Skip to content


GPU Fans Not Spinning – The Complete Troubleshooting Guide

30 May 2022

Graphics cards are crucial components in gaming PCs and workstations. The GPU is responsible for rendering complex 3D graphics and videos. To prevent overheating under load, most graphics cards come equipped with fans to dissipate heat.

When your GPU fans stop spinning, it can lead to a host of problems - reduced performance, crashing games, display artifacts, and permanent damage if temperatures exceed safe limits. Thankfully, troubleshooting non-operational GPU fans is usually straightforward.

In this detailed guide, we will cover:

Let's get started!

When Are GPU Fans Supposed to Spin?

Modern graphics cards come with intelligent temperature-based fan control. The fans will remain stationary until the GPU reaches a predefined temperature threshold (usually around 60°C).

Once this limit is crossed, the fans will dynamically ramp up speed to keep temperatures in check. Under idle conditions and light workloads, you can expect the fans to remain stationary.

This behavior is completely normal and working as intended. You only need to worry if the fans refuse to spin when the GPU is under sustained load and temperature exceeds 60°C. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can jeopardize the graphics card's health.

Common Scenarios Where GPU Fans Are Not Spinning

There are a few telltale scenarios that point towards improper GPU fan operation:

1) Fans do not spin even under load

This is the most common symptom of faulty GPU fans. While idling or browsing, the GPU temperature stays low enough that active cooling is not needed.

But when you run intensive 3D applications or games, the temperature can rise quickly. Functional fans will react by spinning faster to dissipate heat.

If you notice that the fans remain stationary despite rising temperatures, there is likely an underlying issue.

2) Loud grinding or rattling noise from GPU

Faulty fan bearings often produce loud grinding or rattling noises. If you hear these types of sounds, it means that the fans are still physically spinning but the rotation is hampered.

3) Sporadic fan operation

Intermittent fan operation can also signal a problem. For example, the fans may randomly stop or slow down during use.

Or one fan could be spinning normally while the other one stalls. This erratic behavior typically occurs when fan motors start deteriorating.

4) Overheating-related crashes and artifacts

When the GPU overheats, you will encounter stability issues like game crashes, display artifacts, BSODs, and system hangs. The actual symptoms will vary based on how excessively temperatures exceed safe limits.

If you notice crashes and artifacts under load, non-functioning GPU fans may be the culprit.

5) Fan speeds stuck at 0 RPM

Tools like MSI Afterburner and GPU-Z can report fan speeds. If fan speeds are stuck at 0 RPM regardless of GPU load, the fans are definitely not working properly.

Why Are My GPU Fans Not Spinning?

There are several root causes for non-operational GPU fans:

1) Loose or Disconnected Fan Power Cable

The fan power cable provides the essential power that the GPU fans need in order to spin and operate properly. This cable connects from the graphics card PCB to the fan assembly. If this cable becomes loose or gets disconnected entirely from the fan header on the PCB, the fans will immediately stop functioning and spinning. It is important to inspect the cable for any damaged, bent or broken pins that could cause intermittent connections. Try fully disconnecting the cable and reinserting it to ensure a tight fit and proper contact. Fan power cables that have damaged wires or broken pin connectors will need to be replaced, as this can prevent a solid connection.

2) Faulty Fan Power Delivery Circuitry

In rare cases, the components on the graphics card PCB itself that are responsible for voltage regulation and power delivery to the fan header can fail over time. Visual inspection may reveal burnt out capacitors or power regulation chips. Using a multimeter to check the voltage coming from the fan header while the PC is on can help diagnose issues - no voltage indicates a blown component that needs replacement. Reflowing solder joints on the PCB using a hot air gun may temporarily resolve problems related to bad connections, but the issues are likely to recur. Overall, defective power circuitry on the board must be repaired or replaced to restore normal fan operation.

3) Blocked GPU Fans from Dust Buildup

Dust can silently accumulate on GPU heatsinks, shrouds, and fan blades over time, progressively obstructing airflow and eventually physically blocking the fans from being able to spin properly. Prolonged dust exposure can also act as an abrasive, wearing down fan bearings. Regular cleanings are crucial to prevent excessive buildup. Use compressed air to blow out any loose or exterior dust. However, internal dust buildup requires fully disassembling the GPU cooler to access and remove impacted dust. Intake dust filters on cases and maintaining positive pressure airflow inside the case can help prevent dust ingress into the GPU.

