Can You Upgrade a Laptop CPU: Is It Possible and How To Do It

Atif Liaqat | Last Updated On November 22nd, 2021

If your laptop is a few years old and faces significant performance issues, you may be considering a CPU upgrade.

There’s nothing more annoying than dealing with constant stutters and freezes as you’re working or browsing the internet.

However, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to upgrade your laptop CPU because the majority of laptop CPUs are soldered in and are unable to be removed. You’ll only be able to upgrade laptops that use socketed desktop CPUs, which are only commonly found in larger gaming laptops.

For this reason, you should first try fixing your slow computer through standard procedures such as removing unnecessary programs, defragmenting your harddrive, checking for viruses, and so forth. If these methods don’t work, you should potentially consider upgrading the entire laptop.

In this guide, I’ll discuss:

  • How to tell if your laptop CPU is upgradeable
  • How to replace your CPU if it is replaceable
  • How to fix slow computers
  • and much more

Let’s dive right in.

Is It Possible To Upgrade Your Laptop CPU

As I stated earlier, most laptop CPUs are soldered directly to the motherboard. Therefore, unless your laptop uses a detachable socketed CPU, upgrading is not an option.

So, you’ll need to find out which CPU surface mounting method your laptop uses. To do this, press the ‘windows’ search button, type in ‘system information’, and click on it. A new file will be opened that displays all the technical specifications of your laptop.

Look for ‘Processor’ and see the exact model your CPU has.

Another way to find your CPU/processor is to press ‘Ctrl-Alt-Delete’ to open the ‘Task Manager’. Then, click on the ‘Performance’ tab and your CPU will be immediately displayed.

Once you find your CPU, write down the exact name and type it into Google. Next, find a website that shows the specifications of your CPU and click it.

Now, look for a section that says ‘Socket’. This will show the exact socket that is used for your CPU. For example, my Intel Core i7-9750H processor uses a FCBGA1440 socket.

What’s important to note is the three letters “BGA”.

There are 3 different types of surface mounting techniques that define how the CPU is attached to the motherboard inside laptops.

These include BGA, LGA, and PGA.

1) Ball Grid Array (BGA)

A ball grid array is the most common type of mounting found on laptop CPUs. This type of CPU is not upgradeable because the CPU is soldered onto the motherboard. For this reason, it’s impossible to actually detach and replace the processor. If you want to know what is a good processor speed for a laptop, read here.

My MSI gaming laptop uses a FCBGA1440 socket, so I am unable to replace the CPU.

Technically, the ball grid array is not actually a socket. Instead, this type of CPU uses small smolder balls which are melted with a hot air gun into smolder pads on the motherboard. This is why BGA socketed CPUs are impossible to upgrade.

BGA sockets are commonly used in smaller devices like laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

2) Land Grid Array (LGA)

If your socket includes the letters “LGA”, it’s possible to upgrade your CPU. LGA sockets are typically found in Intel desktop processors, but not on laptops.

In LGA sockets, pins are placed on the motherboard instead of the CPU. The pins are what allow the CPU to connect to the motherboard.

For CPU suggestions for LGA 1150 socket, check this article.

3) Pin Grid Array (PGA)

If your socket includes the letters “PGA”, it’s also possible to upgrade your CPU. PGA sockets are commonly found on AMD desktop processors, but not on laptops.

In PGA sockets, pins are placed on the CPU instead of the motherboard.

How To Replace Socketed CPUs

If your laptop has a LGA or PGA socket for its processor, you’re in luck. However, you need to make sure the new processor uses the same surface mounting technique as the old processor.

This means that the new processor has the same amount of pins as well using the same socket method.

So, take your socket type over to Google and look for processors using the same socket.

You will also need to make sure your laptop can handle the thermal design power of the new CPU. This can be discovered by learning how much wattage your old processor required and how much wattage the new one requires. If your laptop is unable to regulate temperature properly, this can cause heat issues.

Furthermore, actually taking apart your laptop and switching out the parts is an extremely delicate process.

Since your laptop is most likely larger than average, it’s a more complicated process when it comes to opening it up and taking things out.

You’ll need to meticulously go through YouTube and Google to find the right way of disassembling your laptop. Knowledge about thermal paste and thermal pads is also required in order to upgrade your laptop CPU.

Along with potential mistakes that can completely kill your laptop, you will also be voiding any warranties associated with your laptop.

For this reason, I recommend consulting with a professional technician if you choose to upgrade your laptop CPU. They will be able to make sure your CPU is upgradeable, help you find a compatible replacement, and safely add the new processor into the computer.

