Difference between LGA and PGA CPU socket

CPU sockets may not hold a high place in your computer selection criteria list. However, they have an impact on cost and performance, so understanding the difference between the two most common types of CPU sockets is helpful.

LGA and PGA are the two most common socket types that are often mentioned. But what is the difference between them and which one should you choose?

What are CPU sockets?

The CPU socket is the physical connection between your computer's motherboard and the CPU. CPU can be likened to the engine of a car. And just as the car engine affects the performance of the car, the CPU plays an important role in determining the speed and power of the computer.

Meanwhile, the CPU socket is like a car engine mounting point, making a safe connection between the engine and the car chassis. Sockets allow the CPU to connect to the motherboard, facilitating communication with other components. The motherboard then provides information and power to other computer hardware.

The origins of the modern CPU socket can be traced back to the Intel 286 processor, which ushered in the era of the PC. This processor used the 132-pin PGA socket, since then the CPU socket has changed a lot as computer architectures evolved.

Despite these changes, PGA sockets are still widely used. LGA sockets were born in the mid-1990s.

Socket LGA (Land Grid Array)

Difference between LGA and PGA CPU socket Picture 1

Although not exclusive, LGA sockets are often associated with Intel processors. This is because of one of the main differences between Intel and AMD motherboards.

With the LGA socket, the pins that connect to the processor are located on the motherboard. Processors are designed with corresponding "pads" in contact with these pins.

The pad is usually made of gold to maximize conductivity. This type of socket allows for easier and more secure processor installation. The process is as simple as placing the processor on top of the slot and using a mechanism to hold it in place.

Socket PGA (Pin Grid Array)

Difference between LGA and PGA CPU socket Picture 2

PGA sockets were used in most AMD computers until the release of socket AM5 in 2022. They differ from LGA sockets because the pins are on the processor, not the motherboard. This is more important than you think as it leaves them vulnerable during installation.

However, if done correctly and carefully, they just plug into the CPU socket. Once in place, the locking lever is used to secure the processor. One thing to be careful about is that the locking lever must be in the open position before you place the processor.

Better LGA or PGA CPU socket?

Difference between LGA and PGA CPU socket Picture 3

There are pros and cons to both of these socket types. But let's start with the Achilles' heel that always clings to the PGA CPU socket - specifically, the pins are very fragile.

The following photo shows the common consequences of careless installation. In this case, some careful editing might save the processor. But again, great care is needed as the pins are very easy to break.

Difference between LGA and PGA CPU socket Picture 4

If you are careful with the PGA socket, the installation will be quick and simple. So what other differences might influence your choice? Here are some other things to consider:

  1. Conductivity : LGA socket works well thanks to better contact between CPU and socket. This can reduce power consumption and improve performance.
  2. Pin density : Pin density on LGA socket tends to be higher. This allows for higher data transfer rates.
  3. Cost : This is hard to determine as a high-end PGA will cost more than a low-end LGA, but there are other manufacturers to consider as well. But as a general rule, when comparing similar specs, PGA CPUs are cheaper.
  4. Durability : LGA socket is more durable.

There is not much to compare between these two socket types. Both sockets have been in use for decades. But with AMD's move to LGA sockets, PGA CPU sockets may not be fashionable anymore.

If you're just looking for a PC at the right price, this probably isn't a factor in keeping costs down. However, if you want to customize your PC build or upgrade your motherboard, knowing the CPU sockets will be very helpful.

Some general advice I always give my clients is to choose LGA for a high-end gaming PC. Anything that requires mid-to-low specs, both options are the same.