Removing a Stuck CPU Heatsink/Fan Cooler

Important: If you do anything mentioned on this site it is your OWN risk and I shall NOT take any responsibility for anything negative that may result.

Note: This post is mainly about a little tip you can use to remove a heatsink that may be frozen on the processor do to dried out, old, or sticky thermal grease. I do touch on removing a couple modern cpu heatsink/fans, but you should do your own research before attempting the removal if you don’t know what your doing.

Common Heatsink Removal Problem

I’ve seen Many people getting frustrated trying to remove their hsf and it being stuck on the cpu. Many say things like: “Help I can’t remove my heatsink”, “My heatsink is stuck to the processor, I can’t get my heatsink to come off of the cpu”, and a popular one is: ” I pulled my cpu out of the motherboard socket trying to remove the heatsink assembly!”

Shows an Intel CPU Heatsink/Fan

You can lift the Lever on an AMD Heatsink to remove from the Motherboard


Getting Started: First of all, you need to be careful anytime your messing around with computer components. You don’t want to bend or break off any of the capacitors or other components around the cpu area. Next thing to do is go ahead and loosen the hsf bracket assembly. Modern AMD processors have a very simple retension lever that you just need to pull up, and it will then make it possible to remove the heatsink. Intel on the other hand can make it much harder. CPU’s for the Socket 775 and newer sockets use a Push-Pin Peg retension method that you push and snap into place to hold down the processor’s heatsink and fan. You will need to twist each peg counter-clockwise to relieve the tension and then pull up on the peg to snap it out of place. You definitely should do some more in-depth research on the Intel designed heatsinks if you don’t understand what your doing.


Important Step: Now before you try pulling the heatsink from the processor, you need to “Twist” the heatsink. You will want to twist it in a left to right fashion. What this will do is sort-of ‘break’ the bond with the thermal paste (TIM) – Thermal Interface Material). Older silicon based thermal paste compounds can dry out and harden over time making it more of a dry crust than a quality heat transferring material and thus makes it hard to remove the heatsink. The higher end pastes like Artic Silver doesn’t dry out near as fast as regular silicon pastes so it may not be all that hard to remove. High-end thermal compounds like Artic Silver 5 is Very Thick and if you need to remove the heatsink you should still twist the heatsink as well to remove it since it likes to ‘stick’ or ‘bond’ to the components, which is actually a good thing. The thicker pastes doesn’t dry out like the cheap silicon only pastes and will last alot longer and do a much better job of transferring the heat from the cpu to the heatsink.

Anyways, hopefully this little tip will same you some time and frustration. Remember to be careful and slowly twist the heatsink in a right and left motion before pulling the hsf (heatsink-fan) from the processor!