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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > 13" MacBook Pro fan user serviceable?

13" MacBook Pro fan user serviceable?
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Eug
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Apr 11, 2012, 09:26 AM
 
2009 13" MacBook Pro 2.26 GHz C2D with NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256 MB

I was trying to work with it in a public place but it started making a variable whirring grinding noise, loud enough to annoy the people sitting around me. I wasn't using the optical drive and I have an SSD so I believe it's the fan.

How many fans are there, and are they at all user serviceable? I'm guessing no short of replacing the fan entirely, as I suspect it's the bearings, but is there anything I can do before bringing it in for service?

I won't replace it at this point. It does what I need and I'm not impressed with the current models anyway. If I were to upgrade, it'd have to be Air-like but with a lower pixel density than current Airs, and support both Thunderbolt and USB 3.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Apr 11, 2012, 09:34 AM
 
If you can get a fan, its pretty easy to swap. Apple would not call it user serviceable but we are talking about removing the bottom case and then a further 3 screws and a connector. Two connectors if you disconnect the battery which you should. The screws are all different lengths so make note of which goes where.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Eug  (op)
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Apr 11, 2012, 12:22 PM
 
There's a video at iFixit. Like you said, it looks relatively easy, aside from the risk described in the video of popping out the connector socket for the fan. BTW, I'm thinking I can just make my own spudger out of an old credit card or something.

They sell the fan for $60, but I see it on Amazon.com for $7 and the latter includes thermal paste too. Too bad they charge $23 to ship to Canada.

However, you can get it off eBay (Sunon branded) for about $10-15 shipped. How much thermal paste is needed? What type to use? I figure I can get some locally for $5 or something.
     
Eug  (op)
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Apr 11, 2012, 04:12 PM
 
So, I ordered the standard Sunon one off eBay for about $12.50 shipped, for my MacBook Pro 5,5 A1278. Unfortunately, I suspect it will take 3-4 weeks because it's coming from Hong Kong.

Anyone know how much and what kind of thermal paste is recommended?
     
Eug  (op)
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Apr 28, 2012, 02:23 PM
 
Got the fan a couple of days ago. Only two weeks, from Asia. Not bad.

...but... Frack! I can't get the final screw out. Way overtightened, and now it's stripped. The final frickin' screw.

---

Problem solved. I just took a drill to it. The metal shavings worried me, but I think I got all of the shavings out. Once I drilled down about 1.5 mm I just pulled the entire fan out, with the head of the screw along with it.. Then, I removed the rest of the screw with needle nosed pliers.

Two fans - Sunon MagLev ZB0506AUV1-6A, DC5V 1.7W:



Battery cable unplugged:



Fan cable unplugged:



Last screw's head drilled off, and old fan removed:



New fan installed:



Anyone know where I can get that last screw for cheap?



It's a 5.5 mm long Philips head screw. I saw them on eBay, but it's $16 shipped for 3 screws.
( Last edited by Eug; Apr 28, 2012 at 04:29 PM. )
     
Nergol
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Apr 29, 2012, 07:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Got the fan a couple of days ago. Only two weeks, from Asia. Not bad.

...but... Frack! I can't get the final screw out. Way overtightened, and now it's stripped. The final frickin' screw.

Problem solved. I just took a drill to it. The metal shavings worried me, but I think I got all of the shavings out. Once I drilled down about 1.5 mm I just pulled the entire fan out, with the head of the screw along with it.. Then, I removed the rest of the screw with needle nosed pliers.
Yeah - I stripped a screw putting my Data Doubler in, and had to drill it out, just like you did. Pretty nervewracking, isn't it?

I just want to reemphasize here to anyone considering doing any work inside a MacBook Air or Pro that will involve removing any screws other than the case screws: the internal screws inside Mac portables are made of a rather soft aluminum that strips extremely easily, and are often tightened beyond all reason. Use extreme caution when removing these screws - invest in a really good screwdriver, and use slow, firm action to get the screws out.

It's a 5.5 mm long Philips head screw. I saw them on eBay, but it's $16 shipped for 3 screws.
I may have one or two left over from my Data Doubler install. Let me look and if I can find any I'll let you know by midweek or so.
     
Eug  (op)
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Apr 29, 2012, 11:59 AM
 
Oh wow, much appreciated! ... but only if you absolutely don't need it. It turns out the fan seems relatively snug with just the two screws.

