Fixing a processor with a broken pin

amd64 x2 4800 broken pin processorAt first I was grandiosely excited about the shiny new dual core AMD 64 X2 4800 processor I was about to upgrade my system with. Then I was bombastically disappointed when the computer did not start up after I had fitted the new processor on the motherboard.
After checking that all kinds of sockets, cables, wires and buttons were in place I removed the CPU to see if it had possibly been inserted inadequately.
To my horror I noticed that one of the minisculus processor pins had been bent all the way down to the surface of the processor.
In my 10 years of building custom computers and therefore fitting aplenty of CPUs, this was the first time something had gone as horribly wrong.
I accredit it to the fact that it was late in the night, I had had a double (single malt) scotch and I was too lazy to move the PC to a flat surface so I was fitting the CPU in a 45% angle.
Not giving up instantly, I tried straightening the pin with a tiny screwdriver but it snapped like only a dry stick could do.
For a brief moment I suspected that maybe the CPU had come like this from the shop but realised that no warranty return was possible after having further mutilated the CPU myself.
I decided to cut my losses and put the CPU up for auction on eBay clearly stating that it was not working. Then I proceeded to ordering a second AMD 64 X2 4800 from the same shop.
The following day I started looking into ways of repairing a broken pin on a processor. Just out of curiosity because a) the replacement processor was on the way and b) I didn’t really think it was possible.
Almighty Google came up with a few possible solutions:

  • give it to a gold smith; he might give it a go if he is brave enough (or silly enough I thought)
  • break of a pin from an old VGA cable and drop it into the socket in exact position where the CPU is missing the pin
  • try super-gluing the pin back on the processor
  • there is a myth of some guy in the USA that fixes broken pins for $50
  • the missing pin may not be used by the system so try the processor again

Only the last suggestion sounded like any fun so off I went to the AMD website for detailed specifications on the socket 939.
Figuring out the name of the missing pin was a bit confusing due to the orientation of the CPU but at last I had a position; AF-12 aka [STRAP_HI_AF12].
Looking up the functionality of that position I struck gold.
The specification said “Not used by the system” for that location. Two other locations said the same thing so this seemed to be a 0.5% (1 in 200) chance.
So I attempted a second, careful, insertion of the processor and the PC booted up like a champ. I ran a few tests and benchmarks and all indicated that the processor was working just fine.
Then there was the dilemma of the replacement processor being on the way and the auction stating non-functional processor whereas it was now seemingly fully working.
Luckily enough the shop had a “7 day cooling off” period within which you could return items without any hassle (still waiting for the refund though).
The auction was won by an Italian buyer who insisted that I tested the CPU before he would pay.
It did not matter how many times I wrote in poor Italian that the auction specifically said the item was not working so I could not give any guarantees.
I guess it worked out for the best that we decided not to trade since the handicapped CPU is now running my PC and doing well. I am getting quite attached to it actually.
So the moral of the story is twofold:
Don’t be a meat head when inserting a new processor and if things go wrong, don’t despair until you have Googled it!

5 thoughts on “Fixing a processor with a broken pin”

  1. That’s all well and good for a broken pin, but what about a bunch of bent pins? The more I try to straighten one, another becomes bent. Is it worth the trouble to try again, and if so with what tool?

    David says:
    The pins don’t have to be completely straight. If you insert the CPU gently, the corresponding holes in the socket should guide the pins.
    I used a very fine (micro) screw driver and kept looking from all four sides to make sure the pins were all lined up. In my case one pin was broken and four were bent and had to be straightened.
    Is it worth it? That depends on the price of the CPU and your budget. For me it was very much worth it!
    good luck

  2. I broke a pin on my Phenom 9500 CPU!
    I didn’t even know it was broken..!
    If I had memory in the second memory channel the system wouldn’t post..!
    I disassembled my CPU in order to send the broken (or so I thought broken) MOBO back to NewEgg and discovered a bent pin on the bottom of the processor!
    Sure enough, it was MEMDATA53.. almost certain that pin controls the memory channel!
    Tried bending it back into place a broke it 🙁

  3. break of a pin from an old VGA cable and drop it into the socket in exact position where the CPU is missing the pin
    I just broke a pin from an AM2 socket CPU. I fixed the problem by inserting a small piece of thin wire in the socket where the missing pin goes. The pin in question was AJ31/MEMDATA[53]. According to MemTest86 and Windows Memory Diagnostic memory is accessed normally.

  4. While rebuilding an old PC with a friend yesterday, my friend quite literally dropped the CPU into the motherboard socket. We turned the system on and got the message ‘no signal’. I pulled the CPU out and 10 pins were bent. I spent and hour bending them back and on the last one it snapped off and went missing. We took it up to PC world, and they could not fix it for us. So, we got drastic, and found some uninsulated copper wire. We cut it to the correct length of the original pin, and dropped it into the corresponding socket on the motherboard. I carefully replaced the CPU and shorted the boot pins on the motherboard, and to our suprise, it booted into windows. We had never been so pleased to see Windows XP 🙂

  5. Hello.. had this too! In fact a blunt needle with a diameter 20% larger than the pin is the best tool especially on desktop chips where the pin(s) are further apart and longer.
    It also works for patching up damaged LGAxxxx boards where replacement usually needs an identical board *AND* a new install of windows/reactivation.
    Fixing them when they have broken off is very hard but the second attempt (Phenom x4) worked well enough as 8 of the broken pins were replaced.
    2 more failed elsewhere so this CPU is probably ruined but it was a useful exercise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.