A GPU (video card) fan plays a rather important role in the functioning of your video cards. Overheating could lead to card failure if the fan isn’t operating optimally.
The GPU fan’s role is to keep the GPU temperature at an optimal level to avoid overheating, especially during demanding video games and intensive programs.
Keep on reading to find out more.
Why is your GPU fan not spinning?
If your GPU fan isn’t starting, this doesn’t necessarily have to mean that it is broken. However, finding the core issue will require some troubleshooting, so check out our list of the most common GPU fan issues.
The GPU hasn’t reached a high temperature
Many users don’t know that the GPU fan won’t be triggered until the GPU has reached a specific temperature.
Many GPU fans have a passive cooling mode, which means they can keep the graphics card at an optimal temperature without starting the fan mechanism.
The primary role of the passive cooling mode is to decrease the noise the fans make. That said, if it isn’t necessary, the fan won’t start spinning – but it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with it.
However, if your graphics card is under a significant load, and the GPU fan typically starts spinning in these conditions, something else could be blocking its mechanism.
Power connectors are disconnected
Your GPU PCIe cable may be loose or disconnected, which is why your GPU fan isn’t getting enough power and cannot start.
However, remember that your GPU may not even need a power cable, as a PCIe lane may power it.
Make sure to investigate whether the GPU model you have requires a PCIe cable before you decide to end the troubleshooting process here.
The GPU fan is clogged
As you may have noticed, computer fans pick up a significant amount of dirt and debris. Over time, the dust and dirt accumulate in the fan, creating a blockage that can even stop the GPU fan from starting.
If you haven’t cleaned the GPU fan in a while, keep in mind that this is one of the leading causes of GPU failure, so you want to set up a cleaning schedule.
The GPU fan bearings need oiling
The GPU fan issue is probably mechanical. However, this issue doesn’t always require professional assistance, and you can solve it independently.
In case you’ve had your PC for quite a while, it is possible that the GPU fan needs some help when it comes to starting the spinning process.
Like any other hardware element, your GPU fan is also prone to wear and tear, and the bearings may require a bit of oil to get started.
The GPU fan is faulty
There isn’t much you can do if the GPU fan is faulty and requires a replacement – especially if it is pretty old and in poor condition.
We recommend consulting with a professional before you decide to replace your GPU fan, as they may detect a different issue affecting the fan, and you may not need to change it.
How to fix a GPU fan not spinning
While specific GPU fan issues will require some assistance from a professional, you may be able to solve most of these problems on your own using one of these efficient methods.
1. Change the GPU fan curve
As we’ve explained, some GPU fans won’t start spinning until they reach a specific temperature. However, if the temperature limit is set too high and the device is overheating, you can alter the GPU fan curve.
You will need to download a tool to help you manage the GPU fan curve, such as the MSI Afterburner. The Afterburner is one of the best GPU overclocking tools, which can also help you control all the essential factors and stats concerning the GPU.
This tool can also automatically scan your GPU system and offer optimal adjustments in this particular case. Once you download the Afterburner, click on the OC Scanner logo, then select scan to start the scanning process.
Once the scanning process is complete, the tool will offer the best settings for your GPU system. If, for any reason, you’re not satisfied with the result, you can change the adjustments manually.
To edit the fan curve (the temperatures when the fan turns off and starts spinning), go to Settings, then click on Fan, and make sure that the Enable user-defined software automatic fan control option is turned on.
Once you see a fan curve graph, you can adjust it however you see fit, depending on the temperatures you’re going for.
2. Check the power connectors
If your GPU fan is not spinning, it could be that the power connectors are not properly connected. They might be loose or not plugged into the corresponding ports.
You can always consult the user manual and check if all the connections are plugged in correctly. You want to ensure that the connections are tight and secure and there are no loose components.
As you inspect the connections, keep an eye out for any defects or signs of wear and tear, as they could compromise the functioning of the GPU fan.
Any old, defective components should be replaced, but make sure you are very careful when removing and installing these, as you don’t want to damage the GPU.
3. Remove accumulated dirt and dust
Removing accumulated dirt and dust should become a regular practice, not something you do only when you’re experiencing GPU fan problems.
Cleaning your GPU fan (and every other fan) thoroughly once in a while will prevent this problem and allow your fan to move freely.
You can use compressed air to thoroughly remove dust and dirt buildup from the fan, as the air pressure will get it out of the internal portion of the fan.
However, you may need to use a cotton swab for small, hard-to-reach areas, as compressed air may not be able to get everything out.
Combining these two cleaning methods is best for a detailed GPU fan cleaning.
4. Apply oil on GPU fan bearings
If it feels like the GPU fan is stuck and barely spinning, the GPU fan bearings may require some oiling to get started.
This is a common issue with old, worn-out fans that are usually quite damaged. As for the best oil, you can simply use a lightweight machine oil.
We do not recommend using a thicker oil such as WD-40, as it could seriously damage the fan bearings and permanently damage the fan.
5. Update the GPU drivers
It is essential to update your GPU drivers regularly, as new updates can eliminate system bugs and errors that may compromise the GPU processes.
In case your GPU drivers are outdated, the GPU fan isn’t starting. Using integrated graphics, you can easily update the drivers via Windows Updates.
Launch Settings on your Windows computer, then navigate to Updates & Security. Click on Windows Update and see if there are any pending updates.
If you don’t see any updates listed, click on Check For Updates to start the scanning process. If any GPU fan updates show up, click the Download button next to them and install the updates.
You can also manually update the graphics driver via Device Manager. Press the Windows and R keys simultaneously to launch the Run box.
Paste devmgmt.msc into the box and click OK to confirm and launch the Device Manager. Find the Display adapters list and expand it to locate the graphics driver.
Right-click on the graphics driver you wish to update, then select Update Driver to start the updating process.
You can also select Search automatically for drivers to start the scanning process. Windows will automatically search for available updates and download them.
6. Reposition the GPU
Yet another reason why your GPU fan is not spinning is that the graphics card isn’t properly seated, so you may have to reposition it.
The first step would be to turn off the PC. Once the system is shut down, remove all the connections and unplug the PC from the power source.
Open the case to find the PCIe slot and remove the GPU from it. You can also check the user manual and ensure that you’re inserting the GPU correctly.
Re-insert the GPU into the slot, making sure that it fits snuggly. The GPU should be locked into place, and there should be no space left between the slot and the GPU.
Why do GPU fans start spinning?
The role of the GPU fan is to regulate the GPU temperature, which can get pretty high – especially when you’re playing a demanding video game.
Without a functional GPU fan, the GPU would overheat and probably reach the failing point, which can also damage other hardware components.
The fan curve of your graphics card, which we’ve mentioned before, is the deciding factor for GPU fan spinning.
It contains the temperature points both for starting and shutting down the fan, but you can easily edit it if you feel that the current adjustments aren’t optimal.
How do I know if my GPU fan is working?
You can test your GPU fan by starting your most graphically demanding video game and playing it at the highest settings. Since GPU fans are pretty loud, you should be able to hear them working.
You could also leave the case open (if it has one or more tempered glass panels) so you can hear well, as a high-quality case could be blocking the noise.
As mentioned, you can easily control and adjust the fan curve and select different temperature limits for your GPU fan if you feel it isn’t starting the cooling process when needed.
Is it bad if the GPU fans are running all the time?
The GPU fan processes depend on your activity. If you spend a lot of time playing rather demanding, complex video games, this will certainly call for increased GPU fan activity.
Keep in mind that you want to adjust the GPU fan to prevent the GPU from overheating, as it could quickly get damaged.