GuidesHow To'sHow To Remove Intel CPU Fan/Cooler? Step By Step

How To Remove Intel CPU Fan/Cooler? Step By Step

Learn how to carefully remove the cooler without messing things up.

Tweaking around with your computer’s hardware is a dreadful task for new computer enthusiasts. But sometimes, you need to remove and install specific hardware because you want to upgrade your rig. CPU coolers are easier to upgrade but might not be as easy to install and remove, especially Intel’s stock CPU coolers. Therefore, it is important for you to learn about how to remove an Intel CPU fan so that you don’t mess things up.

Key Takeaways

  • Removing CPU coolers requires a few precautions, such as insulating the motherboard and your hands.
  • Before proceeding with the removal, ensure having anti-wrist wraps or some way to insulate the surroundings else you endanger spreading static charges.
  • It would be best to have a screwdriver, plenty of paper towels, cotton swabs, and 90% isopropyl alcohol, along with spare thermal paste, before removing the CPU cooler.
  • If you don’t heat the thermal paste, it can glue the CPU cooler with the CPU lid, and applying too much force can damage the CPU, the cooler, or the motherboard.

Precautions Before Removing CPU Coolers

New enthusiasts are prone to damaging computer hardware when removing and installing components. If your computer components have not been repaired or replaced by professionals, you should be more cautious not to void warranties. Of course, the same goes for CPU coolers too. There are instances when consumers have voided their CPU cooler warranties by bending the heatsink pipes.

Therefore, here is a small list of things you should be aware of before you go ahead with removing your Intel CPU cooler.

  • Avoid handling computer parts on rough surfaces such as carpets, as they can generate static electricity. The unwanted electricity can damage and ruin sensitive computer components.
  • Before you touch any computer parts, remove any static electricity on your hands by touching any grounded metal objects. Even the PC case will work if it is adequately grounded.
  • Materials such as anti-static wrist wraps can help ground the motherboard and CPU. Thus, when you place your hands on the computer parts, you can prevent static discharges.
  • We recommend avoiding power tools since they can potentially discharge static electricity. Also, such tools can apply a lot of force, damaging the motherboard and surrounding components. A basic handheld screwdriver or a magnetic tip screwdriver is a better option.
  • If you’re trying to remove water-cooled CPU coolers, be extra cautious with water dripping from the cooler. We recommend putting cloth or cotton slobs over sensitive motherboard areas before removing water-cooled CPU coolers.
  • Ensure you don’t tighten the screws too much, or else it can damage the motherboard. While screws should be tightened appropriately, they shouldn’t be overly tight.

If you plan to remove your Intel CPU fan because your computer keeps shutting down, please read through our article on how to fix the computer repeatedly turning on and off.

Equipment Required To Remove CPU Coolers

When you remove the Intel CPU cooler, you’ll need a few tools to help lessen the load. For example, you need a basic handheld or magnetic tip screwdriver. Moreover, you’ll need paper towels, cotton swabs, thermal paste, and 90% or purer isopropyl alcohol.

To explain, the screwdriver is vital to loosen the cooler’s screws so that you can pull it out. We recommend using a magnetic screwdriver for everything related to computers, but a basic handheld screwdriver also works.

Furthermore, paper towels, cotton swabs, and isopropyl alcohol are essential to clean the thermal paste off the CPU cooler and the CPU lid. After removing the CPU cooler, you’ll want to use paper towels to clean off as much thermal paste as possible and clean the rest by dipping isopropyl alcohol on cotton swabs and cleaning the lid and heatsink.

Lastly, you’ll need a new thermal paste for installing your new CPU cooler. You can’t install coolers without applying the thermal paste on the CPU lid if it isn’t pre-applied on the heatsink of the CPU cooler. While there are many famous thermal pastes, you don’t need anything fancy unless you think of overclocking your processor.

In any case, if you buy a new CPU cooler after you remove your current Intel CPU fan, we recommend reading our detailed guide on understanding TDP and how it can affect the purchase of your CPU cooler.

How To Remove An Intel CPU Cooler?

Proceeding towards removing stock Intel CPU coolers, we have multiple steps you will have to follow for successful removal. While it isn’t tricky to remove Intel coolers, new enthusiasts can get flustered and mess up in the process. Follow the upcoming procedure step-by-step to learn how to remove stock Intel CPU coolers easily.

Heat The Thermal Paste

Thermal paste on CPU
The thermal paste on the CPU.

You first want to heat the thermal paste appropriately while the CPU cooler is still installed on the processor. To do so, let your PC run in the background for 10-20 minutes while you make yourself a cup of coffee.

If you don’t heat your thermal paste, the CPU cooler, and processor might stay stuck to each other, and there are chances you can damage either or both components if you apply too much pressure. Therefore, let your PC run in the background for a few minutes so the thermal paste becomes gluey and elastic, making yanking the CPU cooler off the processor easier.

It would be best to avoid touching the heated thermal paste as it can burn your hands. Furthermore, if your CPU cooler pins get bent, your warranty will be void, and there won’t be anything you’ll be able to do.

Also Read: How To Lower CPU Temperature

Turn Off The Computer

Turning off PC for CPU fan removal.
Turning off the PC from the start menu.

After you have run your PC for a few minutes, you will need to shut it down before removing the CPU cooler. You may face electric shocks if you don’t shut down your computer and wait for all the components to turn off properly. Moreover, you put your processor at risk of overheating and even burning.

