Can I Use Laptop CPU in Desktop?

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If you have a spare CPU lying around or if you just have an itch to know whether can I use laptop CPU in desktop or not, then here 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 the fact that laptops CPU use a completely different socket which can be physically inserted on a desktop motherboard.

While Laptop CPUs and desktop CPUs both perform the same basic functions, the architecture used in designing the two is what makes it impossible to use a laptop CPU on a desktop.

From socket design, pin arrangement, TDP, lithography to countless other factors, everything about the two types of CPU 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 next levels hence the differences in size and design.

Can I Use Laptop CPU In Desktop?

Again, the simple answer to the question “can I use a laptop CPU on a desktop” is a no because of several reasons.

Laptop CPU is Soldered onto the Motherboard

BGA Socket 2
Laptop CPUs are soldered to the motherboard as they use Ball Grid Array (BGA) socket arrangement instead of LGA or PGA.

As earlier said, the CPU on the laptop are essentially soldered right on top of the motherboard itself. Therefore, it cannot be removed or 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 laptops CPUs have to 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.

CPU socket latch open motherboard
LGA or PGA sockets on desktop motherboards are large and can occupy a lot of space – a luxury laptops do not have.

Finally, a soldered CPU conserves space. On LGA and PGA arrangement, the sockets have to be fairly large and must 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 not telling the damage would have caused to the motherboard or the CPU itself.

Also Read:

Shape and Pins of the Laptop CPUs Simply Do Not Match

The other issue with laptop CPUs is that they can sometimes have a rectangular shape. 

Intel Core i7 9750H chip
An Intel Core i7 9750H chip for laptops is not a square shaped chip.

The CPU socket on desktop motherboards, on the other hand, are 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.

lga 1200 socket smt
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 CPU Consume A lot of Power

Even if the answer to the question “Can I use laptop CPU in desktop?” was affirmative, there is the issue of laptop CPU being generally underpowered compared to desktop CPUs.

Laptops are generally designed to conserve power and to minimize heat generated. They are designed to use minimal power and thus they have a lower performance compared to their desktop counterparts.

Take for instance, the top of the line 11th gen Intel Core i7 CPU for laptops and desktops separately. 

CPUPlatformSpecsTDPPassmarkRemarks
Intel Core
i7 1185G7
Laptop4.80 GHz (Max)
4c/8t
12-28W11003Ultra low powered core i7 for conserving battery
Intel Core
i7 11850H
Laptop4.80 GHz (Max)
8c/16t
35W21659High performance Core i7 for laptops
Intel Core
i7 11700K
Desktop5.0 GHz (Max)
8c/16t
125W25108

You can see that a desktop based CPU has a very high TDP and thus also has a much greater performance.

Since desktops are much better ventilated and since conserving battery is not an issue here, desktop based CPUs ca be rated at much higher power (wattage) and are also better performing.

They also do not suffer from throttling issues that can be caused by high temperatures. Desktop based CPU can provide you with a sustained high performance.

Hence, there is little benefit to using a laptop CPU on a desktop, even if you can.

Also Read: Can I Upgrade My Laptop Processor from i5 to i7?

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 and limited and most of the time very expensive.

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 be fit into the desktop motherboards.

Even though these laptops have removable CPU, you will need to have the same socket available 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 in 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 how you can use a Laptop CPU on a desktop.

Intel Core i5-3210M CPU has the PGA988 socket.

Intel Core i5-3210M
Intel Core i5-3210M uses the FCPGA988 socket according to the Intel website.

You will be quite to note that since it does not use the BGA socket, it won’t be soldered on to 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.

Can I Use Laptop CPU in Desktop
Y-YUNLONG HM55B PGA988 Desktop PC Motherboard

Again, the point to take home here is that you need to have match both the CPU and motherboard socket in order for the arrangement to work.

If you have a removable CPU on a laptop, but if the socket on your desktop’s motherboard does not match, then the arrangement will simply not work.

Also Read: Can You Upgrade CPU Without Changing Motherboard?

Final Words

In majority of the cases, the answer to the question “can I use laptop CPU in desktop?” is no. Why? well simply because in majority of the cases, the CPU on a laptop is soldered. There are some exceptions particularly if you have a very old laptop.

But even if you do have a removable laptop CPU, you need to have a desktop motherboard that matches with the laptop CPU’s socket.

If you have a relatively newer laptop, then there is a very high chance that you will have a soldered CPU laptop, which would make it impossible to remove it in the first place, let alone plug it into the desktop motherboard.

Also Read:

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Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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