Difference Between PGA and LGA


Difference Between PGA and LGA

Buying a computer can actually come down to you choosing between Intel and AMD processors. Although this may not seem like a big thing, since both of them have quality processors, it can become an issue when you want to upgrade your computer’s performance.

The main difference between PGA and LGA CPU socket types is physical. PGA basically means that the pins are placed on the processor, while the CPU socket has corresponding holes. On the other hand, LGA has a socket fitted with pins, while the CPU has holes that match the pins on the socket.

This physical difference between the PGA and the LGA socket types has also brought (dis)advantages for both of them, so stay tuned to find out their pros and cons. 

What Is a CPU Socket?

To be able to fully understand the difference between PGA and LGA, I have to start with a brief explanation of what a CPU socket is in the first place. CPU sockets are the least concern for many laics when they are buying a new computer, but once they want to upgrade its performance, then it comes to the fore.

The thing is that every CPU type, model or generation, has a CPU socket specifically designed for it. That is why when you want to change your CPU, you will be asked what your socket type is. There is only one right fit for one type of CPU socket.

A CPU socket will provide the necessary bridge between the processor and the rest of the computer. It will also provide power to the processor, making the transfer of data and information possible.

All nowadays computers have CPU sockets built in the motherboard, but that wasn’t always the case. The first CPU sockets were external and inserted into the motherboard just like you would insert a PCI card today.

The sockets that are made by Intel and AMD are very different, meaning that the pins in the socket have different configurations, which makes them not interchangeable. Also, they tend to change the architecture of the sockets very often.

This is mostly because the architecture of the CPU socket is adjusted to the CPU itself, not the other way around. And both manufacturers tend to change and improve their CPUs quite often. 

One curiosity – back in the days a dual CPU motherboard used to exist. It was the famous Socket 7 motherboard that was compatible with a total of seven processors – one made by Intel, and the rest made by AMD.

LGA Socket Type

LGA or Land Grid Array is solely used by Intel since they started the production of CPUs. The name stands for the method Intel used when connecting the socket and the processor.

The socket consists of pins that are configured and placed on the socket and mounted to the motherboard. The compatible CPU has an equal number of holes, so it can perfectly fit into the socket.

PGA Socket Type

PGA or Pin Grid Array is completely opposite to the LGA method. PGA is mostly used by AMD, and it represents a method where the socket on the motherboard consists of a grid of holes, while the processor itself has the pins installed that fit those holes.

This is the main reason why Intel and AMD processors cannot be swapped between two motherboards that have been differently configured. 

There has been a rumor going on saying that the latest AMD processor will send PGA sockets to history, and start using the LGA technology. This news hasn’t been confirmed by AMD yet.

Advantages of LGA and PGA Sockets

Each of these two types of sockets has some advantages that also make them different in a specific way. They are different physically, but some other things need to be taken into consideration. 

A CPU that relies on LGA technology is generally more durable since there are fewer chances it’ll be damaged in the process of installing the CPU. This is because the pins are already on the motherboard, and there are no physical pins on the processor that can be bent, broken, ripped off, or damaged in any other way.

Also, pins in the LGA socket are much smaller in size when compared to the pins for the PGA socket, and that fact makes LGA more space-efficient. This is important if you are looking for a way to reduce the thickness of the device. 

Although it may seem that the difference is small, it can save a lot of space when even millimeters play a big role.

Motherboards with PGA sockets are known to be more durable since there is less chance they will be damaged by processor misalignment. Yes, you will damage the pins on the processor, but the socket itself will be intact.

When you look at it like this, it is easier to conclude that fixing the misalignment is cheaper when you have to change the processor itself, rather than having to change the socket or the motherboard itself.

Also, in a situation like this, it is always easier to repair pins that are bent on the processor, rather than repairing the pins that are bent in the socket. However, the pins can be straightened again only if they were not heavily damaged.

BGA Socket Type

In the end, I must mention that there is a third type of CPU socket as well. It is the BGA or Ball Grid Array socket. In a setting like this, the processor is permanently mounted to the motherboard, making every kind of upgrade virtually impossible.

Technically speaking, the BGA is not a socket at all, since it is permanently mounted to the board, which makes it a consistent part of the board. Because of this feature, motherboards with BGA tend to cost less.

With the increase in SOC (system on a chip) hardware, the popularity of BGA rose as well, so Intel has significantly increased the use of BGA sockets.

Other familiar SOC manufacturers strongly rely on this type of socket, like nVidia, Qualcomm, ARM, and many others.

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