It’s incredibly alarming when harm comes to your beloved electronics, especially any part of your PC. What do we do if a CPU pin breaks off? Is there anything you can do to fix broken CPU pins?
If a CPU pin completely breaks off, your best chance is to hope that only a redundant ground pin broke because otherwise, it’ll require special equipment to attempt a repair. Bent pins can be more easily fixed with household items like credit cards and sewing needles with more success.
Note: I highly recommend you get your hands on some cheap magnifying glasses or something similar when attempting any of these methods.
Can a CPU work with a missing pin?
CPU pins are delicate and can be bent or broken even with a gentle drop or misplacement when installing them into the socket.
A CPU may still work with bent pins. If you can straighten the pin out and reinsert it, there may be the hope of it working.
Occasionally, a CPU may even work without all the pins – but this is a rare situation when redundant ground pins are removed.
If a damaged CPU is ‘fixed’ and reinserted, it could work fine, but there’s also the risk that it could cause a short circuit with the other pins, resulting in permanent damage to the CPU and motherboard.
Simply put, using a home-repaired CPU carries the risk that it could ‘brick’ your computer or cause it to lose power and never turn on or function again.
This would reduce your computer to a ‘brick,’ hence the name.
How do I tell If a CPU is dead?
Sometimes, a CPU will stop working for no discernable reason. It’s pretty clear when this happens because it results in a total computer failure, sometimes accompanied by an error message or not.
A few things that can happen when a CPU fails:
- The computer refuses to even turn on, with no beeps or screen activity.
- The computer doesn’t perform the Power-On Start Test (POST)
- The computer doesn’t turn on, but the fan runs at a high setting.
- The computer does start but crashes after a few seconds.
- Blue Screens of Death or any other system halt error.
If your computer gives you any of these when you try inserting a CPU, it’s either damaged or dead.
In these cases, trying to further ‘fix’ the CPU won’t do any good, and you’ll have to buy a new CPU.
CPU Pin Repair: Bent Pins
Sometimes, we drop our CPUs, or the pins get bent from incorrect insertion, and we think that it isn’t salvageable, but this isn’t the case.
Sometimes, pins can be reinserted and work, especially if only bent. Bent pins are simple to fix, requiring minimal equipment and work.
You need one of these:
- A credit card.
- Sewing needle/tweezers/toothpick.
- Mechanical pencil.
Depending on how damaged the pins are, you can use one or more of these in concert or one after another.
Credit card method
A regular card or gift card should be fine. To check, put the CPU on a flat surface with pins in the air.
Then, run the card through a row of undamaged pins. The card should make contact with the pins with minimal pressure. It definitely shouldn’t bend them or damage any CPU part.
Then, run the card in all 4 directions around the pin, and you’ll end up straightening the pin.
Try reinserting the CPU after this, but don’t force it in. Rather, gently try to insert it and back off if it doesn’t mount properly.
It can be hard to tell if a pin is bent in the middle, so inspect it closely and straighten it until it works.
Remember not to force the card when straightening pins, as it can damage the other pins.
Mechanical pencil method
A plain mechanical pencil with a 0.5mm or 0.7mm (0.02in or 0.03in) opening should be fine. You need to remove the pencil lead beforehand and clear the opening of any obstructions.
How to fix bent pins using a mechanical pencil:
- Put the tip of the pencil over the bent pin.
- Carefully maneuver the pencil to straighten the pencil.
- Use the pencil as a straight edge to determine how straight the pin is.
- Once straight, carefully pop the pin out of the pencil without further bending it.
Sewing needle method
You can do this with tweezers and toothpicks as long as the object comfortably fits between pins.
The point is that these objects can fit underneath bent pins, such as ones bent into awkward positions. Using this advantage, you can leverage the pin into a more easily accessible position.
To fix it, follow these steps:
- Slide your needle underneath the bent pin carefully so as not to scratch the CPU’s surface.
- Pull only one side of the needle up, leveraging the pin into a straighter position.
After this, you may use one of the above methods to straighten the pin further.
How to remove a broken pin from a socket
Removing a completely broken pin is tricky because the pins are incredibly fine. Thankfully, there are a few methods of removing broken pins from sockets.
Solder sucker pump method
For this method, you’ll need a solder sucker and a piece of silicone tubing.
Note: Make sure that it’s a decent solder sucker. Quick test: Depress the plunger fully that it locks in place. Block the intake nozzle with your finger, and press the release button. The plunger should only release a short distance and complete the full release length once you remove you finger from the nozzle.
Cut a small length of silicone tubing, about half an inch long and press it onto the nylon nozzle end of the solder sucker (it’s also a great way to keep your solder sucker tip like new for normal use).
You should end up with about a quarter-inch of hosing left that is longer than the length of the nylon tip.
Load the solder sucker by depressing the plunger and placing the tip of the silicone hosing over the socket’s connector hole with the pin inside it.
Press the release button on the solder sucker; hopefully, the broken pin fragment will be inside the solder sucker.
If not, repeat until you are successful. It may take several attempts to get it loose.
With small enough tweezers, it’s a cinch to remove broken pins. Use pointed, straight tweezers for this task, as they can best fit in the cramped area of the CPU pins. Simply close the tweezers until they can grip a pin. Practice on unbroken ones if you need to get a feel for them.
Then, reach in while maintaining your grip and grab the broken pin, carefully pulling it out without disturbing any other pins. Now, you can decide whether you want to try to repair it or perhaps try to see if the CPU will work without it.
A Broken CPU Pin
A common concern is that a pin breaking off is a problem you can’t fix, but that isn’t strictly true. While CPU pins breaking vastly decreases the chances that repairs can make the CPU functional again, it isn’t impossible. Repairing a broken pin is possible with specialized equipment, but it’s still risky and hard to implement.
You will need:
- Soldering iron.
- Magnifying glass.
With how tiny CPUs are getting these days, even the tiniest hand slip can ruin the entire motherboard and fry your computer. It isn’t generally recommended to attempt repairs yourself. But in theory, you can solder the pin back together.
However, doing so is a very complex procedure akin to computer brain surgery.