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How do I remove CPU from cooler? Stuck solid w/pre-pasted compound!

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July 11, 2009 3:33:45 AM

I need help to get my computer up again.

I had to RMA my motherboard. Unfortunately, I did not realize when selecting my cooler that the pre-pasted stuff is like superglue and will *not* come off! The cooler seemed impossible to remove from the motherboard, even after removing the clips entirely. I could not twist it at all (I didn't try too hard, either, for fear of breaking off pins.) Eventually, the whole cooler and CPU came off *as one* :o  , forcing the socket lever up at the same time!

I found this quite shocking, but I asked someone who's built many computers, and they said yes, the pre-applied stuff really is permanent like that.

Now, because the CPU is permanently stuck to the cooler, I can't get it the CPU back in the socket. I've tried leaving the lever halfway open (but it doesn't snap down all the way when I try to put the CPU in). I've also tried pushing the lever down first, but the CPU won't go in. (Pins do not appear to be bent.)

Is it correct that the lever is merely to *ease* insertion by guiding the pins into the holes? That you could have the lever already down and still insert the CPU, assuming you can align the pins properly?

I think my problem is it is impossible to visually line up the pins in the holes with the bulky cooler requiring me to look from the side as opposed to the top. However, I can't be certain the pins are not bent "just enough" to prevent insertion, but to be undetectable.

I think the only way I can replace the CPU is to get it *off* the cooler, but how do I do that?

It seems impossible to pry the CPU loose without bending or breaking it -- do you agree?
Is there any substance I could pour on the CPU that would not wreck the CPU but that would dissolve the pre-applied paste?

I don't have $150 to replace this CPU and cooler, and I won't even *know* if my motherboard is fixed until I get the CPU in and fire it up. :(  Has anyone solved this problem before?

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a b à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
July 11, 2009 4:27:29 AM
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CPcoder said:
I need help to get my computer up again.

I had to RMA my motherboard. Unfortunately, I did not realize when selecting my cooler that the pre-pasted stuff is like superglue and will *not* come off! The cooler seemed impossible to remove from the motherboard, even after removing the clips entirely. I could not twist it at all (I didn't try too hard, either, for fear of breaking off pins.) Eventually, the whole cooler and CPU came off *as one* :o  , forcing the socket lever up at the same time!

I found this quite shocking, but I asked someone who's built many computers, and they said yes, the pre-applied stuff really is permanent like that.

Now, because the CPU is permanently stuck to the cooler, I can't get it the CPU back in the socket. I've tried leaving the lever halfway open (but it doesn't snap down all the way when I try to put the CPU in). I've also tried pushing the lever down first, but the CPU won't go in. (Pins do not appear to be bent.)

Is it correct that the lever is merely to *ease* insertion by guiding the pins into the holes? That you could have the lever already down and still insert the CPU, assuming you can align the pins properly?

I think my problem is it is impossible to visually line up the pins in the holes with the bulky cooler requiring me to look from the side as opposed to the top. However, I can't be certain the pins are not bent "just enough" to prevent insertion, but to be undetectable.

I think the only way I can replace the CPU is to get it *off* the cooler, but how do I do that?

It seems impossible to pry the CPU loose without bending or breaking it -- do you agree?
Is there any substance I could pour on the CPU that would not wreck the CPU but that would dissolve the pre-applied paste?

I don't have $150 to replace this CPU and cooler, and I won't even *know* if my motherboard is fixed until I get the CPU in and fire it up. :(  Has anyone solved this problem before?


Er, no. It's not permenent, it softens when warm. You could have removed it warm by twisting it gently to break the bond, then lifting.

You can still warm it if needed to remove the CPU. If you have an oven with a "warm" setting, just get it to around 150-180F and stick the sink/CPU inside for a few minutes. Pull it out and use somthing to pry the parts apart. If a screwdriver feels like it's pushing too hard, you can try slipping a knife between the CPU and sink.
July 11, 2009 4:46:28 AM

Warm it up and get a really WIDE Flathead and twist, Be careful! :non: 
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July 11, 2009 4:57:31 AM

...or a putty knife...

Are you sure you did not use thermal epoxy ?!?! :p 
July 11, 2009 4:59:08 AM

Crashman said:
Er, no. It's not permanent, it softens when warm. You could have removed it warm by twisting it gently to break the bond, then lifting.


I tried, it had absolutely no give and would not twist at all. Maybe because faulty graphics prevented me from booting, dual-boot system, and sometimes would try to reboot itself. So CPU did not get that warm, I suppose.

Crashman said:
You can still warm it if needed to remove the CPU. If you have an oven with a "warm" setting, just get it to around 150-180F and stick the sink/CPU inside for a few minutes. Pull it out and use something to pry the parts apart. If a screwdriver feels like it's pushing too hard, you can try slipping a knife between the CPU and sink.


That makes me nervous, but at this point, I need to try. I'll let you know if it worked. (Past time for bed!)
July 11, 2009 5:23:09 AM

If that doesn't work, place the heatsink so the chip faces straight up and level if possible and try some 90 percent isopropyl alcohol around the edge of the cpu heatsink jointwith a q tip. Isopropyl is good at removing heatsink goop.
a b V Motherboard
July 11, 2009 3:50:22 PM

Lighter fluid workz great and finger nail polish remover too and varsol..I've used them all at one time or another always keep lighter fliud and nial polish remover handy..:) 
July 16, 2009 2:54:07 AM

I put it in the oven for 3 minutes (I think about 175 degrees) and the CPU came off fine. It went flying across the room, though. Doesn't appear to be bent, so I hope it will work fine.

Ok, I should have at least one of those (nail polish remover, isopropyl alcohol). I have no time tomorrow, though, so will probably have to try that Friday. Thanks!
July 23, 2009 4:22:45 AM

I can't update on whether any damage was done -- though I doubt it, the CPU looks fine -- but my motherboard still doesn't work. If anything, it's worse, because now I can't shut off via the front power switch, I have to use the hard switch on the back.

Stupid RMA -- I didn't even get a report of what they supposedly tested.
!