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Uninstalling and Installing a CPU Fan

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/28/2009

Worried about the power and performance of your PC, and more specifically about the reliability of your CPU? Learn how to best uninstall that horrible stock fan that ships with most computers - the process is simple and as usual, you can find it here at Bright Hub.

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    Don't Let Overheating Get You Down!

    Take a deep breath – you’re about to officially graduate from being “just another one of those users” because you’re thinking about swapping out that incredibly bad CPU fan that’s giving you such a headache. It’s a beautiful moment for you – but we haven’t time to waste – let’s start talking about the logistics of uninstalling a CPU fan and putting in a fan that rivals the ones found for cooling a supercomputer.

    First of all, if you’re removing the stock fan that came with your CPU, kudos, because those things are awful and couldn’t dissipate heat if their lives depended on it. Without getting too technical, the reason is because Aluminum is a pitiful heatsink compared to the high-caliber copper found on the good CPU fans and heatsinks out there.

    So, what do you do to take out the CPU fan? Let’s talk steps:

    1. Unplug everything; you could get a nasty shock if you don’t.

    2. Open your case – take out the back two screws on either side (you may have more than that, but it’s fine, just make sure you can remove the sides to your rig.)

    3. With your case open, locate the CPU – found it yet? It should be near the power supply in the upper left corner.

    4. Now that you’ve located the CPU, with the fan over it, it’s time to remove any obstacles to the fan.

    5. Remove any wiring that may surround the fan and make sure you can access all sides of it without touching the power supply.

    6. To remove the fan, locate the snap-lock that is found on 99.9% of all stock fans.

    7. Once the snap lock is located, pull it from the locked position to the unlocked position.

    8. If there are any screws holding down the fan, go ahead and remove those as well.

    9. Take out the fan VERY carefully, you don’t want to short out any of the motherboard’s circuitry.

    10. You’ll notice a goo-like substance on the bottom of the fan where it touched the CPU – carefully wipe this goo off with a paper towel.

    11. You’re now ready to install a new CPU fan!

    Now, let’s talk about the replacement, here is what I would recommend:

    The Fan

    The Thermal Grease

    The thermal grease is a binding agent that reduces the amount of heat from the CPU by reliably transferring heat from the processor up into the heatsink coils.

    I can guarantee you that as long as you use these two products and install them properly, you’ll never have an overheating problem again as long as you use the PC.

    The install is much simpler than uninstalling:

    1. Take out both the fan and the thermal grease applicator.

    2. Open the thermal grease injector and spread the grease as evenly as possible on the bottom side of the CPU fan – make sure everything is covered with a fine layer of the grease.

    3. With the CPU fan properly greased, read the install instructions carefully – you’ll want to place the bottom plate underneath the motherboard for additional support.

    4. Using the spring-loaded screw-holes, make sure the CPU is properly oriented (follow the diagram in the instructions.)

    5. Once you’re sure things are in position, screw down the fan EXTREMELY CAREFULLY!

    6. Let me say that again – SCREW DOWN THE FAN SLOWLY! If you hear a crack of any kind aside from the usual screwing in noises, you’re out a motherboard and possibly a processor, so handle this as delicately as you can.

    7. Got the fan screwed in? Be extremely careful placing the motherboard back into place.

    8. More importantly, exercise EXTREME caution when putting your rig back up in its upright position – a slip of the hand and the fan cracks and tears half the board on its way down.

    There you have it – follow these instructions and you’ll be up and running with the new fan in no time.