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I have a Thinkpad T480 that has the stock Intel Core i5-8350U vPro MB (1.70ghz) processor in it. It really just is not enough CPU for what I do with it once I dock it and hook it up to my dual monitors. I haven't been able to find any information on compatible CPUs or if the upgrade is just plug and play or if its soldered. I was thinking of upgrading to an Intel i7-9700 9th generation but I don't know if it is compatible or not. Just hoping for a recommendation on what to purchase that will fit.

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The Ball Grid Array used in the Core i5-8350U CPU of the Thinkpad T480 is factory-soldered, and I would not even try to remove it to upgrade the CPU for any one of three choices:

1) Unsoldering and resoldering BGA CPUS is very difficult without factory-level tools

2) The chipset, also permanently soldered onto the motherboard, limits your CPU choices.

3) Laptops are very carefully designed to exhaust waste heat, and adding a hotter CPU likely shortens the lifetime of the other components. You're limited to 25W maximum TDP, 10W normal for safe operation.

Alternatives:

A) If you need more GPU, likely since the T480 relied on the Intel UHD Graphics 620 in the APU, an external GPU device can be added, connecting via the USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C / Intel Thunderbolt 3 (Power Delivery, DisplayPort, Data transfer) interface.

B) You may also consider upgrading the PCIe (NVMe) drive, following instructions starting on page 69 of your hardware manual, if you are bound by drive performance. That would require finding the model of drive you now have before shopping for a faster drive, but Lenovo's tech specs for that device don't show that information. Therefore, I'd suggest (assuming Windows, since you did not mention Linux):

  • Click "Start" and navigate to the control panel.
  • Select "Systems and Maintenance."
  • Click the "Device Manager," then "Disk Drives."
  • You can get detailed information about your hard drive on this screen, including your serial number.
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