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Where Is "Thermal Paste" Located And How Do I Change It?


I have a battery and fan to replace on my Macbook Air which seems simple enough.

However, when my Air finally died it would not power up even with a direct connection to an electricity supply.

The fan blew hard and there was no battery life before it died.

I understand there may be some “thermal paste” that needs replacing.

Can anyone show/tell me where that thermal paste is located and how to change it, and any other tips on what may be necessary beyond just the battery and fan replacement.

Thank you!

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@colmustard … the thermal paste/ pads are underneath the heatsink that sits atop the processor. this guide will get you where you want to be. once the heatsink is removed, you can see the chip and thermal compound or pad on top of the chip and on the back side of the heatsink.

MacBook Air 13" Late 2010 Heat Sink Replacement

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@jostewcrew great answer! Thank you.

Before completely dying my battery was nearly dead and the fan ran hard with even the slightest load.

I appreciate you don't have a crystal ball but your best guess, is changing the thermal paste implicated in this fault?

If so can you explain in what way?

Thank you


@colmustard ... typically, the fan will be off until the processor sends a signal that it needs to be cooled down. when on a newer system, this is generally caused by a heavy load on the processor. Overtime, the thermal compound will dry up not necessarily due to age, but the workload of dissipating heat caused by the processor.

the fan and the thermal compound work together to keep the processor cool and from overheating and either shorting itself out or heating up to the point that the solder balls underneath heat up and recool to form cracked solder joints or bridge connections potentially.

as the device ages, it will collect dust and debris, clogging the fan housing and prevent proper cooling. this in turn will cause more stress on the compound side of the cooling system. once it has reached the point that it can no longer dissipate heat properly, the fan will continuously run longer and harder to try and compensate.


best solution:

once per year disassemble the device and clean out the fan housing and thermal compound

once per month blow some air into the fan and vent ports to clean any accumulated debris and dust from inside the device.

some will argue that letting the fan spin while doing this will cause electicity to accumulate and potentially short the motherboard. to prevent this, stick a wooden or plastic stick in the fan blades to prevent the fan from spinning while blowing out.

myself personally have tested this theory and found that the electricity created by the fan spin is miniscule and in the barley miliamp range and i dont worry about it. which ever camp you belong to, follow accordingly and youll be fine on your maintenance upkeep.


@jostewcrew your advice is invaluable.

Don't have much trust in "computer technicians" especially in the not so first world country that I live in.

At the same time don't have that much faith in my own tech skills either.

Your advice will help me have an informed conversation to establish who I am going to trust to do the work.

I have a new battery, I have a new fan, and it seems obvious the thermal paste needs changing.

Hopefully this will raise my 2010 Air from the grave.

I will let you know and thanks for all your help.


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Andrew Owen será eternamente grato(a).
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