Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler?

Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler? |

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the busiest hardware in a computer system. It is responsible for executing the apps and games and controlling plenty of tasks on a computer. As a result, the CPU has the highest temperature compared to the other hardware, except for the graphics card.

We must install AIO or a custom CPU cooler to keep this high CPU temperature under certain limits. The coolers protect the CPU from overheating and burning. In this article, I will answer your question about whether you must remove the motherboard to install a CPU cooler. So, without any delays, let’s dive into it.

Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler?

There are two kinds of CPU coolers manufactured and present in the market. The ones have retention clips, while the others have spring screws. If your CPU cooler features retention clips, you can install it without removing your motherboard. But if you have screws, then you have to replace them.

Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler? |

You do not have to remove your motherboard to install the CPU cooler with spring screws. Because in this case, you will have four holes for CPU cooler screws as you remove the hold CPU heatsink. Most of the latest CPU coolers are built this way; hence, you can install them easily without disassembling your mobo.

The third type of CPU cooler has a pair of fans with them. You must not remove the motherboard to install such a CPU cooler. But ensure your PC casing has cutouts for installing the CPU cooler fansIf not, you must buy a new case or cut your case to install the fans.

  • Remove All Power Sources
    Remove all the power sources attached to your PC. It will minimize the risk of short circuits. Short circuits are not just bad; these are worse for your PC and its components. Short circuits may also cause permanent component damage. That is why it is compulsory to remove all power sources before removing or installing any part. 
  • Ground The PC
    Grounding PC also minimizes the risk of short circuits and electric shocks. You can buy an anti-static wristband for yourself. Grounding is the best technique to avoid component damage due to short circuits. You can simply use a wire to ground your PC.
  • Unlock Cooler Properly
    Some coolers have plastic locks that must be removed before installing them. If you don’t do it, you might break the locks, and your cooler becomes worthless. So, always keep an eye on locks and install the cooler correctly.

Do I Install the CPU Cooler Before or After the Motherboard?

Nearly all of the CPU coolers are installed after the motherboard. The manufacturers want their customers’ ease and hardware easily installed and removed. Hence, first, install the motherboard and then install the CPU cooler after fixing the CPU without any problems.

Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler? |

If you are building a new PC or upgrading the older computer system, then you must be curious about the order for installing a CPU cooler. This process is a piece of cake. First, install the motherboard and screw it with your PC case, leaving holes in the CPU cooler.

After that, place the CPU in its slot and apply thermal paste on its upper side. Install your new CPU cooler on the top of your CPU and screw or clip it. Suppose it has a dual fan part that screws those fans with the casing of your PC. In the end, connect the RAMs, SSDs, GPU, etc., in their slots or use power and data cables.

Risks Associated With CPU Cooler If Installed Before Installing Motherboard

The rest of the motherboard has nothing to do with the CPU cooler because it needs a small space on your CPU. On the other hand, if you have installed the fan part of your CPU cooler, it will not allow you to install the motherboard easily. I recommend you first fix the mobo and then install the CPU cooler.

Installing a custom CPU cooler is more risky than the All-in-one (AIO) cooler. The AIO cooler has strong sealings, and the liquid inside its tube does not leak easily. On the other hand, custom-built coolers risk spilling highly conductive liquid inside their tubes on your motherboard and other hardware.

You need thermal paste when installing the CPU cooler, so ensure you have it. It is white or grey paste on your CPU. When installing the CPU cooler, apply the thermal paste on the CPU because forgetting or skipping this step can cause your CPU to overheat instead. Do use a glove when applying it with your finger.

Be careful when removing the old paste from your CPU because it is a highly conductive chemical. If it has spread or spilled on the small electronic components of your motherboard, then clean it using an alcohol pad or a dry piece of cloth. Otherwise, it will cause a short circuit in your motherboard, resulting in damage.

How To Install CPU Cooler On Motherboard?

It is effortless and straightforward to install a CPU cooler on the motherboard. First, shut down your computer system and unplug it to eliminate the risk of electric shock. If you live in an area with humidity, press the power button of your PC for at least 12 seconds to discharge the residual current in your PC.

Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler? |

Next, remove the casing of your computer system to reveal the CPU. There may be metal plates inside your PC casing as an internal casing. You need to remove them as well. Then, you will see a big heatsink with a fan fixed on it. The CPU is beneath this heatsink, so carefully unscrew it using the proper tool.

After that, bring your CPU out and clean the residual old thermal paste on it, either using an alcohol pad or a simple dry cloth. Don’t let it drop on your motherboard because it is a highly conductive chemical and can cause a short circuit. Now apply a new thermal paste on your CPU wearing a rubber glove.

Now, place the cooler’s CPU part on it and clip or screw it carefully. In the end, screw the CPU cooler’s fan part with the casing where the cutouts are. Do not overtighten the screws because it can break the motherboard. Fix the casing back, plug in your computer system, and enjoy your favorite games and apps.

Where is The CPU Cooler Placed?

There are two different types of CPU coolers. Ones that do not have a long tube and a pair of fans but a heatsink and a high-speed fan. In contrast, the other CPU coolers have a small and conductive heatsink with a couple of fans and two long tubes containing the liquid that keeps the central processing unit cool.

No matter your CPU cooler, its heatsink part is permanently fastened to the CPU using spring screws or retention clips. In contrast, the fan part is installed where the case cutouts are. The pump part is built-in with one of these parts, so you don’t need to worry about installing it.

How Do I Make Sure The CPU Cooler Is Attached?

If you are talking about the electrical connection of your CPU cooler, if all of its cords are connected, and the fans are spinning, then your CPU cooler is attached. But, to make sure the CPU cooler is stuck or not, you will have to compare its temperatures before and after installing the CPU cooler.

Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler? |

First, download and install the well-known software named RealTemp for checking your CPU temperature stats. Now, play your favorite game for at least 5 minutes or run the apps that make your CPU overheat and note down the temperatures. Do the same noting-down process after installing your new CPU cooler.

During the comparison, if the temperature values after installing the cooler have dropped, your CPU cooler is attached correctly and works as expected. But if not, then there are some installation problems, such as missing thermal paste, loose screws or clips, open or no electrical connections, etc.

Can I Install the CPU Without a CPU Cooler?

You should not install a CPU without a cooler or older heatsink. This is because the CPUs generate enormous heat when working on different processes. As a result, your central processing unit will overheat and burn out within a couple of minutes. Hence, never try doing this to your CPU.

Do You Have To Remove Motherboard To Install CPU Cooler? |

If you accidentally installed your CPU without the CPU cooler, immediately shut down your computer to save your central processing unit. After that, unplug your PC and hold the power button to prevent any risk of electric shock. Now, install the CPU cooler and put your computer back together.

Can You Install a Cooler while the Motherboard is in Case?

The latest CPU cooler manufacturers are building CPU coolers that can be installed while the motherboard is in case. It is because either those coolers have retention clips or spring screws. For installing the CPU coolers with retention clips, you only have to clip them where your CPU is on the motherboards.

On the other hand, when you have a CPU cooler with spring screws, you will have to unscrew and remove the older heatsink first. Then, you can tighten your new CPU cooler using a screwdriver in the same place as the older heatsink. Do not overtighten the screws because they can damage or crack your motherboard.


Removing the motherboard from the PC to install the CPU cooler is unnecessary. There are two different ways to install the GPU. If you have a cooler with screws, you have to remove the motherboard, but if you have a cooler with retention clips, you don’t need to remove the motherboard from the case. I hope this article helped you a lot.

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