How to Remove a CPU From a Motherboard

Whether you are getting rid of an old computer or upgrading the CPU in a new one, sometimes it becomes necessary to remove the CPU from its socket on the motherboard. If there is no lever available (or if it will not move), then you must take other measures to free the chip. You could put your motherboard and processor in a vice, but that can be hazardous to both items as well as yourself if you slip up.

There are “industrial” methods for doing this with a special tool designed specifically for opening locked CPUs, but these methods run from $10-100 so most average users won’t have access to them. This article will show how to remove stuck CPU without damaging either item.

Before Removing Your CPU

Before removing your CPU, make sure that you don’t have any pieces of old thermal compound on the bottom of the chip. If there is some present, use a paper towel to wipe it off before proceeding with the next steps. The thermal compound will prevent heat from transferring properly between the chip and the heatsink, which will cause damage if not cleaned off thoroughly beforehand.

You’ll need to have an anti-static wrist strap on throughout this process while touching bare metal on either the motherboard or case so you won’t fry anything while working inside of your computer. If you are unsure about how to do this safely, then read this article for a more in-depth explanation on the basics of anti-static precautions.

Here are the steps for removing a CPU from a motherboard:

1. Open The Case: First, open the computer case and remove all of the expansion cards from their slots in order to access the motherboard. The following PCI cards should be removed from a computer when working inside of it: video card, sound card, modem card, network card, Firewire/USB adapter, and any other add-ons you have installed.

2. Remove The Heatsink And Fan From The Top Of The CPU: Using your fingers or a screwdriver carefully lift up on one side of the metal frame that is holding down your heatsink and fan compressing them together. 

3. Separate And Lift Up The Two Components: After lifting a little bit on one end with either your fingers or a screwdriver (be careful not to scratch anything) the heatsink and fan will be free to come apart. Keep lifting up on one end until you can lift both components at once away from your motherboard.

4. Locate Cushioning Material On The Bottom Of Your Heatsink: There should be some sort of material under each corner of the CPU (don’t touch this, it holds static electricity).

5. Remove The Four Nuts Holding Down Your Motherboard: Sometimes screws are used instead of nuts to hold down the motherboard, but usually there is a combination of the two methods involved in keeping things secure inside of your computer case. Use either a screwdriver or nut driver to remove these holding down your motherboard so that you can easily access the CPU again if needed.

6. Remove The Old Thermal Compound From Between The Heatsink And CPU: You can do this by using either a paper towel or cotton swab to wipe it off until completely clean. Let the bare copper shine through so you can see if there are any smudges left behind, then repeat the process until you don’t feel any resistance while wiping off.

7. Apply A New Line Of Thermal Compound: Width wise is the preferred method, but length wise works just fine as well. The line should be a little thicker than a grain of rice and about 1/2 inch wide on the bottom of your heatsink. Make sure that you don’t have any left over compound hanging off of any edges or it will interfere with contact between your chip and heatsink.

8. Replace And Tighten Down The Four Nuts Holding Down Your Motherboard: Place each of the corners back where they were originally set before removing them, then tighten down until they can no longer be turned by hand without excessive force being applied to the wrench or screwdriver. Try not to get carried away while doing this because these nuts aren’t meant to be permanent and they can very easily strip if you tighten them too much.

9. Reattach The Heatsink And Fan: Make sure that the two components are firmly pressed down against your motherboard by using your hands or a screwdriver (I would recommend doing this part without any tools). You might find it easier to attach each of the four corners before moving on to another section, but you could also do them one at a time as well. Make sure that all of the eight pins have popped back into their original holes so that everything lines up correctly.

10. Plug In All Externally Connected Cables For Power And Data: Just temporarily plug in these cables as far as they will go for now because we are ready to move the motherboard back into it’s original position.

11. Replace The Motherboard Back Into It’s Original Slot: Carefully slide the CPU side first through the metal frame of your computer case until it is flush with the top or bottom of your case, then do the same for the other end and you should be good to go. Close up your computer and make sure that everything is plugged in correctly (print screen, power switch, etc) before trying to turn on your computer again. Sometimes reseating a heatsink can solve an issue involving random shutdowns because we had lots of instances where that was literally all that it took.

12. Plug In And Turn On Your Computer To Check For Success: If you were able to successfully turn on your computer with no problems then congratulations, but if there are still issues then there might be something else you need to try. Make sure that all of your cables are plugged in correctly and that you have not accidentally created any shorts by leaving pins exposed inside of your computer.

13. Enjoy Your Success: If everything went smoothly, you should now be able to enjoy your CPU at it’s full potential without having any fun stuttering and frame dropping issues anymore! Make sure to show off your overclocking skills and tell all of your friends about the time you were so close to breaking down and buying a brand new CPU because we know that they will be jealous once they hear all about what was accomplished using just a few basic tools.


We hope that this guide has helped you understand how to remove a CPU from motherboard. As you can see, all of the steps are relatively straightforward and shouldn’t take very long to complete so you don’t need to be intimidated by the idea of breaking down your computer.

Once you know what you are doing, it won’t take long to complete your task. If you run into any issues while attempting this guide, be sure to leave a comment and we will do our best to help solve the problem ASAP.