Introduction

Are the gobs of OEM thermal paste causing your MacBook Pro to be sluggish while hot? Use this guide to remove your heat sink and apply new thermal paste.

  1. Remove the following ten screws:
    • Remove the following ten screws:

      • Three 14.4 mm Phillips #00 screws

      • Three 3.5 mm Phillips #00 screws

      • Four 3.5 mm shouldered Phillips #00 screws

      • When replacing the small screws, align them perpendicular to the slight curvature of the case (they don't go straight down).

  2. Use your fingers to pry the lower case away from the body of the MacBook near the vent. Remove the lower case.
    • Use your fingers to pry the lower case away from the body of the MacBook near the vent.

    • Remove the lower case.

  3. Use the edge of a spudger to pry the battery connector upwards from its socket on the logic board. It is useful to pry upward on both short sides of the connector to "walk" it out of its socket. Be careful with the corners of the connectors, they can be easily broken off.
    • Use the edge of a spudger to pry the battery connector upwards from its socket on the logic board.

    • It is useful to pry upward on both short sides of the connector to "walk" it out of its socket. Be careful with the corners of the connectors, they can be easily broken off.

  4. Bend the battery cable slightly away from its socket on the logic board so it does not accidentally connect itself while you work.
    • Bend the battery cable slightly away from its socket on the logic board so it does not accidentally connect itself while you work.

  5. Use the edge of a spudger to gently pry the fan connector up and out of its socket on the logic board. It is useful to twist the spudger axially from beneath the fan cable wires to release the connector. The fan socket and the fan connector can be seen in the second and third pictures. Be careful not to break the plastic fan socket off the logic board as you use your spudger to lift the fan connector straight up and out of its socket. The layout of the logic board shown in the second picture may look slightly different than your machine but the fan socket is the same.
    • Use the edge of a spudger to gently pry the fan connector up and out of its socket on the logic board.

    • It is useful to twist the spudger axially from beneath the fan cable wires to release the connector.

    • The fan socket and the fan connector can be seen in the second and third pictures. Be careful not to break the plastic fan socket off the logic board as you use your spudger to lift the fan connector straight up and out of its socket. The layout of the logic board shown in the second picture may look slightly different than your machine but the fan socket is the same.

  6. Remove the following three screws securing the fan to the logic board:
    • Remove the following three screws securing the fan to the logic board:

      • One 7.2 mm T6 Torx screw

      • Two 5.3 mm T6 Torx screws

  7. Lift the fan out of its recess in the logic board, minding its cable that may get caught.
    • Lift the fan out of its recess in the logic board, minding its cable that may get caught.

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  9. Use the tip of a spudger to pull the right speaker/subwoofer cable out from under the retaining finger molded into the upper case. Pull the right speaker/subwoofer cable upward to lift the connector out of its socket on the logic board.
    • Use the tip of a spudger to pull the right speaker/subwoofer cable out from under the retaining finger molded into the upper case.

    • Pull the right speaker/subwoofer cable upward to lift the connector out of its socket on the logic board.

  10. Disconnect the camera cable from the logic board.
    • Disconnect the camera cable from the logic board.

    • Pull the cable parallel to the face of the logic board. Pulling the cable upward may damage the logic board or the cable itself.

  11. Disconnect the following four cables: AirPort/Bluetooth cable
    • Disconnect the following four cables:

      • AirPort/Bluetooth cable

      • Optical drive cable

      • Hard drive cable

      • Trackpad cable

    • To disconnect the cables, use the flat end of a spudger to pry their connectors up from the sockets on the logic board.

  12. Use your fingernail to flip up the retaining flap on the keyboard ribbon cable ZIF socket. Be sure you are prying up on the hinged retaining flap, not the socket itself. Use the tip of a spudger to pull the keyboard ribbon cable out of its socket.
    • Use your fingernail to flip up the retaining flap on the keyboard ribbon cable ZIF socket.

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

    • Use the tip of a spudger to pull the keyboard ribbon cable out of its socket.

  13. If present, remove the small strip of black tape covering the keyboard backlight cable socket.
    • If present, remove the small strip of black tape covering the keyboard backlight cable socket.

  14. Use the tip of a spudger or your fingernail to flip up the retaining flap on the keyboard backlight ribbon cable ZIF socket. Be sure you are prying up on the hinged retaining flap, not the socket itself. Pull the keyboard backlight ribbon cable out of its socket.
    • Use the tip of a spudger or your fingernail to flip up the retaining flap on the keyboard backlight ribbon cable ZIF socket.