4) Worn Out or Damaged Fan Bearings

The fan bearings enable smooth, quiet rotation of the fan blades. Ball bearings or fluid dynamic bearing sleeves typically last over 50,000 hours before wearing out under normal use, though cheaper bearing sleeves may fail sooner. Listening closely to the fans during spin up and spin down will reveal rattling or grinding noises that signal worn out bearings in need of replacement. Lubricating dried out bearings with a small amount of oil can sometimes extend their lifespan slightly, but replacement is the permanent solution for defective bearings.

5) Physical Damage to Fan Blades

Any cracks, chips or breaks in the thin plastic fan blades can throw off the rotation balance, leading to noise, vibrations, and eventual seizing or stalling of the fan. Careful handling and transport of graphics cards helps prevent most accidental physical damage. GPU support brackets can also protect against motherboard flexing damage. Unfortunately, replacement fan blades are often unavailable as standalone components, requiring the entire fan or GPU cooler assembly to be replaced.

6) Burned Out Fan Motor Coils

The copper coil windings inside fan motors can occasionally short or burn out over time, halting power delivery and stopping fan operation. For motors where the coils are accessible, resoldering any loose wire leads can sometimes repair the damaged coils. However, for sealed integrated motor designs, a full replacement is required. When selecting a replacement, be sure to match the connector type and power ratings of the original fan. Use a multimeter to check voltage from the GPU fan header in order to isolate motor issues from other potential causes.

7) Emergency Thermal Shutdowns

Modern GPUs will heavily throttle clock speeds and power consumption before junction temperatures reach dangerous levels. However, prolonged temperatures above 105°C can permanently damage silicon. Emergency thermal shutdowns that disable the fans indicate that the GPU cooler is not making proper contact or that the thermal paste was incorrectly applied. While the maximum safe operating temperature is around 95°C, shutdowns triggered above this point signal an underlying cooling issue needs to be addressed.

8) Incorrect BIOS or Software Fan Control

The fan operation on most modern GPUs is customizable through utilities like MSI Afterburner. Incorrect settings configured in software can override the normal temperature-based fan control. Toggling off any abnormal settings related to fan control is recommended. Flashing a new BIOS onto the graphics card resets all control parameters back to default. While fan stop or zero RPM modes are normal at low temperatures, they should not remain active when the GPU is under heavy load or reaching higher temperatures where active cooling is required.

How to Fix GPU Fans Not Spinning

If your graphics card's fans are not spinning, it likely indicates an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Follow these detailed troubleshooting steps:

1) Eliminate Software Causes

Before diving into hardware fixes, rule out any software factors that could be preventing normal fan operation:

  • Update to the latest GPU drivers from Nvidia, AMD, or Intel depending on your graphics card model. Older, outdated drivers can contain bugs that interfere with proper fan speed control.
  • Reset any custom fan curves, speed profiles, or zero RPM modes that you may have configured in GPU tweaking utilities like MSI Afterburner back to their default settings. Incorrect custom profiles can stop fans incorrectly.
  • Consider completely uninstalling GPU tweaking utilities with a dedicated removal tool like DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) and reinstalling the latest versions clean. This eliminates any corrupted app settings.
  • If available for your graphics card, download and flash the latest VBIOS/firmware from the manufacturer's website. This resets all GPU parameters back to factory default.
  • Monitor current fan speeds and GPU temperatures during idle and load using a hardware monitoring tool like GPU-Z. Stuck or frozen fan speeds are a clue pointing to a hardware or VBIOS issue.

If the fans begin spinning correctly after making the above software changes, the problem was likely caused by an outdated driver, bad profile, utility conflict, or VBIOS misconfiguration.

2) Inspect All Connections

  • Shut down the PC fully, switch off the power supply via the rear switch, and remove the side panel to access internal components.
  • Locate the dedicated GPU fan power cable. It will be a small 2 or 3-pin connector coming directly off the graphics card PCB.
  • Unplug the fan cable from the GPU header and carefully reseat it until it clicks firmly into place. Bent pins or loose connections can prevent proper power delivery.
  • Ensure all main motherboard power cables are securely connected, including the 24-pin ATX and 4/8-pin EPS CPU cables. This powers the PCIe slot.
  • Check that all GPU power connections like 6-pin or 8-pin PCIe cables are properly seated in the graphics card. Loose cables interrupt critical power delivery.
  • Reinstall the graphics card in the PCIe x16 slot, reconnect all power cables, replace the side panel, and power the system back on. The fans should spin if the issue was a loose cable connection.

