How to install the CPU cooler

Installing a CPU cooler differs depending on the cooler you’re using, so for specific instructions, please refer to the manufacturer’s manual or support site. Here are some simple instructions that apply to almost every cooler.getintopc

Note: In the below images, we’re installing an all-in-one (AIO) water cooler, but the tips apply to most air coolers as well.

Step 1: Every cooler needs thermal paste. You don’t have to use the best thermal paste, but make sure you use some. It typically looks like a silver paste and comes either pre-applied to the cooler or in a short syringe tube.

If you’re reapplying heat paste, be sure to remove the original heat paste with a lint-free cloth and a little isopropyl alcohol.

When your CPU is ready, Apply a pea-sized amount to your CPU in the center.

Step 2: If your CPU cooler requires it, remove your case’s other side panel and attach the custom backplate design. You may need to remove the stock backplate from the motherboard first.

Step 3: Place the CPU cooler on top of the processor, and press down gently. Line up any retaining brackets or bolts with the CPU cooler mounting holes on the motherboard.

Install the retaining screws/brackets to secure the cooler in place. If you have to tighten several screws, be sure to do them a couple of turns at a time in a cross pattern so that you don’t put too much pressure on one portion of the CPU. Make sure that they are tight enough that the CPU cannot wiggle around, but don’t overtighten.

Step 4: If your cooler has a separate fan, attach it now, and plug its three-pin or four-pin connector into the CPU cooler port on the motherboard. It should be located near the CPU cooler. If it has multiple fans, either plug the additional ones into extra motherboard headers or use a fan splitter to power both from the CPU fan port.

If you’re installing an AIO watercooler, mount the radiator at an appropriate point in the case (at the front or rear air intakes/exhaust are common) and attach the fan’s header to the correct port. You may also need to attach the pump header, which some motherboards have specific ports for.


IBM Corporation, the world’s dominant computer maker, did not enter the new market until 1981, when it introduced the IBM Personal Computer, or IBM PC. The IBM PC was significantly faster than rival machines, had about 10 times their memory capacity, and was backed by IBM’s large sales organization. The IBM PC was also the host machine for 1-2-3, an extremely popular spreadsheet introduced by the Lotus Development Corporation in 1982. The IBM PC became the world’s most popular personal computer, and both its microprocessor, the Intel 8088, and its operating system, which was adapted from Microsoft Corporation’s MS-DOS system, became industry standards. Rival machines that used Intel microprocessors and MS-DOS became known as “IBM compatibles” if they tried to compete with IBM on the basis of additional computing power or memory and “IBM clones” if they competed simply on the basis of low price.

Faster, smaller, and more-powerful PCs

These advances in software and operating systems were matched by the development of microprocessors containing ever-greater numbers of circuits, with resulting increases in the processing speed and power of personal computers. The Intel 80386 32-bit microprocessor (introduced 1985) gave the Compaq Computer Corporation’s Compaq 386 (introduced 1986) and IBM’s PS/2 family of computers (introduced 1987) greater speed and memory capacity. Apple’s Mac II computer family made equivalent advances with microprocessors made by Motorola, Inc. The memory capacity of personal computers had increased from 64 kilobytes (64,000 characters) in the late 1970s to 100 megabytes (100 million characters) by the early ’90s to several gigabytes (billions of characters) by the early 2000s.