Similar to how you use a cooling pad to keep your laptop cool while working on it, the graphics card inside your system also comes with a fan, which acts as its cooling element and keeps it cool for optimum performance. But, there are times when the fan might not spin properly or completely stop spinning.
Sometimes, you may not even notice this issue until you realize that the highly demanding games that you were once playing smoothly no longer deliver smooth and efficient gameplay. Or, it could also be the scenario where you have just built a gaming PC, only to notice that the GPU fan is not spinning. No matter where you stand in these scenarios, identifying the cause of this issue should be your top priority because overheating of GPU can sometimes damage one or more of its components. In the following sections, you will learn about some of the potential causes and fixes for a GPU fan not spinning.
How to Check if Your GPU Fan is Spinning?
While you can use a DC adapter (5V or 12V, depending on your GPU fan’s voltage) to check if the fan is spinning, by powering it physically, there is another easier, equally effective way to determine the same – using the MSI Afterburner app.
MSI Afterburner is one of the most popular and widely used utilities for graphics and overclocking, which also enables you to monitor your GPU fan. The app is free to download; once you download and install it on your computer, set the fan speed manually, anywhere between 70% and 100%, and check if your GPU fan is spinning. Everything is good if the fans (if your GPU has multiple fans) are spinning, even at different speeds; however, if they don’t, you may have to check using the adapter method.
Potential Causes and Fixes for GPU Fan Not Spinning
Restart Your Computer
Perhaps the most straightforward and simplest solution that you can try, which also doesn’t involve much effort from your part, is restarting your computer. As you would do with any other complaint you face with your system, restarting or rebooting your computer will refresh it and readjust all the settings, including that of the GPU fan, to enable proper functioning. Therefore, if it is something really minor, the GPU fan should start working after the reboot. If not, go ahead and browse through the following causes and fixes.
Passive Cooling Mode
Some graphics cards come with what is called a passive cooling mode, where the GPU fan will start spinning only when the card reaches a specific temperature. In other words, the fan will not spin when idle or the load is low and will start spinning only when a preset temperature (around 60oC) is crossed or the GPU load increases. Therefore, though you notice that your GPU fan is not spinning, it does not necessarily mean that there is a problem with the component, but rather, it could just be the way it was designed to function.
Testing if this is the reason behind your graphics card fan not spinning is easy; run a benchmark test or play a graphics intensive game to put the GPU under load. The fan should get going as you play the game or benchmark and the card gets hotter. If it doesn’t, then the issue is likely something else.
GPUs require a lot of power to function, and power connectors play an important role here. If the graphics card model you use requires power from power connectors (6-pin, 8-pin, or a combination of the two), then the reason behind the GPU fan not running could be either because the power connectors are not connected or the pins are loosely connected. Also, make sure that the GPU is rightly placed on the PCIe slot.
In addition to making sure that the power connectors are properly connected, you may also have to check if the GPU receives the right wattage of power from the power supply unit (PSU). One easy way to identify this issue is when you notice your computer shutting down often for no specific reason or the unit is unresponsive. If this happens to be the reason behind your GPU fan not working, then you will have to invest in a more powerful PSU.
Graphics card fan issue can also be caused by obsolete and corrupted drivers. Therefore, try updating your GPU’s drivers by obtaining the same for your GPU model from the manufacturer’s website. If you have already installed the updated version, try uninstalling and reinstalling the same to see if the problem persists.
However, it is also vital to note that, though having updated drivers can prevent potential issues and also improve the performance of the GPU, they may not always be the best choice for all graphics cards. So, what should you do? To find the version of the graphics drivers that work best for your GPU, you should test its performance by installing different versions of drivers. Also, remember to remove the existing driver on your system before you install any newer version.
Dust and Debris
If your PC or laptop is old and your GPU fan was working fine up until now, then chances are it requires some cleaning. Similar to any other computer component, even the GPU fan accumulates dust and debris, especially on the blades. Since the force of a GPU fan is very low, even small build up of dust on the blades can affect or even completely prevent it from functioning. This issue can become troublesome if you don’t clean your system on a regular basis or if it has been sitting idle for a long time.
To clean the GPU fan, all you need is a compressed air canister. You can do this by either cleaning the GPU fan directly while it is still attached to the GPU or by removing it from the GPU. Use the compressed air to clean both sides of the blades. If you do remove the fan from the GPU, remember to also clean the heatsink (if your GPU has one) and the graphics card itself. But, be careful not to damage any component or circuit during the cleaning process.
Again, if your system or graphics card is old and the fan is not spinning, it could be because of the aging bearings, which may have lost their spinning abilities. In this case, you should be able to extend their lifespan a bit further, rather than replacing them immediately, by oiling the bearings. Remove the graphics card from the computer and separate the fan from it; you will find the bearings when you remove the sticker on the back; finally, apply a few drops of oil on the bearings, and give it some time before checking if the fan spins again.
GPU Fan Wire and Connector
Another cause for your GPU fan not spinning could be a damaged GPU fan wire and/or a loose connector. One of the main reasons behind this could be a melted wire due to heat. So, check the GPU wire and the connector for any damage or loose connection and do the necessary to get the GPU fan spinning.
Mechanical failure is another possible cause for a not spinning GPU fan, and this basically means the fan itself is faulty. This problem not only happens in GPU fans that are older and have been in use for thousands of hours on the whole but also in brand new models that come with manufacturing errors.
If you have checked all of the causes given above and tried the respective fixes and your GPU fan still doesn’t function, then the only viable reason there would be fan failure. Unfortunately, with this problem, your only solution is to replace the GPU fan with a new one. And fortunately, since this is one of the few affordably priced computer parts, priced under $50, you wouldn’t have to worry about your budget here.
When you do have to invest in a new GPU fan, there are a few points you should keep in mind. Firstly, always go with a reputed brand, even if their product is a bit high priced, just for the reliability factor. Next, make sure that the new fan you buy is compatible with your GPU, which means you need to check if it has the same dimensions, connector, mounting holes, voltage rating, etc. as that of your existing fan.
If none of these techniques seem to work and your GPU is still in its warranty period, you must try contacting the seller or manufacturer to arrange for a repair or replacement of the product. However, if yours is an old one, having seen thousands of hours of operation and is now not working, then you should think about ditching the old GPU and investing in a new one. With graphics cards available as both budget-friendly and high-end models, finding one that falls within your budget shouldn’t be a problem.