Are GPU Fans Supposed To Spin All The Time? (Explained)

No, GPU fans are not supposed to spin all the time. GPU fans start operating when the GPU reaches a specific temperature in order to lower its temperature. If the GPU is not in use, the fans may decrease their speed or halt to conserve energy and minimize noise. 

The latest GPUs are equipped with a built-in function that delays the activation of the fans until a specific temperature is reached. To adjust when the fans start spinning, you can modify the fan curve from its default configuration. 

To assess your graphics card performance on Windows 10 and Windows 11, open the Task Manager application from the Start menu. Choose the GPU option under the “Performance” tab.

Understanding GPU Fans and Their Purpose

GPU fans are part of the cooling system of the graphics card, which is a component that processes and renders images and videos on your computer. The graphics card generates a lot of heat when it is working, especially when you are playing games or using high-resolution applications. If the heat is not dissipated, the graphics card can overheat and damage itself or other parts of the computer.

To prevent this, GPU fans blow air over the heatsink, which is a metal device that absorbs and transfers heat from the graphics card. The air then exits through the vents or the back of the computer case. By doing this, GPU fans lower the temperature of the graphics card and keep it within a safe range.

However, not all GPU fans work the same way. There are two main types of fan control: fixed and variable.

Temperature Management

Fixed fan control means that the GPU fans spin at a constant speed regardless of the temperature of the graphics card. This ensures that the graphics card is always cooled, but it also consumes more power and makes more noise.

Variable fan control means that the GPU fans adjust their speed according to the temperature of the graphics card. This means that the fans spin faster when the graphics card is hotter, and slower or stop when the graphics card is cooler. This saves power and reduces noise, but it also requires a more sophisticated fan controller and software.

Types of Fan Control

There are different ways to implement variable fan control. Some graphics cards have a built-in fan controller that regulates the fan speed based on the temperature sensor on the graphics card. This is called PWM (pulse-width modulation) fan control. The fan controller sends pulses of electricity to the fan motor, which determines how fast the fan spins. The higher the pulse frequency, the faster the fan spins.

Other graphics cards rely on the software or the BIOS (basic input/output system) of the computer to control the fan speed. This is called DC (direct current) fan control. The software or the BIOS sends a voltage signal to the fan motor, which determines how fast the fan spins. The higher the voltage, the faster the fan spins.

Factors Influencing Fan Behavior

The fan behavior of a graphics card depends on several factors, such as:

  • The model and manufacturer of the graphics card and the fan
  • The type and settings of the fan control
  • The temperature and workload of the graphics card
  • The airflow and ventilation of the computer case
  • The ambient temperature and humidity of the room
  • The dust and dirt accumulation on the fan and the heatsink

These factors can affect how fast, how often, and how loud the GPU fans spin. Therefore, it is important to monitor the temperature and performance of your graphics card and your fan, and to keep them clean and well-maintained.

When Do GPU Fans Start and Stop Spinning?

If your GPU fans do not spin all the time, they will start and stop spinning depending on the temperature of the graphics card and the settings of the fan control. This is normal and does not mean that your fan or your graphics card is broken.

Factors Affecting Fan Activation

The factors that affect when your GPU fans start and stop spinning are:

  • The temperature threshold of the fan control. This is the minimum temperature that the graphics card needs to reach before the fan starts spinning. The temperature threshold can vary depending on the model and manufacturer of the graphics card and the fan, as well as the type and settings of the fan control. For example, some graphics cards have a temperature threshold of 60°C, while others have a temperature threshold of 40°C.
  • The hysteresis of the fan control. This is the difference between the temperature threshold for the fan activation and the temperature threshold for the fan deactivation. The hysteresis prevents the fan from spinning on and off too frequently, which can cause wear and tear and noise. The hysteresis can vary depending on the model and manufacturer of the graphics card and the fan, as well as the type and settings of the fan control. For example, some graphics cards have a hysteresis of 5°C, while others have a hysteresis of 10°C.

Normal Temperature Ranges

The normal temperature ranges for GPU fans to start and stop spinning are:

  • Idle temperature: This is the temperature of the graphics card when it is not doing any intensive tasks, such as browsing the web or watching a video. The idle temperature can vary depending on the model and manufacturer of the graphics card and the fan, as well as the factors mentioned above. For example, some graphics cards have an idle temperature of 30°C, while others have an idle temperature of 50°C. If the idle temperature is below the temperature threshold of the fan control, the fan will not spin. If the idle temperature is above the temperature threshold of the fan control, the fan will spin.
  • Load temperature: This is the temperature of the graphics card when it is doing intensive tasks, such as playing games or using high-resolution applications. The load temperature can vary depending on the model and manufacturer of the graphics card and the fan, as well as the factors mentioned above. For example, some graphics cards have a load temperature of 70°C, while others have a load temperature of 90°C. If the load temperature is above the temperature threshold of the fan control, the fan will spin. If the load temperature is below the temperature threshold of the fan control, the fan will stop spinning.
Sayan Dutta
Sayan Dutta

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