Can You Upgrade a Laptop’s CPU?

Laptops are one of the highest-selling computing devices. Students, professionals, artists, and business people all use laptops for their personal or work-related stuff. Like any aging electronic device, even laptops become slow and sluggish after some time. While upgrading their RAM and SSD can improve their performance, many laptop owners often wonder if it is possible to upgrade the laptop’s CPU. An upgrade from, say, a core i3 to a core i5 or core i7 would definitely make a difference in its operation. So, can you upgrade a laptop’s CPU?

In this guide, let us see the answer to this common and popular question. First, we will take a look at the reasons why someone looks to upgrade their laptop’s CPU. Then we will explore the possibilities of the upgrade option.

The Need to Upgrade a Laptop’s CPU

Laptops are excellent computing devices. They offer extreme portability and at the same time, their performance is also very good. There are several people who never used a desktop computer in their whole life. Maybe, they used one in the school library or similar places. But never owned one.

This is because laptops went from being expensive and available only to business people to being affordable and accessible to everyone.

Whether it is a desktop computer or a laptop, their performance doesn’t stay the same over the year. This can be due to more and more sophisticated software or the age of the hardware.

Speaking of hardware, people often look to upgrade their computers down the line after they feel a significant drop in performance. This applies to desktop as well as laptop users.

Things are a little bit easy for desktop users. They can easily upgrade their CPU, GPU, RAM, Hard Disk (SSD), or Power Supply. This is the benefit of DIY PC building.

However, things are a little bit different when we consider laptops.

Can You Upgrade a Laptop’s CPU?

The simple answer is, no. But a slightly confusing answer is, it depends. Let us dig a little bit deeper into this.

In a desktop computer, upgrading a CPU is as simple as taking out the old CPU, and replacing it with a new and pin-compatible (same socket support) CPU.

You might think why not do the same with laptops? First thing, you can if the laptop manufacturer supports it.

If you take a slightly older laptop, their CPUs are not soldered onto the motherboard. Rather, they are installed in a socket, similar to what we see on a desktop motherboard. Of course, the socket and the CPU are designed for laptops.

If this is the case with your laptop, then there is a chance for you to upgrade your laptop’s CPU. Just look for a supported CPU and try to replace it.

When we say “supported CPU”, we mean a socket-compatible CPU from the same manufacturer. If your laptop has a Core i3 for example, then you can replace it with a socket-compatible Core i7 CPU.

Some laptop manufacturers provide a list of compatible CPUs for a laptop. There is also a problem with bios compatibility. Some laptop manufacturers lock their BIOS to a particular CPU. This prevents any sort of upgrades, even if your laptop has a socketed CPU.

This is the case with slightly older laptops. What about the latest laptops? Things are even difficult for modern laptops. In most newer laptops, the manufacturers are soldering the CPU directly on the motherboard.

As a result, it is practically impossible to replace or upgrade the CPU on your laptop. If laptop manufacturers could design their laptops with CPU upgradability in mind, we could simply throw in a newer CPU a couple of years after the laptop’s release and give it a new life.

This means we are using the same electronic device for a couple more years without throwing it in the dustbin or giving it up for recycling. We never know how the logistics behind the “recycling” of electronic devices work, but being unable to upgrade a laptop’s CPU is definitely increasing the amount of e-waste.

How to Improve the Laptop’s Performance?

Are old laptops doomed after they suffer a performance blow? Well, not entirely. While it is very difficult (nearly impossible) to upgrade a laptop’s CPU or GPU, there are a couple of important things that you can upgrade. They are the RAM, Hard Disk, and sometimes the Wireless Card.

To cut costs, laptop manufacturers skip installing two RAM sticks on laptops, even if the laptop’s motherboard has two RAM Slots. As we are getting the laptop for a slightly low price, we also don’t care (usually) if the RAM on the laptop is a single stick or two sticks.

If this is the case with your laptop, then we highly recommend you add that second stick of RAM. This will show a significant performance boost as the CPU now utilizes its  dual-channel RAM capabilities to the full extent.

Another possible RAM upgrade is replacing it with faster RAM. Yes. If the motherboard of your laptop supports faster RAM than that is already present, consider upgrading to that.

We are seeing a trend where laptop manufacturers are soldering the RAM onto the motherboard. If any laptop manufacturer (or a person working with such a company) reads this, please stop doing it.

Coming to the hard disk, most modern laptops are already coming with SSD Storage. So, what sort of upgrade is possible here? Once again, a faster SSD such as a PCIe SSD instead of a SATA SSD will show a terrific improvement in the laptop’s performance.

Finally, the Wi-Fi card. If your laptop has a slower Wi-Fi Module, say a Wi-Fi AC Card, then consider upgrading to a Wi-Fi AX Card.

What about the MacBook?

The answer to this question is very simple. If you own any form of MacBook (Air, Pro, or anything else), then you don’t have anything to upgrade in the future. Apple solders the CPU, RAM, and even the SSD onto the motherboard.

So, pay more to get a fully spec’d model while you are buying one. Or sell the old laptop and buy a new one.


Laptops are one of the mainstream computing devices on the planet. Modern laptops have very good performance figures even for intensive tasks and yet they have the benefit of being portable.

A common question every laptop owner ask is “Can You Upgrade a Laptop’s CPU?”. We have seen the answer to this question in this guide, which is disappointingly no, you cannot upgrade the CPU on a relatively modern laptop.

We also covered a section on the things you can upgrade such as the RAM, SSD, and Wi-Fi card so that your slowing laptop might get a new life.

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