What’s the difference between LGA vs PGA sockets?

Last updated on January 19th, 2023 at 06:01 pm

Are you a PC builder and often have trouble deciding which computer socket to use? Look no further and keep reading this article to find out the key differences between LGA and PGA sockets and hopefully that’ll help you decide which one is the most suitable for your computer.

LGA and PGA sockets also referred to as “surface plates” and “handles” are central processing units that despite their similar functions are considered each other’s opposite in modern desktop computers. 

The LGA (land grid array) is a type of central processing unit that, as its name suggests, is a flat surface that does not have any pins on it.

Instead, the pins are directly located on the motherboard. The LGA has pads on it, and in this type of computer the LGA is positioned so that the motherboard’s pins are in line with the pads, and the two are in a proper relationship which will allow data and power to transfer.

CPU With a PGA Socket

PGA (pin-grid-array) on the other hand is a rectangle chip that has flat pins arranged on the underside of the package rather than metal pads. As opposed to LGA sockets, the PGA socket’s pins do not need to be inserted into the motherboard’s pads since the motherboard already has pins on it.

PGA socket pins are designed to be inserted into the pads of the motherboard in this type of computer. Another difference is that LGA is more common on intel and PGA on AMD (advanced micro devices)

The main difference between the two can be remembered by their names because land in (land-grid-array) suggests a flat surface and pin in (pin-grid-array) is an indication in itself.

If you are a beginner and you don’t have proper knowledge of these sockets’ functions, their importance to your PC, and the significance of you choosing the right one then take a look at the comprehended version below.

What are LGA and PGA sockets?

As you must know, there are several components in computer hardware. CPU sockets particularly assist the system by providing electrical and mechanical connections between the microprocessor and printed circuit board (PCB).

The most common types of sockets are LGA and PGA and they are used on motherboards in both server and desktop consumers. Their main job is to help with prototyping new circuits and making it easier to swap components.

The CPU sockets/slots are made of plastic and come with either a liver or a latch and they enable the processor to connect with the motherboard and ensure a secure connection between the two.

It is important to identify the socket type of your motherboard in case you want to upgrade because it will show you which processor to use, you can do it simply by taking a look at the CPU.

What is an LGA socket? 

Showing what a CPU with an LGA Socket looks like
LGA 1155 socket

LGA (land grid array) is the most reliable surface mounting technology that was first introduced in 1996. Ever Since then several improvements and developments have been made in this beneficial piece of technology.

LGA is Intel’s preferred processor and it has been users’ favorite choice for a long time as well. Not only does it enable users to solder wireless modules into integrated solutions but it also has flexible geometrical designs with versatile pad sizes. 

You may like LGA sockets because of the amount of choice it gives you in terms of soldering paste and grades of overprinting.

As discussed above, it is a type of integrated circuit that has a flat surface which means that it uses metal pads (holes) for external electrical connection rather than pins and it directly goes on top of the motherboard.

There are usually two levers and a lid when fitting LGA to ensure a tight connection. Even though it is more complex than PGA, it can be put in gently and it’s not too complicated. 

What is a PGA socket? 

Showing what a CPU with a PGA Socket looks like

PGA (pin grid array) is an integrated circuit that is more commonly used in second to fifth-generation computers. LGA was originally introduced in the early 1980s and not surprisingly, it started dominating and earned its place and value on the market.

Unlike LGA it doesn’t have metal pads that are placed on top of pinned motherboards but it’s quite the opposite.

If you have used or even seen a PGA chip before you would have noticed the well-arranged lead patterns at the underside of this rectangle package. These pins are located about 2.54 mm apart from each other and they usually cover the entire underside if not most.

PGA is also known as zero insertion force socket and once it is placed in position, the lever can be dropped to secure it. 

Fact: the number of pins can range from 68-503 and even more.

Which socket should you choose? 

Some people prefer LGA while others PGA due to different reasons and preferences, it is safe to assume that you might have a different choice than many people.

This is why rather than giving you a definite answer we have listed the advantages and drawbacks of each below so you can decide for yourself.

Land grid array (LGA)

LGA is safer because it reduces the risk of pins getting bentMore expensive than PGA’s so if you’re building a pc as a hobby, LGA might not be the right choice.
Improved performance of the moduleYour motherboard would be outdated
More pin count than LGAThe LGA socket on the motherboard is much more difficult to repair
The pins in LGA type are smaller hence it provides space efficiency

Pin grid array (PGA)

The motherboard socket is much more durable Repairing the motherboard’s pins is cheaper than repairing CPUs
They give better contact than LGA socketsPGA sockets are more fragile
No pressure or force is required to secure the CPU into place. Socket pins are smaller and flatter making it difficult to repair them. 

How to know which socket to use

If you’re building a pc from scratch then you actually have a choice to either go ahead with LGA or PGA. However, that changes if you’re upgrading a previously bought computer.

It is obvious that you would need to consider the motherboard’s compatibility with the CPU so if your computer has been designed for an LGA socket, you can’t put in a PGA processor. 

However, that still leaves you the choice to install an advanced version of your motherboard-supported CPU. 

You can follow the steps below to see which other variations of LGA or PGA will be compatible with your motherboard. 

  1. Identify your motherboard’s model number and manufacturer
  2. Visit the Product Specification Page on Google and enter the manufacturer’s number in the search box.
  3. Click the link to the manufacturer’s website 
  4. Check which socket types your motherboard supports in the specifications section. 

Types of LGA sockets 

As discussed above, intel is more likely to use LGA sockets and over time, they have developed and come up with advanced LGA sockets which to this day keep getting better to further help the user. 

Their names often just indicate the number of pads they contain and it can help you identify your system’s compatible choice. 

 If you’re going to buy a CPU prior to the motherboard then following LGA sockets are some of the best choices. 

  1. Z490 AORUS Ultra Is considered the top choice because of its high quality but it is only compatible with the LGA 1,200 motherboard. 
  2. As of 2022, LGA 1,700 is another popular choice because the increase in pin density allows higher efficiency and it is compatible with hundreds of motherboards. 

Types of PGA sockets

PGA is an AMDs tech and even though they experimented with LGA for a while, their main choice has been PGA for a long time. They can be either square or rectangular but the one thing all PGA sockets have in common is that the delicate pins are located on the underside of the package. 

PGA sockets usually have names such as “AM4” for the ease of tongue but much like LGA they too have pin-associated names. 

  1. AM4 socket came out in 2016 and it was designed to replace previous CPUs such as AM3+ and FM2+ AMD has confirmed that the AM4 socket will remain a viable choice up to 2023
  2. AMD’s newest development Ryzen 7000 processors has amazed all computer enthusiasts with even better quality and AM4 no longer remains on top. 

Are there any other substitutes?

If you’re comparatively new in the computer world you must assume that there are no choices other than LGA and PGA sockets since all computer enthusiasts only seem to argue over them.

You’d be surprised to hear that another one of the well-known sockets is BGA (ball grid array) and much like the other two, the name rings true. 

Rather than pads or pins, BGA sockets have small solder balls on the surface that are used to conduct electrical signals and connect to PCBs. 

These balls are mechanically melted and attached to the motherboard and as suggested by the method, it is mostly permanent and it would be near impossible to change your processor if you choose this type of socket. 

Home builders are usually advised to steer clear of this method as it can be complex and even dangerous to melt the processor without proper supervision. 

Even though BGA isn’t nearly used as much nowadays, you can still find it on a laptop.

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