How to Install a CPU:
QuickStart Guide

Note: See our complete guide to build a pc for more detail on installing a CPU (and all your other parts) including quality images from our most recent real-life build to make it easier for you to follow along.

One of the key parts of building your own computer is installing a CPU. The CPU is regarded as the brains of your PC and is one of the most delicate components so you must take care and have an idea of what you're doing when installing one. Although, I must admit these days it's very hard to screw up the installation of a processor since they are designed to install easily.

Find the CPU Socket

Locate the processor socket on your motherboard. The CPU socket is square and with many pinholes on it. Now, raise the brown lever on the socket so that you are able to install the CPU in it. Don't actually install the CPU yet though.

Before installing a CPU in the socket you need to match up the pinholes from the socket to the pins on the actual CPU. There is only one proper way to match them up, so hold your CPU by its sides and examine the pins, and then match them to the pinholes on the CPU socket.

Install CPU

Once you have the pins all matched up, slowly and carefully insert the CPU into the socket. It should fit in gently if you have the pins matched up correctly. Don't force it in too hard, although meeting a little resistance when fitting the CPU in is normal.

Some CPUs will make a slight snapping or clicking noise once it has been installed all the way, while some will not. Once you're sure it's fitted in properly, close the brown lever on the CPU socket to firmly secure the CPU in place.

Installing the Heatsink and Fan

The next step to installing a CPU is to attach the heatsink to the CPU. You need to install the heatsink correctly so that it does not come loose and let your CPU burn to death.

If your heatsink has a separate fan, then connect the fan to the heatsink first. Then you need to follow the instructions that came with the heatsink to install it to the CPU, as different manufacturers have different methods of installation. Don't worry it's very simple to do, just follow the instructions carefully and take it one step at a time.

Once the heatsink is fitted to the CPU correctly, you need to connect the heatsink's power leads to the headers on the motherboard.

You need to locate the correct header on the motherboard to connect to, as they have more than one. Once again follow the instructions that came with the heatsink to locate the proper header. Once you connect the power lead, make sure it is securely in place.

Also, if you are going to be applying thermal paste to your CPU and heatsink to help with cooling, learn how to apply thermal compound here.