P.S. I've been looking for an excuse to get the data doubler, but I only really need the 128 GB SSD I have in my MBP. It's not my primary machine, so I don't need huge amounts of storage on it.
     
amazing
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Apr 29, 2012, 12:15 PM
 
Awesome repair and thanks for documenting it!

Congrats!
     
Waragainstsleep
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Apr 29, 2012, 12:15 PM
 
You've obviously got past it by now but no thermal paste should be required to replace the fan. Apple tends to use Sunon fans anyway btw, they often don't even rebrand them. Glad you didn't pay $60 for it, Apple probably would have fitted it for you for less than that.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Eug  (op)
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Apr 29, 2012, 04:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
You've obviously got past it by now but no thermal paste should be required to replace the fan. Apple tends to use Sunon fans anyway btw, they often don't even rebrand them.
Yes, this is the old fan from the machine: 2009 2.26 GHz 13" MacBook Pro (A1278). The one I got off eBay for $12.50 was identical.



And this is what the circuit board looks like on the disassembled fan:



Well under $20 seems like about the right price for these fans, if you compare the cost of other fans like it. $60 from iFixit is simply too much. I might have even considered buying from them if it was more like $30.

I didn't bother making a plastic spudger. I just used a tiny screwdriver.

Now the fan is completely inaudible. I ran the Cinebench CPU renderer, and I can't even hear it with the CPU at max at normal distances, but I know it's running because iStat Pro sees it, and I can hear and feel it if I stick my ear right up to the back of the MacBook Pro.
( Last edited by Eug; Apr 29, 2012 at 04:54 PM. )
     
Nergol
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May 1, 2012, 12:00 AM
 
Got the screw. Email me your address at catchmeifyouspam at yahoo dot com and I'll send it to you.
     
ghporter
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May 1, 2012, 06:44 AM
 
Eug, the blue stuff on the old screw is thread locker, if those screws aren't good and hard steel, it's almost guaranteed that you'll strip or break one or more of them when you try to remove them.

One tip for everyone: use a soldering iron to heat up the screw before you try to unscrew it. That should soften the thread locker and (according to the theory anyway) also mechanically loosen the screw. You want to use a high quality iron intended for electronics, and I'd go with at lest a 30W iron - my 60W Weller is perfect in my opinion, and I'd apply it to the center of the screw head for about 5 seconds, wait a couple of seconds then try the screw, repeating as needed. Obviously you wouldn't do this for screws that loosened up easily, but for those that don't, it's a quick and effective approach.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
ibook_steve
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May 1, 2012, 01:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Eug, the blue stuff on the old screw is thread locker, if those screws aren't good and hard steel, it's almost guaranteed that you'll strip or break one or more of them when you try to remove them.

One tip for everyone: use a soldering iron to heat up the screw before you try to unscrew it. That should soften the thread locker and (according to the theory anyway) also mechanically loosen the screw. You want to use a high quality iron intended for electronics, and I'd go with at lest a 30W iron - my 60W Weller is perfect in my opinion, and I'd apply it to the center of the screw head for about 5 seconds, wait a couple of seconds then try the screw, repeating as needed. Obviously you wouldn't do this for screws that loosened up easily, but for those that don't, it's a quick and effective approach.
That's a great idea! Never thought of that.

Steve
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Eug  (op)
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May 1, 2012, 02:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by Nergol View Post
Got the screw. Email me your address at catchmeifyouspam at yahoo dot com and I'll send it to you.
Awesome. You rock!

Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
One tip for everyone: use a soldering iron to heat up the screw before you try to unscrew it. That should soften the thread locker and (according to the theory anyway) also mechanically loosen the screw. You want to use a high quality iron intended for electronics, and I'd go with at lest a 30W iron - my 60W Weller is perfect in my opinion, and I'd apply it to the center of the screw head for about 5 seconds, wait a couple of seconds then try the screw, repeating as needed. Obviously you wouldn't do this for screws that loosened up easily, but for those that don't, it's a quick and effective approach.
Interesting, and noted. I'm not an engineer, so I don't have one. Can they be purchased for cheap? I have a soldering iron but it's a big fat one, so it's extremely difficult to do anything with small electronics. I did manage to solder the small leads of a broken plug back onto the motherboard on an old DVD player though.
( Last edited by Eug; May 1, 2012 at 02:10 PM. )
     
Eug  (op)
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May 9, 2012, 09:54 PM
 
Got the screws, thx! They ended up not fitting, but thanks anyway.
     
   
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