GPU Fans Not Spinning

You need them spinning - that's their one job....

GPU Fans Not Spinning

So you have switched on your shiny new computer only to see a lack of movement from your GPU fans. In some cases, we only notice the fans have stopped working when the graphics card has started to stutter and underperform with games it could previously handle. Sometimes the fans not spinning can be a fault and not just the GPU fans sitting idle, which can be highly frustrating.

For those that have just spent a small fortune on the best GPU, we start to get a bit concerned when the new build isn’t running smoothly. There are a few ways to solve this problem and the promising news is that it is often a small issue that can be easily fixed, saving you from a costly replacement/ upgrade.


GPU Fans Aren't Spinning? - First Things To Know

You may have come across a term called 'idle' whilst searching for a solution to your fans not spinning and that is because it's a common trait of modern GPUs to sit idle. This means the fans will only start to spin when the GPU temperatures rise to a certain point and there is a need for it, saving power and keeping noise levels down.

To check and see if your fans are just idle and not faulty, start up a game and soon enough when the graphics card is put under a bit of stress the fans should startup.

Load up your most graphically demanding game to speed this process up.

It is worth installing a program like MSI afterburner as this will allow you to change the fan speed on your GPU and it might be the catalyst to get them going. MSI afterburner is commonly used to overclock the GPU but you can use it for monitoring this too.

At this stage, a complete restart is worth a try. A restart is a go-to fix for a lot of common issues and you would be surprised how often it works.


Other Issues That Could Be Stopping The Fans From Spinning

Sometimes with a fresh build, the odd cable can be loose either because we forgot to plug it in entirely (it happens to us all) or it wasn't completely 'seated'. Disconnect your PC and whip off the side panel to take a look. Remember some lower power GPUs don’t use PCIe power cables as they can run off the power coming through the lane instead.

Whilst you are inside your computer tinkering with cable connections it is worth checking everything is properly plugged in.

If the PCIe cable is plugged in and your GPU is recognized as connected but the fans are still not spinning, try swapping out the PCIe cable with a spare from your PSU box and re-test. At this stage, if the fans are still not responding it is going to be a different issue.


Next Steps

If you have checked through your cable connections and everything is hooked up as it should be but you still get no rotations on those fans under load, there are a few other things we can look into next.

It is almost always worth updating drivers when you get a hardware issue as it can resolve the problem with little effort much like a system reboot. Even if you have recently updated the drivers it may be worth deleting them and reinstalling once more just in case something was bugged/ corrupted.

For an extra bit of troubleshooting, we can eliminate the possibility this is a motherboard issue by first removing the GPU from the build, then run the PC with your monitor connected to the motherboard. If your PC boots up with no issues then it won't be a motherboard issue that is stopping the GPU fans from spinning.


Clean & Maintain

Remove the GPU

Take out the graphics card and give it a quick dust so there is nothing physically blocking it (dust & fluff). A dust cloth and your breath may be all you need to get that dust out however a can of compressed air is highly recommended for cleaning PC components. Once the GPU is clean you can reinstall the card, re-cable it and restart your system. Load up a graphically intensive game and wait for the fans to kick in.

So the card is clean however sometimes with older cards the fan bearings can wear, leaving them a little bit stiffer than when it was fresh out of the factory. A bit of oil can sort a mechanical bearing out but you need to make sure it is a lightweight mechanical oil which is also known as lubricating oil and whatever you don't use WD40! To add the oil we need to pop off the plastic fans and to do that you will need a very small screwdriver that can fit in between the blades. Double-check online as to how to remove the fans on your specific graphics card but usually, there are 6-8 screws around the center of the fan which hold it in place. The fans pop off these screwed in plates but it is a bit easier to do when the whole thing is disconnected. Once the fans off, apply a tiny amount of oil to the center bearings and only there, be sparing with the oil as you can always add more.

Tip: Blott away excess oil with a tissue once applied as you want a nice coating and not a small puddle.


How Do I Force My GPU Fan to Spin?

If your GPU is idle, the only thing you need to get that fan spinning is to fire up your favorite game and have a hearty session. As your GPU’s temperature rises, the fan or fans will automatically kick into action. Using a graphically demanding game will speed up this process.

If you want your GPU fans to spin at all times, you can use MSI Afterburner to tweak your fan’s behavior. Simply find the ‘Fan Speed’ section, then click ‘Manual’. From there you’ll be able to dial in your custom fan curve.

If that old chestnut didn’t do the trick, now’s a good time to check all your cables are properly seated. With so many involved in a PC build, it’s easy to miss one loose or missing connection.

Still no luck? Try reinstalling the latest drivers, and failing that, remove your GPU and give it some TLC with a thorough clean.

How Do I Know if My GPU Fan Is Working?

GPU fans aren’t known for being the quietest things in the world, so a sure-fire way to test if yours are working is to throw on your most graphically dense game, and play it on the highest settings.

Before much time has passed, you should hear what sounds like a plane taking off in the room. Don’t worry, it’s not a plane; it’s your GPU fans. If you’ve got a top-of-the-range case with a tempered glass panel or two, it might be best to leave it open, so you can hear clearly.

If the hearing test doesn’t suit you, you can just use the Global Wattman program found in the Radeon ‘Global Settings’ menu to keep an eye on your GPUs temperature under load. In the event that your GPU is going beyond 80-85°, and you can’t hear any fan activity, there’s a good chance your fans aren’t working.

How Do I Know if My GPU Is Dying?

If your GPU is walking the valley of the shadow of death, there’ll be a few tell-tale signs…


  • Crashing – If your GPU seems to be doing a sterling job one moment, then seconds later, your PC crashes and won’t reboot, there’s a good chance your GPU is giving up the silicone ghost.
  • Excessive Glitching and On-Screen Artifacts – Noticing that your games are glitching out more than they used to? This could be another sign your GPU is not long for this world.
  • Abnormal Performance – Sometimes rising temperatures can just mean it’s time to replace the thermal paste on your GPU, but occasionally, the paste isn’t the problem. High temperatures and erratic fan behavior and noise can be symptomatic of a GPU about to kick the bucket.


Is it Bad to Have GPU Fans Running All the Time?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your GPU fans running all the time, even if they’re set to 100%. You get the option to run them this way because they’re designed to handle the workload. That said, after years of constant spinning, the bearings will start to wear, but by that point, you’ll be well overdue an upgrade anyway.

Having your fans running constantly will help to keep your GPU temps way below average, which is great, but if you like peace and quiet, we can’t recommend it. Constant fans are an extremely noisy prospect even if you have a case with tempered glass paneling. If you mostly game wearing headphones and a directional mic, it’s not such a problem, but in any other circumstance, it’s not all that practical.


Time For A New GPU?

If nothing in this article worked but your component is still in warranty then it is worth contacting the seller directly to organize an exchange/ repair as you clearly have a faulty product. If it is old and way out of its warranty then these steps above may have been your last-ditch attempt to get more out of your GPU and it could be time to upgrade. Whether you need a low profile replacement, want the best possible GPU card for your setup or fancy the all-new RTX 20 series cards then you can head over to our in-depth guides for help and buying options.