How To Install A CPU Cooler

by Rustam Iqbal

In this modern era, we need computers for every task around us. And since the functions have become significantly intricate, you need to know the right solutions to cope with the problems they cause. Highly intensive workloads burden the system and generate excessive heat that may hinder the potential.

CPU Cooler Installation!

CPU Cooler Installation!

What you need to maintain the rising temperatures is to have and know how to install a **CPU Cooler.** Although it plays a crucial role in a PC build, its significance is often neglected. Every processor requires a cooler in the consumer market, and none can function well for long without it.

When a processor is installed in the motherboard, a cooler is installed on it. This piece of hardware removes the heat from the surface of the processor (CPU). And thus, it maintains its temperature within an acceptable range at all costs. If you do not install it properly, or its cooling capacity is insufficient for your system, your PC can crash under load.

There are mainly two types available on the consumer market; an air cooler and a liquid cooler or an AIO. Both have their pros and cons. You need to install them in their separate ways. An air cooler uses air as a medium to move heat, and the liquid coolers use some liquid, mainly water.

Prerequisites For Installation

Prerequisites For Installation

For installation, you don’t require any industrial tools or specific hardware, and requirements are relatively uncomplicated. You don’t need mechanical skills to perform this installation, either. You can do it with simple knowledge and follow the instructions properly without missing any steps.

Make sure you gather everything you need before starting the actual process. Once you are done with the procedure, nothing will stop you from getting your hands on the perfect thermal performance. All you need is the following:

  • Tools: Some components offer toolless installation, but you will need some tools for others. The first thing is a Philips screwdriver, according to the screws on your product. Some don’t require any screwdriver as they come with thumb screws or other mechanisms. Then you will need an alcohol swab or lint-free cloth with 100% isopropyl alcohol and water or another coolant if you install a liquid one.

Screw Carefully!

Screw Carefully!

You need to screw the cooler carefully. The air coolers are generally easier to install than their liquid counterparts, but both are simple and easy. They usually consist of a heat sink with fins that allow the air to pass through and a fan that blows the air through it.

The heat block is installed in direct contact with the surface of the processor for heat transfer. Correct steps and measures to be taken while installing it are mentioned below to guide you through the process step by step. So wait no more and dive right into this worthwhile discussion on the installation.

Thermal Paste

Thermal Paste

You will need a top-quality thermal paste to fill the tiny bumps and air spaces that are present between two surfaces that look even but hinder performance. Modern-day coolers come with pre-applied thermal paste, but that may not be the most efficient option. A thermal paste of good quality as per your liking and proper pasting will help you get optimal thermal performance.

How To Install A CPU Air Cooler

Air coolers are pretty simple and consist of a heat block or heat spreader with one or more fans mounted to it. They come in many shapes and sizes. Some are made up of copper, and some of aluminum or combined. Regardless of their form and size, you can install most items.

  1. First, you must ensure your item supports the motherboard architecture, as some manufacturers have different AMD and Intel platforms and models. Most products are universal and can work on both platforms.

Stock coolers are specially made for your hardware and are easier to install, but they might not suffice the needs of an enthusiast-space PC user. However, if you use an aftermarket product, you must proceed more carefully.

While buying an aftermarket one, you must ensure it comes with the proper mounting plate and other mounting hardware compatible with your setup.

  1. Once you have chosen the right thing, we install the back plate on the back side of the motherboard. It anchors the hardware in place and secures it.

To install it, you have to hold it in the right place and screw it in using the standoffs from the front and ensure it is firmly held in place.

  1. Then we apply thermal paste. Thermal paste makes a better thermal connection between your CPU and your cooler by eliminating and filling any empty spaces. Thermal paste makes a huge difference and is recommended to be used.

You don’t need to apply an enormous amount. You only need a pea-sized amount on the surface, which gets spread out when you install the hardware component.

  1. If you apply too much thermal paste, it will ooze out onto your motherboard. It can damage electronics over time, so if you accidentally use an excessive amount, wipe it off with alcohol. Some items come with pre-applied thermal paste or thermal pads, and you don’t need to apply another layer in that case

F. After applying the thermal paste, you need to align the item with the holes for screws and gently place it on the CPU. Make sure to Keep the Fan wire towards the fan header because sometimes the wire is too small and will only reach the header in the correct orientation.

If you install it in the wrong orientation, you will have to take it apart, rotate it, and install it again.

G. After aligning everything correctly, you need to tighten the screws. If you tighten the screws one by one, the pressure applied and contact of the heat block with the processor will not be uniform. You have to tighten the screws, gradually switching between screws every few turns.

