jon,

sorry to come to this thread late, but realise that MS, as far as I know, identify a system by its processor. So a new processor requires a new operating system copy unless your copy has multiple licenses as part of it. So OEM XP is a one processor license.

For me to go to System 7 from XP means that some of my older peripherals (my scanner, for instance) will require at least that I run it in simulated XP mode. Don't know your situation, but I have another system where upgrading the PC is going to require new software and hardware for the new OS.

If you are in "wait and see" mode, start Googling!!

Cheers, Ian
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Old February 28th, 2011, 12:08 AM   #12
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Re: Upgrading CPU DIY

Ian:
I've replaced CPU's on existing systems before. Windows XP will boot up and then see the CPU isn't the same, then ask if it can run out on the internet and re-validate itself. It's no big deal, just a few tens of seconds to take care of.

XP keeps a road map of the hardware it's installed on, and if there are significant changes (like a new video card or a RAM upgrade), it does the same thing. MS has to allow for system upgrades and repairs. As long as you're putting new parts into the old box, your original license still applies.

Martin
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Old February 28th, 2011, 12:38 AM   #13
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Re: Upgrading CPU DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Firth View Post
...but realise that MS, as far as I know, identify a system by its processor. So a new processor requires a new operating system copy unless your copy has multiple licenses as part of it. So OEM XP is a one processor license.
Actually, OEM Windows a one-motherboard license, not a one-processor license. However, the owner of that system may change motherboards on that system but must call Microsoft by phone to re-activate that installation of Windows.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 10:13 PM   #14
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Re: Upgrading CPU DIY

I replaced a toasted motherboard and processor, just slipped it in under the original hard drive with the system and all my old files on it. XP booted, popped a dialog box asking if it could do so, then ran out on the internet and re-authorized itself. No phone call required.

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Old March 5th, 2011, 07:09 PM   #15
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Re: Upgrading CPU DIY

Hi folks,

good to know. I know I've changed memory and revalidated, but somewhere got it into my head that that the processor was treated different.

Thank you for correcting me.

Cheers, Ian
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