Can I install the CPU Last? [PC Building Pro Tip 2024]

Written By Farhan Max

All the neurons will blast fireworks like the new year’s celebration when you’re building a new PC. And nothing can beat that feeling of a geek or gamer.

But while building the PC, a slight confusion can splash water on those crackers. And that is, should you install the CPU last or first?

Well, grant me to clear this CPU installation jumble for you through this article. Just read till the end and start building the PC without any vacillation.can-i-install-the-cpu-last

Why Shouldn’t You Install the CPU in the End?

Definitely, you’ll face too many complications if you’re going to install the processor at last. Among those hurdles, the top one is mounting the CPU cooler. And it’ll make you sweat out when there is no casing cutout below the motherboard.

Let’s look at those troubles in-depth if you really want to set up the process in the end.

Here are the difficulties that you’ll face if you install the CPU later:

1. Hardship During Cooler Installation

Most after-market cooler comes with a backplate, and you must attach it on the back of the motherboard. This backplate holds the cooler over the CPU tightly with the help of four screws.

Moreover, you must apply the thermal paste over the CPU before installing the cooler. Then you have to place the cooler holder bracket over the CPU and backplate under the motherboard. Next, you’ll have to put the screws in the threaded holes.screws-in-the-threaded-holes

Here comes the crucial part!

It would be tough for you if you want to mount the processor later. You must tighten those four screws together (do it slowly). Imagine those four screws are marked with 1, 2, 3 & 4. So, first, tight the no 1 screw to 20%, then apply the same percentage for its diagonal positioned screw no 3.

Repeat the same procedure for 2 & 4 numbered screws. Keep pushing those screws slowly and sequentially until they are tightened fully.tightened-fully

As a result, the cooler won’t be able to pass the heat away from the CPU when there is a gap between them. Additionally, tower air coolers are hard to set up, but it’s even harder for bulky radiator-based AIO coolers.

That’s why you must install the CPU first, not in the end, to avoid hardship during cooler installation. And also, make sure you’ve installed the CPU cooler correctly.

2. Chances of Damaging the CPU Socket Pins

While building a PC, you have to deal with a lot of things such as cable management, AIO cooler pipe routing, radiator setting, casing & radiator fan installation and don’t forget the GPU mounting.

While doing all these you need lots of patience. And that’s where the damaging CPU socket part comes in.

After finishing all those installations except the processor and cooler, the inside of the casing will become messy. And without enough room for your hand to move freely inside the case, it’ll be hard for you to place the CPU into the socket steadily.

So, the chances are high to damage the socket pins if you accidentally drop the CPU over those. That’s why setting up the CPU, in the beginning, is safe, and you’ll get enough space to place it in the socket.damage-socket-pins

Apart from the CPU installation timing, the fast and foremost duty is to install the CPU appropriately into the socket. Ironically, if you accidentally damage the CPU socket pins, you can fix bent CPU or motherboard socket pins with simple steps.

Pro Tip: Always install the CPU into the socket by keeping the PC case in a horizontal position. Never ever install it when the case is in a vertical position or standing.

Can You Install the CPU Cooler Without Removing the Motherboard?

Mounting the CPU cooler in the end, might give you a nightmare, if you need to remove the motherboard for that. And removing the mobo becomes undeniable when there is no cutout in the case below the motherboard. Because the aftermarket tower air cooler & AIO cooler comes with a backplate.install-the-cpu-cooler

Attaching the backplate opposite side of the board is a must when dealing with an aftermarket cooler. The backplate is needed to hold the cooler tightly to the CPU because tower air coolers are bulky. Plus, you have two use four screws that come with the cooler.

Those screws hold the CPU cooler bracket and the backplate together. Mostly all the high-end PC cases including the mid-ranged ones have cutouts in the motherboard holder plate. So that, you can easily set up the cooler and attach the backplate also.

Sadly, when there is no cutout in the case, and you’re installing the CPU & cooler in the end, you must remove the motherboard. And doing so will cost your precious time and hard work too.

First, you must take out all the motherboard screws from the casing and then unplug all the attached cables from the board. Next, you may need to unmount the GPU also. After that, you can set up the cooler and then install the mobo again.

Above is the short story of what you’ll suffer if you really need to remove the motherboard. However, there are some simple steps that you can follow in case you don’t want to set up the cooler without removing the mobo.


Should you install the CPU first or last?

You must mount the processor in the beginning of building the PC. It will be tough to install the CPU cooler when you’re doing this CPU installation at last.

What will happen if you mount the CPU inappropriately?

You might end up with bent or broken pins if you don’t set up the processor correctly. Doing so will leave you nothing but a useless socket.

Do you need to put the motherboard first in the casing?

Before putting the motherboard in the casing, install the CPU first in the mobo socket. Then set the PSU in the casing because it will help you to ensure proper cable management.

Final Words

Wait till you get the CPU, even though you got all the other components after purchasing them from the online store. Leave all the other parts in the box because installing the CPU, at last, will make you suffer more.

You already know the hardship you’ll go through if your intention is to set up the process in the end from this article. I bet I have changed your mind now. For more info, please knock me in the comment box. Adios!

About The Author
Farhan Max is a tech geek with a particular interest in computer hardware. He's been fascinated by gaming since childhood and is now completing his undergraduate studies while researching and testing the latest tech innovations. Alongside his love for all things geeky, Farhan is also a skilled photographer.

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