How to check the processor before buying

Even new electronics from the factory may be faulty. This is easy to notice if, for example, a smartphone is being bought – you can turn it on, click it and listen. But there are also goods that can be checked only under special conditions. For example, a processor – to turn on the CPU, you need to assemble a computer. It is unlikely that someone will be able to do this in a “counter”. Therefore, in order to protect yourself from bureaucratic delays, you need to remember the key points that you should pay attention to before buying a processor.

Imagine a situation where a customer returned home with a defective product. He unpacked the processor and found a deep scratch on the contacts. He will be right if he applies for the return of goods of inadequate quality to the store. The seller will also have the right to demand an examination that will help to figure out where the damage came from and who is to blame. Often, in such cases, the buyer loses – the goods were sealed, and the check before buying “on the counter” was not carried out. To avoid incidents, it is better to take it as a rule – to check any product in the presence of the seller. To do this, you need to know in advance the weak points of the acquired equipment.

The article is written using examples with Intel processors, but also applies to devices from other manufacturers of all times and generations.

Desktop processors come in two flavors : BOX and OEM. BOX or – as users call it – “box” version, is supplied in the usual form for computer components: cardboard packaging, a set of waste paper and the device itself. The cardboard box not only protects the fragile processor from external influences during transport, but also serves as a good indicator of how “sweet” the product felt during travel.Intel Core i5-10400F BOX processor
Intel Core i5-10400F OEM ProcessorIf the package has no physical damage, dents, or traces of getting wet or, say, burning, there will probably be a whole working processor inside.

The same cannot be said about OEM. These are practically “naked” processors , protected only by a thin layer of plastic from which the sticker is made. Sometimes processors are sold without packaging at all – in a paper envelope or in an antistatic bag. It is not difficult to guess that in this design the processor turns out to be much more vulnerable than its brother in a cardboard “fur coat”.

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Protective stickers
Boxed versions of processors are protected not only physically – by a layer of cardboard, but also “morally” – by a disposable seal. It will not protect the processor from the flood and will not save it from physical abuse during transportation, but it will definitely show if someone has already tried to open the package and get to the contents.

The seal cannot be removed without damage – if you pull on the edge of the sticker, it will crumble into small fragments, but it will not come off entirely. There is also another type of protective stickers – this is a glossy film with a special application, which is damaged when you try to peel the sticker from the base.

Intel Core i7-9700K BOX processorIn stores: in 6 stores
It is impossible to restore the integrity of such an inscription – the adhesive base loses its properties and whitens when exposed to air. So an attempt to open the processor from the side of this seal will be visible to the naked eye.

As a rule, the integrity of such a sticker already indicates that the processor has remained intact from the factory. If the seal is cut or damaged, we demand another copy from the seller.

Depending on the line, the boxed processor comes with various accessories. The integrity of the package must also be checked. However, the previous item automatically excludes the possibility of incorrect packaging – if the seal is in place and the box was not opened, then the chances of not getting complete “artifacts” and the processor are minimized. And yet, one percent will have to be left for the human factor – suddenly something remains at the plant.Cooler for Intel Original CoolerThe processor’s performance does not depend on the number of books and stickers included, but without a cooling system, the assembly of the computer will stop . Therefore, if you check, then check in full – we make sure of the integrity of the factory layer of thermal paste on the cooler base and check the free travel of the propeller .

His majesty is a processor
After making sure that the seal is present, as well as the integrity of the packaging and kit, we can say that, most likely, the processor itself will also be normal. Each item goes through a quality control system at the factory, where employees manually sort the devices and exclude items with damage. And yet – trust, but verify. Moreover, this applies to the purchase of OEM-versions, which are supplied “as is”.Intel Core i5-11600 OEM ProcessorWe carefully examine the processor for external damage. For example, there may be scratches on the heat distribution cover. It consists entirely of copper and is covered with a thin layer of nickel, which prevents the interaction of the active metal with oxygen and oxidation, which violates the heat-conducting properties of copper.

Of course, there is no need to worry about microscopic scratches – the main thing is that it was actually a scratch, and not “beatings” with a screwdriver or inscriptions erased beyond recognition. In this case, it is reasonable to think about why the processor ended up in such a state and whether it is necessary to contact this purchase.

Such a defect is unlikely to be found in the new processor, although this is not news for a beushka. It is not known how the previous owner achieved such results, but the conclusion is obvious – the processor has been subjected to violence and can “fall back” at any time.

Do not forget to cross-wire the processor contacts . Intel processors have pins that are not easily damaged. But AMD processors often show off curved legs – very thin gold-plated contacts strive to change shape even with a slight pressure:

The contacts on the processor are vulnerable to oxidation. In this case, the pads or pins change color – they turn green, whiten or darken. Oxidation can occur not only due to direct ingress of moisture into the connection between the processor and the motherboard, but also when working in high humidity conditions. The processor heats up quickly, which can cause dew to develop in low temperature environments.

The fragile parts of the processor also include external electrical components. They are located on the side of the contacts and can be damaged if handled carelessly. The dimensions of some of these elements turn out to be much smaller than a salt crystal. It is enough to touch such a capacitor with your fingernail and you can send the processor for recycling.

We arm ourselves with a magnifying glass, examine the processor inside and out and make sure of its flawlessness.

Not bit, not beautiful
You might think that this completes the check of the processor before buying it – there is no physical damage, the capacitors are fully soldered, and the contacts are cast in pure gold. And yet, there is one more nuance.

There are known cases when, under the guise of flagship processors, sellers released budget Celerons. The scheme is simple: fraudsters purchase two models of OEM processors from different price categories, swap the heat distribution caps, and then hand them over to the Celeron store with a Core i9 top, and leave the real flagship for themselves along with the lid from the state employee.

In order not to run into such an extravagant method of fraud, it is necessary to carefully examine the junction of the heat-distributing cover and the processor PCB. In the original, there should be a thin layer of black sealant. To glue the lid after scalping, fraudsters can use anything they like – transparent silicone, red car or black, similar to the factory sealant. The uniformity of the application of the adhesive will differ significantly from the factory one – this is the only way to catch Frankenstein.

Checking on the site
Finally, you can arrange a mental check for the processor – find out the warranty period, confirm the authenticity and make sure it meets the declared characteristics. To do this, go to the manufacturer’s page – Intel here , AMD at this link .

AMD has simplified the verification algorithms, so you can find out the authenticity of a branded processor using a camera with a QR code reader. By clicking on the unique link, the user will receive a serial number, which must match the one indicated on the package. Intel has a less simplified process – we’ll consider it