1. Introduction
  2. The Computer

    Parts

  3. The Case
  4. Inside the Case
  5. The Motherboard
  6. The Microprocessor
  7. The Memory
  8. The Hard Drive
  9. The CD-ROM
  10. Other Storage
  11. The Monitor
  12. Keyboard and Mouse

    Purchasing

  13. Buying Parts and OEM, where to get manuals
  14. Shopping Smart
  15. Manufacturers
  16. Websites for Shopping

Microprocessor

The microprocessor is the center of your computer. It processes instructions and communicates with outside devices, controlling most of the operation of the computer. The microprocessor usually has a large heat sink attached to it. Some microprocessors come in a package with a heat sink and a fan included as a part of the package. Other microprocessors require you to install the heat sink and fan separately. This is not a difficult problem, but can be a bit daunting when the buyer wants to make sure they get the correct parts to fit their microprocessor. Also the buyer needs to make sure they will get the motherboard that their microprocessor will work with. This section will explain some of the differences in microprocessors and ways to be sure your parts match.

Microprocessors and Mounting

The mounting method refers to the type of connection the microprocessor makes with the motherboard. The following table lists the various mounting packages and some of the well known microprocessors that are mounted for that package.

  • Socket 7 - AMD K5, K6, Intel Pentium 75-200Mhz, IBM
  • Socket 370 - Some Intel Celerons
  • Slot 1 - Intel Pentium II, Pentium III, Some Celeron 266-533
  • Slot II - Intel Xeon
  • Slot A - AMD Athlon

The Socket 7 processors are becoming less popular. We recommend socket 370, through slot A microprocessors at the current time. The prices on Socket 370 microprocessors are currently very low considering the performance of the systems. I recently bought a Celeron 500Mhz microprocessor with 66Mhz sidebus for under $120 with a motherboard for $84. When buying a microprocessor, make sure you get the type of socket you think since some processors are made for different sockets such as the Celeron. Be sure of one of the following.

  1. The socket type is stated at the vendors website.
  2. There is a microprocessor part number stated at the vendors website that can be traced to the manufacturers website which specifies the mounting package you want.

It would be no fun to get a Slot 1 motherboard and a socket 370 Microprocessor.

Microprocessor heat sinks and fans.

Being sure you get the correct heat sink and fan for your microprocessor can be a bit daunting. Who wants to get a $300 microprocessor, and risk it with an incorrect mounting of a heatsink or fan? Who wants to find out that they have purchased the wrong heatsink for their processor and spend days or weeks trying to sort it out? My solution is to purchase the microprocessor with the heatsink in the same package. Usually you get a better warranty and return policy this way and you don't need to worry about whether the two are compatible. I do not believe you can save enough money buying the heatsink and fan from anyone other then the vendor selling the microprocessor because of the time it takes for the additional research required and the potential trouble. The best solution to this problem is simply to buy a slot1, slot II or slot A microprocessor with the package that includes the fan and heatsink. These would be one of the Pentium II, Pentium III, Athlon, or Xeon packages. All that is required in this case is to slide the microprocessor carefully into its slot. With the exception of processors such as the Athlon which have a larger heat sink, requiring an extra plastic clip mechanism to help stabilize the heatsink, it is easier to install one of these processors than it is to install the computer's RAM memory or a hard drive.