3) Isolate GPU Hardware Issues

If connection problems are eliminated, further isolate potential hardware faults:

  • Try moving the graphics card to a different PCIe slot on the motherboard. A defective PCIe slot can prevent proper GPU operation and fan functionality.
  • If possible, test the GPU in an entirely different system. This will help determine if the issue is limited to just the graphics card itself or could be caused by other factors like the PSU or motherboard.
  • Carefully inspect the fan shroud and blades for any foreign objects or debris obstructing normal rotation. Small particles can physically block the fans. Remove any found obstructions.
  • Closely examine the fans and motors for any visible physical damage like cracked blades. LISTEN for any grinding or abnormal noises during spin up/down. This signals worn out fan bearings.
  • Monitor key temperatures like the GPU core, hot spot, and memory junction using HWinfo or GPU-Z. Much higher than expected idle temperatures suggest poor cooler contact with the GPU chip itself.

4) Check Fans Individually

If the above hardware checks are normal, isolate each fan's operation individually:

  • Visually inspect each fan for excessive dust buildup on the blades and housing which can impede spinning. Clean thoroughly with compressed air if needed.
  • With the computer powered off, manually try spinning each fan with your finger to check for stiff or grinding resistance indicating worn out bearings. Healthy fans should spin freely and smoothly.
  • Disconnect the fan's cable from the GPU PCB header and use a multimeter on the lowest resistance range to check continuity between the positive and negative pins. This tests the winding coils. Infinite resistance points to broken motor coils.
  • Use a paper clip or jumper wire to briefly short the fan's power pins on the PCB header. This will supply voltage directly to the motors bypassing any control ICs. If the fans now spin normally, the issue lies with the GPU's fan control circuitry rather than the fan itself.

5) Repair or Replace Defective Fans

Once any faulty fans are identified, they can be repaired or replaced:

  • For worn fan bearings making grinding noises, apply 1-2 small drops of plastic-safe lubricating oil like sewing machine oil. This can temporarily restore smooth spinning capability.
  • If the GPU has multiple fans, swap the fan power connectors if possible to determine whether only certain fan headers on the PCB are malfunctioning and providing no power.
  • Replace any visibly damaged fan blades, motors that have failed continuity testing, or entire fan assemblies based on your diagnosis. Aftermarket replacements are available for most models. Watch online tutorial videos to properly disassemble the cooler, safely remove fans, and install replacements.
  • Consider upgrading fans to higher CFM models for improved cooling capacity. But verify the new fan's dimensions, connector type, power ratings are all compatible with your existing GPU cooler before installing to avoid further issues.
  • For failures pointing to the GPU's onboard fan control ICs or circuitry, professional electronics repair or replacement of the graphics card itself may be necessary.

6) Confirm Normal Fan Operation

After correcting any identified problems, verify fans now work normally across all GPU temperatures:

  • Boot into Windows and open a hardware monitor like GPU-Z. Let the PC sit idle at the desktop for 15+ minutes while carefully monitoring fan speeds and GPU core/memory temperatures. Fan stop or 0 RPM modes are normal at low temperatures.
  • Run a graphically intensive 3D game or benchmarking utility like FurMark for an extended period. Fan speeds should climb and gradually ramp up in a smooth linear response to the rising GPU temperature. Maximum fan speeds may not be attained until temperatures exceed 80°C or more in some models.
  • If temperatures remain worryingly high, consider adjusting the GPU fan curve to ramp up fan speeds sooner using the graphics card's tweaking utility. A more aggressive fan curve keeps temperatures lower but at the expense of higher noise levels.
  • Closely LISTEN to fans at all speeds for any loud grinding or abnormal noises indicating continuing mechanical issues. Power down immediately if any are heard to prevent fan damage.

With all fans now spinning smoothly across the full temperature range and keeping your graphics card at safe operating temps, the issue can be considered fully resolved. This systematic troubleshooting guide should help diagnose and correct any problems causing your GPU fans not to spin properly. Let me know if any part of the explanation needs more detail or expansion.

Additional Solutions for GPU Fan Issues

7) Update the GPU BIOS

Checking for a BIOS update from your graphics card manufacturer can potentially fix fan control bugs. Just be very careful when flashing the GPU BIOS and follow instructions precisely. Newer BIOS revisions often improve fan curve programming.

Before updating, note your current BIOS version. Download the latest BIOS file for your specific GPU model from the manufacturer's website. Reboot into the BIOS flash utility. Follow prompts to flash the new BIOS, allowing time for the process to fully complete. After a reset, confirm the new BIOS version is showing in GPU utilities.

