What To Do If Your CPU Cooler Is Loose [Read This First!]

Written By Farhan Max

You’ve built your PC successfully and everything is finally installed and then you notice that your CPU cooler isn’t tight enough.

You don’t have to tell me how frustrating that is.


What To Do If Your CPU Cooler Is Loose?

Tighten the Screws of your Cooler. Many people, especially beginners, face this problem and there can be several different causes for it. It could be happening because you are not using the right standoffs or maybe it is caused due to some other component not being attached properly.

Well, you can go ahead and calm down now because I am going to tell you exactly what your next step should be. I  have dealt with this kind of issue multiple times as a PC builder and I’ll share some of the things that I experienced.

So, without further delay, I’m going to start with the things you should do. Before you start reading, I should remind you to not skip over any part because, trust me, everything I’m writing is only to help you.

How to Fix CPU Cooler Vibrating Issue

You should definitely check and see if your cooler has any kind of vibration issue. If the cooler gets noisy, then the vibration is too much. There is no point in trying to fix the vibration. I recommend replacing the CPU fan as soon as possible.

Moreover, your CPU cooler only starts vibrating when there is something wrong with the fan. Most users reported that they found 1 or 2 blades were fallen off and that was causing the vibration. The defected blades can harm other components. So if you see such situation, replace your CPU cooler fan as soon as possible.

You can still keep the fan and use it for a few days but even if you do so, you should remind yourself to replace it once you have a good budget.

In this case, I suggest you find some way to put some form of pressure onto the fan casing and make sure you are not blocking anything and maintaining the best airflow management while doing that. For example, you can use a toilet roll cardboard center pressed up against the side of your case.

Then, you could cut holes in the cardboard to keep a steady airflow. However, if you decide to do something like this, you should remind yourself to not use your PC for resource-intensive tasks until you get a proper replacement.

How Much Should I Tighten CPU Cooler


You don’t want to overtighten the screws as that might end up doing more harm than good. All you have to do is just make sure the screws are quite snug. By that, I mean it should be tight enough so that the normal vibrations don’t end up loosening it.

With most coolers, you can just hand tighten the screws and stop when it takes a good amount of force to remove them.

Intel’s technical documentation says that the force should not exceed about 60 pounds of static force. If you are that student who gets a lot of praise from the physics teacher, and you have a micrometer, torque screwdriver, a pencil, and paper, you can get the perfect amount of force.

However, if you are like me, and are very weak in physics, you can still get a firm tightness with just your hands and your own technical judgment.

In case you are still having trouble, check if the screws and the CPU backplate are compatible to fix the CPU cooler not screwing in.

Do CPU Coolers Wear Out?

CPU coolers should never just wear out on their own. As long as you are taking proper care of your cooler, it could last a good 5 to 7 years. For some lucky people, it might even last 8 years. Also, there shouldn’t be any performance drops just because of age.

So, there’s no reason for you to worry about replacing a CPU cooler unless you end up somehow breaking it.

I would also recommend you take advantage of the unlimited free software available on the internet to monitor the temperature of your CPU from time to time. I personally do this process once every 6 months but you can come up with your own timetable.

If you are curious about what software I’m using, I use HWMonitor to not only check my CPU temperatures but also to check the temperature of other hardware components like GPU and also to read fan speeds.

I also use Speed Fan to customize my fan speed based on the CPU temperature which increases efficiency.


Question: What happens if you don’t use a CPU cooler?

Answer: Well, your computer will still power on but only for a while. This is because once it reaches a high enough temperature, the typical safeguards built-in will activate in order to prevent breaking. If you do continually use it with a dead CPU cooler, the CPU will eventually break.

Question: Can you replace the CPU cooler without removing the motherboard?

Answer: Yes, you should definitely be able to install the cooler without removing the motherboard. You should be able to see a cutout in the case which would allow you to access the motherboard CPU area from both sides.

Question: Are Intel coolers bad?

Answer: That depends on who you are asking. I’d say Intel stock coolers are sufficient for real-life usage but you should also keep in mind that they tend to get pretty loud. However, they are serviceable and will definitely keep the CPU within limits when it’s being used.

Question: Are liquid coolers safe?

Answer: Yes, liquid coolers are typically safe as long as you are using them the right way. There have been scenarios where some users ended up with damaged components, like the GPU, CPU, and motherboard, due to leaks. If any of these is exposed to liquids while the PC is running, there can be instant damage.

Question: Do I need a CPU cooler if my case has fans?

Answer: Yes, you should always have a cooler no matter what. You might end up damaging your CPU if you ignore the coolers. Whether your case has fans or not, that’s just personal preference but you must always make sure you have a cooler installed.

Question: Can I use toothpaste as a thermal paste?

Answer: Yes, absolutely. Toothpaste is an excellent alternative to the thermal paste. I myself have used it several times but do note that its structure will decay after a few days. This is more prominent if the operating temperatures are too high.

Question: How bad is it to not use thermal paste?

Answer: If you choose to not use any thermal paste between your CPU and the heat sink, then you will see that the heat sink will overheat eventually and ultimately end up failing. This won’t happen quickly but it will happen and you can delay it by using thermal paste.

Question: Is liquid cooling less noisy?

Answer: Yes, in my experience, liquid cooling is typically much quieter than fans, especially if you are using an All In One cooler. This can vary, however, as there are air coolers with different fan settings or fan selection which can ultimately impact the amount of noise generated.

Final Thoughts

Having a loose cooler can be very dangerous for your CPU if you don’t check it out quickly. Sometimes, the fix can be as simple as just switching out the standoffs while other times you may need to replace your fans completely.

I hope you were able to understand how much harm this can cause despite sounding like a very minor issue. Don’t worry about it, though. If you followed this article without skipping anything, you won’t have any unexpected surprises.

If you have any queries, I will try my best to assist you. Also, go ahead and bookmark our website to stay updated with the latest tech guides.

About The Author
Farhan Max is a tech geek with a particular interest in computer hardware. He's been fascinated by gaming since childhood and is now completing his undergraduate studies while researching and testing the latest tech innovations. Alongside his love for all things geeky, Farhan is also a skilled photographer.

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