Introduction

Use this guide to replace a damaged heat sink or to reapply thermal paste.

  • Shut down and close your computer. Lay it on a soft surface top-side down.

  • Remove the following ten screws:

    • Two 8 mm 5-point Pentalobe screws

    • Eight 2.5 mm 5-point Pentalobe screws

  • The special screwdriver needed to remove the 5-point Pentalobe screws can be found here.

When you say:

Remove the following ten screws:

Two 8 mm 5-point Pentalobe screws

Eight 2.5 mm 5-point Pentalobe screws

Do the 8mm & 2.5mm dimensions refer to the LENGTH of those screws, or the size of the pentalobe? That is, are there other sizes of pentalobe drivers like there are for hex, phillips and torx? When only one dimension is provided, it is usually the socket/driver size, not the screw length, maybe since the length cannot be seen when the screw is installed.

Can I suggest that you clarify your instructions so folks are confident they are only in need of _one_ pentalobe driver?

Nerdily yours,

Larry (whose iPhone 4S can now get through a day without 6 recharges thanks to ifixit.com ;-)

larryleveen - Reply

The 8mm and 2.5mm are the length of the screws. One pentalobe P5 screwdriver suffices for all the screws (P5 is implicitly the size of the pentalobe screw heads).

Michael Welham -

I sourced all the parts from ifixit, plus a magnetic project mat which I found to be very useful for organising the teardown and reassembly.

Allen - Reply

Wedge your fingers between the display and the lower case and pull upward to pop the lower case off the Air.
  • Wedge your fingers between the display and the lower case and pull upward to pop the lower case off the Air.

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In this step you will disconnect the battery to help avoid shorting out any components during service. Use the flat end of a spudger to pry both short sides of the battery connector upward to disconnect it from its socket on the logic board.
  • In this step you will disconnect the battery to help avoid shorting out any components during service.

  • Use the flat end of a spudger to pry both short sides of the battery connector upward to disconnect it from its socket on the logic board.

  • Bend the battery cable slightly away from the logic board so the connector will not accidentally contact its socket.

My macbook air's configuration (Mid-2011 core i5) has a different battery connector. It slides into a receptacle on the logic board. If your battery connector does not look like the one pictured, use the pointy end of a spudger to depress the small indentation in the middle of the battery connector cable terminal, and pull aft to release the clasp mechanism.

Ethan Cross - Reply

Remove the single 2.9 mm T5 Torx screw securing the SSD to the logic board.
  • Remove the single 2.9 mm T5 Torx screw securing the SSD to the logic board.

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Use a spudger to help lift the free end of the SSD just enough to grab it with your other hand. Do not lift the end of the SSD excessively.
  • Use a spudger to help lift the free end of the SSD just enough to grab it with your other hand.

  • Do not lift the end of the SSD excessively.

  • Pull the drive straight out of its socket and remove it from the logic board.

  • When reinstalling the SSD, be sure it is properly seated before reinstalling its retaining screw.

When you've completed all these steps to replace your SSD, don't despair if the MacBook Air shows a flashing folder with a question mark when you first power up the MacBook Air.

- Power off the machine, then keep the option key (= Alt key) pressed down, power on the machine again, and keep the option key pressed down until a prompt appears.

- If you've set a firmware password, then type it in at the prompt

- You should now be prompted for a hard drive to boot from. Select "EFI Boot"

- The MacBook Air should now boot to a window showing "OS X Utilities"

- Click on the  at the top left, then select "Startup Disk..."

- Select your SDD/Hard drive, and restart.

Michael Welham - Reply

When replacing the SSD, be careful about the connector orientation. Replacement boards look almost the same if they are upside-down. Note that the connector is not reversible - there is a notch that will only line up if the board is right-side up. If it doesn't seem to line up, flip the board over.

shamino - Reply

Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the I/O board cable up from its socket on the I/O board.
  • Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the I/O board cable up from its socket on the I/O board.

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Peel the I/O board cable up from the adhesive securing it to the fan.
  • Peel the I/O board cable up from the adhesive securing it to the fan.

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Use the flat end of a spudger to lift the I/O board connector up and out of its socket on the logic board Be sure to lift straight up on the connector as you disconnect it from its socket. The socket is very deep on the logic board and prying it from side to side may damage the logic board
  • Use the flat end of a spudger to lift the I/O board connector up and out of its socket on the logic board

  • Be sure to lift straight up on the connector as you disconnect it from its socket. The socket is very deep on the logic board and prying it from side to side may damage the logic board

  • Remove the I/O board cable.

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Use the tip of a spudger to carefully flip up the retaining flap on the fan cable ZIF socket.
  • Use the tip of a spudger to carefully flip up the retaining flap on the fan cable ZIF socket.

  • Be sure you are prying up on the hinged retaining flap, not the socket itself.

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Remove the following three screws securing the fan to the upper case:
  • Remove the following three screws securing the fan to the upper case:

    • Two 5.2 mm T5 Torx screws

    • One 3.6 mm T5 Torx screw

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Lift the fan out of the upper case and carefully pull the fan ribbon cable out of its socket as you remove it from the Air.
  • Lift the fan out of the upper case and carefully pull the fan ribbon cable out of its socket as you remove it from the Air.

The replacement fan's ribbon cable is a few mm longer than the original. I t will loop upwards a bit after mounting. The rubber lip on top of the old fan needs to be transferred to the new fan.

Martin Heinrich - Reply

Remove the four 2.5 mm T5 Torx screws securing the heat sink to the logic board.
  • Remove the four 2.5 mm T5 Torx screws securing the heat sink to the logic board.

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  • If the heat sink seems to be stuck to the logic board after removing all four screws, use a spudger to carefully separate the heat sink from the faces of the CPU and GPU.

  • Remove the heat sink from the logic board.

  • When reinstalling the heat sink, be sure to apply a new layer of thermal paste. If you have never applied thermal paste before, we have a guide that makes it easy.

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Conclusion

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

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2 Comments

Great guide. I repasted my Early 2011 15" MBP with the 2.2 QC i7 and my peak load temp is now 87C (it was well over 100, and I was having it shutdown on me sometimes before). Having done this now, I must say I consider this system much more difficult to work inside than HP, Dell, or Lenovo/IBM laptops (having worked on all the others before). If you're patient, take it slow, and are careful though, everything works out. Here's some pictures of parts of the process:

Apple's horrid paste job

After a thorough cleaning with Articlean

My paste job after a test press, good enough

Tristor - Reply

Macbook Air 2011...a few things are different on my computer than this guide, but everything is straightforward enough. Here are the differences I found.

1. battery plug is slightly different, but same thing you just pull it out with the plastic tab.

2. Need to unplug the wire underneath the fan to reveal the 3rd screw...it isn't where it's shown on the picture here, that's a screw for the logic board not the fan.

3. There is a 5th screw holding the heatsink in place on the right end under another wire that connects to the hinge & screen. Had to move the wire to the side and remove that extra screw to get the heatsink off.

My Macbook Air 2011 shut off and starting making 3 beeps on attempting startup. Read this 3 beeps on start up and thought it may be the heat sink. Haven't applied new paste yet, but the paste is definitely hardened after following this guide. Plan to reapply and hopefully it works again!

Dylan Harris - Reply

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