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LGA vs BGA Sockets – What are They?

If you have played around long enough with different motherboards, you may have noticed that the sockets where the CPUs get plugged into are different in motherboards and are thus meant for different CPU architectures.

The sockets are made different so that you don’t end up using the wrong CPU on a motherboard or even end up installing an unsupported chip into a motherboard.

Here we look at the two common types LGA vs BGA sockets.

Basically Land Grid Array (LGA) and Ball Grid Array (BGA) are two different socket types that have their own advantages and utility.

Sockets help connect the CPU to the motherboard, ensuring that it can communicate effectively with the rest of the devices connected to your computer.

There are several different types of sockets and they allow you to use only specific CPUs on your board. Hence, having a good understanding of the socket types can help you make the right decision when getting a CPU.

Also Read: What is VRM on Motherboard?

Understanding Sockets

Motherboard
Sockets are the physical placeholders where CPUs are inserted onto the motherboard.

For many decades now, CPUs have been plugged into sockets for use within a computer. Over the years, Sockets have been changing in design and utility but the overall idea remained: providing an interface for two separate devices to connect universally as long as they are compatible.

If you have the correct CPU architecture, you can essentially plug in the CPU into a board from any manufacturer as long as it is supported it will work.

This gives users a lot of choices as they can buy boards for a certain CPU from one of several manufacturers.

Socket types do not evolve often since they have to remain in touch with the available CPU architectures.

With each new change in CPU architecture, the shape and size of CPU sockets may vary, however, the socket types usually remain largely the same.

LGA and BGA are basically two different socket TYPE.

LGA vs BGA Sockets

Lets us compare the two common socket types.

LGA vs BGA sockets
LGA vs BGA sockets. Source: onelectrontech.com

LGA Socket

The Land Grid Array socket is a type that has been widely adopted by Intel in several of their CPU architectures.

It’s unique in that the CPU itself has no pins or solder balls that connect to a motherboard. Instead, it has metal pads in a matrix along its bottom side.

These metal pads are the conductive surfaces that make contact with the pins. The pins themselves are located at the socket on the motherboard.

With an LGA socket type, you have fewer concerns about bending or breaking the pins off the chip due to mishandling. However, the pins on the board are still vulnerable to damages when mishandled and can equally be much harder to fix in the event of a breakage.

LGA Socket Advantages and Disadvantages

LGA 1151
LGA 1151 socket found on a motherboard for recent Intel processors

LGA socket CPUs have been used since the mid to late 90s and today they still provide a great way to interface with a motherboard.

However, because their contact pads, also called lands, sit flush with the bottom surface of the chip, they have to be firmly held in place to avoid moving them or loose connections that can damage the chip or in the more likely scenario, damage the pins on the motherboard.

To hold them in place, a pressure lever will often accompany an LGA socket. Once the chip is installed, you will need to fasten it with the lever according to the method stipulated on the user manual to keep it in place and afterward, you can install other components like heat sinks.

CPUs Using LGA Sockets

While Intel is the main user of LGA sockets on desktop-grade motherboards, their biggest competitor in this niche, AMD has also gone the LGA way with one of its mainstream processors.

LGA chips have numerous contact points for data and information transfer and can be attached to a motherboard through a procedure known as surface mounting.

From older Intel CPUs utilizing LGA 775 that was introduced in 2006 to newer ones using the more modern LGA 1151 that was unveiled in 2015, this socket type has proven to be useful and easy to install.

BGA Sockets

Ball Grid Array or BGA sockets, as they are commonly referred to, are a fairly old surface-mount packaging for processor chips.

Just like in LGA, CPUs utilizing this form factor have numerous connection points at the bottom of the chip that serves as a connection point for the socket.

With this socket, you have copper pads that are soldered to the CPU.

BGA sockets are smaller and therefore not found on desktops. Notebooks, on the other hand, commonly use BGA sockets.

Advantages and Disadvantages of BGA Sockets

It is much easier to solder a CPU to a motherboard when they make use of a BGA socket. This is because the copper balls, in this case, are farther apart compared to PGA (Pin Grid Array) sockets that utilize pins that are numerous and closely packed together.

The adequate spacing between BGA terminals reduces the risk of bridging adjacent terminals by accident.

A BGA socket is great for portable devices like laptops because CPU is easier to solder onto the motherboard. This limits its movement in the socket when the user is mobile.

Unfortunately, BGA sockets are generally a one a time package. CPU mounted on these require special skills to be removed and replaced.

Difference Between LGA and BGA Sockets

LGA and BGA have completely different applications. LGA are used on desktops or large computers, BGAs are generally found on smaller devices.

For LGA sockets, the lands sit flush with the CPU and the pins on the motherboard are used to close the connection. BGA sockets use a tiny copper pad that can be easily soldered to the board instead.

With LGA sockets, contact points are closely packed and they have a high pin density. BGA sockets, on the other hand, have fewer connection points which make them ideal for soldering.

LGA processors are more powerful, consumer more electricity and thus have higher connections. BGA processors, as we commonly find them, are weaker and thus have fewer connection points.

Conclusion

Here we reviewed difference between LGA vs BGA sockets. BGA and LGA sockets have been used for decades to provide mounting terminals for CPUs on motherboards.

Their utility is quite similar in some ways and it is the CPU architecture and the application that dictates which socket type will be used.

As seen, in cases where the CPU needs to be soldered to the board on weaker, small, and portable systems, a BGA socket will be ideal.

LGA sockets are better for desktop computers to allow you to fix larger CPUs into a slot and also allows you to perform upgrades with ease.

With firm support, both sockets can provide a safe cradle for your CPU.

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