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My laptop (Acer Travelmate 8204) has started making a grinding noise, which seems to be coming from the fan (not the hard drive). Some articles online mention replacing the fan, but others imply that one should replace both the fan and the heat sink. Does it make sense to replace the fan only?

(addendum: does this procedure really take 3 hours for a noob, as this video implies? UPDATE: the fan certainly seems to be on the "top" layer when I open my laptop but some parts of it extend under other layers)

Some additional info in response to comments:

  • I have run MS scandisk on the hard drive a few times since the grinding started. It usually reports finding something or other but the computer's behavior doesn't change
  • I'm pretty sure it's the fan based on where the noise is coming from. I employed the cardboard tube trick from the PC World article.
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How long it takes entirely depends on your technical skill it could take you 9 hours. You should avoid changing the heat sink unless you have an exact replacement for the thermal pad. A heat sink cannot go bad its just a piece of metal, the thermal paste, can become less effective thats likely what people suggest replacing. – Ramhound Nov 6 '13 at 13:27
@Ramhound "Both" refers to fan and hard drive in OPs post. – MonkeyZeus Nov 6 '13 at 13:29
@MonkeyZeus - You are mistaken. Both is talking about the fan and the heatsink. If it does mean what you claim then the author should clarify their question's title and the question itself. Since when was removing a hdd from a laptop a 20 minute task? – Ramhound Nov 6 '13 at 13:42
@Ramhound I think OP needs to chime in as to what they mean when they say "Both". Also I had a typo in the HDD replacement estimate. Based on skill level and laptop design it can range from 1-20 minutes for a worst case scenario. – MonkeyZeus Nov 6 '13 at 13:49
Have you run diagnostics on the hard drive to verify it is OK? – CharlieRB Nov 6 '13 at 13:58
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I wouldn't replace both at once unless you are positive that both are causing the noise.

Replacing the fan inside a laptop is a very time-consuming task for most laptops because it might look simple but there are various layers to a laptop once you get "under-the-hood".

I've taken apart laptops to get at the fan about 4 times now and each time was between 2-4 hours because you need to be exceptionally careful not to lose your screws and make sure you remember which screws go where because they are not the same lengths and the threads might not be necessarily the same. Give yourself a workspace at least 6 times the area of the laptop itself.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to NEVER pull on something that is not coming out easily because there is probably a wire/cable/screw still holding it somewhere.

Also, replacing the hard drive is usually a 1-20 minute ordeal but it's more expensive, go figure :)

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