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The Disadvantages of Graphics Card Fan Speeds

Updated February 21, 2017

Computers consist of many interconnected parts that work together to access, store, process and display data. Graphics cards or video cards are computer hardware components that help process graphics and send video signals to monitors. Many graphics cards have built-in fans to cool the graphics processing unit or GPU. Many computers graphics cards adjust fan speeds automatically while other computers allow users to control the fan speeds. High and low fan speeds are associated with different potential disadvantages.

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Disadvantages of High Fan Speed

The main disadvantage of high graphics card fan speed is the potential for excess noise. The faster a fan spins, the louder it tends to run, so high fan speeds can lead to a noticeable and possibly annoying whirring sound. On computers that adjust fan speeds automatically, you will likely notice a spike in fan noise whenever you run graphically intensive programs like computer games. High fan speeds may also cause noticeable vibrations and will tend to use more electricity than low fan speeds.

Disadvantages of Low Fan Speed

The primary drawback of low graphics card fan speed is that it can lead to excessive levels of heat in the graphics processing unit. If a graphics card gets too hot, it can result in poor computer performance and can potentially result in computer crashing. Severe overheating can cause permanent damage to a graphics card.

Adjustable Fan Speeds

If your computer allows you to adjust fan speeds or you have modified your computer with hardware or software to allow you to adjust fan speeds, you may put yourself in greater danger of experiencing problems with your graphics card. When computers automatically adjust fan speed, they can increase speed quickly when the graphics card gets too hot, to make sure it doesn't overheat. If you set the fan speed yourself, you might not be aware of heat spikes which could lead to overheating.


It is possible to monitor the heat levels of your graphics processing unit using software that taps into temperature sensors in your computer. Popular temperature monitoring programs include SpeedFan and HWMontior. Running temperature monitor programs can allow you to keep tabs on the heat in your graphics card and set fan speeds accordingly.

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About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.

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