The GPU fan not spinning is a frustrating experience and it can come from various different reasons and thus can have a lot of solutions, both easy and complicated.
There’s probably nothing more infuriating than building your brand new PC and then realizing that a component isn’t working, potentially destroying your entire machine. And if that thing is as small as the GPU fan not working, it can be exceptionally irritating.
Then there’s the possibility of the GPU fan stopping when everything already worked for a while that’s probably even more frustrating.
Important: some GPU fans aren’t meant to spin all the time. They have something that’s called passive cooling and it actually shifts the responsibility to the heatsink to cool the GPU when it’s not under heavy stress, like when you’re browsing the web. 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 the simplest solution will fix the problem. Still, 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 are 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’s 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 do. The simplest 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 will come with automatically-adjustable fan speeds and will work just fine in the vast majority of cases, provided the GPU isn’t overclocked. If you’re looking to tinker with that, it’s strongly advisable to 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, as many factors can influence the temperature of the GPU, you can always install a tool like previously mentioned MSI Afterburner or something else that’s more specialized like SpeedFan, and adjust the temperature yourself.
Check Your Drivers
If the fan still isn’t spinning after you applied stress tests or manually adjusted the fan speed, it’s quite possible that you’ve been barking up the wrong tree.
It may very well be an option that your GPU driver needs an update. 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.
There’s also a possibility that if you tinkered with your fan settings you accidentally knocked them off their default settings and that’s messing with the driver properly executing. More often than not though, this is a manufacturer issue.
After you’ve checked that you have the latest drivers, it might not be the worst 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.
When you restart your computer, the RAM is being wiped clean. Because of its nature, it 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 the memory which wasn’t being used but 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, now it can try again. If that doesn’t work, then you have a network connectivity problem and that’s a different guide altogether.
Unfortunately, these are more likely and harder to fix. Well, they can be fixed, but you’ll have 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 the cables are small, and sometimes it can be hard to see with the naked eye if they’re connected, especially to those who aren’t exactly sure what to look for.
Before checking for this, you should know if your GPU even requires a PCIe cable or 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) and now it can’t properly supply power to all the components. If you don’t know by heart how much your PC uses power, don’t feel inadequate because you have no need to know that.
You can very simply use a component detecting software, like CPU-Z, and then use this free online tool to see exactly how much power your PC needs. If it looks like your PC is properly power supplied, then you 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 (that you’re certain that it works) and see if the issue persist.
The issue here is that sometimes, due to the dust accumulation, the fan will stop spinning.
The best and easiest solution is to simply clean it. Well, that might not be as 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 are air compression and using the cotton swab.
On the surface, using the air compressor seems like a foolproof method and 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 you missed that spot.
Cotton swabbing used to be a standard and it’s very effective in reaching those tight spots, but it can be really tedious to clean every single place, not only on the GPU but on the whole motherboard.
That’s why the most recommended method is using the air compressor, but 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.
Another common house solution is to use WD-40, which you should absolutely not use, as it will just make things worse and possibly permanently damage the bearings, rendering your GPU fan useless.
If that’s what you already did, or if non of the previous solutions worked, then there is only one solution left.
Change The Fan
Unfortunately, if nothing else 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 hardest and the most complicated 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, but don’t be scared, just be careful.
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 often 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. Odds are that they do, but if you’re trying to upgrade the fan with a stronger one, you should be 100% sure.
Also, if your fan stopped working, it’s likely that it’s due to the old age and if that’s the case, you should look into getting a new GPU. Most modern mid-range graphics cards can easily outperform the high-end cards from five years ago.