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Installing Socket 7 Heatsink-Fans
Last updated: 2/26/2003

Q.  How do you install a Socket 7 (AMD K6-2, Pentium, etc) heatsink-fan.

A.  I almost always replace the entire unit.  Yes, in most cases it is fairly easy to remove a fan.  It is also fairly easy to strip the threads on many heatsinks.  Most of them attach with nothing more than threads that are made between heatsink cooling fins.  Many times the new fan cannot be tightly screwed-down with the original four screws--one or two almost always end-up a little loose and can vibrate off over time.  One can waste a lot of time looking for screw that will work... Matching fans to Socket 7 heat sinks can be difficult.  Fan size (thickness), screw sizes, etc. vary.  Also, in most cases, the entire unit is fairly easy to remove.  However, some are really stuck on the CPU and are very difficult to remove.  I usually use a tweaker (small screwdriver) to pry them off, but that can cause damage if you are not very careful or apply too much force.  Also, use care when removing a heatsink-fan.  The lugs on most socket 7 sockets are easily broken off.  If the heatsink and fan are replaced, any heatsink compound on the CPU should be removed.  Rubbing Alchohol, razor blade or xacto knife, and a lintless piece of cloth will usually(!) work. If the new heatsink does not have a thermal pad (most Socket 7 heatsinks have one), a very thin layer of heatsink compound (grease) should (although not recommended, a 400 Mhz CPU may run OK without it) be smeared on the top CPU (I wear a clean disposable vinyl glove and use my finger) where the heatsink comes into contact with it.  If it has a pad, any protective film, if present, should be peeled-off before installing the heatsink-fan.  If just the fan is removed, the heat sink should be cleaned before installing the new one.  A vacuum cleaner will usually do the trick, but be careful not touch anything and zap the unit with static electricity from a metal vacuum cleaner attachment (hitting a cold fan with a vacuum cleaner or canned air can damage the fan bearing).  Also, use anti-static procedures (see my previous link) to avoid zapping the CPU when installing a fan/heatsink.  When installing the heat sink, be careful if using a screwdriver to attach the spring on most heatsink-fans to the lugs on the socket.  A slip can damage components on a motherboard.  If you do slip, inspect the motherboard with a magnifying glass in good light.  A screwdriver slip can break small components on the motherboard that may not be readily visible/apparent to the naked eye.  Socket 7 heatsink-fans are becoming difficult to find.  Socket A, 370, etc. heatsink-fans are not designed for Socket 7 CPU's and sockets and most likely will not work.  Always insist on a quality fan with a ball bearing.  You will be lucky if a fan with a sleeve bearing lasts a year.  Many Socket 7 fans have sleeve bearings.  Overall, installing a Socket 7 heatsink-fans is similar to installing a Socket A heatsink-fans (http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/cpu/socka/1.html, http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/mb/epox/8kha/2.htm) with the exception that Socket A springs apply and require more force to attach them to the socket, and are, therefore, more difficult and hazardous to install if the motherboard is mounted in a case.

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