GPU fans won’t spin unless the graphics card is under load. If your card’s fans aren’t spinning when they should, clean the blades and make sure nothing is blocking them. You should also check that no GPU settings are preventing the fans from running and that your drivers are up-to-date.
GPUs tend to get hot processing millions of pixels for you, so cooling fans going quiet can be understandably concerning! If you notice your GPU’s fans aren’t spinning, here’s how to assess whether there’s a real problem or not and then how to fix the problem.
It May Be a Feature, Not a Bug
If the GPU is not being used for intensive tasks or is not reaching high temperatures, the fans may be set to stop spinning to save energy and reduce noise. Check the graphics card’s control panel settings to see if the fans can be manually controlled or if they are set to stop spinning under certain conditions.
For some cards, fan limits may be a feature in the firmware that isn’t exposed to the user for modification. In any case, if your GPU fans start spinning once the card is under load, there’s nothing wrong for you to fix. The card was designed to run with the fans off when idle or under low load.
Tweak or Reset Your Fan Curves
Most modern graphics cards come with a software utility that allows you to customize the fan curve. That is, what speeds the fans should run at various performance and temperature levels.
Adjusting your fan curve can be a good way to reduce noise or improve performance, depending on your goals. However, if the fan curve has gone out of whack, try resetting it to its default settings and check if the fan behavior returns to normal.
Check That Your Fans Have Power
The fans on a graphics card may not spin if they are not receiving power. Check the power supply to ensure that it provides sufficient power to the graphics card and that the power cables are securely connected.
This includes the PCIe power connectors usually situated at the top or back of the card, and in some cases, the power connector on the graphics card itself provides power to the fans. If that cable is damaged or unseated, it might be why your fans aren’t spinning.
Remove Anything Jamming the Fans
If the fans on a graphics card are not spinning, they may be blocked by debris. Try cleaning the fans with compressed air to remove any debris and check that they are spinning freely by turning them with your finger with the computer powered off.
Falcon Dust Off Compressed Air Can
This can of compressed air is perfect for safely cleaning your electronics, and the can is compact enough to fit in your computer desk.
When you’re done cleaning, carefully put your rig back together, boot it up, and put it under load to see if your fans start running again.
Make Sure Your GPU Fan Motors Aren’t Burnt Out
If your fans are making unusual noises such as grinding, squeaking, or buzzing, that can indicate that the motors are not functioning properly. The center of the fan may feel hot as electricity builds up instead of flowing through the motor.
In this case, it’s usually simple enough to replace the fans, and this is generally something you can do yourself but should only attempt if the card is no longer under warranty. Some GPU cooler designs may be too complicated for most users to perform a fan replacement, in which case you should get a professional technician to do the job,
Reboot and Update Drivers
If your fans stop spinning, don’t spin up under load, and the GPU gets too hot, it may be a temporary glitch with software or firmware.
The first step is to reboot the computer to see if this resolves the issue. If you’ve done that already and there’s newer firmware or driver software available, try updating the card to see if that resolves the issue.
If new drivers are unavailable, reinstalling the GPU’s drivers might reset settings that tell the fans to stop when they should be running. Download your card’s latest drivers from NVIDIA or AMD’s website to make sure you’re up-to-date.
Try a Different GPU (Or Computer)
If the fans on a graphics card are not spinning and none of the above steps fix the issue, the card may be defective. In this case, replacing the GPU with a new one may be necessary.
However, there’s one definitive test you can do to establish whether the card itself is at fault. If at all possible, put the graphics card into a different computer.
If the fans spin up in another machine, it likely means the card itself is just fine. The problem may then be with your computer, or the specific combination of the particular card and your computer. It might be helpful to update your motherboard’s firmware in addition to the card, but it’s probably time to replace the card or have a professional attempt a repair.