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Courtenay Smith Published March 15, 2019 Fix & Repair

GPU Fans Not Spinning? Here's how to fix it!

Courtenay Smith Published March 15, 2019 Fix & Repair
Courtenay’s love for gaming started when she was handed a Game Boy SP as a child. From there her youthful gaming memories consist of hitting some Donkey Kong bongos and cruising around Vice City listening to 'Take Me to the Clouds Above' at an unsuitable age. Since, she has gained a love for both PC and console games, sometimes even jumping on mobile. Don’t judge! When she’s not writing for the site she enjoys travelling, film, and diving down the rabbit hole that is YouTube.
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Has your GPU fan unexpectedly stopped spinning? Here are some potential causes and solutions.

GPU fans; they assist in cooling your graphics card, yet they can suddenly stop working, causing a moment of panic. If you have just built a gaming PC and notice that the fans on your new graphics card aren’t spinning, chances are they aren’t actually broken. However, if they are and you’re on a budget, don’t worry. There are some awesome graphics cards under $200 that you can get.

In most cases, simple solutions fix minor problems that occur with graphics card fans. So, here are some causes and solutions to get your GPU fans in working order again.


Common Reasons Why Your GPU Fans Aren’t Spinning:

Before you start panicking too much about your ceased GPU fans, you must first understand that most modern fans aren’t supposed to constantly spin. So, when should a GPU fan start spinning?

Graphics card fans tend to only start running once they hit a specific temperature, or if the GPU is under heavy loads. If you’re concerned about these factors and you have a great AMD graphics card, you can control GPU core temps and fan speed through the AMD OverDriver software.


Idle

In most instances, if you have an output display on your monitor, then your GPU will just be idle. When idle, graphics cards use passive cooling hardware, such as a heatsink, to prevent core temperatures from rising while performing basic tasks like browsing the web.

installing a cpu fan

However, this doesn’t mean that your fans are working. To check if they are in working order you’ll need to run a game or benchmarks. What happens when you run a GPU intensive game, the fans will start running because GPU core temperatures will rise. If the fans don’t start running after at least an hour or gaming, then there’s a problem.

If your graphics card is always passively cooling, chances are it will throttle and possibly even shut down. So if the fans don’t speed up under heavy loads and high temps, then keep reading for more solutions, as something is definitely wrong!


Install Drivers

Before you start yanking your GPU out of your PC, you’ll first want to ensure you have the latest drivers installed in your system. If you don’t, you’ll need to install them, and if you already have them installed, reinstall them. This should ensure everything runs smoothly, including the fans.


Restart Your PC

If you’ve ever mentioned that you’re having a problem with technology, the go-to response you’ll hear is: “have you tried turning it off and on again?” As silly as it may sound, 90% of the time it actually works.

windows restart screen blue

When it comes to your GPU, simply turning your computer off and on could fix your problems. We’re serious, even if you spend tons of cash on the best CPU for gaming out there, it still might malfunction because you forgot to restart your PC in a while.

So, either turn off your PC for at least a minute before turning everything back on or simply restart your computer to ensure everything is functioning properly once it starts back up.


Power Connectors

Like every PC component, you must ensure that everything is properly plugged in. If you’re new to building a PC, a common error is forgetting to connect one component to another. Most of us have been there, so you’re not alone if you’ve done this yourself! However, you don’t have to be alone. Check out a guide on how to build a gaming PC yourself; it will make things a lot easier.

One of the reasons why your GPU fans won’t run is because you forgot to plug the PCIe power cables from your PSU into your GPU. GPUs require a lot of power, so even if you don’t push power connectors in all the way, fans can stop working to their full potential.

amd radeon vega gpu connectors

Now, some graphics cards – such as the GTX 1050 Ti – don’t have PCIe power connectors. Therefore, if the fans on these GPUs aren’t working, you’ll need to continue onto the next steps.


Clean the Fan

Dust is one of the reasons for many tech failures, and removing it often fixes the problem. I mean, we’ve all been there, blowing into the Nintendo cartridge praying your game will work. We probably all looked crazy, but you’d be lying if you said it didn’t work!

If your computer is old or you haven’t cleaned it out in a while, a very common reason for GPU fans to stop spinning is a build up of dust. Simply pulling the card out and cleaning it can solve your troubles within minutes.

compressed air for laptop cleaning

We mentioned how compressed air is brilliant for cleaning even a high-quality gaming keyboard, yet it also works just as good on other computer components, like the fan of your graphics card. If you don’t feel like this is enough to fix your fans, keep the card out for the next step.


Oil the Bearings

Like any fan, their bearings can lose their spinning capabilities as they age. Rather than fully replacing them, oiling the bearings using a small amount of machine oil can make a massive difference.

To do this, you’ll need to remove your GPU from your system, remove the fan, then peel off the sticker on the back. Once you have done this, you can apply a small amount of oil to the bearings by dropping it into the oil cap behind the peeled sticker.

Do not attempt to use WD40, it can make things worse!


Test It on Another PC

If none of the above steps have worked, your PC could have a faulty component. You can test out a GPU on a working computer by installing the graphics card to see if it turns on. If it works fine on the test PC, then your computer may have a faulty motherboard that will need to be replaced. In that case, you probably need to check out the best gaming motherboard on the market.


Replace the Fan

If your graphics card is outdated, your fans have likely failed. If you’ve already tested your fans by playing a GPU heavy game and they still don’t spin, you can use software and applications to control the fans. Through your choice of software, set fans to max speed to test if they work to their full potential.

graphics card fan

If they still don’t spin, then you’ll have to take out your graphics card and replace the fans.


Conclusion

Outdates GPUs can be temperamental, and while oiling up the bearings may help the fans run smoother, it isn’t a long-term solution. So, if you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to fix the problem, chances are you just need a new graphics card. In that case, we can recommend getting the best graphics card for gaming out there.


Sources:

  1. Ofer Rosenberg, Introduction to GPU Architecture, Haifux
  2. Tim Harcourt, What is GPU Rendering, Escape Technology, March 24th, 2016
  3. Steve Eschweiler, Benefits of a GPU Dedicated Server, Hivelocity
  4. Michael Martinez, What Is the Importance of Stream Processors in GPUs, Chron
  5. Steven Melendez, The Purpose of a Graphics Card, Chron
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