GPU Fan Not Spinning? Potential Causes and Solutions

The most common issue first-time PC builders face is that, after they build their computer and turn it on for the first time, their graphics card fan(s) don’t spin. This can be extremely annoying and may indicate that there is a problem.

However, more often than not, the builder likely made a simple mistake and the solution is straightforward. Does the GPU fan of your graphics card not spin? Here’s how you can fix it so that your GPU stays cool! The following guide will explain common reasons why the GPU fan won’t spin.

The most common reason that your GPU fan isn’t spinning

The GPU may not turn on until it reaches a specific temperature. In addition, they include a passive cooling mode that reduces the amount of noise they produce. Users actually recognize that their GPU fans aren’t spinning before they finish building and using their systems for a long enough period of time. And, when they discover it does not spin, they assume something is wrong, when in fact the card is merely designed to function that way.

GPU Fan Not Spinning - Potential Causes and Solutions

GPU Fan Not Spinning – Potential Causes and Solutions

Put your graphics card under load by running a game or stress test/benchmark that puts your GPU under load. The fan(s) can be manually set to run at a higher speed or MSI Afterburner can be installed. After manually setting the fans in MSI Afterburner or when the card becomes hotter, fans will not start when the game or benchmark gets going. This is probably caused by another issue.

Other Problems That Could Prevent Your GPU’s Fans From Being Spinnable

Check these other reasons for your graphics card’s fans not spinning if it is brand new, and everything is turning on except the GPU (and its fans):

1. PCIe power is not plugged in

Many first-time builders fail to plug things into their systems. I’ve built a number of systems and I’ve forgotten to plug things in the past as well. So, you might simply have forgotten to plug the PCIe power cable into your PSU, which could be the cause for your GPU fans to stop spinning.

Ensure that the graphics card is properly connected to the power supply. You should note, however, that some graphics cards do not have PCIe power connectors, because they run solely from the PCIe technology introduced in PCIe 3.0. Basically, if the fans stop spinning and the GPU doesn’t work and you don’t have a PCIe connection to your power supply, you have something else wrong.

Try swapping out the PCIe cable with a spare from your PSU box if your GPU is not recognized when connecting and the fans are still not spinning. At this stage, if the fans still do not respond it is probably a different issue.

2. Another Power Cable is not plugged in

Although ‘GPU fan not spinning’ is something you’d probably need to search for on Google if something isn’t working, it is always a good idea to check all connections to be sure that they are A) actually connected and B) seated properly.

There are a few additional things we can check into if you’ve already checked your cable connections and they are all plugged in correctly but the fans are still not rotating under load.

It is almost always worthwhile updating drivers when you encounter a hardware problem as it can resolve the problem with little effort, just like a system reboot. Even if you have just recently updated your drivers, it is worth deleting them and reinstalling them for peace of mind.

It’s my guess, though, that if you search for reasons why your GPU fan isn’t spinning, then possible you’re missing a component or two in your system. In the event that your GPU fan is still not spinning after you have checked that all cables are reseated and are plugged in, you may be facing a different issue; it’s possible that a component is defective.

Solutions – Here’s what you do next

In this case, you should make sure all your components are properly seated. If you are not getting power to the graphics card, and the GPU fans are not spinning (and they aren’t the result of being in passive cooling mode), then you may have a faulty component.

  1. It is possible that your original power supply is faulty. If you have access to another power supply with proper power, install it and recheck if the graphics card and fans turn on. If you cannot turn it on, it is possible that your motherboard and/or graphics card are malfunctioning. Next, you can try installing a different graphics card in a different PCIe lane and checking if the PCIe lane in your motherboard is faulty. If it still doesn’t work there may still be an issue with your motherboard or graphics card.
  2. Try installing the new graphics card inside another computer (that has been known to work) to see if that works. The graphics card in the original system is likely to be bad if the computer turns on properly in the test computer. But if it doesn’t work in the test computer, then the motherboard is probably bad.
  3. Try removing the graphics card completely and see if your system boots up without it. The motherboard could be the source of the problem if the system boots up perfectly fine without a graphics card installed. It is probably a good idea to run stress tests on the system if it does boot up without the graphics card installed to see if any problems arise. You would likely eliminate the possibility of a bad PCIe power connector it if you tested the graphics card with a known functioning power supply and the graphics card still wouldn’t work, which is a good sign that the graphics card itself isn’t to blame.
  4. Take the graphics card out and dust it off so nothing is blocking it (dust and fluff). The only tool people need to clean PC components is compressed air but if you don’t have it, a dust cloth and their breath may work just as well. The GPU is clean after being removed from the computer. Just do a reinstall, re-cable, and restart. The fans should start working once you load an intensive game.The card is clean, but over time the fan bearings can wear out, leaving them stiffer than in its factory state. It is best to use a lightweight machine oil referred to as lubricating oil, rather than WD40. Remove the plastic fans and add the oil with a very small screwdriver which will fit in between the blades. There are usually six to eight screws around the center of the fan to hold it in place, but make sure you find instructions online as to how to remove your specific graphics card’s fans. Taking the fans off will involve removing the screwed-in plates, although it is possible to detach them once everything is disconnected. Once off, shake on some oil to the bearings at the center, but do not over oil.

At this point, if the GPU still isn’t working after running the tests above, it is likely defective and will need to be replaced.

There could be issues preventing your GPU fan from spinning on an older build.

Your graphics card’s fans may not be working if you have an older system:

1. Could your GPU be too dusty?

If you have an older system and you find that your graphics card fans don’t spin, then you may need to remove the card and clean it. Use compressed air to clean any dust from the fans. Once you’ve cleaned them out, make sure to check them again, or try the possible fix described here.

2. Does the GPU Fan’s bearing require oiling?

The newer your graphics card is, the better it will perform, so if you have an older one and the fans are not spinning, re-oil the bearings of the fans for some extra life. The graphics card should be removed from your system (if you haven’t already), the fan(s) should be removed, and three drops of 3-in-1 household oil (a lightweight machine oil works, but do not use WD-40) should be applied to the dust collector.

When you apply the oil, your fans will likely begin spinning again. If not, your graphics card is likely to stop working.

Could it be time to upgrade older GPU fans?

If you have an old graphics card and it won’t spin anymore, it probably needs to be replaced. Check out our Graphics Card Buyer’s Guide if you need a high-end graphics card. Here are our recommendations for the best graphics cards under $150 if you need an affordable option.