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

    • Pull the keyboard backlight ribbon cable out of its socket.

  15. Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the sleep sensor/battery indicator connector up from its socket on the logic board.
    • Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the sleep sensor/battery indicator connector up from its socket on the logic board.

  16. Grab the plastic pull tab secured to the display data cable lock and rotate it toward the DC-In side of the computer. Pull the display data cable straight out of its socket on the logic board. Do not lift up on the display data cable, as its socket is very fragile. Pull the cable parallel to the face of the logic board.
    • Grab the plastic pull tab secured to the display data cable lock and rotate it toward the DC-In side of the computer.

    • Pull the display data cable straight out of its socket on the logic board.

    • Do not lift up on the display data cable, as its socket is very fragile. Pull the cable parallel to the face of the logic board.

  17. Remove the following nine screws:
    • Remove the following nine screws:

      • Five 3.6 mm T6 Torx screws

      • Two 4.3 mm T6 Torx screws

      • Two 7.2 mm T6 Torx screws

    • In some models the screws may be slightly shorter as follows:

      • Five 3.0 mm T6 screws

      • Two 3.6 mm T6 screws

      • Two 6.7 mm T6 screws

  18. Remove the following two screws: One 8.6 mm Phillips screw
    • Remove the following two screws:

      • One 8.6 mm Phillips screw

      • One 5.5 mm Phillips screw

    • Remove the display data cable retainer from the upper case.

  19. Use the tip of a spudger to gently peel the microphone off the adhesive securing it to the upper case.
    • Use the tip of a spudger to gently peel the microphone off the adhesive securing it to the upper case.

  20. Minding the many connectors near its edges, lift the logic board from the end nearest the optical drive.
    • Minding the many connectors near its edges, lift the logic board from the end nearest the optical drive.

    • Without flexing the board, maneuver it out of the upper case, minding the flexible connection to the DC-In board that may get caught in the upper case.

    • Remove the logic board.

  21. Remove the three 8.4 mm #1 Phillips screws securing the heat sink to the logic board.
    • Remove the three 8.4 mm #1 Phillips screws securing the heat sink to the logic board.

    • Don't lose the springs held under each of the screws.

  22. Carefully remove the heat sink from the processor.
    • Carefully remove the heat sink from the processor.

    • If the heat sink seems to be stuck, it may be helpful to gently pry it off the processor with a plastic spudger. Be careful not to break any surface mount components on the processor while prying.

    • Be sure to clean off the old thermal paste and apply a new layer before you reinstall the heat sink. We have a guide that makes it easy.

Conclusion

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

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12 Comments

Awesome guide, I was able to complete the whole job (very slowly and carefully) in an hour start to finish. I am not an expert, I am just your average, everyday DIYer. I'm actually a medical student with an interest in engineering and "tinkering" looking to save money however I can. I would HIGHLY recommend this to every one of my friends (and I may even do this for some people). My keyboard doesn't get warm anymore, and my fan stays quieter doing more things. I'm now running 40-45 degree temps instead of 70-85 temps. Incredible. Like others on the internet, my computer had a TON of paste on it that was all over the CPU. I feel better now that I know how my computer was put together (by me). Good luck!

Piotr Starosta - Reply

What did you use to monitor temperatures before and after, accurately?

Narayanan Kashyap -

I also reapplied thermal paste under the heatsink on my early 2011 Macbook Pro. Temps are on average much lower, now my cpu almost never spikes above 70 C. I used the mac application Hardware Monitor to check temps in real time before and after. Previously doing pretty much anything on my MBP would cause the fan to spin at its max rpm and the computer was almost always hot to the touch. Now it's silent (also swapped the hdd for an ssd) and the fans almost never turn on at all!

Drew Dittmann -

I followed the guide after my MBP began showing extreme CPU temps like 95-98 C.

I removed all the dry paste that was left on top of the CPU, and replaced it with a brand new paste.

But it didn't work. I'm still getting these high temps. I reopened my computer and placed even more paste. But it's not cutting it.

I'll try a new cooler. Maybe that helps... though. I'll comment here if it does.

Rodrigo - Reply

Less is better, you want a very thin (think see through silk thin) coating between the CPU and the Cooler otherwise it acts as an insulator and causes more heat not less. just enough to make sure that no air is between the two.

John Gordon -

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