8) Improve Case Airflow

More case fans or higher static pressure fans can significantly improve airflow across your GPU's heatsink, lowering temperatures. This reduces the workload on the GPU fans.

Aim for at least 2-3 front case intake fans and 1-2 exhaust fans. Avoid solid front case panels that block airflow. Ensure a clear path through the case interior by moving cables out of the way.

Higher CFM fans can maintain strong airflow at lower RPMs, reducing noise. Noctua, be quiet!, and Arctic P series fans are great options. A CPU tower cooler blowing towards the GPU is preferable over a downdraft cooler.

9) Undervolt the GPU

Undervolting involves reducing the GPU's voltage to decrease power draw and heat generation. This allows the chip to run cooler with less thermal load on the fans.

Use GPU software like MSI Afterburner to gradually lower voltage in small steps while testing stability. Don't reduce voltage too drastically. Benchmark the GPU and check for crashes or visual artifacts. Target a stable voltage that provides a temperature drop without impacting performance.

10) Disable Zero RPM Fan Modes

Many modern GPUs have "zero RPM" fan modes that halt fans entirely below 50-60°C. This can cause fans to randomly stop and start while gaming as temperature fluctuates.

Disable zero RPM modes in your GPU software. Or set a custom fan curve with a minimum 20-30% fixed fan speed rather than 0% at low temperatures. This prevents abrupt fan speed changes that strain fan motors.

Constantly power cycling fans instead of running at minimum speeds can wear them out quicker over time. Disabling zero RPM modes helps avoid this.

Protecting and Maintaining Your GPU Fan

The GPU fan is crucial for keeping your graphics card from overheating. Here are some best practices to help protect your GPU fan and extend its lifespan:

1) Keep the GPU Clean

Dust buildup is the enemy of GPU fans. Dust particles can clog the fan bearings and prevent the blades from spinning smoothly. They can also build up on the heatsink fins, reducing heat dissipation.

Get into the habit of thoroughly cleaning dust out of your PC case every few months. Use compressed air cans specifically designed for electronics. Hold the can upright and spray short bursts as you move across the GPU. Avoid blowing air directly onto the fan blades from close range to prevent damage.

Q-tips and small paintbrushes can help dislodge stuck-on dust in tight crevices around the GPU die and heatsink. Just be very gentle. Try not to detach any cables or components.

2) Optimize Airflow in Your Case

Your GPU fan works hard to push hot air away and draw cooler external air over the heatsink. Restricted airflow inside your PC case makes the job much tougher.

Make sure your case intake and exhaust vents have enough clearance. Avoid mounting fans flush against solid panels or glass windows, as this compresses the airflow. Cable management is also important - bundles of cables can obstruct interior airflow.

Adding more high-quality case fans can significantly improve airflow across your GPU. Aim for at least 1-2 intake fans and 1 exhaust fan. More fans require lower RPMs to move the same amount of air, resulting in less noise.

3) Customize the GPU Fan Curve

Don't just leave your GPU fan on the default settings. The stock fan curve is designed for one-size-fits-all compatibility rather than longevity.

Use your GPU's software utility to create a custom fan curve optimized for your use case. For example, you may want to ramp up fan speeds at lower temperatures for increased performance or delay max fan speed to reduce noise.

Just be careful not to reduce fan speeds too much. Aim to keep GPU temps under 80°C even during intense gaming sessions. Running fans at 100% perpetually will wear them out quicker, so find a good balance.

4) Replace Thermal Pads

The thermal pads between the GPU chip and heatsink can also degrade over time, reducing heat transfer. For optimal cooling, consider replacing the pads when you re-paste the GPU.

Research the pad thickness needed for your specific GPU model. Companies like Thermalright and Gelid Solutions make replacement pads in various sizes. Make sure to get pads with high thermal conductivity of at least 6 W/mK.

When replacing pads, thoroughly clean the contact areas of prior pad material. Carefully apply the new pads on all VRAM and VRM chips before re-attaching the heatsink. This provides superior contact and heat transfer away from critical components.

Properly replacing aged thermal pads and paste can lower GPU temperatures by 15°C or more. Just take your time and follow a disassembly guide for your specific model. This relatively inexpensive maintenance helps extend the lifespan of your graphics card.

5) Handle the GPU Gently

Always grasp graphics cards by the edges or shroud, avoiding contact with the fan blades. Never hold a GPU solely by the fan as this risks damaging the spinning mechanism.

