How to upgrade CPU cooler


So, you got yourself a new shiny CPU and want to keep it nice and cool? Or maybe your current cooler is starting to show its age and doesn’t handle the heat as good as it used to. Whatever may be the reason, this article will guide you through the steps on how to upgrade your CPU cooler.


Upgrading a CPU cooler is not always necessary but can help improve cooling performance or reduce noise levels if your current cooler no longer meets your needs. In order to properly install a new CPU cooler, you should have some basic technical knowledge of electrical components such as wires and power connections, plus some experience in handling small parts such as screws and nuts. If you feel comfortable with these things, then let’s get started!

How to upgrade CPU cooler?

1) Assess the current CPU cooler. If your computer fan is loud or not turning on, this may be a sign of an uncleanable unit or defective product! Skip to step 3 for help with cleaning. If you are happy with your product but want better cooling performance, move onto step 2.

2) Find out what CPU cooler is compatible with your machine. You can use the website and it will give you all compatible CPU coolers that should fit into place without having to make modifications (cutting holes and creating space). Once you have decided which one best fits your needs, purchase it and skip over to step 4!


3) Determine how much dust has accumulated inside your CPU cooler. Most units have removable panes on the bottom, so clean out as much dust as possible using less than ten cotton swabs and comes with the CPU cooler. If you cannot remove the panels, do not worry! Skip over to step 4. NOTE: this step is not necessary if you are just upgrading your fan unit.

4) Prepare motherboard for installation of new CPU cooler (do not install the CPU fan yet). Lay out all of your tools in front of you (usually screwdrivers, thermal paste or thermal pad, washers). Make sure you go slow and steady when putting the parts together; make no mistakes! When attaching the heatsink to the motherboard either use screws that come with your new fan OR use tape on the back of your old heatsink. This step is necessary for all CPU fans unless it comes with a pre-applied thermal pad or paste, which you should know beforehand because you did research before buying new parts.

5) Remove old CPU cooler from motherboard by unscrewing the screws from the motherboard’s backplate. Remove motherboard from case after doing this step. Undo cables attaching cooler to computer case if any remain attached. If you are not upgrading the cooling system of your computer, skip to step 3.

6) Unscrew old CPU fan from top of CPU cooler’s base (where you removed the old one). Some new coolers will require a screwdriver for this step or a different type of socket wrench depending on your model. Be careful during this step since all components of your CPU cooler will be exposed and all the parts including the fan, heatsink and base are sharp. You can injure yourself if you aren’t careful or do not wear protective gear such as gloves.

7) Install new CPU cooler to motherboard, tighten screws to desired firmness (clockwise = tighter). If you are not sure how tight to make these screws, do not worry! If done too tightly, the CPU fan will pop off your motherboard during operation and damage it so be careful if you are making these screws very tight. If done too loosely, the CPU fan may come off during operation and damage your hardware (although this is much less likely than if it is installed too tightly)

Make sure that the motherboard is still out of its case since there is a high chance that you will need to touch it while installing a new cooling system. If your old CPU fan did not have screws, attach them to your new cooling system by screwing them in gently but firmly on opposite sides of the fan head.

8) Install motherboard back into case after attaching any necessary cables for fans or ports to it. Place CPU cooler back into motherboard with screws. If it is an Intel processor, screw the CPU cooler in at an angle to ensure that there are small gaps under each of the four screw heads.

9) Place CPU fan on motherboard’s heat-sinks and plug back in any necessary cables.

10) Plug monitor back into video card if you haven’t done so already.

11) Turn on your computer, entering BIOS setup upon start-up (usually by pressing F2 , F12 , Delete , or Escape ). Navigate through BIOS until you find “Advanced” or “BIOS Features”, then look for something along the lines of “CPU Fan Control Mode”. Change it from whatever it is currently set to to “Manual” or “Standard”. This will allow you to change the fan speed.

12) Fasten the heat-sink back on with your screwdriver, plug everything back in and turn off your computer again if it’s not already off. Make sure that the CPU cooler is set up properly, so it won’t be blowing hot air into your computer, then turn it on (or press your power button) and check for any leaks or clanking noises. If there are none of either, then congratulations! You’ve just successfully upgraded your CPU cooler! Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy increased performance at lower temperatures!

13) Fasten the heat-sink back on with your screwdriver, plug everything back in and turn off your computer again if it’s not already off. Make sure that the CPU cooler is set up properly, so it won’t shake. Also, make sure that the fan is on top of the CPU and not above it.

14) Boot up your computer and check if everything is working like it should be (a good way to do this would be to stress test your computer with a benchmarking application such as Prime95). Repeat step 5, “Prepare for upgrading” if anything isn’t working properly.

15) If you want to overclock now, check out some tutorials on how to do so on YouTube or Google as there are many ways of doing so and everyone has their own opinion about overclocking!


If you are installing thermal paste or pad for the first time, ONLY apply little amounts of any given product. If you put too much thermal paste/pad onto your CPU cooler’s heat-sink base (where you removed the old one), heat transfer will become less effective and in rare cases damage may occur if your computer becomes very hot or even turns off due to high heat. A small amount of thermal paste is generally good enough, too much and it can inhibit heat transfer.

Please note that if you do not wear protective gearing, you may damage components so it would would be best to get in touch with one of our Melbourne technicians who upgrades computer systems.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...