Therefore, you must shut down your PC, wait for all the fans to stop churning, and then take off the side panel of your case. Also, remove the main power cable from the power supply so that no residual electricity is supplied to the PC. Now, place your PC on an anti-static wrist wrap, so you don’t accidentally pass any static electricity when you place your hands in the chassis.

If you don’t have anti-static wrist wraps, at least ensure your hands don’t have any static electricity. You can eliminate static charges from your hands by touching your PC’s case for a few seconds. However, it will only work if your case is adequately grounded.

If you want to remove your Intel CPU fan because your graphics card has excessive temperatures, we recommend reading through our guide on solving your graphics card’s overheating problems. The guide might save you the trouble of buying another CPU cooler, and you can invest your money elsewhere instead.

Disentangle The CPU Cooler

Removing Intel CPU cooler fan connector
Showcasing how to remove a CPU cooler fan connector from the motherboard. Image Credits: Instructables.

Once your PC is on an anti-static wrap or an insulated table, disconnect the CPU cooler from the motherboard. As the above image shows, you can easily find the cable lurking from the CPU cooler connected to a pin on the motherboard.

When removing the cable from the pins, ensure you’re not applying too much force and aren’t yanking the cable from the wires. Always use the connector end of the cable to remove the cable from the pins gently. If you apply too much force, there are chances you can break a pin or loosen the wires of the cable. Thus, either your motherboard or your CPU cooler will stop working correctly.

Furthermore, when re-installing the CPU cooler, if you can’t find the proper pins to install the cable, look for a label on the motherboard that says, “CPU FAN” or something similar.

There’s a possibility you could be changing your CPU cooler because of an error that shows in your ASUS motherboard. If so, we recommend you read our guide on fixing the CPU fan error in ASUS motherboards.

Loosen The CPU Cooler Screws

Loosening screws of Intel CPU coolers.
The arrow shows the direction in which the screws of an Intel CPU cooler should be loosened. Image Credits [Tech4Gamers]
If you want to remove a stock Intel CPU fan, you will find push-up clips that are screwed, which you’ll need to loosen before you can remove the cooler. So, first, you need to unclip the cooler by gently pushing it from the side.

Once all four clips are unclipped, you’ll need to unscrew them. As the above image shows, use a screwdriver and unscrew the clips anti-clockwise. We recommend using the “X” technique, where you unscrew the top-left clip first, the bottom-right clip, the top-right clip, and the bottom-left clip.

After you unscrew all the clips, your Intel CPU cooler is ready to be removed. However, it would be best if you didn’t rush it and gently push the cooler up from its heatsink while keeping hold of your motherboard from the other hand. Don’t push too hard, or you might damage the heatsink, processor, or motherboard.

Also Read: How To Check PC Specs

Clean The Thermal Paste

Cleaning thermal paste from CPU cooler
Cleaning off the thermal paste from the CPU cooler. Image Credits: International Inside.

Your work isn’t over after removing the CPU cooler from the motherboard. It would be best if you cleaned the CPU lid and the bottom of the heatsink of the CPU cooler. To clean the thermal paste, you will require paper towels, cotton swabs, and isopropyl alcohol.

First, use a few paper towels or tissues to clean off as much thermal paste as possible. If any residual thermal paste remains, apply a few drops of isopropyl alcohol on cotton swabs and thoroughly clean the CPU cooler and the CPU lid.

Similar Guides: How To Remove AMD CPU Fan

Although the CPU cooler’s treatment isn’t as necessary if you plan on changing coolers, it’s still essential. However, it would be best to clean the CPU lid properly, whether using the same cooler or a new one.

Furthermore, you’ll need to re-apply thermal paste when re-installing the CPU cooler on the processor. If you forget to do so, the thermals won’t decrease, and the processor will overheat and shut itself down.

Also Read: How To Install A Liquid CPU Cooler


All-in-all, the process on how to remove an Intel CPU fan isn’t as complicated as you might think. It would be best to have a screwdriver, several paper towels, and some insulation to get the CPU cooler out. You’ll need some thermal paste to re-apply on the CPU lid when re-installing another CPU cooler.

Also, ensure your hands are insulated and warm the thermal paste before removing the CPU cooler. If your hands aren’t insulated, there’s a possibility you can damage sensitive components. Additionally, not heating the thermal paste endangers the motherboard, CPU cooler, or processor when yanking the cooler out.

So, when removing CPU coolers, you should have spare thermal paste and tissues alongside isopropyl alcohol. Besides that, you shouldn’t worry a lot and proceed confidently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I get the CPU cooler off of the CPU even after unscrewing it?

There are a few possibilities. You did not warm the thermal paste, gluing the CPU lid and the bottom of the CPU cooler’s heatsink. Or, something else is keeping the CPU cooler onto the CPU lid. Check the back of your motherboard for extra standoffs which might be holding the CPU cooler in its place.

Can I replace my CPU cooler without removing my motherboard?

You can easily replace the CPU cooler without removing your motherboard from the chassis. However, if you’re replacing AIOs or custom water-cooled components, you will probably have to remove the motherboard.

How should I re-apply the thermal paste before installing a new CPU cooler?

First, check whether your new CPU cooler has pre-applied thermal paste at the bottom of the heatsink. If not, a dot the size of a peanut at the center of the CPU lid should be sufficient to glue the heatsink and lid.

Also Read: CPU Fan Not Spinning 

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Abde Manaf
Abde Manaf
Abdemanaf has been a creative writer since 2011. He first dwelled in the tech world in early 2015 and has since compared many product offerings by different companies. Abdemanaf started working for Tech4Gamers in February 2022 as a blog and comparison writer.


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