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Top 6 Reasons Why Your Graphics Card Fans Are Not Spinning

Delivering the optimum performance for your gaming or streaming sessions is a tall order for graphics cards. No matter the variant, as soon as that benchmark hits, the card fires up to provide crisp, high-resolution visuals to your monitor of choice. Titles like Horizon: Forbidden West and Elden Ring represent the limits of the scale most developers are capable of presenting.

Still, with all that graphical fidelity comes the necessity to make the graphics card last for more than a few years. That can only be possible by minimizing the thermal damage. Since you can’t usually set up an independent cooling system for such cards, it is best to rely on the fans. Sometimes, they can malfunction, and you have to make do with operating way below the benchmark.

If you’re likely to encounter the issue, this piece is just for you. You’ll learn about the possible reasons for the graphics card fan not spinning and their respective solutions.

For New Graphics Cards

If you've just assembled a new PC, you might get nervous when the fan on your RTX 3000 series fans doesn’t turn on upon bootup. You might think of it as a faulty product and run for the refund door. But first, you should consider a few alternative scenarios that could help explain the problem in detail.


1. Sub-Optimal Stresses

The most common reason for fans on graphics card not spinning is that you're not using them to their full potential. Fans are used for cooling the card down when they draw excess power. If they don't need the energy in the first place, there is no need to use the fan.

To ensure that this is the case, you need to run a hardware-heavy program, such as a video game, to put enough thermal stress on your graphics card. Play a couple of multiplayer matches on Halo: Infinite and see if the fans of the graphics card start spinning.

You can also use a stress test/benchmark to streamline the process and obtain exact figures while you're at it. Most manufacturers ship their rigs with their own benchmark systems, like the MSI Afterburner or the Lenovo Performance Tuner. If you've used aftermarket parts, you can utilize third-party software like GFXBench and FrameView. These can even tell you whether your GPU is in idle mode.

2. Improper Driver Installation

A significant reason for graphics card fans not spinning on startup is that the drivers for your card didn't install properly. Sure, most graphics cards have automatic installation procedures, but they can be disrupted due to power cuts or circuit overloads.

You can reinstall the drivers manually from the Control Panel on Windows to rectify this issue. Right-click your graphics card from the available devices and select "Update Drivers." You may need to restart your PC. You can also uninstall the files manually and reinstall them using a package from the manufacturer's website.

3. Faulty Connections

The first advice most forums have for threads like "Why are my graphics card fans not spinning?" is to check your cable connections. When you were building your dream rig, you might have been a little too careful connecting the PCIe cables that draw power to the graphics card. You can confirm this by checking whether the OS detects your graphics card.

If that is the case, shut down your computer and recheck the cable connections. If your GPU doesn't have a PCIe cable, it would be best to check whether the screws into the motherboard are fastened tightly.

For Old Graphics Cards

It feels great to keep gaming on a trusty rig that has remained functional for some time. Yet, when the fans on the graphics card are not spinning, it can cause some heat for both yourself and the GPU. In that case, you may examine a few more factors in addition to the ones mentioned above.

4. Dust and Other Contaminants

Physical contaminants are the greatest enemy of any electronic system. It is why modern smartphones are sealed tight, and you place your gaming rig away from windows and vents. They are like the raptors from Jurassic Park. They can get anywhere fast, and you need to put in hefty work to get rid of them.

If left unchecked, it can physically damage your graphics card and pose a threat to other components as well. It is best to take apart your system and clean it thoroughly after every few months to counter this issue. Remove the power supply while doing so and wait at least 30 minutes if you have been using your PC.

It is best for the graphics card fans to gently remove them from the card and clean it from the inside. It would help to use a duster to remove the big chunks. Then, gently rub across the surface with a clean cotton cloth laced with an alcoholic cleaning solution. Be sure to let it dry for a few minutes before assembling the PC back together.

5. Lack of Lubrication

Another way to fix graphics card fans not spinning is to apply lubrication. Like the ratchet gear on a bicycle, GPU fans work by making contact with ball bearings to reduce friction. It is an efficient method, but the mechanism can get rough and lose effectiveness over time. Usually, the fans emit a grinding noise before halting in function.

In such a case, you only need to apply a few drops of lubricant to solve the problem. Please stay away from WD40 or kitchen oils, as they are too volatile to remain effective for more than a few days. Instead, it would be best to choose silicon-based solutions, most commonly used for sewing machines. You can locate them in your closest Walmart. You can come across them online when searching for terms like "Why are the fans on my graphics card not spinning."

5. Fan Damage

The graphics card fans stop spinning when things go terribly wrong due to dislocation or damage. It can occur when you let the contaminants build-up for long or interrupt the fans at high speeds. These are known as dead fans and, in most cases, replacement is your only option.

Tech experts advise not to run your GPU with dead fans as they are often the only cooling solution. The resulting thermal damage from extended use can ruin the graphics card or even cause a hazardous fire in your living room.

You should check both the size and the maximum allowed RPMs before replacing dead fans. Non-compatible ones can't fulfill your PC's cooling needs and can cause severe damage to the motherboard. The appropriate method is to provide a photo of your graphics card to the repair shop so that the professionals have the complete info.

Final Thoughts

Whether you use your PC for gaming, business, or both, it is best to take good care of it. The silicon shortage has already pushed back the manufacturing of new graphics cards by several years in today's age. So, you should preserve what you have and keep them optimized for as long as possible.

With a situation that involves graphics card fans not spinning, you don't need to panic. We hope the several measures mentioned in this article can help solve any potential short-term problems. If required, we can also provide you with quality fans, no matter which graphics card you operate.

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