H. After tightening all the screws, ensure no thermal paste oozing out and your gear has a good uniform contact with your CPU.

I. Some cooling solutions require you to remove the fans before mounting the cooler and reinstalling them after it is installed on the motherboard.

J. After everything is done, plug the fans into the headers on the motherboard. Then power up to ensure everything works properly, and sufficient airflow keeps the system cool.

How To Install A Liquid CPU Cooler

The liquid-based products on the technical market come in all shapes and sizes, but the most popular ones are AIO products. These consist of a simple, closed-loop water/liquid cooler with the following:

  • A water block is installed on the CPU, which also contains a water pump that pumps water through the closed loop connecting the radiator and the water block.
  • Some tubing carries hot water from the Water block to the radiator and cold water from the radiator to the Water block.
  • A radiator dissipates heat from the water and cools it down.
  • Depending on the radiator’s size, two or three fans ensure sufficient air flows through it to keep it cool.

It works on the simple mechanism that heat is carried away from the system using a liquid instead of air, and thus more efficient heat transfer occurs. This liquid is then cooled in the radiator, which provides a large surface area and airflow for the water to cool down. This cooled water is then cycled back toward the processor.

  • For installing the liquid cooler, first of all, we mount the water block on the processor with four screws, just like we did in the case of the air-based cooling solution.

The heat block has a conductive metal core plate that comes in contact with the surface of the CPU. This water block also contains a small pump to propel the liquid. If the water block doesn’t come with a pre-applied thermal paste, then you have to apply thermal paste manually.

After mounting the water block and securing it properly, you can then mount the radiator. Radiators in many different sizes are mounted at one end of your case, giving it access to fresh air.

The radiator is usually mounted at the back or top. And the air is blown out of the case through the radiator. All you need for a seamless performance is to get the warm air removed from the system.

  • Once the radiator is installed, you can complete the water loop by attaching the hoses between the radiator and the water block. After completing the loop, you must fill the radiator with liquid or water and check for leaks.
  • After installing the radiator, you can now install fans on the radiator. You need to do that in such an orientation that air is blown through the radiator fins. Your system will work far better once the nasty heat is out of the PC case.
  • You can plug everything in, including the fans and the AIO pump, into the water block.
  • Most AIO coolers come with their software, but you can also control them through the BIOS. But you can do that only to a certain extent.

Each model may have special perks like an LCD or some LEDs or temperature sensors, and to install them properly, you should look at the user manual.

Plug Everything For Power

Plug Everything For Power

After installing the component and putting everything back in its respective place, it’s essential to power up the PC to check whether everything is working correctly. Most air coolers only have a single fan that one can easily plug into the CPU fan header.

Still, in the case of multiple fans or liquid coolers, it’s essential to make sure everything you are using is compatible with each other. Sometimes, you have to use extension cables or splitters to power up your cooling solution.

A dedicated fan controller is also recommended in case of multiple fans, like in the case of AIO coolers. One should also consult the manuals and user guides to ensure they plugged everything correctly.

Motherboard ports and I/O are different in each setup, and a guide can only give you a general set of rules, not detailed instructions, depending on your specific hardware. At last, power up your PC and check if everything is detected and working as intended without any faults.


Our CPU Cooler Is Ready To Perform!

Our CPU Cooler Is Ready To Perform!

The computer system produces a lot of heat when used and is designed to require a cooling mechanism to keep it cool so it can work without thermal throttling. A cooling component of your choice that matches your requirements and is compatible with your setup will take your rig’s performance to another level.

After completing all the above steps, you successfully installed your cooler into your PC, keeping your processor within an acceptable temperature range.

Having a reliable product according to the requirements of your build is as important as knowing how to install a CPU cooler. It allows your rig to work under stress and perform at its best without thermal throttling or crashing.

Stock coolers generally are good enough with low-end computers or systems for light to moderate home usage. But that might not be your best bet if you want to run your PC for long hours, especially if you’re going to overclock it to extract additional performance. In that case, you should consider some aftermarket options.

Aftermarket coolers come in various shapes and sizes, and you can easily find one according to your requirements. Some gears feature silent fans, others promise excellent cooling even during high loads, and you can choose one according to your preferences.

Rustam Iqbal

Hi, I'm Rustam Iqbal. I love traveling, computer hardware, and software. I’m constantly trying to learn new skills and programming languages. Reviewing new pieces of hardware is one of my favorites hobbies. Drop by any time to leave me a message if you have any questions.

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