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Got an Old CPU with Bent Pins? Here’s a Funny True Story…

This tutorial isn’t really useful for modern PCs, since the motherboard has the pins instead of the CPU, but it does remind me of a funny story of something that actually happened to me.

About 15 years ago, I was working at a company that put together custom-built PCs, so we’d get boxes and boxes of components and have to put together dozens of these machines every day. The CPUs would normally come in a single container for each PC, but when we’d get a large order, they would come out on a tray, usually stacked up together with all of the dozens of CPUs together.

One day we had an order for something like 50 of the fastest Pentium machines—the CPU alone back then was something like $1000 all by itself. You can guess what happened… I dropped the trays. Bent pins and ruined CPUs everywhere! I was only making $6 per hour, and I’d just broken at least $30,000 worth of CPUs. Since I didn’t want to spend the next few years paying them back, something had to be done…

Thankfully my co-worker Rob covered for me, doing my work while I spent hours and hours unbending all of the pins using a technique very similar to what is covered in the linked article.

Amazingly, every single one of the PCs worked just fine, and in fact we didn’t get a single returned unit.

How to fix bent CPU pins [Instructables]

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/22/10

Comments (9)

  1. Soundy

    LOL? i just droped my modern processor for PC 3 weeks ago

    The AMD Phenom II X4!

    (unbending each pin is pretty annoying) :D

  2. Nakodari

    Now this is what I call an interesting story. I remember bending many such pins myself, from VGA and DVI connector to laptop charger. It was always annoying to unbend such pins but I had to do it for them to work. Also I used the needle of a sewing machine to unbend these pins. Thanks for bringing back awesome memories. Those were the days! =)

  3. B K Barrett

    A few years ago I had a problem with a new desktop build that included a 3GHz P4, and an Intel MB.

    Not realizing that I had bent a pin on the CPU, and with a new system that would not boot, I complained to my brother, who was the CEO of Intel at the time, that his company made crappy motherboards. He contacted some Intel VP’s regarding my complaint, and since I lived in Oregon, they had me take the system over to Hillsboro, where they had a look at it. They found the bent pin, straightened it, and they system worked fine for several years, until it was replaced with a new build.

    I was a bit embarrassed until they told me that bending pins on CPU’s was a very common problem, so common in fact they they were working on a new design, which is the knobs instead of pins that is currently in use.

    They had a some what simpler method of straightening than noted in the article: Instead of the knife, use a mechanical pencil. I’ve forgotten whether is was a .5 or .7 mm pencil, but it is an almost perfect fit around the pin, and along with the credit card it makes straightening a simple task.

  4. Jon

    Depends on how badly the pins are bent. My mother took her PC into Best Buy’s Geek Squad. They took a hammer (or other blunt object) to the bottom of the CPU and literally flatened all the pins. Luckily it was just an old Pentium 4 2.8C and I had a spare to give her.

  5. Dodo

    What I usually do is to use a pen. It always work perfectly. Just hide the edge (the think with which you write), insert the pin in the hole and just bend it safely in the direction you want. Th epin will be always straight, unless you jumped on the CPU.

  6. Clever Mind

    Old trick, Remove the lead from a Mechanical Pencil and slip the bent pins into the end of the pencil to straighten.

  7. DJGray

    Been there many times and done that, but rather than a credit card (as in the article, and a much better idea) I used a single edge razor blade. Worked beautifully!!

  8. WOW

    This tutorial isn’t really useful for modern PCs,
    since the motherboard has the pins instead of the CPU

    lol…noob

  9. Mike

    I’ve sat in my front porch rocking chair for what seemed like hours, with clickable pen (retracted) and jewelers loop, straightening bent pins. God bless you gamers and other ham-handed tweakers for giving me the business :) !

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