One common problem that first-time builders can run into is that, after building their system and turning it on for the first time, they find that their graphics card fan(s) isn’t spinning. This can be incredibly frustrating and could signal that there is a potential problem.
However, in the majority of cases, the reality is that it is probably a simple mistake that the builder missed and the solution is simple. So, in this guide, we’re going to go over what some of the more common reasons why your GPU fan isn’t spinning.
Most Common Reason Why Your GPU Fans Aren’t Spinning
Believe it or not, some graphics cards won’t spin until they hit a specific temperature. They come with a passive cooling mode that is designed to help them cut down on system noise. In this instance, a lot of users actually finish their build and use their systems for a given length of time before they notice that their GPU fans aren’t spinning. And, when they finally realize that it isn’t spinning, they assume something is wrong, when in reality, that was just the way the card was designed to operate.
To test if this is what is happening with your graphics card, simply run a game or stress test/benchmark that will put your GPU under load. You can also install MSI Afterburner and raise the speed of the fan(s) manually. If your graphics card’s fans don’t turn on when the game/benchmark gets going (and the card gets hotter) or after manually setting them in MSI Afterburner, then you likely have a different problem.
Other Problems That Could Be Preventing Your GPU’s Fans from Spinning On A New Build
If you have a brand new PC build where everything is turning on except the GPU (and its fans), check these other common reasons why your graphics card’s fans might not be spinning:
1. PCIe Power Isn’t Plugged In
Some first-time builders forget to plug things in. I’ve built quite a few systems and I’ve forgotten to plug things in before. It happens. So, one reason why your GPU fans might not be spinning could simply be because you forgot to plug the PCIe power cable from your PSU into it.
Check to see that your graphics card is connected to your power supply. Note, though, that some graphics cards (like the GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1050 to name a couple) don’t have 6 or 8-pin PCIe power connectors because they run solely off of the power provided to them through the PCIe lane. So, if you have a graphics card that doesn’t need to be connected via a PCIe connection from your power supply and the fans aren’t spinning and the GPU isn’t working, then there is something else wrong.
2. Another Power Cable Isn’t Plugged In
While you’d probably be searching for a term other than ‘GPU fan not spinning’ for this potential issue, it is always a good idea to double-check all of the connections in your system if something is not working and make sure that all connections are A) actually plugged in, and B) seated correctly. My guess, though, is that if you’re searching for reasons why your GPU fan isn’t spinning, then likely the other components (and fans) in your system are working, but just your GPU isn’t. So, if you’ve reseated all of the cables and ensured that they’re all plugged in and your GPU fan still isn’t spinning, then you’re facing a different issue—and it’s possible that you have a faulty component.
What to Do Next
If your components are all seated correctly and you’re not getting any power to your GPU, or your GPU fans aren’t spinning (and it isn’t the result of being in passive cooling mode), then you may have a faulty component. From there, it’s a good idea to check the following:
1. If you have access to a known working power supply, install that one and recheck if your graphics card and its fans turn on. If it turns on, the original PSU may be faulty. If it doesn’t turn on, it may be that your motherboard and/or graphics card are faulty. From there, you can try installing the graphics card in a different PCIe lane and seeing if the PCIe lane on your motherboard is bad. If it still doesn’t work, it still could be an issue with the motherboard or the graphics card itself.
2. If you have access to another computer (that is known to be working), install the new graphics card inside of it to test and see if it turns on. If it turns on properly in the test computer, then it is likely that the motherboard in the original system is bad. If it doesn’t turn on in the test PC, then it is likely that the graphics card is faulty.
3. Remove the graphics card from the build entirely and see if your system boots up without it. If your system boots up just fine without the graphics card installed in it, that could eliminate the motherboard as being the problem. If it does boot up without the graphics card installed in it, it’s probably a good idea to run stress tests on the system to see if any problems pop up. If it doesn’t have any issues without the graphics card in it, it’s either possible that the PCIe connector on the PSU is bad (which, if you tested the graphics card with a known working power supply and the graphics card still wasn’t working, that would likely eliminate the possibility of a bad PCIe power connector), or the graphics card is faulty.
At this point, if you’ve run through the three tests above and your GPU still isn’t working, it is probably faulty and should be returned/RMA’d for a replacement.
Issues That Could Be Preventing the Fans on Your GPU from Spinning on an Older Build
If you have an older system and your graphics card’s fans are no longer working, then the following might be causing the issue:
1. Is Your GPU Too Dusty?
If you have an older system and the fans on your graphics card used to work fine, but now aren’t spinning, then you might want to pull the card out and clean it. You can use a can of compressed air to remove any dust that has collected on the fans. Once you’ve cleaned it out, you can either check it again or try the possible fix listed below as well before you recheck it.
2. Do your GPU’s Fan’s Bearings Need to Be Oiled?
If you have an aging graphics card and the fans are no longer spinning, then you may be able to squeeze some extra life out of them by re-oiling the bearings on the fans. You’ll have to remove your graphics card from your system (if you haven’t already), remove the fan(s), peel off the sticker on the back, and apply a couple of drops of 3-in-1 household oil (a lightweight mechanical oil will work, but don’t use WD-40.)
If the oil gets your fans spinning again, then great. If it doesn’t it’s likely that your graphics card will no longer work for you.
Older GPU Fans Not Spinning? Is It Time for An Upgrade?
If you have an older graphics card and you can’t get its fans to spin anymore, it’s likely time to replace it. If you need a high-end graphics card, check out our Graphics Card Buyer’s Guide. Or, if you need a budget-friendly option to hold you over until you can afford a more powerful GPU, check out our top options for the best graphics cards under $150.