If you have a spare CPU lying around or have the itch to know whether you can use a laptop CPU on a desktop, I will try to demystify the answer for you.
The simple answer to this question, unfortunately, is a no. The biggest reason behind this is that laptops’ CPUs use a completely different socket that can be physically inserted into a desktop motherboard.
While Laptop and desktop CPUs perform the same essential functions, the architecture used in designing the two makes it impossible to use a laptop CPU on a desktop.
From socket design, pin arrangement, TDP, and lithography to countless other factors, everything about the two CPU types is drastically different and hence cannot be used interchangeably.
Laptops are generally made for portability and low power consumption, whereas desktops are designed to take performance to the following level hence the differences in size and design.
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Can I Use Laptop CPU On a Desktop?
Again, the simple answer to the question “can I use a laptop CPU on a desktop” is a no for several reasons.
The laptop CPU is Soldered onto the Motherboard.
Image: Laptop CPUs are soldered to the Motherboard using a Ball Grid Array (BGA) socket arrangement instead of LGA or PGA.
As earlier said, the CPU on the laptop is essentially soldered right on top of the Motherboard itself. Therefore, it cannot be replaced without professional skills and special tools.
There are many reasons why manufacturers choose to solder the laptop CPU.
Firstly, they are cheaper and easier to manufacture.
Secondly, due to the portable nature of laptops, the laptop’s CPUs must be firmly affixed to the socket.
On Land Grid Array (LGA) or Pin Grid Array (PGA) socket arrangement, as found on desktops, the CPU can dislodge from its socket, particularly during bumps.
Image: LGA or PGA sockets on desktop motherboards are large and can occupy much space – luxury laptops do not have.
Finally, a soldered CPU conserves space. On LGA and PGA arrangement, the sockets must be relatively large and have a lever and a locking mechanism in place, which can take up precious space in the confined chassis of a laptop.
The point to take home here is that most, if not all, current laptops have their CPU soldered to the Motherboard.
They are not easy to remove, and even if you manage to do, there is no telling the damage would have caused to the Motherboard or the CPU itself.
The shape and Pins of the Laptop CPUs Do Not Match.
The other issue with laptop CPUs is that they can sometimes be rectangular.
Image: An Intel Core i7 9750H chip for laptops is not a square-shaped chip.
On the other hand, the CPU socket on desktop motherboards is all square-shaped.
In addition to that, sockets are specific to the CPU. They are generally defined by how many pins they have.
For instance, an 11th Generation Intel Core i7 1165G7 laptop-based processor has the BGA1449 socket. Meaning it has 1449 pins.
11th Gen Desktop grade Core series CPUs, on the other hand, have the LGA1200 socket with 1200 pins.
Hence physically, neither the shape nor the pins of a laptop CPU can match the desktop motherboard’s sockets.
Image: The LGA1200 desktop socket for 11th gen Intel Core series CPU does not have the same pin arrangement as the BGA1449 11th gen laptop based processor.
Also Read: How Many Pins Does a CPU Have?
Laptop CPUs Are Low Powered – Desktop CPUs Consume a lot of Power
Even if the answer to the question “Can I use a laptop CPU on a desktop?” was affirmative, laptop CPUs are generally underpowered compared to desktop CPUs.
Laptops are generally designed to conserve Power and minimize heat generated. They are designed to use minimal Power; thus, they perform less than their desktop counterparts.
Take, for instance, the top-of-line 11th gen Intel Core i7 CPU for laptops and desktops separately.
|Intel Core |
|Laptop||4.80 GHz (Max)|
|12-28W||11003||Ultra low powered core i7 for conserving battery|
|Laptop||4.80 GHz (Max)|
|35W||21659||High performance Core i7 for laptops|
|Intel Core |
|Desktop||5.0 GHz (Max)|
You can see that a desktop-based CPU has a very high TDP and thus also has much greater performance.
Since desktops are much better ventilated and conserving battery is not an issue here, desk desktop-based CPUs rated at much higher Power (wattage) and perform better also do not suffer from throttling issues that high temperatures can cause. Desktop-based CPUs can provide you with sustained high performance.
Hence, there is little benefit to using a laptop CPU on a desktop, even if you can.
Laptops with Removable Processors
Despite all these changes, some laptops have removable processors. These are processors that haven’t been soldered onto the Motherboard.
Video: Shows Laptop with Removable CPU
These laptops are very few, limited, and, most of the time, costly.
Laptops such as Acer Nitro 5, Dell XPS 15 9500, and Lenovo ThinkPad t490 are equipped with removable processors.
This does not necessarily mean that the laptop processors can fit into the desktop motherboards.
Even though these laptops have removable CPUs, you must have the same socket on the desktop to plug them in.
Also Read: Can I Upgrade My Laptop Graphics Card?
Some Very Rare Exceptions on How You Can Plug a Laptop CPU into a Desktop
There are, however, some exceptions here.
Take, for instance, the older third-generation Intel Core i5-3210M CPU. This CPU is a rare example of using a Laptop CPU on a desktop.
Intel Core i5-3210M CPU has the PGA988 socket.
According to the Intel website, Intel Core i5-3210M uses the FCPGA988 socket.
You will be entirely to note that since it does not use the BGA socket, it won’t be soldered onto the Motherboard.
Hence, this CPU can be removed.
Fortunately, you can also find a desktop motherboard featuring the same PGA988 socket where you can plug this CPU in, as shown below.
Image: Y-YUNLONG HM55B PGA988 Desktop PC Motherboard
Again, the point to take home here is that you must match the CPU and motherboard socket for the arrangement to work.
If you have a removable CPU on a laptop, but the socket on your desktop’s Motherboard does not match, the arrangement will not work.
In most cases, the answer to the question “can I use a laptop CPU on a desktop?” is no. Why? Well, simply because, in most cases, the CPU on a laptop is soldered. There are some exceptions, particularly if you have an ancient laptop.
But even if you have a removable laptop CPU, you need a desktop motherboard that matches the CPU’s socket.
If you have a relatively newer laptop, there is a very high chance that you will have a soldered CPU laptop, making it impossible to remove it in the first place, let alone plug it into the desktop motherboard.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Are there any compatibility issues when using a laptop CPU in a desktop computer?
Using a laptop CPU in a desktop computer may result in compatibility issues. Laptop CPUs use different sockets and are designed for different cooling systems compared to desktop CPUs. It’s important to check the compatibility of the laptop CPU with your desktop motherboard before attempting to install it.
2. Can I upgrade my desktop computer with a laptop CPU?
Upgrading your desktop computer with a laptop CPU is not recommended as laptop CPUs are not designed for desktop use.
The cooling system of a desktop computer may not be sufficient to handle the heat generated by a laptop CPU. Additionally, laptop CPUs may not provide the same level of performance as desktop CPUs.
3. Is it cost-effective to use a laptop CPU in a desktop computer?
Using a laptop CPU in a desktop computer may not be cost-effective as it may require purchasing additional components such as a new motherboard and cooling system.
Additionally, the performance gain from using a laptop CPU may not justify the cost of these additional components.
4. Can using a laptop CPU in a desktop computer cause any damage to my system?
Using a laptop CPU in a desktop computer can potentially cause damage to your system. Laptop CPUs are designed for a specific cooling system and may generate more heat than a desktop CPU, which can cause damage to the system.
Additionally, using a laptop CPU in a desktop computer may void your system warranty. It’s important to consult with a professional before attempting to use a laptop CPU in a desktop computer.