Computer DIY – How to Clean Your CPU Fans!

Today, I decided to clean my desktop computer’s CPU fans since my computer kept slowing down a lot lately.  I knew it probably was due to my CPU fans collecting with dust as I have been using this desktop PC for about 2 years without any cleaning.

To my surprise, I found that it was indeed my CPU fans that weren’t working at all as the metal fins have been all stuck with large collection of dust.  You can see later in this DIY how dirty my CPU fan was…

So, here’s how to clean your CPU fans. (This is for most desktop PCs.)

1) First, you will need to open up your desktop.  Usually, there’s either couple screws or some computers like mine have a “hand-screw” that allow the side cover to come off easily.

2) Once you open up the computer case, locate your CPU fan, it’s usually the biggest fan thingee.

3) Once located, you can unscrew the four screws holding it to the motherboard.

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4) Also make sure to unplug the CPU fan wire that connects to your motherboard so you can detach it.

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5) Once unscrewed and CPU fan wires disconnected, the CPU fan should come off the CPU easily.  (You can see my Intel CPU on the lower-right here as I take the fan out.)

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6) A quick look at the CPU fan assembly showed me that the metal fins (the thing that actually cools down your CPU) was stuck with “massive” collection of dust!  Yuck, this is why my computer was running super slow…

When the metal fins are blocked like this, your CPU fan will actually have no real effect on cooling your CPU.  Thus, it was like my computer was running with no CPU fan.

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7) The CPU fan part should easily snap off the metal fins, just carefully un-snap it out.

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8) Once I had the CPU fan and metal fins separated, I saw this picture below:
(Oh GOTT!)

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9) Next, clean your CPU fan fins and the metal fin thingee with a lightly wetted paper towel.  You can also blow on it afterwards to get all the dust out.  You don’t have to clean it perfectly, just get rid of the big stuff that’s clogging your CPU fan.

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10) Assemble and put the CPU fan back on your motherboard and boot up your computer.

You should now see that your computer runs much faster like when you bought it new.

How often should you clean your CPU fans on a desktop?

I would say about once a year and maybe even every 6 months if you use your desktop computer a lot.

This method should work on all kinds of desktop computers including Macs.   Procedure might be slightly different but if you know how to use a screwdriver, you should be able to clean your CPU fans pretty easily.

What are the benefits of having clean CPU fans?

Well, first, your computer will run much faster since your CPU doesn’t heat up as easily under load when you are running heavy applications like Photoshop, Outlook, or watching YouTube videos.

Plus, your CPU will practically last forever so long as they never overheat.  I have a 20 year old 386DX-25 CPU that still runs after 20 years.  Computer CPUs are generally failure-proof for a really long time so long as you make sure it’s cooled correctly.

Computers in general last a freakin’ long time, it’s usually the hard drive that dies first or CPU from not cleaning your CPU fans.

There’s also great free programs out there that will let you dynamically control CPU speeds so your CPU is more efficient, uses less power, and last even longer.  I will have more on that soon but if you haven’t checked out your CPU fans in over a year, I highly suggest you to check them out.

You can also “replace” your CPU fans to better after-market ones.  For that, I highly suggest getting one with bigger “amperes (amps)” ratings.  For example, 2 Amp rated PC fan will run faster than a 0.20 Amp PC fan.  You might have to shop around though for the best PC fan out there as it varies depending on where you go.

Well, that’s about it, you should now be able to have a computer that runs faster and last longer.  Bye~

UPDATE: Here’s a quick video of me doing my other linux computer:

video://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM7EhTtnSF0

13 Responses to Computer DIY – How to Clean Your CPU Fans!

  1. Magicgreen says:

    Thank-you very MUCH!!

  2. zedomax says:

    SURE!

  3. Mimica says:

    thanks for help !

  4. zedomax says:

    SURE!

  5. zedomax says:

    SURE!

