Taking out the CPU cooler makes holes in the compound. Since the compound is no longer malleable, it can’t be pushed back into the gaps when the heatsink is put back on. This can lead to air bubbles and poor contact between the CPU and the heatsink. This can make the CPU get too hot and stop working.
Most of the time, it is fine to take off the CPU cooler. But the thermal grease may have hardened if your computer has been turned off for a while. This could make removing the CPU cooler hard and even damage the CPU in the process.
If the cooling fan breaks, the CPU’s operating temperature will increase. This makes hardware failure much more likely. Stock CPUs in modern computers have a heatsink that is directly connected to the CPU and a fan that cools the heatsink. The fan’s main purpose is to keep the CPU from overheating. Without a working fan, the heatsink won’t be able to get rid of heat fast enough to keep the CPU from getting damaged.
What will happen to my computer if I don’t use a CPU cooler?
Not everything works as well as it should. Your CPU will run at a higher temperature. It might need to slow down so it doesn’t get too hot and break.
Does this mean that your CPU will die from overheating? No. Does that mean it’s more likely to happen? Yes. Does that mean your CPU will slow down? No. Does that mean it’s more likely to happen? Yes. Can you run your CPU for years without thermal paste and still have a computer that works? Yes. Should I give it a shot? No.
The truth is that thermal paste is an important part of a cooling system, and not using it is not a good idea. It’s also a good idea to service your CPU every once or twice a year and apply a new layer of thermal compound to replace the old one that has dried out and cracked.
If your CPU wasn’t given thermal paste when it was put together, that’s bad, but it’s not the end of the world. Modern CPUs will try to shut down before they get too hot and cause damage, and before they do that, they will slow down.
What happens to a CPU when its cooler stops working?
CPUs that don’t have cooler will get too hot. Most computers have built-in safety features that shut down or slow down the CPU when it gets too hot so it doesn’t break. But if the computer’s safety features don’t work or don’t kick in quickly enough, the CPU can get too hot and literally “burn out.”
The CPU can get so hot that it will catch fire, making it impossible to fix. When the CPU dies, it can take the motherboard and other connected parts. The CPU will break if you keep using the computer with a dead CPU cooler fan.
If the CPU fan stops working, you should turn off the computer immediately to avoid damage to the hardware. Normal system shutdown may not be fast enough. In this case, holding the power button or pulling the plug to shut it down may be safer.
There is a chance that a hard shutdown will damage data, but there is a high chance that the computer will be broken if you leave it on even a little longer to shut down normally.
Terms you should know
Before we can explain what happens when you take off the CPU cooler, we need to define a few terms.
CPU Cooler: The thing that ensures your CPU stays at the right temperature to work well. Most CPU coolers use air or liquid to move the heat that the CPU makes when it works.
Central Processing Unit (CPU): The part of a PC that is in charge of processing information. It runs all of the computer’s instructions and sends instructions to the rest of the hardware. If the computer is a body, then the CPU is the brain, and any PC needs to work. Modern CPUs do a lot of work per second, which makes them hot. For a CPU to work at its best, it needs to be cooled properly, usually done with a device made just for this purpose. At this point, thermal paste is important. You can read more about the manufacturing process to determine how a CPU is made.
Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS): The “lid” of the CPU that is made of metal. This heat sink moves heat from the processor to a CPU cooler and protects the processor inside. This part of the CPU is still visible after it has been put into a motherboard. You put thermal paste on this part.
Base-Plate: The metal bottom of an air cooler that connects to the CPU’s IHS. With this design, heat can move through convection to the heat sink’s fins, which can be moved around with a fan.
Waterblock: A water block is part of an All-in-One (AIO) liquid cooler or a custom cooling loop that connects to the IHS. It moves heat from the IHS to the heat transfer fluid. The heat transfer fluid moves the heat to a radiator, where fans redistribute it.
Thermal paste: a silvery-grey substance put in a processor before a cooling solution is put in place. It makes it easy for heat to move from the IHS of the processor to the base plate or water block of the CPU cooler, which is meant to get rid of the heat.
If you take off the CPU cooler, you need to ensure that when you put it back on, the compound can flow back into the gaps. If the compound doesn’t reflow, air bubbles can form, and the CPU and heatsink might not touch well. This can cause the CPU to get too hot and fail.