When installing a GPU, take care not to bump the fans against case cables or components. The same applies when moving your computer - sudden impacts from drops or shakes can bend the fan blades.

6) Clean Fans Separately if Needed

For neglected GPUs with heavy dust buildup, it may help to remove the fans entirely for cleaning. Look up a disassembly guide for your specific model. This allows scrubbing away caked dust and debris from both sides of the fan.

You can also soak the fan blades in high purity isopropyl alcohol to dissolve oil and particulates. Just let them dry fully before reinstalling. Applying lubricant formulated specifically for computer fans can help get old seized-up fans spinning again.

With proper care and maintenance, your GPU fans can keep your graphics card running cool for years before needing replacement. Just be sure to follow best practices when handling, cleaning and customizing the GPU. A well-maintained fan is less likely to fail prematurely.

GPU Fan Not Spinning Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why do my GPU fans randomly stop?

Answer: Intermittent fan stoppages are usually caused by failing fan bearings or motors. As mechanical parts degrade, normal operation becomes erratic. Try lubricating the bearings, but replacement may be required if problems persist.

Question: Can a GPU work without a fan?

Answer: A GPU can technically function without active cooling for light workloads. But temperatures will rise steadily under load without a functioning fan. Once around 105°C is reached, irreparable damage can occur. Prolonged use without a fan is strongly discouraged.

Question: What temperature should GPU fans turn on?

Answer: Most graphics cards today use a 0 RPM fan mode and will only begin spinning once around 55-60°C. Normalized fan speeds are usually attained by 70°C, with max speeds by 80°C. These thresholds can be customized with utilities like MSI Afterburner.

Question: Why does my GPU fan go to 100% then off?

Answer: This behavior points to emergency thermal shutdowns to protect the GPU from overheating damage. Once temperatures drop, the fans will restart. This suggests cooling issues that need to be addressed immediately.

Question: Can GPU fans be oiled?

Answer: Small amounts of lightweight lubricating oils can sometimes revive worn fan bearings. Sewing machine oil or plastic-safe oils are ideal for the delicate motors. Avoid using WD-40 or similar solvent-based fluids as they can damage plastics.

Question: Why does my GPU fan keep revving up and down?

Answer: This is usually caused by the GPU's automatic fan control ramping speeds up and down to maintain optimal temperatures. It's normal for fans to frequently adjust when going from lower to higher workload.

Question: How can I control my GPU fan speeds?

Answer: Most GPUs come with software from the manufacturer that allows customizing fan curves and speeds. Popular 3rd party tools like MSI Afterburner also give you fan control.

Question: Do GPU fans require maintenance?

Answer: Yes, GPU fans should be cleaned regularly to remove any dust buildup and ensure they spin freely. Replacing dried thermal paste can also help GPU fans work optimally.

Question: Can I replace a failed GPU fan myself?

Answer: Yes, GPU fans can be replaced, but the process varies by model. Search online for a teardown guide specific to your graphics card. Replacement fans can be purchased online.

Question: Why does my GPU fan run loud when gaming?

Answer: When gaming, the GPU has a heavy workload and needs more airflow. The fans will ramp up to higher speeds to keep the GPU from overheating. Improving case cooling can help reduce noise.

Expert Tips for Troubleshooting GPU Fans

  • Monitor temperatures as well as fan speeds. High temperatures can confirm fans are non-functional even at 0 RPM.
  • Adjust fan response curves before assuming fans are broken. A higher trigger temperature for fan spin-up is normal.
  • Test fans individually when troubleshooting. A single locked fan can prevent others from spinning.
  • Upgrade to high CFM fans if replacing. More airflow keeps temperatures lower at lower noise levels.
  • Back up GPU BIOS first if flashing. Corrupted BIOS files can brick graphics cards.
  • Seek professional repair for possible PCB issues. Faulty fan control circuitry requires board-level diagnosis and soldering skills.


Maintaining proper thermal performance is critical for both GPU lifespan and avoiding crashes/instability. Non-spinning fans defeat the key cooling mechanism.

Thankfully, basic troubleshooting can identify and resolve common causes like cable issues, stuck fans, and worn bearings. Replacing defective fans restores normal automated operation.

With the detailed guidance in this guide, you should now have the necessary knowledge to thoroughly diagnose and fix any problems you encounter with GPU fans not spinning. Just take the appropriate steps outlined here, and your graphics card's cooling capabilities will be restored in no time.

Prev Post
Next Post

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Choose Options

Edit Option
Back In Stock Notification
this is just a warning
Shopping Cart
0 items