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MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement

What you need

  1. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement, Access Door: step 1, image 1 of 1
    • With the case closed, place the Unibody top-side down on a flat surface.

    • Depress the grooved side of the access door release latch enough to grab the free end. Lift the release latch until it is vertical.

    This is not a a1278 unibody MacBook Pro. A1278 MacBooks backs are one solid metal piece not two separate pieces. This guide is for a different MacBook Pro.

    Brad Burgeson - Reply

    This guide isn’t for a pro; it’s a MacBook unibody.

    Nicholas -

    So, it turns out that Apple used the model code A1278 for quite a few different Mac models, including both Pro and non-Pro versions! This guide is for the non-Pro Macbooks. There’s also one for the Pro models with the same A1278 identifier.

    tempelmann - Reply

  2. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement: step 2, image 1 of 1
    • The access door should now be raised enough to lift it up and out of the Unibody.

  3. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement, Battery: step 3, image 1 of 1
    • Be sure the access door release latch is vertical before proceeding.

    • Grab the white plastic tab and pull the battery up and out of the Unibody.

    Great tutorial ! great step !

    Leo Etcheverry - Reply

    Even though it’s specifically stated, you have to make sure the access door latch is vertical or the battery won’t be removable.

    Henry Kim - Reply

  4. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement, Lower Case: step 4, image 1 of 1
    • Remove the following eight screws securing the lower case to the chassis:

    • One 3 mm Phillips screw.

    • Three 13.5 mm Phillips screws.

    • Four 3.5 mm Phillips screws.

    On my model, it seemed the top-left was 3.5mm and the bottom 4 were 3 mm.

    Jim - Reply

    Make sure you have a good quality Phillips screwdriver. Mine had removable tips and had a small play at the connection. As a result I didn't have a good feel and damaged my screws (those securing the fan and the top left in step 23). Game over for me installing new thermal paste...

    Be very carefull with your screws! Especially those on the inside.

    Nickolas Michelinakis - Reply

    You can get away with a Phillips #00 for many of the screws involved but the 4 at the bottom case split are likely to strip if you don’t use a JIS #00 or, in a pinch, a Phillips #000.

    Bill Cole - Reply

    I used the Phillips #00 tip from my Pro Tech Toolkit, and it worked well enough. But yes, maybe #000 might have been better on the lower row of screws. Note to myself: Always read the comments first.

    Les Kitchen -

    When replacing these screws, the order to replace them in is as follows:

    1, Top left

    2. Top right

    3. Top center-left

    4. Top center-right

    5. Bottom center-right

    6. Bottom center-left

    7. Bottom right

    8. Bottom left

    I hope this information is helpful.

    facebook - Reply

    I followed my usual process of putting in all the screws loosely, then tightening them gradually in distributed pattern, to help ensure that the panel settles in place evenly. But maybe some orders are better.

    Les Kitchen -

  5. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement: step 5, image 1 of 1
    • Using both hands, lift and remove the lower case off the upper case.

    Thanks for the guide!

    It's implicit in the two photos, but worth mentioning because it blocked my progress in this step for a bit: You have to put the release latch back into its horizontal, closed position before you can lift off the lower-case panel.

    Les Kitchen - Reply

  6. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement, Fan: step 6, image 1 of 3 MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement, Fan: step 6, image 2 of 3 MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement, Fan: step 6, image 3 of 3
    • Use a spudger to pry the fan connector straight up off 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.

    Is there anyway to solder the fan socket back on to the mother board? It broke off :(

    Emily - Reply

    Solder back to the mother board!

    Clodoaldo Castro -

    Me too!!! WHAT NOW?

    christopher butera - Reply

    solder back to the mother board

    Clodoaldo Castro -

    It helped me a lot to look at the closeup pictures of the fan connector socket on the motherboard and the fan connector itself. Then I could figure out where to apply the axial rotating pressure with the plastic "spudger" (a trimmed old credit card). Needed more force to remove the 7-year old connection than I felt comfortable with. The pic's helped with the leverage point to use - just past and under the fan wires BUT not on the board itself.

    Excellent guide! Moved fan from MB to MBP and installed new fan in old MB.

    Nusayr Azam - Reply

  7. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement: step 7, image 1 of 1
    • Remove the following three screws securing the fan to the upper case:

    • Two 5 mm Phillips screws.

    • One 7 mm Phillips screw.

    • The longer of the three screws belongs in the upper left corner of the fan.

    Screws were locktited and I have stripped head of right one while trying to remove it…

    Oleg Krotov - Reply

    same issue as Oleg. have tried multiple screwdrivers and they won’t budge.

    Ujjawal Manocha - Reply

  8. MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Fan Replacement: step 8, image 1 of 1
    • Lift the fan out of the upper case.

    One of the screw was messed up. How can I remove it ?

    sebmeunier - Reply

    I ended up removing the three screws holding down the black gasket that the fan is attached to on the left hand side in the photo. Remove the two screws holding the speaker assembly. then you can remove the 3 screws running vertically down. One is on top of the dvd drive holding it down to the black chassis. dvd drive comes out as well, i followed the specific guide to get that out. Doing this let me flip the mobo out along with the fan, luckily the heatfin is separate from the fan.

    Ujjawal Manocha -

    Two of my screws did not want to come out when I used Philips #00 and it damaged the screw so now I don't know if I will manage to get it out. What can I do?

    emilyjeanette89 - Reply

    Don't know about ruined screw head removal, but for future reference: Place the tool lightly on screw head & rotate axially 'til the tool drops into the screw head for a comfortable, firm fit, before applying pressure & torque for screw removal. If the tool does not drop in the screw head for the comfortable, snug fit, you may have the wrong tool or the wrong size. Try a different size 'til U get the right fit before applying pressure & torque to remove the screw. It can save you grief from a ruined screw head.

    Loy Lum - Reply


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

113 other people completed this guide.


This doesn't look ANYTHING like my A1278. You should check that not every A1278 is the same.

Jon Bukovsky - Reply

All Non-Retina 13" MacBook Pros and the Late 2008 Aluminum MacBook have the same A1278 Model Number (I guess due to the almost identical chassis).

Carl Hauschke -

Bonjour. j’ai bien réalisé toutes les étapes mais l’ordinateur ne redémarre plus et l’écran s’allume mais reste “sombre” (pas d’apparition de la pomme non plus)…

J’ai réinstallé les anciens ventilateurs mais le problème persiste (initialement, j’avais bien vérifié que mon macbook s’allumait correctement avant le changement des ventilos).

Quelqu’un aurait une solution? Les forums indiquent le reset SMC, mais ça ne donne rien… Merci

azza malik - Reply

Vérifie la petite prise qui relie le chassis principal avec l’écran. Elle se débranche facilement sans crier gare, l’écran fonctionne anormalement ou pas du tout et la pomme au dos reste éteinte. C’est pas grave, rien n’est cassé mais c’est c….t ! A rebrancher avec précaution. Apple adore les connecteurs minuscules fragiles. Ceci dit je ne remplacerai pas mon Mac de sitôt !

petitonton - Reply

This is a very straightforward job. I was on the point of changing my laptop when I realised how easily and cheaply I could change the fan, getting rid of the annoying noise of a worn out fan. One tip: use a vacuum cleaner to clear the dust from the air intake and general area of the fan.

harwood - Reply

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