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How to install an Intel CPU

Intel Motherboard
Intel Motherboard

Insert and play

First thing's first, you're going to need to have your motherboard at hand with ample access. If it's inside a PC case or packaging, we recommend you extract it and place it on an anti-static surface or atop its box. The same goes for your shiny new Intel processor, but pay extra attention to avoiding contact with the metal contacts.

  1. Unclip the metal retention bracket on the motherboard.
  2. Remove the plastic protective cover.
  3. Line up the guiding notch on the CPU with the one on the socket.
  4. Insert the chip without using any force.
  5. Secure the CPU by clipping down the retention bracket.

The bracket will keep the CPU from falling out when the motherboard is installed inside a PC case. The next stage is to install a cooler to take heat away from the component.

Intel's cooler

Intel CPU

Depending on where you buy the Intel processor, you may also receive a stock cooler. This is more than enough to keep the CPU cool under load without overclocking. Should you wish to play around with voltages and core speeds, you will need to invest in a more powerful aftermarket solution. An added bonus of Intel's cooler is that thermal paste is pre-applied for installation.

  1. Place the heatsink-fan combo on top of the CPU.
  2. Push down on each of the four locking pins in an X formation (top-left, bottom-right, top-right, bottom-left).
  3. Secure the pins by turning them towards the CPU following the small arrows.
  4. Plug the fan into the CPU_FAN header on the motherboard.

Aftermarket cooler

Intel CPU

Intel Socket

Custom coolers from various OEMs require more attention to their bundled instructions. They will likely include a bracket that needs to be installed on the rear of the motherboard, followed by screwing in a heatsink atop of the CPU. Just remember to add thermal paste to the CPU before installation and remove any protective seals from the copper base of the heatsink.

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Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

12 Comments
  • And nowadays, everyone should delid their Intel CPU because Intel's paste is atrocious and you can have an up to 20 degrees coolerCPU.
  • I'll never trust the provided thermal paste again.
  • Is this really an issue? That's pretty scary.
  • insert and play
    step 3) add thermal paste between the socket and cpu :P
  • what? i'm assuming this is a joke, right? generally, i'm all for them, but in this case, you don't want to accidentally screw someone up who doesn't know any better. so you should be clear about it being a joke, as generally, its only clearly a joke to someone who already knows how to install a CPU. Someone doing it for their first time may not know any better.
  • haha, if somebody installs a CPU...without any knowledge... based just on this article then ...... he/she wont turn it on / or the whole thing will blow up :D
  • to be fair, you probably could get by with just this article. now if you were building an entire computer, well... but that's not the case here. i just feel like it's better to be safe than sorry. i mean, this is how some people learn, by doing. there's no point in prolonging that process with incorrect information, or at least not labeling it as a joke. everyone starts somewhere and who knows, if you come into possession of a machine with a missing cpu or something at a garage sale, hey, you might be able to get by.
  • Should've pointed out that the last step is for non-stock cooler :) Anyway, should someone decides to go with the stock cooler, they could go by without any thermal paste.
  • Well, the correct way is to start out by putting an anti-static wrist strap on.  But who in their right minds would uses those???  :p
  • I have not worn one of those in over 20 years of messing with hardware. I have never fried a chip yet, though I do try to be cognizant of being around cloth seats or walking on carpet in socks before cracking open a case.
  • So is this different as to installing an AMD CPU?
  • If ur gonna do a How To, maybe include some actual pictures or maybe even a video?? Who read nowadays?? Not even the president reads!! LOL