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I know very little about computer hardware so I thought I might as well ask.

I have an Intel Core i7 in my MacBook Pro Late 2012. I am considering getting a 2018 MacBook Pro. I was wondering if it is possible to purchase an Intel Core i5 2018 model and then just take the 2012 Core i7 and put it in the 2018.

I am wondering if this is realistically possible and also if its technically possible (like could the 2018 hardware accept a 2012 core i7 or would there be other hardware compatibility issues).

I am also wondering how a 2012 Core i7 processor compares to a 2018 Core i5 (would it be worth it).

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Realistically possible? No.

Technically possible? I'm not going to say it'd be absolutely 100% impossible, but unless you had the time, skills, equipment (and money) to burn on a side project, it really wouldn't be a practical exercise. By this I mean I can't see a way for you to then be able to use it in the usual manner one uses a laptop (too much by way of modifications required to get it to work in a typical everyday manner).

And most importantly - to address the 2nd question you snuck in there :) - It wouldn't be worth it. I'm assuming you're talking about the 13" models as follows:

  • The top 13" 2012 MacBook Pro has a 2.9GHz (Core i7) processor with two cores.
  • The bottom 13" 2018 MacBook Pro has a 2.3GHz (Core i5) processor with four cores.

At the risk of oversimplifying things with this analogy, having four cores compared to two cores is like having four people v two people trying to do some heavy lifting. In most cases, four people each capable of lifting 50kg is better than having two people each capable of lifting 60kg.

To put this into perspective, testing both these MacBook Pros using the same benchmarking tests, we get the following results:

  • 13" 2012 MacBook Pro (2.9GHz Core i7) achieves a single core score of 3,192 and a multi-core score of 6,194
  • 13" 2018 MacBook Pro (2.3GHz Core i5) achieves a single core score of 4,496 and a multi-core score of 16,445

Information on how to interpret these results is available here

So, as you can see, the newer MacBook Pro specs are significantly better than the older model, despite it having the i5 processor at a lower clock speed than the i7 processor.

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I don't know what exact CPU model numbers are involved here, but a simple check of the sockets for the ranges shows that the 2011 or 2012 i7 will not fit on a motherboard designed for a 2017 or 2018 i5 (of course Apple may have used a 2010 i7 or a 2016 i5 in their computers, but the same thing would apply).

The later i5 also uses a different I/O bus, but that might be backwards compatible (haven't checked as it's irrelevant since you won't be able to fit the CPU in the first place).

Depending on the exact models involved, the old i7 also would require quite a lot more power than the new i5, meaning higher power draw and heat generation, both problems the new computer case and power supply might not be able to handle.

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