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GPU Fans Not Spinning – How to Troubleshoot and Fix

The GPU on any system will heat up. There isn’t anything that can be done to keep the GPU from heating up but there is plenty you can do to keep your system and the GPU itself cool enough to prevent damage to your hardware. One of the cooling mechanisms that are built into a system are fans. As simple as they sound, they work really well.

The chassis of a laptop or desktop PC are designed such that the fans on a system can circulate hot air out and suck cool air in. For many users, these fans are the only cooling mechanism keeping their system from heating up.

If the fans fail to run when the system gets hot, your hardware will be damaged and your system will shut down when it overheats.

GPU Fans Not Spinning

If the fans on your GPU are not working, the cause may be hardware problems, or hardware problems, or a combination of both. Here’s what you can do to fix the problem.

1. Run system through its spaces

The fans on a system can be exceptionally loud, and they can be very quiet. It really depends on the hardware you have. Make sure the room your system is in is as quiet as it can be and run it through its paces e.g., play a game and check if you can hear the fans running.

It’s a good idea to install an app that can tell you what the temperature of the GPU is. We recommend using SpeedFan.

Your fans aren’t going to run unless the system is hot or beginning to heat up. Once it does, the fans should start but they won’t run at their full/highest speed. They will start running slowly and if the system’s temperature doesn’t drop, they will run faster. If they don’t start to spin up even after you’ve put your system under stress for thirty minutes, you need to check the hardware.

2. Basic GPU maintenance

If the fans aren’t running, some basic maintenance may fix the problem.

  1. Open the chassis/case of the system. Dust it well. Use a can of compressed air and a soft cloth to clean the GPU. It should not be covered in dust. The fan blades should not be jammed with anything and you should be able to spin them manually.
  2. Check if the fan’s bearings need to be oiled. This may require special expertise so if you’re not sure how to oil the bearings, have an expert take a look. You will need to remove the GPU and the fans from the system. It’s a complicated process and it differs based on the hardware.

3. Change power connectors

The GPU needs to draw power in order to work. If the power connector is loose or damaged, it may prevent the GPU and its fans from working. Replace the power connector and power up your computer. Play a game or do anything else that will force the OS to use the GPU and check if the fans start to spin.

4. Update drivers

In order for the GPU to work, it needs the right drivers installed. Outdated drivers may prevent the GPU from regulating its own temperature i.e., it might keep the fans from spinning.

  1. Find the name and model of your GPU. On Windows 10, you can go to the Performance tab in Task manager to look it up.
  2. Look for the latest driver that is available on the GPU manufacturer’s website and install it.
  3. Restart the system and run any task that will force it to use the GPU. Check to see if the fans start running.

5. Check fans via software

It’s possible the fans are no longer functional. If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter how hot the GPU is, they won’t run. To manually run the fans on your system, follow these steps.

  1. Download a free app called MSI Afterburner. Install and run it.
  2. Click the setting button.
  3. Go to the Fans tab.
  4. Enable the ‘Enable user defined software automatic fan control’ option.
  5. Apply the change.
  6. Return to the main interface of the app, and use the fan slider to set the fan speed to maximum.
  7. If the fan starts to spin, it is working. If it doesn’t spin, the fan is likely damaged beyond repair. You may need to replace it or the entire GPU.

6. Laptop vs Desktop

Laptops come with powerful hardware but because of their size, they do have to cut corners somewhere. A laptop generally does not have a GPU fan. There will only be one or two fans in it and they will be CPU fans. If you’re using a laptop then you need to look for apps that will allow you to manually change the fan speed, or start them when the GPU or the core system heats up. We have a guide on how to do just that.

Conclusion

GPUs generally have a long lifespan. They’re less likely to be damaged and more likely to become outdated over time as newer models come out. That said, they can still be damaged, and often it’s because users aren’t careful with their system. If your system has been experiencing crashes and random shutdowns anytime you run an app that uses the GPU, it is possible the hardware is damaged. It may not have anything to do with the fan at all and everything to do with the chip. Have it checked by a professional and consider investing in new hardware.

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