Reapplying Thermal Paste to the CPU and GPU

Archived Guide

Archived Guide

This guide is retained solely for historical purposes. Use the updated version of the guide to perform your repair.

Member-Contributed Guide

Member-Contributed Guide

An awesome member of our community made this guide. It is not managed by iFixit staff.

Before, I was getting temps in Skyrim of 80-85C. After I repasted, it was steady at 68-72C. Quite a drop. I recommend ArctiClean, Arctic Silver 5 paste, and steady hands.

  • Author: graypickney
  • Time required: 25 - 30 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Image #1

Edit Step 1 Lower Case  ¶ 

  • Remove the following pentalobe screws securing the lower case to the MacBook Pro with Retina display.

    • Eight 3.0 mm

    • Two 2.3 mm

Image #1

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Lifting from the edge nearest the clutch cover, lift the lower case off the MacBook Pro.

  • Set the lower case aside.

Image #1

Edit Step 3 Reapplying Thermal Paste to the CPU and GPU  ¶ 

  • First, take off the rear panel on the Macbook Pro. You will need to use a screwdriver to remove Apple's pentalobe screws.

  • I used paper to make a layout of the screw locations just in case they were different screws; luckily they weren't.

Image #1

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Once opened up, you'll see the battery sticker. Peel back the sticker and disconnect the battery cable. See the breakdown review for better pictures on removing the battery cable.

  • Luckily, to remove the heatsink, you don't have to remove anything else except for the battery cable and screws holding it down.

  • After the battery is disconnected, note the locations of the screws on the heatsink. there are 4 screws around both the CPU and GPU along with a screw at each end of the heatsink

  • The screw on one end of the heat sink has a rubber cap. Remove the cap to access the screw.

Image #1

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Remove this caked on thermal paste with the ArctiClean.

  • Do the same for the CPU and GPU.

  • Note: the black borders around the CPU and GPU seems to be unattached on one side. Don't worry, you didn't break it. Be sure to thoroughly remove the excess cleaning solution from under it by gently blowing it out if necessary. I'm sure it will evaporate in a timely manner otherwise.

Image #1

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Re-apply your quality thermal paste to the now shiny clean CPU and GPU. DO NOT use too much. We don't want to overdo it like Apple. A line the size of a grain of rice on both the CPU and GPU should be perfect. **You do not need to apply thermal paste on the heatsink as well - only on the CPU and GPU.

  • Re-assemble the MBP, making sure to spread out the paste evenly as you place and screw the heatsink back in. Also remember that the paste will spread as the unit heats up. DO NOT leave air pockets in the paste when covering the processor and GPU.

  • I got temps about 10-12C cooler during game usage. Have fun with your cooler MBPr.

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

For more information, check out the MacBook Pro 15" Retina Display Mid 2012 device page.

Popular Device Products

G4/MagSafe AC Adapter End

$4.95 · 3 In stock

Arctic Silver Thermal Paste

$8.95 · 50+ In stock

Arctic Silver ArctiClean

$7.95 · 50+ In stock

Comments Comments are onturn off

Which thermal paste did you use?

maratus911, · Reply

I use Arctic Silver 5 every time. Ive always gotten great results with it.

mett248,

I would recommend MX-4 from the "other" Arctic. Non-conductive, non-capacitive and about 1-2°C better than AS5 in my experience.

netrolller3d,

Thanks, very helpful!

claes, · Reply

is there a video for this procedure? not sure where the battery sticker is.

Bill, · Reply

If I do this, do i loose the warranty?

Christer Nielsen, · Reply

Yes, you technically will, but the same goes if you install a custom SSD when they come out

Nick,

There are a few inaccuracies on this guide. As with any unofficial guide, use your common sense.

First, on the bottom cover, the 2 screws closest to the rear and center are DIFFERENT from the other 8 (10 total on the bottom). The author of this guide said they're all the same which isn't quite true. Use the Pentalobe screwdriver for these screws and make sure you find the 2 that are DIFFERENT or the bottom cover won't close just right.

Second, the screws for the heat sink should only be accessed by a T5 torx, not the pentalobe. This was omitted from the required tools list.

Third, there is no battery sticker.

Fourth, check and re-check what you see vs an online guide, especially since nothing from iFixit is official Apple documentation.

Charles Yan, · Reply

Not working for me, same as before procedure.

night4cat, · Reply

I noticed, years ago, that my friend and I had the same laptop; mine overheated and his didnt. That was the first time I tried to reapply thermal paste - to great success, my laptop ran even cooler than his after that point. I got a MBP in January of 2012 and it ran excessively hot. Eventually, I sold it on eBay (after upgrading the drive) and sold it for the same price for which I bought it (only because of the slight upgrade to the drive).

Long story short, I just got the 13" MBP with Retina and it's the COOLEST running laptop I've EVER used. It runs at 103 (F) at idle, and rarely goes beyond 125 (F). At load, playing Half-life2, it got up to 148 (F). Again, super low.

What's the POINT, you ask? HUMAN ERROR. Reapplying thermal paste may fix the problem of heat for some. It may change nothing for others, and, for a few, it may exacerbate the problem - at least if you don't know how to spread paste nice and thin, just right...

So don't argue; it MAY help some people. It may NOT for others.

rockstartravesty, · Reply

Btw, what I meant by "Human Error" is simply the fact that there are PEOPLE applying thermal paste to these machines all day long in a factory. It will never be done exactly the same way. They squirt it on, moosh it down and fasten on the heatsink. Then they move onto the next machine on the assembly line. They don't take their time.

For me, with my latest 13"rMBP, I got lucky. Mine runs ridiculously cool. I was surprised. Still am.

When I say I "GOT LUCKY," I mean that I got lucky my computer got John-Doe-Lee from second shift (I'm being facetious by saying the person who thermal pasted MY machine...) DID A GOOD JOB. Not everyone will be so lucky. If YOU happen to get one of those laptops that run a bit hotter than you like you DO have the option of troubleshooting - and as a last restort, you CAN try the thermal paste trick. I've used Antec Artic Silver for years. Quality stuff considering how affordable it is. Just remember to clean off the old gunk first. Apply a little, then spread it THIN!

rockstartravesty,

I tried to do it. But the screwdriver for removing the screws around the heat sink (T5) IS NOT IN THE IFIXT EPIC SCREWDRIVER SET! Come on, guys!

I did a little cleanup with air around the fans and my mac is a little bit cooler. Back to the store. I can't believe I don't have a tork screwdriver set. I know, I know....

not nice!

pran, · Reply

View Statistics:

Today: 0

This Week: 29

This Month: 102

All Time: 20,317