How To Replace A Dell Inspiron Laptop Heat Sink And Fan Assembly

Before I get started, I should thank Dan and Sherree for this article that saved me the headache of trying to go enter my wife’s Dell Inspirion 1100 from the bottom only to find that would be a waste of time. Now on to the destructions.. er.. I mean INstructions.

First, I like to label the screws I’m going to remove on a piece of paper to avoid confusion. If there’s a lot, I like to use scotch tape to keep them all apart. In this case, we only have five screws, so no tape.

Dell Inspirion Repair

Also, you’ll need a slotted screwdriver and a Phillips head as well. The Phillips head should have a small point on it. Needle-nosed pliers will also make unlocking the ZIF CPU socket easier.

Diving in, you want to pry up the top plate with a slotted screwdriver. Remember to open the laptop all the way (push the screen all the way back) to let the plate come up easily. There’s four or five plastic slots that will pop out as you pry the thing up. Go from right to left.

Dell Inspirion Repair

When you pull the top plate off, you’ll see four black screws. You’ll need to remove these to pull the keyboard up. I’ve pointed to them with my screwdrivers, but I’m sure you’ll see them.

Dell Inspirion Repair
Dell Inspirion Repair

Remember. The keyboard should remain attached, so use care when lifting it out of the way. On the right side, you’ll see a metal cover protecting the heat sink, CPU, and other vital stuff from, well, you. Just remove that. It has only one screw, so they want you in there, anyway.

Dell Inspirion RepairDell Inspirion Repair

With the metal protective plate removed, you should see the heat sink / fan assembly and probably some dust. The assembly has four screws. Hold on. First, unlock the ZIF CPU socket before trying to pull the heatsink out.

Dell Inspirion Repair

Now throw the new one in there and lock the ZIF CPU socket again.

Dell Inspirion Repair

Author: Joe Colburn

Joe Colburn is a software engineer specializing in PHP and a technology enthusiast. Always eager to dive into new and exciting things, Joe writes about anything technology related news and products that he thinks you will also be excited about. Find Joe Colburn on Google+ or by any of the links below.

73 thoughts on “How To Replace A Dell Inspiron Laptop Heat Sink And Fan Assembly”

  1. Did you (everyone?) remove the battery before disconnecting the ZIF CPU?

    I did not and now my laptop powers on but the screen is blank and I hear no operating system sounds. It could be powering on and going right into sleep mode, I wish. But probably I fried something. Any thoughts? Cheers!

  2. gNat: You should always remove any source of power, including the battery, before opening up hardware to work on it. If you don’t, you run the risk of frying it. Do any lights come on at all? If you plug in an external device that has any light on it (like a mouse), does it light up when you turn the computer on?

  3. (cont’d) Joe: Thanks for the reply.
    When I power it on, first the fan kicks on in the normal way for a few seconds (then on/off normally.) The 3 lights on the front edge, center of the laptop illuminate (above speakers, below touchpad; “power” illuminates, “cylinder” blinks once at power-on, “battery” illuminates as appropriate.)

    The Power Button at center top below the monitor does not light up, nor the “i” button beside it. Also, the caps lock / num lock LEDs do not respond when I hit the corresponding keys on the keyboard. (I have firmly attached the keyboard cable and the ZIF CPU.)

    As for your suggestion, I plugged in a USB device with the computer on (fan chugging away) and the device’s LEDs illuminated normally. So power is confirmed to the fan, the front-edge LEDs, and the USBs. The keyboard, monitor, HDD and CPU appear non-responsive.

    I have turned everything off, unplugged, removed battery, and disconnected and reconnected HDD and RAM, and powered it back on with no change to above stats. I don’t really know what “frying” the computer means, so I’m not sure if I should continue to hope. And after “frying,” can I do a DIY replacement to fix the problem? Some new parts?

    Sage wisdom requested. :) Thanks!

  4. . . . Also, not removing the batter in the first place was totally my bungle. Just a noob mistake. A lesson learned very well, I assure you. :)

  5. USB update. Power questionable. In the earlier post my USB “test device” illuminated. But I just plugged in an iPod and it does not go into charging mode as it should. Tested iPod in another machine to verify it works properly. When plugged into the Dell the iPod simply shows no indication that it’s aware of the connection. I don’t know what this means.
    Sorry.

  6. Stop the presses! :)
    PROBLEM SOLVED
    First, thank you for your time and consideration!
    Second, after reading the article you have at the top of your page here:
    http://danandsherree.com/2005/04/02/our_dell_inspiron_11.php
    I found a solution in the comments!!!

    AK posted on June 20, 2005 12:02 PM (5 years ago!)
    “There is a really easy solution if you loose video after reseating the CPU. […] there is a small turn screw on the left hand side of where the CPU sits. If you look closely, there are small LOCK and UNLOCK icons on either side of the space where you would turn. After seating the CPU, simply turn the little notch to UNLOCK then back to LOCK, screw your heat sink and fan back in, replace all screws and parts.”

    I immediately opened it up, “unlocked” that screw, undid the screws-with-springs, removed / reseated the CPU (it’s attached the bottom side of the screws-with-springs big ol’ case) and “locked” that little screw. I reassembled everything and fired it up. BAM! It worked!!!

    Thank You!!!

  7. gNat: First of all, thanks for coming back and sharing the fix here. I hope it, in turn, helps another person fix their computer. As for “frying”, I was referring to the motherboard, but all the activity the computer presented was a sign that it wasn’t fried. I wasn’t sure 100%, but the CPU would have been my next guess. I was about to suggest that you make sure it’s seated properly (which is what you ended up doing with the unlock/lock trick) and give it another go. Glad you brought it back to life!

  8. That’s so helpful. I got in there to look at what I wanted to in a minute or two. Great advice on the screws and the snappy plate thing. Saved me at least sixty bucks. Thank you so much!

  9. You you should edit the post name title How To Replace A Dell Inspiron Laptop Heat Sink And Fan Assembly | Joe Tech to something more better for your subject you write. I enjoyed the blog post yet.

  10. I would be scared to death taking this thing apart with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to put it back together again correctly. Very detailed guide Joe. I was planning to get a used Inspiron so I may have to use this guide down the road.

    – Robert

  11. Thank you thank you thank!!!  I took appart the computer and removed the fan for cleaning (and I was curious) but I couldnt put the fan heat sink pin things back in properly, they just wouldn’t  fit back in and they stuck out a bit and it was not sitting very snug.I then put it together and the computer turned on but nothing was happening (I panicked a bit)…After reading this post I realised I needed to unlock the ZIF CPU and when I did it fit in perfect and bam! it works. Thanks again.

  12. its really disgusting even my friends also suffering for this i feel like dell is bad in their heat pad coz after they get heat up their processor become slow

  13. Thanks for the tips about screwdrivers. Last time I used the wrong one, and I had to buy a new keyboard!

  14. Awesome…thank you so much for this informative lesson. Sometimes you think you know how to do something and then you read to find out you were wrong. Saved me buying unnecessary parts.

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