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Cleaning CPU fan/heatsink

For cleaning CPU fan/heatsink:
Should I dis-assemble, wash and dry heatsink (wipe fan blades with damp cloth), then clean off and re-apply Arctic Silver, or is it OK to just brush out the dust from the fan/heatsink without dis-assembly. Will the Arctic Silver compound be good for several years, or should it be cleaned/re-applied every year?
It is core i5 with stock fan/heatsink which I assembled. I used Arctic Silver thermal compound.

I have read a lot of warnings against using a vacuum; and I think that may be what eventually damaged my old mobo (after 6yrs), so I'm not going that route again!


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  1. Best answer
    i personally take my pc case outside once every month and spray compressed air in 100 different angles to get all of the dust out. one tip is to not spray air into the fans for a long time because they might spin up too fast and you might damage it. with case fans hold hown the fan with one hand and spray it with compressed air. for cpu cooler spray the air from different angles trying to get the dust out of the heatsink gills
  2. Wow! Every month? Why so often? My guess is that:
    a) your computer is exposed to extreme amounts of dust
    b) your computer is a "monster", and draws in huge amounts of air for cooling
    c) you are dust-sensitive/allergic.

    Mine has been in use for about 9 months, and I check it regularly. So far, the amount of dust in the cpu heatsink/fan isn't too bad, but I figure I should clean it at least once per year. The front of the case has a filter, similar to what is in a window AC unit. I don't think this filter is so great, but I guess it's better than nothing.
    One thing I find is that on my old system, the fans were always running at max speed, so the amount of air drawn into / out of the case was pretty high. With the new system, the mobo is doing a better job at controlling fan speed, so the box is not only quieter, but it doesn't draw in so much air, and therefore, dust.
    I always thought there was something wrong with my old system's Asus P5AD2-E mobo, as it never seemed to do a good job with the fan control. But when I installed the MSI P-67 mobo and i5 processor, I kept the same case fans, and now they are running at a much lower speed (most of the time).

    I have been reading about the use of compressed air to clean sensitive electronics. Wouldn't blowing air onto these components cause static electricity, just as sucking air using a vac?

    I was thinking of using a long bristle brush to pull the dust out from the heatsinks, then using the vacuum, held at at about 15-24 inch from the mobo to take away any dust that gets into the air.

    What do you think of connecting a ground wire to the metal nozzle of the vacuum?

  3. I live in Arizona, one of the dustiest places on earth and only find it necessary to de-dust every couple of years. I would not suggest vacuuming. Buy some canned compressed air. Also, reading between the lines of your original post it sounds as if you might have used Arctic Silver on your OEM heatsink without removing the thermal pad provided. I hope I'm wrong.
  4. Hi :)

    NO WATER under any NO wash/dry....

    NO fan disassembly either....they rarely work afterwards...

    Compressed air and hoover is my shops we also use a soft pastry brush..

    All the best Brett :)
  5. Pastry brush. That sounds like what I was looking for. I was at Home Depot looking at paint brushes, but the only ones that might have worked were the "artist's" brushes. I decided on acid brushes instead, mainly because I can use them for my copper sweat projects; but I see that these are not long enough to reach deep into the heatsink.
    I'll try the pastry brush.

  6. Open the side panel to expose the cpu heatsink if you can take off the CPU heatsink fan, take it off and using a blower, blow all the dust within those vertical tiny fins. Include also the motherboard and the GPU if you have a dedicated GPU. Maybe do it every six months.
  7. Best answer selected by ultrarunner100.
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