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How To Replace a Cooling Fan

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Power Supply Fan

If the fan in the power supply does not spin, spins slowly or makes excessive noise, and cleaning does not help, then it must be replaced. Inspection of the power supply should reveal if the fan can be replaced. If the fan is secured with rivets and no mounting screws are apparent, then it is not designed to be replaced and instead the entire power reply should be replaced. Do not try to replace the fan if it is not designed to be replaced. Note that the power supply may contain a capacitor holding a potentially dangerous electric charge, even when unplugged. Do not open the power supply housing.

To replace a modular power supply fan, remove the mounting screws securing it in place, disconnect the power connector and remove the fan. Connect the new fan and secure it in place.


CPU fans may mount to the CPU and socket on the motherboard, may fasten to a fan mount or fasten to the case and channel air flow to the CPU with a shroud. Replacement of the case or specialized fan is fairly easy. Disconnect the power connector, remove the screws or clips securing the fan in place and install the new fan.

CPU fans that mount directly to the CPU can be trickier to install. Use of excessive force, slippage of tools, misalignment of fan can result in damage to the CPU, motherboard or both. First of all, avoid touching the bottom of heat sink attached to the fan. Skin oil and dirt will reduce the effectiveness of the fan and heat sink. Clean the bottom of the heat sink with an alcohol swab and let it dry before installation. Apply a small amount of thermal grease to the bottom of the heat sink and spread it with a gloved fingertip. Orient the fan so that the spring latch aligns with the tabs on the CPU socket (note the small tabs on the left and right side of the socket in the photo below)

Align the heat sink so that the smaller side of the spring latch aligns with one of the tabs on the CPU socket. Now check that the power connector can reach the CPU power connector on the motherboard. Now lower the spring latch and hook it under the tab on the socket. Set the heat sink/fan unto the CPU and carefully pull the spring latch down to hook onto the tab on the other side of the socket. If you use a tool, such as a screwdriver, to push the latch down, you risk it slipping off and damaging the motherboard. If you have difficulty, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push on the part of the latch inside the fan housing while pulling the spring latch with you other hand. It can be challenging; take your time or you may destroy the CPU or motherboard.

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