Can I (NOT) Upgrade My Laptop Processor?

Laptops have historically had a bad reputation with upgradeability. While some laptops, such as the Acer Predator 21X, have inherent upgrading capabilities, most don’t. Besides, people usually prefer buying a new laptop over the hassle of upgrading a pre-existing one anyway. 

If your laptop has gotten slower over the years and you’re thinking of upgrading it instead of purchasing a new one, you might ask yourself the question — Can I upgrade my laptop processor? 

Laptops, unlike most desktops, have lower accessibility when it comes to changing components. As a result, while it may be technically possible to change the processor in some laptops, you’ll find that most laptops have their CPUs soldered on permanently, making any future upgrades impossible. 

So, whether or not you can upgrade your laptop processor mainly depends on the type of socket you have.

Can I Upgrade My Laptop Processor?

Most modern laptops nowadays don’t come with detachable CPUs. Depending on the type of socket you have, your processor might be permanently integrated into the laptop’s motherboard. 

Even if your laptop has a removable processor, that still leaves you with the question of what you’ll be replacing it with. Finding a CPU to match your laptop’s TDP and cooling capabilities is no easy feat. 

Upgrading a laptop processor requires significant technical know-how and might not be the most beginner-friendly process. Nevertheless, here’s everything you need to know if you want to replace your existing CPU with a better one.

Socket Type

The type of socket your motherboard has is the key determining factor when it comes to upgrading a laptop’s CPU. Following are the different socket types that your laptop can come with.

land grid array

Land Grid Array (LGA)

LGA sockets are detachable and have flat contacts. This type of mounting setup can be found in most Intel desktop CPUs.

pin grid array

Pin Grid Array (PGA)

Typically featured on AMD CPUs, this mounting arrangement is also detachable. It can be distinguished by the visible pins on the CPU.

ball grid array

Ball Grid Array (BGA)

BGA Sockets have their CPU contacts soldered to the motherboard surface. As a result, they can’t be upgraded later. This is the most common setup you’ll find in laptops.

If your laptop has a BGA-type socket, your processor and motherboard are permanently connected. There have been a few cases where people have successfully replaced BGA-type processors, but that requires a high level of equipment and expertise. 

We hate to break it to you, but your best option is to give up on upgrading if your motherboard’s socket is of this category. 

Besides BGA, some laptops have upgradeable sockets. First, check your laptop manufacturer’s website and the processor model to determine what type of socket you have. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to selecting a processor that’ll fit in it.

thermal design power

TDP

Another factor that affects the upgradeability of your laptop is the TDP (Thermal Design Power) that your processor is rated for. An inherent property of laptops is their power restraint. So, if you’re thinking of upgrading your CPU with something else, you have to make sure that it has a matching TDP. 

Otherwise, you might run into issues with battery life or, in worst cases, fry your entire motherboard.

laptop cpu heatsink pipe

Cooling Solution

If you’re upgrading a processor, you’re most likely upgrading to something more powerful. More power generates more heat. Since most laptops are designed with the built-in CPU in mind, upgrading a laptop CPU might cause overheating. 

Depending on the type of laptop you have, you might have inherent upgrading limitations based on its cooling capabilities.

Can I Upgrade My Laptop Processor from i5 to i7?

Upgrading your laptop processor from an i5 to an i7 mainly depends on which model of laptop you have. If your laptop has an i5 with an upgradeable socket, you can replace it with a matching i7. 

Bear in mind that the i7 has to have the same socket type and a similar TDP rating. So, it is indeed possible to upgrade from an i5 to an i7 on a laptop, but only if your laptop meets the requirements and you find a suitable processor.

Is It Worth Upgrading from i5 to i7?

Upgrading from i5 to i7 will typically yield you a massive boost in performance. This is because an i7 processor has more cores and threads than most i5 processors. Not only that, but most i7 processors also feature a higher clock speed. 

Faster and more powerful cores mean higher performance. That’s why you will practically have no downsides except for the cost when upgrading from an i5 to an i7.

Depending on the particular model of both processors, an i7 will typically outperform most i5s. However, not all i7 and i5 processors are equal. So, if you want to know how much faster an i7 is, you’ll need to compare the particular models directly. 

On average, you can expect a 25-30% boost with an i7 processor compared to an i5 processor of the same generation.

11th Gen Intel Core i5-11300H vs. Core i7-11800H

Intel Core i5-11300HIntel Core i7-11800H
Cores48
Threads816
Base Frequency2.6-3.1 GHz1.9-2.3 GHz
Turbo Boost Frequency4.4 GHz4.6 GHz
L3 Cache8MB24MB
Geekbench 5 (Single-Core)14031565
Geekbench 5 (Multi-Core)45848565
TDP28-35 W35-45 W

The key difference between an i5 and an i7 is in the number of cores and threads. An i5 generally has 4-6 cores, while an i7 can have up to 8. 

Hyperthreading capability is also another distinctive factor. Older generation i5 CPUs didn’t have the hyperthreading feature. However, since an i7 has a higher number of cores and threads along with a higher clock speed, you’ll immediately notice an increase in performance when switching from an i5.

Games take advantage of the number of cores in a processor and the clock speed, for example. A faster processor will undoubtedly net you with a higher FPS count in-game. 

However, when building a gaming PC, the first thing you need to prioritize is the GPU. So, while an i7 will certainly give you a net gain over an i5 in terms of performance, you might want to consider spending that budget on a better GPU.

The advantage of an i7 over an i5 lies in its higher number of cores and threads. An i7 is faster and more powerful than an i5 processor in almost every computational task. So, when upgrading, you’re essentially getting your money’s worth in raw performance.

Can I Upgrade My Laptop Processor from i3 to i5?

Similar to upgrading from an i5 to an i7, your laptop has to have an upgradeable socket for you to switch from i3 to i5. Moreover, you need to find an i5 processor with the same mounting setup as your previous i3 processor. 

It’s also important that both CPUs consume a similar amount of power. If you’ve ticked yes on all these boxes, then with a bit of time and effort, you’ll definitely be able to upgrade your i3 to an i5.

Intel vs AMD

Can I Replace AMD Processor with Intel in Laptop?

If you’ve been a member of team red so far and are thinking of switching to team blue, we’ve got some bad news for you. AMD and Intel processors both come with different mounting styles. 

An AMD laptop won’t support an Intel processor and vice versa. So, if you want to switch from an AMD processor to an Intel one, your only option is to buy a new laptop. Watch the following video for more information.

Final Thoughts

Think twice before upgrading the laptop processor yourself or you may end up buying a processor without knowing if you could install it on your laptop. Hopefully, now you won’t make the same mistake as many of our readers did. 

Upgrading your laptop processor might certainly be possible, but only if your laptop meets all the requirements. 

Moreover, choosing an appropriate processor to upgrade to can be a feat in itself. However, if you’re considering upgrading your laptop CPU, buying a new laptop with higher specifications will be the best decision.

Mark Warschauer is a tech content writer and blogger with an interest in emerging technologies. He spends most of his time listening to music, reading about new technologies, or writing about them on his blog. He also enjoys playing video games (mostly RPGs), traveling the world, watching movies, and reading books that explore life's big questions.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.