So I unscrewed the screw in the upper right hand corner of the fans encasing that's attached to the motherboard.

But I still can't pull them out. It seems like it attached somehow in the lower left hand corner.

All I want to do is clean the dust off the fans. What am I missing?

  • How often has the thing been used in all those years? People really should blow out their air–cooled electronics more often. – can-ned_food Aug 15 at 6:02
up vote 8 down vote accepted

There is only one screw holding the main pair of front fans in the Mac Pro 3,1 - but the assembly itself must be pulled square towards you, as it's slotted... and can be a bit resistant to being removed first time [especially as it's had 10 years to set itself firmly in there].

Note: If you've a full-length graphics card in, you will have to remove it first, in order to remove the aluminium cover over the CPUs. That's magnetic & just pulls away. You'll also find the CPU heatsinks will be clogged more than the fans you're trying to clean.

This is the screw you already found...

enter image description here

Once that's out, pull square from the top right & bottom left - here it looks like they're using a PCI slot cover to assist, though I've never used anything other than bare hands

enter image description here

This is what you're trying to overcome - the drag on this channelised slot which keeps it all square, plus the fan plug/socket behind the assembly.

enter image description here

Picture Source: Apple - Mac Pro 3,1 2008 Service Source
The rest - experience ;)

I just looked at iFixit's take apart - though they lump the 1,1, 2,1 & 3,1 all in the same category - they mention a second screw at the bottom of the assembly; which I don't recall ever seeing on a 3,1.
However, it looks like one of those screws that the first engineer to disassemble it takes out & never replaces because it's so awkward to get to ;)

I don't have a 3,1 I can open up right now to check - & it is most definitely not mentioned in the specific 3,1 service source manual.

enter image description here

  • That little hidden screw was it! Who would put a screw there?!?!! Thank you! – leeand00 Aug 14 at 17:24
  • Welcome. i think they must have just put that extra screw in 1 in 10 machines at random, then not mentioned it at all in the official service manual... just to mess with people's heads... ;) – Tetsujin Aug 14 at 17:26
  • Maybe they have a secret, more “official” amendment to the service manual that they keep only with authorised service centers … Maybe. Also possible that the additional screw was a revision to the chassis which never made its way in to any documentation, @leeand00 – can-ned_food Aug 15 at 6:00
  • Yeah much like those "undocumented" Microsoft "features" it's a "secret screw" :). – leeand00 Aug 15 at 15:58

That is a first generation (case) Mac Pro.

With questions like these it is a good idea to include a picture that shows what you are doing. That said I found repair guides on iFixit.com for that Generation of Mac Pro that show that you may need to remove any expansion cards, at least the first one or two drives and the processor heat sink cover before you can remove the fan assembly.

I used to have a MacPro 1,1 (similar internals as yours) and I have done that but it's been a while since I had that Mac. While working on this Mac is not difficult it can be a bit fiddly and you do need to remove a bunch of stuff before you can remove the fans as there may be some fasteners and/or screws hidden by other components that need to be removed first. So check out iFixit.com.

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