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I notice that my graphics card's fan sometimes stops running for a while, and then after that it runs again. Is it normal or Is it supposed to run all the time?

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Nope. The fan is dying. You should replace it if you can, or get a custom cooling solution, or return the card in warranty. – Shiki Nov 5 '11 at 20:40
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The normal operation of a fan is to "ramp" up when there is more load put on the component. The reason if because there is more heat produced so the system increases the speed of the fan to compensate and keep the system cool. Your fan will then decrease in speed when the load is taken off, this is because the temperature of the component will naturally be less with no load. To my knowledge though your fan should never completely stop, if it is completely stopping I would suggest that you have a problem. If the fan happens to stop while under a heavy load you could cause damage to your graphics card due to heat. I would monitor your temperatures and make sure your card isn't getting to hot!

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thanks for the answer. I actually do have problem with my computer right now. Occasionally, Windows automatically logs off and shuts down, without any warning, while I'm actively using it. It's not because of anti-virus or windows update or anything. I suspect it's a hardware problem. – superkinhluan Nov 6 '11 at 13:59
so one more question is how hot is too hot for the graphics card? what is the maximum normal temperature? – superkinhluan Nov 6 '11 at 14:00
If the computer is randomly shutting down it could be due to the heat of the graphics, although I am not sure if this is the case. I know that if the temperature of the CPU gets to high then the computer will shut itself down to prevent damage to the CPU itself - I don't know if the same applies to video cards. This could be a good place to start though. As for how high is to high, that is hard to answer because every card is different and therefore all have varying temperature ranges. I would do some googleing and try and find out if there are some temperatures recorded for your video card. – bourne Nov 6 '11 at 21:55
try and see if there are temperatures recorded when under load. And use that as a starting point. My suggestion though, start saving for a new graphics card. – bourne Nov 6 '11 at 21:56

It is entirely possible (even probable) that your graphics card has a temperature sensor and (whether controlled by the OS/driver or the card itself) that it only runs the fan when the temperature exceeds a certain threshold. I believe that's pretty common for CPUs, so why not GPUs? See if you can find the GPU temperature and check it when the fan is running and not; and see if the fan tends to turn on with intense use and off after it hasn't been pushed for a while.

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Further to Kevins answer I would attempt to use a tool that can check the temperature so that you can work out if the graphics card is actually cutting the fan out due to low temperature.

GPU-Z is a tool that can detect the temperatures of most cards, but seems to have issues with some Ati cards. In that case I'd recommend having a look in the Catalyst Control Centre as I believe it may also be able to tell you the temperatures.

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