How To Install A CPU Cooler (Step by Step Guide)

Finding the right processor cooler to install onto your PC is no easy task. There are many different types, and it can sometimes be difficult to find the one that will work with your particular hardware. We’ve included this article to help you find the perfect fit for your computer.

How to Install a CPU Cooler

Assuming you have a basic understanding of your PC’s internals and how to work inside of it safely, the installation process for a CPU cooler is pretty simple. In most cases, it’s as easy as unscrewing a few things, popping in the new cooler, and screwing everything back into place.

Of course, there are a few different ways to go about it depending on your specific cooler and PC case, but we’ll walk you through the basics below.

First, look at your CPU cooler and find the mounting holes on its base. These will line up with either plastic or metal brackets attached to your motherboard.

If your motherboard has more than one bracket option, choose the one that lines up best with where your CPU is located. You may need to remove a pre-installed bracket from your motherboard to install the one for your new cooler.

Once you know which bracket to use, simply unscrew it from the motherboard (there may be multiple screws holding it in place).

Next, line up the holes on the bottom of your CPU cooler with the screws on the bracket and lightly screw them in place – you don’t want to make them too tight yet.

Next, you’ll need to line up the backplate for your CPU cooler and screw it onto the back of the motherboard. Again, don’t tighten these down all the way just yet.

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Now that everything is loosely in place, you can start tightening everything down. Start with the screws on your CPU cooler’s bracket, then move on to the backplate (if there is one).

You want these screwed in snugly, but be careful not to over-tighten them, as this could damage your motherboard or CPU.

Once everything is tightened down, you can install any remaining fans or ductwork that came with your CPU cooler. In most cases, these will just attach to the top of your cooler using handy little plastic clips.

Finally, reattach any power cables disconnected during installation and boot up your PC to check things out!

Tips for Installing A CPU Cooler

Read the instruction manual with your CPU cooler before attempting to install it.

  • It is important to clean the surface of your CPU before installing a cooler on it in order to ensure optimal thermal contact. Use isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth to clean the top of the CPU.
  • If you are using an air cooler, it is important to check that there are no obstructions in the airflow path from the cooler’s fans. Make sure that nothing is blocking the fan blades, and also check for any loose cables that could get caught in the fan.
  • Most CPU coolers will have pre-applied thermal paste to the heatsink’s bottom. If not, you will need to apply a small amount of thermal paste to the top of the CPU before attaching the heatsink. Be sure not to use too much paste, as this can impede heat transfer rather than improve it.
  • When attaching a CPU cooler, be careful not to overtighten the screws or brackets holding it in place. This can damage both the cooler and the motherboard itself.
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Why Should I Install A CPU Cooler?

There are several reasons why you should install a CPU cooler. Firstly, it can help improve your computer’s performance by keeping the CPU cool and preventing it from overheating.

Secondly, it can help extend your CPU’s life by preventing it from overheating and being damaged. Thirdly, it can make your computer quieter by absorbing some of the noise generated by the CPU.

Finally, it can also improve the aesthetics of your computer by adding a touch of style.

 Things You’ll Need For Installation

To install a CPU cooler, you’ll need the following:

  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • A small nation Cooler (or another compatible aftermarket cooler)
  • Thermal paste (optional)
  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound (optional) 
  • An anti-static wrist strap (optional)

If you’re installing a Nation Cooler or other similar aftermarket cooler, you’ll need to remove your computer’s existing heatsink and fan.

To do this, first, unplug your computer from any power source. Then, locate the four screws that secure the heatsink to the motherboard and remove them.

You may need to use a Phillips head screwdriver to do this. With the screws removed, carefully lift the heatsink and fan off the CPU. Be careful not to touch the gold contacts on the bottom of the CPU itself.

Next, clean any old thermal paste from the CPU’s top and the heatsink’s bottom. If you’re using Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound, apply a small amount to the center of the CPU.

Spread it in a thin, even layer using a credit card or something similar. Once you’ve applied enough thermal compound, carefully place the heatsink back on the CPU and screw it in place.

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Finally, plug your computer back in and turn it on. If everything is properly installed, your computer should boot up without any issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I install a CPU cooler?

It’s not that difficult to install a CPU cooler; we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step. First, you’ll need to identify which type of CPU socket you have on your motherboard. Once you know that, simply choose a compatible CPU cooler and follow the instructions that come with it.

Do I need to remove my motherboard from my computer case to install a CPU cooler?

No, you don’t necessarily need to remove your motherboard. However, it can make the installation process easier if you do.

How often should I clean my CPU cooler?

It’s generally a good idea to clean your CPU cooler every few months to prevent dust buildup. 

What is the best CPU cooler for gaming?

The best CPU cooler for gaming depends on your needs and budget. For example, if you’re looking for the absolute best performance, you’ll want to invest in a high-end liquid cooler. However, a good air cooler should suffice if you’re simply looking for something that will keep your CPU cool and quiet.


You must install a CPU cooler to keep your CPU running cool and prevent it from overheating. While this may seem daunting, it’s quite simple if you follow our step-by-step guide. And once you’ve installed your CPU cooler, you will be able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that your CPU is well-protected against overheating.

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Matt Wilson
By Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is a PC gaming and hardware expert with years of experience. He's a trusted tech product reviewer for gamers and tech enthusiasts.

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