Welcome! This guide that I created is to help out those individuals upgrading their single-core AMD CPU to a dual-core, or from dual-core to quad-core, hexa-core and beyond! The basis for either one will be the same with variations to a step outlined as you progress. I've tried to make it as clear as I can and include some basic pictures to get the steps across in an easy to use manner. It is a long page, but this way if you feel like printing this off to help you through the process you will get the pictures instead of just text to a hyperlink. As I get more pictures and videos I will add to this, so please check back often and if you have any questions or wish to add to this, please start a thread outside of this guide or PM myself directly. This guide is created for Windows XP and Vista users. These are the most common Windows Oses out there, but ME and 2000 will follow similar rules. This is also meant for those doing a straight CPU upgrade and keeping the rest of the basic hardware in tact along with Windows. If you are a beginner or advanced computer user, you'll probably find this equally useful. I won't go to great lengths in detail, as the pictures help that part out, but any questions feel free to ask. Before we start, if you will be replacing the motherboard and CPU and anything else, please backup your files and reinstall the OS with the new hardware. This will make sure the correct and new drivers for the motherboard resources and chipsets are installed, and that no old drivers linger on. Even if you did manage to boot into Windows, the OS will be slow and not perform the way it should. I'd like to also point out, if you have or will be moving to a dual processor setup you will need Windows XP Pro, or Vista Ultimate/Business/Enterprise to use the second processor. Anything less and the processor will be detected but not used. This is part of the Windows licensing scheme.
*SPECIAL NOTE FOR TRI-CORE!!!*
You should have the latest service packs installed for Windows. SP1 for Vista and SP3 for XP. These processors will work without these service packs, but there have been some code added to these service packs specifically for Phenom triple-core processors to operate properly with older, single-threaded applications. This is a performance addition and does not affect the way the processors operate. They will work just like a normal processor without the service packs but possibly a bit slower in some single threaded-programs since the third core may not be taken into affect fully.
Now on to the nitty-gritty stuff before we start. First thing to do is download a cool utility called CPU-Z. Get the most current version and run it. This program will tell you the current processor (or processors) installed, along with detailed information. You can also see the type of motherboard and BIOS version along with RAM and it's operating speed.
Take note of your BIOS and go to your manufacturers website and get the latest BIOS for your motherboard. Install the BIOS according to your motherboards instructions. If you are unable to do this; I.E. you don't have a floppy drive and can't use a USB drive or CD you can always request a new BIOS chip from them with the latest flash already programmed into it. Upgrading the BIOS with the old processor in place let's you confirm it works. Enter the BIOS and write down the settings, or save it to a disk. Disable Cool 'N' Quiet in the BIOS. If your computer is overclocked, reset everything to stock or alternatively you can clear the CMOS. Doing this will take a lot of frustration out before we start.
Make sure your PSU can handle the requirements, especially if the new CPU will require more power. If you have a single-core and you're moving to a dual-core your motherboard may or may not have an extra 4-pin power connector. This is usually required for dual-cores and mandatory for dual-sockets, but I have heard of low end X2's like a 3800+ running without it. You may need to upgrade your PSU so you won't have problems.
1) You should warm the CPU before shutting down. A good thing to do is run a benchmark so you can compare later to the new CPU. In Windows XP you need to uninstall the AMD driver. If you can't, roll back the driver. Disable Cool 'N' Quiet by selecting desktop power plan or any other plan than balanced in Vista. **If you are moving to a quad-core you may need to uninstall the dual-core optimizer but I'm not positive on this. If you have Vista, you don't need to uninstall any drivers. Shut down the computer.
2) Unplug the PSU and/or turn off the PSU. Disconnect anything that supplies power from the computer, such as powered speakers, monitor etc. Get yourself prepared and your work area prepared. Try to set aside an hour with minimal interruptions, including people and pets walking around you. They can create static electricity and we don't want that. Have plenty of lighting and a clean, static-free area. Using a hardwood table, hardwood floor, ceramic floor, counter top, rubber mat, etc. are ideal. Use a grounding strap or constantly ground yourself to the PSU or an earth grounded object such as a water tap. If you are using a tower-like case, remove the cover and lay down the chassis on some plastic so not to scratch that nice finish.
3) Roll up your sleeves and remove jewellery and watches. Take a look at your heatsink and the area around it. Unplug the heatsink fan wires from the motherboard header. You may need to remove video cards, RAM or other components so you can get the heatsink in and out easier. Take note of everything and keep grounded! Take the heatsink cam lock and turn the cam lever up. You should see the tension release. Squeeze the bracket on that side in and it should release as you pull up. Do this for the other side. Take care around northbridge and southbridge heatsinks when doing this. You might have to give a gentle twist when doing this to remove the heatsink from the CPU if the thermal pad was used. That's why warming it up helps. Now that it's out you can set it aside or clean it if you will be using it later. You can use rubbing alcohol or specialized thermal paste cleaners and a lint-free cloth, paper towel or mechanics towel. Something that doesn't promote static or scratching is ideal. You may want to also clean the CPU off while it's in the motherboard since doing it while it's out has a greater tendency for bent pins.
4) Open up the new CPU package and take note of the serial number if it's not on the box or warranty pamphlet. This can be useful later if we need to trouble-shoot or request an RMA. Notice a metal rod beside the socket?
Pull it out to the side and lift it up 90-100 degrees and your CPU will be free to remove. Remove the CPU and set it in the new packaging you opened or somewhere safe. Do you see an arrow on the socket? You will also see a gold arrow on the CPUs. They only fit one way so take the new CPU and orientate it to the arrows. Gently place the CPU into the socket. No force is needed. If you are using force, you are damaging the CPU. Once it's in there flush you can turn the lever down and snap it back in place under the tab. Now pause a moment and admire that new CPU! If you have a dual socket motherboard, you're half way there.
