Ready to install that new Athlon or Pentium CPU you bought for your PC? Remember, if you didn’t buy a combo motherboard with the CPU already installed, install your processor before you install the motherboard.


Touch a metal surface.

Static is bad, so you want to discharge any static electricity you might be unwittingly carrying.


Locate the CPU socket on your motherboard.

It’s the largest socket on the planet, with several dozen pins. Check the motherboard manual if you have a problem finding the socket.


Raise the ZIF lever on the side of the socket to unlock the socket.

A CPU socket is also called a ZIF (short for zero insertion force) socket.


Align the CPU chip on top of the socket.

Match marked corners and double-check your pin placement from the side of the chip. Look for a stubby corner, a tiny groove, or a dot or triangle on one corner of the chip — the marked corner matches up with the socket’s marked corner.


Use your fingertips to gently press down evenly on the edges of the chip.

The chip should settle in until the pins aren’t visible from the side.


Lower the ZIF lever on the side of the socket.

You want to lock the CPU in place.


Clamp the fan on top of the processor.

You might need to apply a special glue or compound between the fan plate and the processor before you install the fan.


If your CPU fan has a separate power cable, plug it into the proper connector on the motherboard.

The location of the CPU fan plug is listed in your motherboard manual.


Relax. Breathe deeply. Congratulations — you just replaced your computer’s CPU!

Don’t force your CPU into the socket! If it doesn’t comfortably settle into place, head to your motherboard and CPU manuals. Breaking the pins on your CPU turns it into an extremely expensive, nonfunctioning brooch.