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Are GPU Fans Always On?

I remember the moment when I plugged in my graphics card, the most expensive part of my PC, and the fans weren’t spinning when I was sitting on my desktop. Fortunately, I quickly found this relieving answer.

GPU fans are not always on for many graphics cards, but it depends on the graphics cards because some are built like this. However, many graphics card fans don’t turn on until you reach 50 – 60 degrees Celsius.

Let’s go deeper into how graphics card fans work and how you can adjust your graphics card fans to run less or more!

Are GPU Fans Always On?

At startup, your GPU fans may turn on for a little bit and then shut-off. It kind of looks like the GPU is testing to make sure everything runs, then puts itself back into sleep.

As we said, many GPU fans don’t turn on until you reach a certain threshold of temperature that is usually triggered by activity.

By activities, I mean programs that will use your graphics card intensely that will require your GPU to heat up, and therefore need cooling.

Gaming, for example, will cause your GPU to fire up pretty quickly. By the time you are in the menu screen before you even play, you can have your GPU fans running.

By the time you are 10 minutes into your session, you will likely be sitting at a temperature you will maintain for the rest of the night.

My graphics card sits at around 73 degrees Celsius while gaming because I have a 2070 super running a 1440p ultrawide monitor. For others, this may be less.

Other programs like Adobe Premiere can also get your GPU fans firing up as well.

Anything that includes lots of graphics-related tasks that must be done by your graphics card should eventually cause your fans to turn on after a certain amount of time.

When exactly your GPU fans turn on is decided by the fan curve.

The fan curve looks like a graph with a line that, well, curves. You will see the temperature on the bottom of the chart, and on the side, you will see fan speed percentage.

The hotter your GPU gets, the higher the fan speed goes up. This ensures that when your GPU gets hotter, your fans will adjust accordingly to prevent overheating.

Some fan curves will have the fan speed set to 0 by default until you reach 50 degrees Celsius, for example.

The logic behind this is that you can have a silent PC and no audible running fans when you are not using your graphics card for anything that needs cooling.

For example, when you are just browsing Reddit or watching some 1080p YouTube videos, you don’t need to have your GPU fans running at an audible 60% fan speed.

This is nice, but it’s also quite unnecessary because of how quiet GPU fans can run. Though noise tolerance is very subjective.

The good news is, you can very easily change your fan curve to make sure your fans run all the time, or if your fans are running all the time, you can decrease the fan curve to run less.

Measure Your Current Temperatures

You should check your temperatures first before you turn your GPU fans up or down to make sure you are making changes that won’t hurt your computer.

If your GPU fans are running all the time because your GPU is running hot, then you probably shouldn’t turn down your GPU fans.

If your GPU fans aren’t running enough, and you notice you notice your GPU temp is quite high, you should probably turn up your GPU fans.

If you notice your GPU fans aren’t running when you aren’t doing anything intensive and simply want to change this, you probably can skip to the next section.

First, install MSI Afterburner from the official MSI website and run through the installation wizard.

Once you complete that, open up the app and take a second to look at all the dials and switches, but don’t touch anything just yet.

MSI Afterburner is also an overclocking tool that, if misused, can be harmful to your PC’s functionality.

Click the settings cogwheel and navigate to the monitoring tab; make sure that GPU temperature measurement has a black outlined check next to it, then go down to the boxes below and activate “show in the on-screen display.”

When you launch a game, you should see the GPU temperature in the top left of your screen.

If you don’t, make sure MSI Afterburner is still running and that you saved the changes.

How To Change Your Fan Speed

Click the setting cogwheel, and then navigate to the fan tab in the new popup window.

Tick the box that says, “enable user-defined software automatic fan control.”

Now you should see a big graph and a few other options below you don’t need to worry about right now.

Your graph will have some points on it that are shaped like boxes.

These can be dragged left to right for defining a temperature at which you want to make a change.

Or you can drag them up to increase the fan speed or down to decrease the fan speed.

If you would like to add a new point to the graph to increase fan speed at a non-present temperature, click on the line at that temperature to add a new node.

This graph should always go from lower to higher, and there should never be any decrease in fan speed as you increase in temperature.

Always increase fan speed with the temperature as it is necessary to prevent overheating and thermal throttling.

At this point, you can either adjust your graph to be lower or higher depending on what the issue is that you are having.

If your GPU fans are not running at under 50 and want to change it, you can drag the fan speed up.

If your GPU temps are too high and you want to lower them once you reach 70 degrees Celsius, you can raise the fan speed at 70 degrees, and that should help.

Two final tips for this section, don’t run your fans higher than they need to be when you are under 50 degrees Celsius. I like to keep mine under 50% until I reach 50 degrees.

Second, make sure when you get to 80 degrees and above that, your fan speed is quite high.

If this happens, your GPU is in an abnormal situation and should be running at high GPU fan speeds to help cool it down.

FAQ: All About GPU Fans

  1. Should I leave my GPU fan on auto?

This is referring to the auto setting in MSI and EVGA GPU software. You can leave your GPU fan on auto to try it out. For many people, this should be good enough.

For me, my GPU was running hotter than I liked, so I decided to set my own custom fan curve, and that helped quite a bit.

  1. Is it bad to have GPU fans running all the time?

I couldn’t find anything concrete on the correlation between shorter fan lifespan and higher fan speeds, but it depends.

Some people seem to think higher fan speeds may wear out the longevity of your GPU fans.

Other people think if you don’t run your fans enough, the heat you put on your GPU can shorten the GPU’s life as a whole.

Right now, either side of the debate could be right.

However, I choose to keep my fan curve below 80% until I reach 75C and have confidence that my GPU fans were made to run extensively.

I don’t know if this shortens GPU fan lifespans. However, I know that it’s better than overheating my GPU until I begin getting thermal throttling.

  1. Is it bad to leave the fans off until 40C?

I haven’t had any problems with doing this in the past. While I’m on my desktop, I don’t have a need to run my GPU fans.

Plus, they always fire up to the proper fan speed when I start using my GPU intensively.

So, I don’t think this is bad. The fan curve should activate after this number, and the only reason to run fans below this number is for peace of mind.


I've been a PC gamer and builder for around 3 years now but my love for gaming spans many years all the way back to the Nintendo 64! Getting into PC gaming there was a lot of information that was hard to understand so I made it my mission to make PC gaming easy!

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