How to Straighten Bent CPU Pins

Yikes, for the first time in decades, I bent the delicate pins on an AMD CPU.

It happened because I pulled off the heatsink-fan, when the grease was still relatively new (it was only a few weeks old, and didn’t check that the CPU had been pulled out of the socket. I then proceeded to wipe the old grease off. The pressure from wiping may have bent the pins.

So, first thing: always check that the CPU wasn’t pulled out. If it was, check the pins and re-install the CPU.

I could see that my pins were bent because they were visible. If you don’t see anything, you can check by holding the CPU with the pins up – by the edge, don’t touch the pins – then rotating it around, and tilting it forward and back.

The light should reflect off the pins together. If a pin is bent, it’ll shine at a different angle.

My first attempt was to use a plastic “spud” or poker tool to push the pins up. It didn’t really work.

After a while, I found that a utility knife blade, removed from the handle, was a good tool.

I happen to just keep one around for cutting, so, it was there. A dull blade is better than a sharp one.

You spot a bent pin, and then use the blade to identify where it is. You carefully, put the sharp edge of the blade between the rows of pins, and then look at the pins. A bent pin should be clearly visible against the blade.

Just go row by row until you find out which row it’s in.

You should be able to see the direction of the bend.

Next, you do the same thing with the columns. Rotate the CPU, and, again, row-by-row, identify the bent pin.

You can then use the blade to gently push the pin upright, so it aligns with all the other pins. Don’t push into the straight pins, or you will bend them.

Rotate and repeat. You might need to “comb” it from all four directions.

Use the tiniest amount of force. Treat the pin gently, the way you would treat a hair, or a seedling, or a speck of dirt on your eyeball. If you’re treating it as rough as a pimple, or a hangnail, or a loose thread, you’re being too rough.

Check your work by rotating and tilting the CPU pins to reflect the light. As your bent pin gets straighter, and reflects light more like the straight pins, you may notice that other pins are bent. Try to fix those as well.

Then, once it looks good, try to re-install the CPU. You should not shove or push the CPU in. A brand new CPU just drops right in, but your CPU with a slightly bent pin might have a tiny amount of friction. Don’t push it hard. It should go in with little to no force.

If it doesn’t just drop in the first time – and it probably won’t – repeat the process.

Search for the pin, again, by rotating it against the light. Then use the blade to identify the pin, and straighten it.

I’ve read other instructions that use a credit card the same way as the blade. It’s probably safer than a blade.

I’ve also seen instructions using a mechanical pencil, tweezers, and a toothpick. I would recommend the credit card over these.

I didn’t have my loupe handy, but that would have helped, as well.

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