  6. S0cket2Me says:

    “slow”?? (scrolls up to reread…)
    omg he did state that this is the reason for his slow[ed] machine.
    Not to say that a completely, or even partly clogged heat sink isn’t detrimental, but it will not “slow” (as in less throughput) down a machine. Stop it cold, shut itself down, massive auto-reboots heck yes, but “slow” tsk tsk sha-a-ame on you…lol. Leading all these gentle neophyte lambs astray.
    oh, btw, do everyone a favor and post a pic of a hand holding a nice can of compressed air preforming a properly cleaning. Nice, no static discharge taking out the cpu…(scrolling up again to verify his not mentioning removing static charges from your body BEFORE touching ANYTHING inside…geesh, not that it happens frequently, but it does happen)
    not pickin’ on ya…but right is right
    (“slow” …rolls-eyes)

  7. max says:

    True, don’t forget to discharge the computer by touching the case metal part before you touch any chips! And yes, compressed air recommended but I am too cheap to buy one so my hand will do. 🙂

  8. Dylan says:

    i cleaned my cpu fan today and when i was trying to screw the screws back the part with the holes would kinda sink down and so the screws that came with the computer seemed like they were too short to get back in unless i could flip the whole computer over to get that part with the holes to come back down(its like a metal part behind the giant chip with the cpu on it) so i decided to use longer screws that were basically the same width, i mean i didnt have any trouble fitting them in only that they were a little long. well as i was screwing this last one in i heard a little pop and at the time i thought it was only a screw popping in more. so i got everything back in and hooked everything back up and tried to turn it on and it would turn on but it would go through a few of those starting things that pop up when u turn it on and then it would just turn off. the fan does sound a little louder than what it was like before i cleaned it. before it was like a high pitch buzz which im thinking was due to the fact that it needed to be cleaned and it was pretty dirty but now it sounds like a miniature version of a fan u would buy to cool down the room. i opened it back up and loosened the screws a little thinking that they were too tight but it still didnt work. if that pop meant that i maybe broke or cracked something then what would that something be? and did i break anything at all? is it even possible for the screws to the fan be too tight? plz reply back soon cuz this is lame lol…i miss my comp T.T

  9. max says:

    Hmmmm, the pop seems to be that you might have screwed on too tight but that shouldn’t really break anything. Try re-inserting the CPU, you might have forced it too much. If that doesn’t work, check for any cracks on the motherboard, you might have overdone the screwing part and cracked the motherboard but probably not a CPU issue, hope that helps.

  10. Dylan says:

    well i re-screwed the fan again and turned it back on. it worked but the fan was really loud. it got to the part where it shows that windows didnt shut down properly and it shows the options about starting it up normally or in safe mode blah blah. well i hit the start it up normally and it got to the little loading bar thing that it would normally go to after it shown my graphics card thing but then my computer just shut off again. could it be that my fan just needs to be replaced? how long would a computer stay on if the fan didnt work?

  11. Dylan says:

    i also remember reading someones comment on your youtube video about if they should reapply some thermal paste. what is that and do u think i should have to put some more of that on my cpu? when i took off my fan i noticed that the cpu and the part where my fan touches the cpu were coated in something that made them sticky but i didnt know what it was so i just left it alone but i noticed that my cpu had a little dust on it but because the cpu was sticky i decided to leave it alone. should i have to buy some of that paste and reapply it?

  12. max says:

    Hmmm, make sure you put the fan connections right, sometimes if you put it the wrong way, it might be fanning other way, maybe where the noise coming from. If you fan is working though, that should be just fine, it means it’s working. As for thermal paste, it should be fine if your old ones still there. Some people get very detailed but I’ve never put thermal paste when I clean my CPU. I am lazy but you shouldn’t have to reapply unless the old one comes off. If the fan doesn’t work, you computer might be okay doing light stuff, just don’t play like 3D games or anything graphic intensive until you get a new fan.

  13. max says:

    If your computer shuts off, that means your CPU might be overheating and CPU fan not working properly, make sure fan connections are connected properly and no weird loud noises, if all else fails, I’d get a new fan but CPU fans usually last a lifetime so I bet its your connections. Double check.

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