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Repasting my 2018 MacBook Pro

This is going to be a short article, because I neglected to record anything. I was going to initially disassemble the entire thing, then reassemble it, then start recording again as I went through the process. In reality, I only disassembled it once and gave up all hopes on re-disassembling it, because it is that complicated.

There are at least 4 different screw types, not to mention the countless ribbon cables scattered here and there that make disassembly a complete nightmare. Adding onto the trail mix that is blood, sweat, and tears, Apple had the smartest, damnedest idea of putting the retaining screws of the heatsink on the other side of the entire logic board. Which means re-pasting your laptop requires you to disassemble the entire thing. Like, literally.

So, this is the only photo I managed to take:

Gotta love that overboard Apple engineering 😀

But I think the trouble was worth it in the end. The stock thermal paste was all dried up and nasty. I used an alcohol wipe to get all of it off, and made sure the CPU/GPU dies looked like mirrors before reapplying a bit of fresh, good-quality thermal paste. (Pro-tip: Use more than you think is necessary. More thermal paste won’t hurt, provided you’re using the non-conductive, normal type, and not the stupid liquid metal, but if you use less than what is required it can cause major performance issues. So don’t be too conservative.)

Speaking of liquid metal? Yeah, DON’T. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it, and if you make a tiny mistake it will completely kill your $2k+ machine. So just skip the hassle and use good-quality, fresh thermal paste, which will make more than enough performance improvements. Besides, if you put on liquid metal, you’d only get marginal improvements over the high risk that liquid metal poses, as it can definitely short out things and cause corrosion. What corrosion, you ask? Well, if you don’t know this I don’t think you should be handling liquid metal at all, but simply put, liquid metal is made out of metal alloy such as aluminum and gallium, which have reactive properties. They will eat away at other metal alloy, most notably copper. Guess what the heatsink is made out of? So in a year or two, when you yet again open up your laptop for re-pasting, you’ll find that the liquid metal has seeped through the entire heatsink and destroyed it.

So was it worth it? Depends on what you call “worth it.” Previously, the laptop idled at around 49 degrees Celsius. Now, it idles at around 40-44 degrees Celsius, which means I scored about 5 degrees Celsius out of the entire ordeal. Would you be willing to risk breaking something while taking apart your MBP just to get a five degrees Celsius improvement? I don’t think so. But if you’re like me and you want to try anyway, go ahead! (Just remember, I don’t assume any responsibility for your actions. So don’t come crying to me when your laptop becomes an expensive paperweight.)

And by the way, here is a screw organizer:

You’ll need it if you’re attempting this crazy thing. Pay attention to all the different screw types. P5 is Pentalobe, and the various types with the T- suffix are the Torx types.

Remember to stick the screws exactly where it indicates on the paper, as you’ll find different length-ed screws literally everywhere, particularly in step 1, step 6, step 7, and step 10. Use Blu-tack for easy attachment.

Be extremely careful with the ribbon cables. They are very fragile and I almost tore some of them. Go extremely slowly, and don’t use any force whatsoever.

Good luck!

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