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How to Replace a CPU Cooler (STEPS)

What does a CPU cooler do?

A CPU cooler is a crucial part of a computer system. It draws the excess heat from the computer components to maintain a constant temperature of the components and prevents them from overheating.


The cooler stabilizes the computer system and improves its efficiency. In addition to this, it lowers the temperature of the CPU making it more efficient.

  • Lowers the CPU temperature
  • Balances the temperature of CPU components
  • Prevent overheating of the computer system
  • Improves the efficiency of the CPU


Is it hard to replace a CPU cooler?

No, it’s not hard to replace the CPU cooler. It’s a simple task that can be done successfully within a short span of time if you go slow and carefully while following the instructions.


Can I replace the CPU cooler?

You can replace the CPU cooler if it’s broken or want to upgrade it.

Replacing a CPU cooler, however, needs a lot of precision as you are prone to damaging the motherboard and the CPU in case of rough handling.


Can I replace the CPU cooler without removing the motherboard?

Yes, you can replace the CPU cooler without removing the motherboard. You can do so by accessing the cooler area through the cutouts given in the casing on both sides.


To replace your CPU cooler follow the steps given below:

  1. Place the CPU on its side and remove the screws holding the cutout plate.
  2. Remove the plate and unfasten the backplate from the cooler.
  3. Unplug the cooler from the motherboard by accessing it from the other side of the CPU.
  4. Get back on the previous side and pull the CPU cooler upwards, freeing it from the slot.
  5. Place the new cooler in the slot.
  6.  Align the backplate with the cooler and snap it on the cooler so that it fits perfectly.
  7. Attach the cutout plate back and tighten the screws.


Replacing a CPU cooler


When should I replace my CPU cooler?

You should replace your CPU cooler only when it’s broken or the cooling fans are broken.

You should, however, replace the thermal paste of your CPU every three to five years or after checking the thermal paste for decomposition.

When replacing the thermal paste, clean the plate off the residual paste with a very soft cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol.


How often should I replace the CPU cooler?

There is no fixed time after which you should replace the CPU cooler. You must only replace the cooler when it’s broken.

What you can do though is replace the thermal paste after every 3 to 5 years depending upon the extent of operations and the work performed by your computer.

For example, if you play high-definition games on your computer, then you may need to replace the thermal paste more frequently. It’s because when you play such games on your computer, the amount of heat dissipation is much higher than any other normal operation on the computer.


What happens if you remove the CPU cooler?

When you remove the CPU cooler, you can break the seal between the heatsink and motherboard. This creates gaps in the compartment. Air will no longer flow into the gap when you install the heatsink back.

Breaking the seal can lead to air bubbles getting trapped in the space and hence, poor contact of the heatsink with the CPU.

In addition to this, if you remove the CPU cooler and don’t put it back and run your computer, the components of your computer like CPU, GPU and others can get damaged beyond repair. This can cost you heavily.


How long does a CPU cooler last?

Most CPU coolers should last from 5 to 7 years. However some CPU coolers may last over 15 years.

The lasting period of a CPU cooler largely varies with the amount of use, caring measures taken by the owner, quality of the cooler and so on. If you are someone who regularly checks the condition of your CPU cooler, frequently applies the thermal paste and keeps a check on the rough usage, then your CPU cooler is likely to last longer.


What is the average price for a CPU cooler?

On average, a CPU cooler may cost around $105 depending upon the brand, features, size and cooling capacity of the CPU cooler.

For every extra dollar, you can expect more cooling performance from a CPU cooler.

You should always look for better features and higher cooling capacity when buying a CPU cooler because it’s an important element of your computer setup that can prevent all the other computer components from overclocking and overheating.


Is it OK to remove the CPU cooler?

Yes, it’s OK to remove the CPU cooler if you are installing a new cooler in the slot. If you are permanently removing the CPU cooler, then it’s not OK as your system becomes prone to overheating.

A cooler or heatsink performs the function of absorbing the heat produced during the operations on a computer.

This helps to maintain a constant temperature so that the components do not overheat and turn OFF abruptly.

If you remove the CPU cooler, the seal between the cooler and the motherboard breaks off. This can create gaps in the setup which may not be refilled ever again. This, in turn, affects the contact between the CPU and heatsink resulting in poor functioning.


How to Replace a CPU Cooler?

You can replace a CPU cooler very easily by removing the screws and taking the cooler out. You can then install the new CPU cooler, tighten the screws back and you are done.

You may find two types of frames and tightening elements holding the CPU cooler in place. These are retention brackets and spring screws.

To replace a CPU cooler in each of these cases, follow the steps given below.


Replacing CPU cooler with retention brackets

  1. If your computer has been turned OFF for some time now, power it ON so that the thermal grease can melt and it becomes easier for you to complete the whole process.
  2. After a few minutes, power OFF the system and turn your PSU OFF. Remove the fan power lead connected with the CPU fan header on the motherboard. You can disconnect the RGB cable and header if there are any.
  3. Pull the cam lever upwards very slowly to unlock the CPU cooler attached to the retention frame.
  4. Release the retention clips located on each side of the cooler situated on motherboard socket mounting lugs.
  5. Twist the cooler in the clockwise and anticlockwise direction to help the seal loosen and let go of the heatsink and CPU lid.
  6. Lift the CPU cooler from the CPU so that the cooler comes out whereas the CPU remains seated in its socket.
  7. To install the new CPU cooler, clean off the old thermal paste from the top lid of the CPU and the bottom plate of the cooler. You can use a soft cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol to do that.
  8. Apply a pea-sized quantity of high-quality thermal grease on the top lid of the CPU.
  9. Place the CPU cooler in such a way that the retention clips align perfectly well with the socket mounting lugs given on the retention frame of the CPU motherboard.
  10. Push the retention clips down so that they hook with the mounting lugs.
  11. Adjust the position of the cam lever in order to lock the new CPU cooler with the retention frame of the motherboard.
  12. Connect the fan power lead and RGB cables back to the motherboard headers.
  13. Switch ON the PSU and power ON your computer.


Replacing the CPU cooler with spring screws

  1. Turn OFF your computer and switch the PSU OFF. Unplug the power lead from the CPU fan header present on the motherboard.
  2. If you have an RGB cable and RGB header, disconnect them from the motherboard.
  3. Use a screwdriver to give a full clockwise turn to the spring screws. Move to the next screw in a diagonal pattern. Repeat the process so that all the screws holding the motherboard backplate in place are removed.
  4. Loosen the seal between the CPU cooler and CPU lid by turning it clockwise and anticlockwise very slowly.
  5. Pull the CPU cooler upward from the CPU socket so that the CPU stays seated in the socket.
  6. Remove the thermal grease residues from the top lid and bottom plate of the CPU and apply a new layer of high-quality thermal grease on the top lid of the CPU.
  7. Position the CPU cooler in such a way that the four spring screws present on the cooler align well with the screw holes present on the backplate. Place the CPU cooler on the CPU.
  8. Tighten the screws on the screw holes in a diagonal pattern. Plug the fan power lead and RGB cables back to the motherboard headers. Switch ON the PSU and turn your system ON.

Need further help? How to Screw into your CPU Cooler

Ernie Lo

Ernie Lo is a qualified web designer and web developer. He works as an IT support technician and website manager at Benleigh Vending, and he also fixes vending machines.

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