They will also be able to tell you if purchasing an entirely new laptop is the better option.

So although upgrading a CPU in your laptop is possible if it uses a PGA or LGA socket, there are a lot of items to consider beforehand.

In any case, upgradeable laptops are very rare and you’ll either need to fix your computer internally or opt for a completely new laptop.

If you accidentally bent your CPU socket pins, learn how to fix it here.

How To Fix a Slow Computer

Since it’s unlikely your laptop CPU is replaceable, the next best option is to try organically improving speeds. I recommend restarting your computer after performing each of these tasks and seeing if your computer speeds have improved.

That being said, here are 8 ways you can fix a slow laptop CPU.

1) Remove Unused Programs

First off, you should go to ‘Programs’ in your laptop’s Control Panel and remove all the programs you never use. These unused programs occupy space on your computer and may cause it to slow down. Hard drives that are near full capacity will usually cause severe slowdowns on the computer.

Additionally, you should clear out your recycle bin and remove any unneeded files on your computer for the same reasons.

2) Modify PC Startup

Next, press your ‘Windows’ key, type in ‘Task Manager’, and click on it. Then, click the ‘Startup’ tab on the top. On this screen, you’ll be able to disable all the programs that you don’t need when your computer starts up.

This lowers the overall performance load on your CPU by not automatically opening unneeded programs.

3) Eliminate Malware

Afterward, you should use a malware/virus detector like Malwarebytes and run a full-scan on your laptop. This will help detect and eliminate unwanted malware that could be slowing your computer down.

4) Update Drivers

The next step is to update Windows, drivers, and bios. Out-of-date drivers can affect the overall performance of your computer. So, be sure to visit the ‘Device Manager’ on your laptop and update your key drivers for your graphics card, motherboard, and processor.

5) Use Windows Tools

The fifth option you have is using the ‘Disk Cleanup’ and ‘Defragment and Optimize Drives’ functions on your laptop. Disk Cleanup will free up additional disk space by deleting old and unused files. Defragment and Optimize Drives will speed up how fast files are retrieved.

6) Dust Out PC

If you haven’t cleaned the inside of your laptop for a few months or years, there’s a high chance of dust buildup. Dust accumulation blocks proper airflow and in-turn causes your GPU and CPU to overheat. This can significantly impact computer speeds. So, I recommend ordering some compressed air and heading over to YouTube and learning how to clean out the dust.

7) Remove Unused Programs

Make sure your laptop is plugged into an outlet while in use. The majority of laptops are configured to underclock the GPU and CPU when it isn’t plugged in to save power. Furthermore, be sure to choose the most optimal power settings when your laptop isn’t plugged in.

8) Reset PC

As a last resort after you’ve tried everything else, you can completely reset your PC. This gives you the option of deleting all the files on your computer and then reinstalling windows. You can also choose to keep some of your personal files if you choose.

To perform a factory reset, go to the ‘Reset this PC’ option on your laptop. Then, click ‘Get started’ to begin the reset process.

Best CPUs For Laptops

If you’ve tried all of the methods above and are still facing CPU and PC speed issues, it’s probably time to get a new laptop.

The best laptop you should get depends on your overall budget and what you’ll be using the laptop for. Intel i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 CPUs are top of the line and offer amazing performance for any task. These CPUs are extremely future proof and are sure to last for many years to come.

Intel i7 and AMD Ryzen 7 processors are mid to high end CPUs that also offer great performance. These offer a good experience when gaming or video editing. If you have a PC and you want to upgrade your motherboard for video editing, we have recommendations here for you.

Intel i5 and AMD Ryzen 5 CPUs are the lowest end of CPU I’d recommend if you’re getting a new laptop. These CPUs are ideal for people using their laptop for work or study.

However, you should remember that most laptop CPUs are irreplaceable and you’ll be stuck with the one you get. For this reason, you should also consider getting a desktop computer depending on your situation. Then, you’ll be able to easily upgrade and replace any part in your computer.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned if it’s possible to upgrade a laptop CPU, it’s time to ask any follow up questions you might have.

Be sure to leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to get back quickly.

In summary, it’s usually not possible to upgrade a laptop CPU due to the fact that laptop CPUs are soldered into the motherboard.

Your solutions involve improving the laptop’s speed organically or investing in a new computer.

Now that we are done with the CPU, maybe you are interested if you can upgrade your laptops GPU and how to do it.

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