5) If you will be using the stock heatsink and pad, installing the heatsink will be a breeze. If you are using paste you will have to remove the pad. Use one or the other, not BOTH!! Refer to the end of step 3 for products to help you.
If you are using an after market heatsink you may have to remove the motherboard to install a back plate. If that's so, you have a longer journey, but taking your time and the results will be rewarding. You may want to check this site out on heatsink comparisons
. If you've gone after market I recommend using the paste or grease supplied as it's viscosity will match the trueness of machined surface. It means it will fit into the tiny grooves left. That said, use a thick paste like Arctic Silver or OCZ 5+ for heatsinks with grooves, and a thin grease or pad for a mirror finish. There are also different weights of Arctic Silver if you prefer a high performance paste for either application. A small rice sized dab of paste on the middle of the CPU is all that is needed. Check your guide for specific amounts for your CPU as this can vary. Avoid getting the paste on your hands or near your eyes as you may be sensitive to the silver. Do not touch the CPU heatspreader or heatsink surface, so to avoid getting oils from your skin on there and reducing the TIM's effectiveness. An understanding of thermal interface material can be found here
6) Grab your heatsink and notice the orientation.
The side with the cam lever will go in the same way the old one came out. Take care as the new CPU probably has a larger heatsink and maybe even heat pipes. Try not to move the heatsink around on the paste as you install it.
Pinch the brackets together and insert the side with the cam lever first. When you hear a click, it's in. Do this for the other side. Some force will be needed, but don't worry. When you hear the click, take a look to see if any paste has leaked out if you used thermal paste. If you used the pad you're good to go; just turn the cam lever down and lock it in place! If paste leaked out, remove the heatsink, clean it up and use less this time. Make sure none is leaked onto the socket or side of the CPU!!
When it's all in, hook up the CPU fan wires to the CPU FAN header on the motherboard. If you have a dual-socket motherboard, you're becoming a pro, but half way done! You can view a video here
7) Insert any removed hardware and double check connectors and wires and cables. Admire that setup! Everything look good? Plug your monitor and PSU power cable back in. With the cover off, turn it on. Is the CPU fan spinning??!! Shut down if it's not, unplug and double check your work. If it's spinning, enter the BIOS. Is your CPU being reported? Is it the correct speed and stepping? If it's all good there, go and check your voltages in the BIOS. How are your rails? If they are stable you can boot into Windows. If not, power down and try spreading out DVD drives, hard disks and fans across your PSU connectors to get more even and stable rails. How's those temperatures look? Anything out of the ordinary shut down, and check your heatsink. Is it seated correctly?
8) Boot into Windows. If everything is looking good you can start installing the drivers for Windows XP. If you have Vista, this isn't needed as these drivers are natively supported in Vista. For XP you need to download and install the AMD CPU driver for dual-core, or the Phenom driver for quad-core. Reboot when done and go into your hardware devices tab. You should see two names of your CPU under processors (for dual-core), three for tri-core or four names for quad-core for each CPU you have.
You can now install the AMD dual-core optimizer driver for XP if you have a dual-core CPU. (Also works in Vista to remove stuttering in Windows media Center when using a DVR)
When you reboot, you can enable Cool 'N' Quiet in your BIOS and adjust the settings to your taste, but do not overclock yet!!! If XP is running good and temperatures are ok, you can enable Cool 'N' Quiet in Windows by selecting the Minimal Power Savings plan and adjusting the individual settings in there to your needs. For Vista, select the Balanced power plan to enable Cool 'N' Quiet. You can then adjust the specific settings in there to your preference.
9) To check if Cool 'N' Quiet is working, open up CPU-Z. You should see your frequency jump up and down quite rapidly. This will save you power, keep your computer cool and keep noise down plus things inside your computer should last longer because it won't be an oven. In CPU-Z you should see the name of your processor, the speed, family, stepping and all the cool stuff. If you do, then you are set!
*It's come to my attention that Windows doesn't automatically select all your cores for bootup. To help speed things up you can manually select this. In Windows XP go to run in the start menu and type in "msconfig" without the quotes. In Vista, type "msconfig" without the quotes in the search box. Click the "boot" tab and click the "Advanced options" button.
Now you can select all your cores, which will really speed things up. The core count also applies to logical cores. For Vista there are a few extra settings, but you only need to check off the "detect HAL" which will improve hardware loading on bootup.
10) However way you went about it, you should now have a cool and quiet and powerful computer. Keep an eye on temperatures and voltages for next while. If you used thermal paste it will take about 2 weeks or so before you start seeing your coolest temperatures. Avoid overclocking during this time.
If you are certain it's stable you can go ahead, but you have a new CPU and shouldn't need it. That's my disclaimer there. If your temperatures seem high, take your side panel off and envision the airflow in your case as it enters and warms and where does it go? Do you need to add a front sucking fan, or move cables out of the way? Is the heatsink getting adequate airflow? AMD heatsinks push air onto the CPU and I find the heatpipe heatsinks like lots of air movement around them. They do not pull air, so you may need to think about that. When you have the upgrade up and running, run a benchmark, compare and show
the rest of us!
*I'd like to also include a look to a great AMD overclocking guide
by Atif Butt. It's a very well written guide, but if you'd like a quick and easy version please see kazgirl's guide
in this section and feel free to ask her about your questions.
AMD Power Monitor 1.1.5
(works on all AMD CPUs)
AMD driver and utilities page
AMD Phenom driver and utility page
Multi-Core Upgrade Guide
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