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How To Replace A CPU Cooler? (Step-by-Step Guide)

By: Robert Llarves | Date Posted: November 27, 2022

How To Replace A CPU Cooler? (Step-by-Step Guide)

You might be experiencing a cooling issue with your computer’s CPU, or you may just want to upgrade the existing cooler for improved performance. Either way, it is important to know how to safely and properly replace a CPU cooler.

What is a CPU Cooler?

Air Cooler Heatsink

A CPU cooler is a device that helps to cool the processor of a computer. It does this by transferring heat away from the processor and dissipating it into the air.

CPU coolers come in a variety of different designs, but they all have one common goal: to keep your processor cool and running smoothly. There are a few different factors to consider when choosing a CPU cooler, such as the size of your case and the level of noise you are willing to tolerate. However, with so many options on the market, there is sure to be a cooling solution that meets your needs.

Whether you are looking for something basic or something more advanced, a CPU cooler can help you keep your computer running at its best.

Tools Needed

Phillips Head Screwdriver

Before replacing your CPU cooler, ensure you have the right tools for the job. You will need a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the existing cooler and install the new one.

Thermal Paste

Thermal paste is a unique adhesive that helps transfer heat from the CPU to the cooler. You will need to apply thermal paste between your CPU and cooling unit before you install it.

Note: There are CPU coolers that come with pre-applied thermal paste, but if yours doesn’t, you can find thermal paste at most computer supply stores.

Compressed Air or Lint-Free

A compressed air canister or a lint-free cloth will be needed to safely remove dust and debris from the CPU prior to installation.

Replacing A CPU Air Cooler (Step by Step Process)

This process is applicable if you are using an air cooler. If you are using an AIO cooler, please refer to the section below.

Replacing An Air Cooler

Step 1: Shutdown Your System

To replace your CPU cooler, you will first need to shut down your computer and unplug it from its power source. Make sure that there is no electricity flowing through the system before you start any work.

Step 2: Remove The Side Panel

Once your system is powered down, remove the side panel of your case in order to access the CPU cooler.

Step 3: Unplug The CPU Cooler Fan Connectors

Locate the fan connectors that are connected to your CPU cooler. Gently unplug these from the motherboard and set them aside.

Step 4: Unscrew The Cooler

After disconnecting all cables, you can then unscrew the existing cooler from its mounting bracket. Depending on your system, this may involve removing a few small screws or clips that hold the cooler in place.

Step 5: Clean The CPU

Once the old cooler is out of the way, Wipe away any residue with compressed air or lint-free cloth before continuing.

Step 6: Apply Thermal Paste

Before placing your new cooler onto the CPU, it is important to apply thermal paste between them. This helps create a better contact between the two surfaces and improves heat transfer efficiency.

Note: Kindly disregard this step if your air cooler comes with pre-applied thermal paste.

Step 7: Place The New Cooler

Carefully position your new cooler onto the CPU socket before fastening it into place with its mounting bracket. Make sure that all connections are secure, then reattach any cables or fan connectors to their respective headers.

Step 8: Reboot Your System

Double-check all of your connections and make sure nothing is loose before powering up your computer. Once you have verified that everything is connected properly, reboot your system and enjoy the improved cooling performance.

Replacing An AIO Cooler (Step by Step Process)

For AIO users, here’s a simple guide on how to replace it.

Replacing An AIO Cooler

Step 1: Shutdown Your System

As with any type of CPU cooler replacement, make sure to shut it down and unplug your computer before starting the process.

Step 2: Unscrew Retaining Bracket

Depending on what model of AIO you have, there may be a few retaining screws that need to be removed in order to detach the cooler from its mounting bracket. Take care when unscrewing these screws so as not to damage them.

Step 3: Remove the AIO Cooler Pump

After unscrewing the retaining bracket, you can then remove the AIO cooler pump. There may be a few cables connected to it that need to be unplugged before you attempt to remove them.

Step 4: Unscrew The Radiator

Once the pump has been removed, you can then unscrew the radiator from its mounting bracket. Depending on your setup, this may involve removing a few screws or clips that hold it in place.

Step 5: Clean The CPU

Before installing your new AIO cooler, it is important to clean off any old thermal paste and debris that may have accumulated around the CPU. Use compressed air or a lint-free cloth to wipe away any residue before proceeding.

Step 6: Apply Thermal Paste

To ensure optimal cooling performance, apply fresh thermal paste between your CPU and the AIO cooler pump. This helps create better contact between the two surfaces for improved heat transfer efficiency.

Note: Kindly disregard this step if your AIO cooler comes with pre-applied thermal paste.

Step 7: Place The New AIO Cooler

Start with installing the radiator first and securely fasten it into place. After that, you can then attach the pump with the mounting bracket and make sure that the screws or clips are tight.

Step 8: Plugging in the Pump Cables

Once the cooler is in place, you can now plug in any cables that need to be connected. This includes connecting the power cable for the pump as well as the radiator fans. If your AIO cooler comes with RGB lighting, make sure to plug those cables in as well.

Step 9: Reboot Your System

Finally, you can now reboot your system and test out the new AIO cooler. If everything is working properly, then you have successfully replaced your AIO cooler.


Replacing a CPU cooler can be an intimidating task for those unfamiliar with computer components, but following this step-by-step guide will help ensure a smooth installation process.

From choosing the right tools to applying thermal paste correctly, each step in this process is important for ensuring optimal cooling performance. If you still feel unsure about replacing a CPU cooler yourself, it might be best to consult with a professional for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Difficult is it to Replace a CPU Cooler?

Replacing a CPU cooler does require some familiarity with computer components, but it’s not overly difficult. With the right tools and following this step-by-step guide, you can easily replace your own CPU cooler.

Is it Possible to Replace a CPU Cooler without Replacing the CPU?

Yes, you can replace your existing CPU cooler with a new model without needing to replace the entire processor. Just make sure that all connections are secure before rebooting your system.

How Frequently does your CPU Cooler need to be Replaced?

Depending on how heavily you use your computer, it might be necessary to change your CPU cooler every couple of years. However, if you notice any significant decrease in cooling performance before then, it might be a good idea to replace the cooler sooner rather than later.

Is it Possible to Change the CPU Cooler without also Taking Out the Motherboard?

Yes, it is possible to remove and replace an AIO cooler without taking out the entire motherboard as long as all connections are secure. Just make sure to double-check all of your connections before powering up your system.

Henz Llarves

Robert Llarves

Robert Llarves is a PC hardware enthusiast, gamer, and writer. He has been building his own rigs for a long time and is passionate about helping others do the same. Robert is also an avid competitive gamer, having played games such as Dota 2 and Far Cry.

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