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Can I upgrade my computer's CPU from an i3 to an i5 processor?

Answer: The Intel i5 processor is a faster and more powerful than the Intel i3. Therefore, upgrading from an i3 to an i5 is a good way to improve performance. But is it recommended (or even possible) to upgrade your CPU?

Unfortunately, there are several factors that may make it impossible to upgrade from an i3 to an i5.

  1. The processor may be integrated into the motherboard. On most laptop computers and some desktop models, the CPU is actually integrated with the motherboard, making it impossible to replace.
  2. The processor socket may not be compatible. Depending on the specific processor models, the socket (where the processor fits on the motherboard) may not fit both an i3 and an i5.
  3. The motherboard may not be compatible. Even if the sockets match, there is a good chance that the motherboard will not be compatible with the processor. For example, it may not support the right bus speed or the processor's clock speed.

The most likely type of computer to support multiple types of processors is a custom-built desktop computer. Since OEM parts are not proprietary, they usually have more flexible upgrade options. Still, before you buy a new processor, you should check with your motherboard manufacturer and make sure the motherboard supports it. You may also want to ask if there are any other necessary steps you should be aware of before swapping out your CPU. For example, to get an i5 to work in an i3 socket, you may need to update your BIOS settings and possibly alter jumpers on your motherboard as well.

If you have an i3 and would like to upgrade to an i5 or i7, I would recommend replacing your computer. A computer designed for a faster processor will most likely have faster components and therefore it will have less bottlenecks and better overall performance.

Published: September 4, 2014 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center