Picture this: You’ve got this holy electric thinking rock (your CPU) in your hands, about to put it in your motherboard. Your hand gracefully sails through the air, and as you gently place the CPU to the socket: you sneeze. Your hand shifts ever so slightly, and some of the pins on your shiny new CPU are now bent.
Thankfully, the chances of this happening are pretty slim. But, bending the pins in your CPU in any way can be a huge detriment to your PC.
Bent pins on your CPU can have a massive impact on your PC’s performance, almost always preventing it from booting up. To avoid this, make sure you align your CPU the right way with the socket during installation. You can fix bent pins by using tweezers, a credit card, or a mechanical pencil.
Thankfully in today’s day and age, most high-end CPUs don’t have pins anymore, but it can still pose a massive problem for those who aren’t rocking the latest Ryzen or Intel processors.
Why exactly are there pins on a CPU in the first place? They come in three different types:
- Data Pins send and receive data values to the motherboard.
- Address Pins send and receive address values to the core memory.
- Control Pins do just about everything else from clock speeds, power, task management, and other things.
It’s impossible to tell what pins on your CPU correlate to which of these pins do. This is true unless you happened to be one of the electrical engineers who built the chip. I did manage to find an example of a diagram of the pins on an A4-type processor (which is several kinds of Ryzen CPUs), but good luck deciphering this. In most cases, it’s better to try and bend a pin back into place instead of hoping the bent pin is a redundant piece.
The most common way CPU pins end up bent is user error, as in the person holding onto the CPU in the first place. If you drop your CPU or don’t properly align it with the socket when you’re installing it, you’re going to end up with bent pins. On rare occasions, shipping issues can also lead to bent pins (especially if it’s a secondhand seller who doesn’t package it properly).
CPU pins are fairly fragile due to the metals they’re made from: gold and copper. Both of these metals are extremely malleable, making pins extremely easy to bend. They’re basically about as durable as a cheap paperclip, so you need to be careful.
Whenever a CPU doesn’t have full connectivity to the motherboard socket, a variety of issues can occur. Most commonly, your PC simply won’t boot up (and likely not even give you a POST code). In other cases, your PC may operate fine 99% of the time, but you can experience some stuttering in daily usage or possibly overheating.
Looking around on the internet, we see a lot of mixed opinions on whether or not it will work, with users on both sides having different results. It’s impossible to know whether or not your PC will boot without any issues, so I would err on the side of caution first.
In extremely rare cases, a bent or broken pin in your CPU could lead to your motherboard shorting out, frying it, and possibly your CPU. It’s always best to fix a bent pin on your CPU before powering on your PC. Pulling your CPU out to check for damage is a lot cheaper than replacing your CPU and motherboard if something goes wrong.
So, the interesting thing about this is that the chances of damaging your CPU are slim, but they aren’t zero. In most cases, your CPU will probably be fine. If you try to use your PC with bent pins that haven’t been fixed, it could lead to issues such as overheating or shorting the motherboard, but the CPU will be fine.
The biggest problem is if a pin has broken entirely. If a pin is broken, it cannot be replaced by your average person. You’re much better off owning up to the mistake and using the warranty if you’ve got one.
Remember how I said that pins are super malleable? Luckily that goes both ways for bending them back into place after an accident has happened. There are a couple different ways to fix them, so let’s go over them:
Please note: If you bend a pin too far or too much, it will break off. Broken Pins CANNOT be fixed without special tools, so be careful!
This is probably the easiest way to do this for a large number of bent pins. Grab any credit card or gift card you have that’s lying around and slide it through the rows of pins on your CPU. This should force the pins to stand up as they are bent by the card. If the card is too thin, then you might need to find a thicker card.
Tweezers will be a little harder to use if the pair you’re using is too big, so be careful and pick your tool properly. Using tweezers will also mean you’re applying a decent amount of force to the pin, so you’ll need to take extra care to not break the pins off.
This is a method I haven’t personally tried, but it seems sound to me. If you take a mechanical pencil and take the lead out of it, the hole in the tip should fit around a CPU pin with ease. With that, you’ll be able to apply a little force and bend the pin back into place, just be careful to not apply too much pressure and break a pin off.
If you managed to bend the CPU pins in your motherboard, you should check out our article here on how to fix that.
Fixing bent CPU pins is pretty easy, using a credit card or tweezers paired with a steady hand. The easiest way to fix it is with a credit card and slowly bending the pins back into place. You just need to be careful to not use too much force or you’ll break the pins.
It’s impossible to give a straight yes or no answer. It depends on what kind of pin was bent. Some pins may be non-essential and your CPU might still function, or they could be a grounding pin and it might short out your motherboard.
You need to contact the manufacturer or return it to the store you bought it from. You can’t fix broken pins without special tools and knowledge, so you’re better off not making it worse with a DIY option.