Last Updated on November 6, 2020
Ever since the first generation of MacBook Pro debuted in 2006, this premium line of notebooks from Apple has evolved over time with increased usage. If you are also using an older version of MacBook Pro, then you can upgrade the processor to bring a boost in performance. Here we will answer the question many of you have in mind: how to upgrade MacBook Pro processor?
Fundamentally, the process involves removing Epoxy/glue from the old processor’s sides and using the BGA machine to remove the old processor. Then comes the work of solder balls removal, applying UV coating, reballing the solder pad and repairing the solder bridge. After checking for good solder balls, install the new processor employing the BGA machine and reassemble the notebook before powering it on.
The reality is that Apple devices (including MacBook Pro) have a high value and models that are as old as 2009 can undergo processor upgrades despite being a risky procedure.
Hence while not easy, below we explain the processor of upgrading the processor in detail.
How to Upgrade MacBook Pro Processor?
Before upgrading the processor, make sure you purchase a CPU that will work with your MacBook Pro. As the processor is directly soldered on the motherboard, it requires a considerable amount of expertise to remove and replace it.
You can search on Google for your (MacBook Pro model number) CPU to find out the CPU’s that have been sold with your model during its lifespan. You can also consult the manual that came with your MacBook Pro or go to Apple’s website for more information in this regard.
Also, do check the processor specifications on the manufacturer’s website.
For instance, we will list the steps here to replace the Intel Core i5 2.5 GHz 3210M dual-core processor with Intel Core i7 2.9 GHz 3520M dual-core processor.
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- Remove Epoxy/glue from the sides of the old processor.
- Use a BGA (Ball Grid Array) machine to remove Intel Core i5 at 219°C.
- Remove Solder Balls.
- Apply UV Coating to prevent Solder Bridge.
- Reball Solder Pad.
- Repair Solder Bridge.
- Check for good and appropriate solder balls.
- Install Intel Core i7 with the BGA machine at 185°C.
- Install the new processor containing motherboard into the MacBook Pro and reassemble the notebook.
- Power on your MacBook Pro and wait for some time as the operating system boots.
- Select the Apple Menu and then choose About This Mac.
- This opens an overview of the MacBook Pro which also includes information related to the upgraded processor.
Is a Processor Upgrade Worthy in a MacBook Pro?
In the broadest of terms, we have already mentioned that processor upgrade is a possibility in MacBook Pro. Most laptops like this one from Apple have processors that are directly soldered on the motherboard.
Due to this reason, it’s a challenge even for the technician to perform the upgrade to correctly fit the new processor. It also needs to be made sure that the motherboard can interact correctly with the new processor once installed. You may also need to change the motherboard along with the processor for its proper functioning.
Problems can also arise with the correct functioning of the macOS operating system. It may not boot at all in some cases. In other cases, the OS may lock down your files, assuming the device isn’t the right one.
Therefore, we reiterate that processor upgrade alone may be risky and not recommended in MacBook Pro. Instead, you can go for a RAM upgrade or change your hard drive to a faster SSD. In most cases, these would give you a notable difference in overall performance.
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The Significance of Processor Upgrade in a MacBook Pro
Like any other notebook, there can be several reasons for upgrading the CPU or processor in a MacBook Pro. The most significant motives are the fact that you want to expand its lifespan and give it an enhancement in performance.
Chances are your old MacBook Pro is already running slowly and programs take ages to load. You might also be experiencing slow boot times and unusual sluggishness in tasks such as video editing and playing games.
So, upgrading the processor can turn out to be the last option. It is possible but that requires sophisticated machinery and tools along with advanced skills. We reiterate that don’t even try to do the process yourself else you can incur considerable damage to your MacBook Pro.
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Why Replacing a Processor may be Disadvantageous?
As different motherboards use different socket types for plugging in the processor, it may cause compatibility issues with your current hardware.
In MacBook Pro, you will find a BGA (Ball Grid Array) socket that connects the CPU to the motherboard. In this case under the CPU, you can see small solder balls. For connecting, the motherboard has small solder pads on it.
Therefore, BGA is a permanent feature of the motherboard and the processor is soldered on it. This makes the processor upgrade as almost risky and with chances of error unless you are a professional technician in this area.
Some laptops have PGA (Pin Grid Array) and LGA (Land Grid Array) sockets that are upgradable. However, most laptops have a BGA socket and it needs a considerable amount of expertise and the use of a BGA machine to perform the steps correctly.
There’s another reason why a processor upgrade in MacBook Pro may not work correctly. If you replace the CPU, the cooling solution may not properly cool the upgraded processor. So, a clock speed increase in the upgraded processor may also cause problems with other hardware which may affect the overall performance.
Also Read: LGA vs BGA Socket
In this article, we briefly looked at the procedure that answers the query: how to upgrade MacBook Pro processor.
You can see that upgrading the processor can be regarded as a premium enhancement if it’s successfully done. This is because although it can cost you several hundred dollars, it only comes as a fraction of the cost of getting a new MacBook Pro.
However, it’s not considered as worthy as errors may arise and you may face problems after the upgrade. So, the safe bet is to go for RAM or SSD upgrade for a noticeable improvement. It’s also appropriate for most users to make the most out of their MacBook.