Is your graphics card’s GPU fan not spinning? Here’s a quick guide on how to keep your GPU temperatures cool!
A GPU-related problem is the fan spinning only sporadically or not at all. A cool GPU is crucial to maintaining your performance.
Here are some solutions on how to fix this problem and prevent your GPU from heating up.
Let’s start with the most common cause and solution.
The GPU Is In Idle Mode
A number of GPUs have an inbuilt feature which only uses the passive cooling hardware (the heatsink) when the PC is idle or is performing non-GPU intensive tasks, such as web browsing. If this is the case, it makes sense for the fan to be off, and this will not damage or affect the performance of the GPU.
The goal is to reduce noise pollution by only firing the fan when it is needed in order to keep the GPU within a safe and functional temperature range. It is worrying when the fan doesn’t whirl the first time you fire up a new build, but it is habitual.
Once a defined temperature threshold is reached, the fan is triggered under load. Run a graphically demanding game or benchmark tool, and the fan should come on.
Restart Your PC
Often, the simplest solution is the best. Restarting your computer is the preferred fix of IT technicians worldwide for a seemingly faulty GPU fan. When you reboot your computer, you refresh the system and realign settings for proper performance, including GPU fans.
Graphics processing units need a lot of power. If after installing a new GPU, the fan does not spin, the power connector (either the 6-pin or the 8-pin depending on the model) connecting it to the power supply unit is either not connected or the pins are not fully pushed into the card.
Similarly, make sure the GPU is correctly seated in the PCI-E slot on the motherboard.
It is also important to check if the power supply provides enough wattage to power the GPU. The PSU may not be powerful enough if peripherals are not responding or the PC repeatedly shuts down without explanation.
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If your current power supply unit is underpowered, you’ll need to invest in a more powerful replacement, after which the GPU fan should work again.
While the PC is open, you should also check to make sure none of the other connections have come loose, especially any cables connected to the motherboard. While not directly connected to the GPU fan, these types of connections can have an overall effect on the system, which is a bit like a microcosm where everything must work together for the entire system to work.
A Little Oil Goes A Long Way
Any mechanical component, such as fan bearings, can lose some of its spinning ability over time, and the best way to remedy this is to apply a few drops of standard machine oil or sewing machine oil to the motor.
Take off the sticker on the top of the fan, remove the protective plastic cap, and drop a small amount of oil on the bearings. A little goes a long way, but too much can ooze out onto the blades and, God forbid, onto the GPU below, causing critical issues. Put the cap back on to keep the oil in.
WD40 or household cooking oils can leave a residue that can impede functionality or evaporate too quickly to be useful.
Clean The Fan Of Dust and Other Obstacles
GPU fans that don’t spin are usually caused by a buildup of dust and debris on the blades. GPU fans have a very low torque, meaning it doesn’t take much to completely immobilize the blades or impede movement.
As the fans’ very purpose is to move hot air away from the GPU, they are constantly in contact with errant particles and dust that often end up inside a PC. Eventually, this debris settles on the blades. A PC that hasn’t been used or cleaned for a while is especially prone to this problem.
Get a canister of compressed air, open your PC, locate your GPU, and clean off any lingering dust from the fan. The compressed air could be used to remove any dust on both sides of the fan blades by detaching the fan from the GPU.
Whenever you remove the GPU’s fans, take the time to clean the heatsink (if it has one) and the card itself. Avoid spraying too close to components and circuitry to avoid damaging them.
Misplaced cabling emanating from the fan motor can also lead to idle fans. Eventually, these cables can creep into the path of the blades, obstructing their movement. In addition, if your overall cable management is lacking, make sure no loose cables come into contact with the blades.
Drivers and GPU Software
For the latest drivers, go to the Nvidia or AMD websites, depending on the model of your GPU. Install the drivers or, if you have done so recently, uninstall and install them again.
Do the same for proprietary Nvidia and AMD GPU software such as GeForce Experience and Radeon Software. It is possible to unwittingly mess with fan controls and affect when and under what circumstances the fan spins.
More often than not, driver issues arise when you install a freshly released version and the process wasn’t completed correctly, or when the manufacturer updates its driver in a patch.
Replace The Fan
It’s likely you have a mechanical failure on your hands if none of the above fixes work. Occasionally, fans fail, especially on older models that have been running for thousands of hours. In contrast, even newer GPUs can occasionally fail due to an unforeseen manufacturing error.
It is very easy to test this by downloading MSI Afterburner, an overclocking and GPU monitoring application that allows you to set the program to run the fans at maximum speed. The problem is more or less certain to be a hardware failure if they don’t fire up and you’ve addressed all our suggestions above.
Since you are unlikely to know how to open up a fan and fix it manually, your only option is to purchase a new fan. Fortunately, fans are among the cheapest PC components. For around $40 to $50, you can find a decent GPU fan.
For peace of mind of product reliability, we recommend sticking with respected brands like Cooler Master and Corsair.
Blades not spinning isn’t always the result of faulty fans. A malfunctioning PCI-E slot on the motherboard could also cause the issue. This problem might be caused by either the PCI-E slot in use or the motherboard in general. This can be tested by placing the GPU in a different PCI-E slot to see if it resolves the issue.
If it doesn’t, and you’ve followed all the steps above, the motherboard may be malfunctioning. It is probably time to buy a new one or, if it is new, send it back to the vendor and get a replacement. Most modern motherboards come with no-nonsense warranties, so this shouldn’t be an issue.