Upgrading or buying a new PC can be really expensive, so in order to save some money, you might want to reuse some old parts from your previous build.
The CPU cooler might be the first thing that comes to mind because it is very reliable and it can save you a lot of money if you don’t need to buy another one.
So, can you reuse an old CPU cooler?
You are able to reuse CPU coolers. It’s as easy as uninstalling it from your old rig and installing it on your new rig. You will not need to replace any parts, and a CPU cooler is compatible with any CPU you use. The only thing you will need to do is replace your thermal paste, however, that is fairly straightforward.
Here is an article about: “How Often You Should Replace Your Thermal Paste.”
Do You Need New Thermal Paste every time Your Remove Your CPU Cooler?
It’s a good practice to replace the thermal paste on your CPU and cooler every once and a while, but if you are always playing around with your system removing and replacing parts, then is there a need to replace your thermal paste every time?
You most likely will have to replace your thermal paste every time you remove your CPU cooler.
It takes around 1-2 weeks for thermal paste to set. After this time frame, you will no longer be able to use it again. If you need to make some minor adjustments to your CPU cooler right after installation.
Then and only then, you will be able to remove your CPU cooler and not have to worry about replacing your thermal paste.
If you are past this time frame it is very important to know how to properly clean your heatsink so you don’t have any leftover residue that can affect the quality of your CPU cooler.
Use The Correct Mounting Bracket
Depending on what motherboard and CPU you are using you will need the correct mounting bracket. When you purchase a CPU cooler they usually come with multiple different mounting brackets that you can use to mount your CPU.
It is very important to keep these mounting brackets just in case you want to reuse your CPU cooler again in a future build.
There are a few different types of mounting brackets depending on what motherboard you are using. Most modern CPU coolers have 1 mounting bracket that can be used for multiple different motherboard types depending on how you install it.
They will also usually come with different style mounting brackets that use levers and other things that are less common.
If you didn’t keep your old mounting brackets the new motherboard you are using uses a mounting bracket that you don’t have you can easily purchase a new one online.
Mounting brackets are really cheap and a better option than buying a brand new expensive cooler for most people.
Does a New CPU Need a New Fan?
You don’t always need to upgrade the cooler fan either. Most cooling fans have anywhere between 30,000 hours of use on the low end and 200,000 hours of use on the high end.
Here is an article that goes more in-depth on how long case fans last.
If the fan does die out on you, it is a very easy and cheap fix.
Unlike the cooling fans that sit on your case, you don’t need a very high-quality fan for your CPU cooler as long as you have a good heatsink. Replacing your fan is very cheap and you can pretty much buy them anywhere.
The only situation where you will need to buy a new CPU fan or cooler is if the cooler you are using is very old and won’t be able to meet the heat requirements that your new CPU has.
Although this is very unlikely it can happen for very old CPU coolers and fans.
Does a Better CPU Need Better Cooling?
If you’re building a new PC rig and decide that you want to use your old CPU cooler to cool your CPU, then more likely than not you will be able to do so.
However, if you start to see that your CPU is throttling this means that your CPU is trying to cool down. When your CPU throttles it loses performance because it isn’t working as hard.
This means it will produce less heat, but it will sacrifice performance in doing so.
Throttling usually happens when the CPU goes above 100 degrees C in temperature, but playing with a CPU that is over 80C puts your CPU at risk of damaging itself from overheating.
If you find that your CPU is constantly hitting these high temperatures, then you will need a better cooling system for your CPU.
Most people who will have this problem are people who are using an old stock cooler from their previous CPU.
People who are using an aftermarket cooler, even something as cheap as the Cooler Master EVO, will still be able to keep the latest generations of CPU cool.
How Long Does a CPU Cooler Last?
CPU coolers usually last around 5-7 years depending on what type of cooler you use, but most CPU coolers are very reliable.
To learn more about this I wrote a very in-depth article on: “How Long CPU Coolers Last.”