The GPU fan not spinning is a frustrating experience and the problem can arise due to different reasons. As a result, there are several solutions to this issue, and while some are fast and straightforward, others can be a bit more complex.
There’s probably nothing more infuriating than building your brand new PC and realizing that a component isn’t working, potentially destroying your entire machine. And if that issue is as small as the GPU fan not working, it can be exceptionally annoying.
Important: some GPU fans aren’t meant to spin all the time. They sometimes have what’s called passive cooling, which makes the heatsink responsible for cooling the GPU when it’s not under heavy stress. If you try running a game and the GPU fan still isn’t working, well, then you’re in trouble.
But fear not! Oftentimes the most common and straightforward solution will fix the problem. Still, in order to know exactly how to deal with the GPU fan not spinning, you need to know how to correctly diagnose your problem.
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Software Bugs And Fixes
There’s a variety of possible issues that can occur due to a software bug or a similar issue. There are a few really good ways that you can troubleshoot and fix your problem.
If your GPU fan or fans aren’t set to spin constantly, you can easily force them to kick into gear and do what they’re supposed to. The easiest solution is to run a game and check if the fan’s spin kicks in.
A better solution is to install a benchmarking tool like MSI Afterburner, for example, and run it. The best benchmarking tools will be able to tell you exactly at what speed your fan is spinning (measured in revolutions per minute or RPM) when under different levels of stress.
Modern graphics cards come with automatically-adjustable fan speeds and will work just fine in the majority of cases, provided the GPU isn’t overclocked. If you’re looking to tinker with that, it’s strongly advisable that you properly set up your fan’s RPM to support the temperature increase that comes with overclocked GPUs.
If the factory fan speed settings aren’t enough, you can always install a tool like the previously mentioned MSI Afterburner, or something else that’s more specialized like SpeedFan, and modify the temperature yourself.
Check Your Drivers
If the fan still isn’t spinning after you’ve applied stress tests, or manually altered the fan speed, it’s quite possible that you’ve been barking up the wrong tree.
It may very well be a possibility that you need to update your GPU driver. However, due to the ever-evolving and adapting nature of GPUs, this is unlikely as most modern graphics cards come with their own software which is in charge of checking for new drivers and installing them.
It’s also possible that you’ve unintentionally deactivated your fan’s default settings, which is preventing the driver from functioning properly. However, more often than not this is a manufacturing issue.
After you’ve checked that you have the latest drivers, it might be a good idea to reinstall them, just to be 100% sure that they’re up to date.
Restart Your PC
To quote Roy from the “IT Crowd”, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
The actual numbers are likely never going to be anything more than anecdotal, but you’d be surprised by just how many PC-related problems can be solved with a system restart.
The benefits of a reboot are multiple, so let’s just mention a few of them. For example, when you restart your computer, the RAM is wiped clean.
Because of its nature, the RAM loses all data when the power shuts off, but while it works it can slow down the processes. The reason for this is that sometimes a memory leak will happen where an app will use RAM but fail to flush it properly on exit and still be assigned as necessary.
When you reboot the PC, you’re freeing up memory that wasn’t being used but which was reserved as if it was.
Restarting also fixes the internet connection, so if the manufacturer’s software wasn’t able to establish a connection with the server, it now gets a second chance. If that doesn’t work, then you have a network connectivity issue and that’s a different guide altogether.
Unfortunately, these are more frequent and harder to solve. Fixing them will require you to open your case and tinker with the GPU or even other components. Let’s get down to business.
Power Connectors May Not Be Connected
Obviously, this isn’t a revolutionary thought but is something that can often be overlooked, mainly due to how small the cables are. Sometimes it can be hard to see with the naked eye if they’re connected, particularly if you’re not exactly sure what to look for.
Before checking for this, you should know if your GPU even requires a PCIe cable or if it can mooch power directly off of a PCIe lane. It’ll be frightening to open your PC and see that there’s no cable connected to the graphics card. So, before you jump into that, make sure you know if your GPU even needs the power cable.
Another important thing to know is that it’s possible that, due to a recent upgrade, either somewhere else or with the GPU, you’ve overwhelmed your PSU (power supply unit). This can result in it not being able to accurately supply power to all the components.
If how much power your PC uses is not something you know by heart, don’t feel inadequate because you have no need to possess that knowledge.
You can simply use a component detecting software, like CPU-Z, and then use a power consumption calculator to see exactly how much power your PC needs. If it looks like your PC is properly power supplied, then move on to the next possible issue.
If you’ve already checked all the cables in your PC and everything is seated properly, but your GPU fan is still not working, it might be a good idea to plug it in a different computer (one that you know it’s working properly) and see if the issue persists.
The issue here is that sometimes, due to dust accumulation, the fan will stop spinning.
The easiest solution is to simply clean it. Well, that might not be so simple. Luckily, if this is the issue, you won’t need to be too thorough to get the fan going again.
Still, if you want to avoid this issue for a while, getting the fan cleaned through and through is what you should do. There are two schools of thought as far as cleaning is concerned. Those include air compression and the use of a cotton swab.
On the surface, using the air compressor seems like a foolproof method. While it certainly is very effective, sometimes there can be small pockets of space that you miss, simply because they’re either hard to reach anyway or because you’ve missed that spot.
Cotton swabbing used to be a standard method and it’s very effective in reaching tight spots, but it can be really tedious to clean every single place individually, not only on the GPU but on the whole motherboard.
In short, the most recommended method is using the air compressor, but you should also have cotton swabs ready to ensure that the inside of your case is spotless.
Oil The GPU’s Fan Bearings
Another product of age: fan’s bearings can start grinding and straight-up not spinning. The solution for this is to use a lightweight machine oil and the difference will be palpable.
A very common house solution is to use WD-40, but you should absolutely not use this, as it will just make things worse and possibly permanently damage the bearings, rendering your GPU fan useless.
If none of the previous tips have worked for you, then there’s only one solution left.
Change The Fan
Unfortunately, if nothing else has worked, you’re left with no other option then to get the fan changed. The reason why this should be the last resort is that this is the most troublesome solution.
First, you need to remove the GPU from the case and then carefully remove the fan. If you aren’t experienced, you can easily damage the GPU. Don’t be scared but remember to do this very cautiously.
Once the fan is removed, you can insert the new fan. When getting a new fan for your GPU, make sure to get one specifically for your graphics card. The good news is that the fans are usually adaptable to more GPUs, although they’re probably going to be from the same series.
Another thing to be careful about when getting a new fan is to check if your PSU has the right power cable for it. It probably does, but especially if you’re looking to upgrade your fan, you should be 100% sure of this.
Also, if your fan stopped working, it’s also likely to be an age issue. If that’s the case, you should look into getting a whole new GPU. Most modern mid-range graphics cards can easily outperform the high-end cards from five years ago.