Does a CPU Cooler need a Backplate? [Read This First]

Written By Steven Arends

You just received the CPU cooler you ordered but it did not come with a backplate. Now, you are wondering whether it’s safe to install the cooler without it.

Or perhaps, you just don’t want to take the motherboard for installing the CPU.

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Does a CPU cooler need a backplate?

Yes, CPU Coolers need a backplate. It is always better to install the CPU cooler with a backplate. If you don’t have one, then there won’t be anything for the screws to mount to, which would mean the two retention plastic pieces won’t work the right way.

I will answer all the questions swirling around in your head right now, so there’s nothing to worry about. I am an experienced PC builder and I will point out all the important facts you need to keep in mind.

So, if you have already had your morning coffee, let’s just dive right into the article without wasting time. Please don’t skip ahead as it will probably become confusing if you do.

Check out our separate post on the best fanless CPU coolers.

Should I Remove the CPU Backplate?

Generally, you shouldn’t remove your backplate under any circumstances as the backplate is essential for getting the heat from the other side of the motherboard onto the cooler. The only time you can remove it is if you are replacing the backplate.

Another purpose of the backplate is to hold the cooler in place and also to keep the motherboard from bending.

Some people often get confused and say that a CPU retention bracket and the CPU backplate are very similar.

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However, that is simply not true. The retention bracket in a CPU is just the bracket on the front of the motherboard where you put your CPU in. It’s sometimes known as the CPU socket and has a special lever to keep the CPU in place.

The backplate, on the other hand, is on the other side and it’s used for two things:

  • To help attach the screws to the cooler.
  • To get the heat from the other side of the motherboard successfully transferred to the cooler as well.

Now, if you already tried removing the backplate before and were unsuccessful, your backplate was probably stuck.

I will explain the remedy for that in the next section.

Also, don’t forget to check out the best noctua cpu cooler.

How To Remove CPU Backplate

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Also, check out some best 120mm CPU AIO coolers. Also, check out some best 360mm CPU AIO coolers.

It is relatively easy to disassemble the CPU and get to the backplate but there have been complaints from many users that their backplate has been tightened very hard using an adhesive. Don’t worry, I will definitely explain how you could handle that sort of situation.

I strongly advise you to be careful while doing this because you might end up destroying the backplate if you don’t remove it correctly.

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You will need some things before you start the process of disassembling your CPU:

  1. A pair of gloves that are thick enough.
  2. An old credit card or something similar.
  3. Any sort of citrus or orange oil-based product. For example, a Blue Magic Pure Citrus Orange Air Freshener.

The oil-based product will dissolve the glue on contact and you don’t have to worry about damaging the board.

Also, check out our expert’s recommended best cooler master cpu coolers.

It will also enhance the smell of the CPU depending on your preference for oranges.

Here are the steps to remove the CPU backplate:

  1. Put on your gloves if you want your skin attached to your hands.
  2. Flip the board and find the backplate.
  3. Spray around the backplate using the oil based product.
  4. Give at least five minutes time so the citrus or orange based product can do its job and dissolve the glue.
  5. Push on the standoffs that pass through the board with your hands in order to lift the backplate slightly.
  6. Take the card you decided to use earlier and bend it facing upwards to make sure the card does not manage to hit anything on the board.
  7. Insert your old credit card as deep as you can make it go into the gap.
  8. Work your way around the entire backplate and when you get to the end, just twist your card a little bit and the plate should just cut right off.
  9. Use a paper towel and pat down the board to be certain that there is no remaining oil. Your board won’t get damaged if you don’t do this but I recommend doing it.

It’s not necessary but you can also use a hairdryer to heat up around the area with the adhesive to loosen it up before applying the oily product.

Want to know which CPUs are best for RTX 3000 series GPU? Check out some budget-friendly CPUs for RTX 3070, 3080, 3090 series.

What Does The CPU Backplate Do?

A CPU backplate will mainly just prevent the cooler from fiddling around. There are some CPUs that don’t even support removing the backplate so you won’t even have to understand it. Also, don’t ever buy a CPU without a backplate.

It is extremely common for the motherboard to provide the backplate and the cooler that goes with it.

While installing the cooler, you need to keep in mind that there are some minor differences in the installation process of different coolers so you should try not to follow a guide that’s made for another cooler.

A really useful tip I want to provide is that you should try installing the CPU and cooler into the motherboard before you install the motherboard into the case.

Don’t forget to check out the list of the Best Budget CPU Coolers For Overclocking.

FAQ

Question: Do you need a backplate for AIO?

Answer: Yes, even with an All In One coolers, you would need a backplate in order to mount the AIO cooler to the CPU without any issues.

Question: Can I install a CPU cooler without removing the motherboard?

Answer: Yes, that is definitely possible. There should be a cutout in the case which should allow you to access the motherboard CPU from both the front and back.

Question: Can you use a motherboard without an IO shield?

Answer: In theory, you should be able to use it just fine but you will be leaving it vulnerable to destruction. If a motherboard ships without a shield, then the manufacturer is forcing the builder to leave its main components exposed via the IO hole in the back of the case.

Question: Is installing a CPU cooler hard?

Answer: It’s fairly easy for people who have at least some experience taking apart computer parts. It’s not risky at all as long as you do sufficient research beforehand. Never do it if you don’t understand exactly what to do.

Question: How much thermal paste should I use on my CPU?

Answer: You only need to use a very small amount. For example, it should roughly be around the size of a grain of rice and you need to put it at the center of the integrated heat spreader.

Final Thoughts

There are some CPU coolers that don’t come with a backplate but those are becoming extremely rare. That’s why you must always use your CPU cooler along with a backplate.

I hope you got everything you needed in this article and don’t hesitate to reach us.

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