I'm beginning to notice that the fan on my graphics card is too loud. I messed with things today and accidentally forgot to plug the fan back in. (I was wondering how my computer became silent.)

Since then I began to focus on the noise that it produces. What could be the problem? Is it failing and in need of replacing? Can I fix it somehow, e.g., by lubricating it with oil?

Also, if I had to replace the fan, how hard would it be to replace it by myself? It just seems like there are three screws that I need to remove in order to put on the new fan.

The model discussed here is Radeon HD4850.

  • 1
    Which graphics card are you using? – Yass Sep 11 '13 at 21:27

Loudness can have several issues. Rik already mentioned one. If the cooler is dusted up, the card gets hotter and thus the fan runs faster, so cleaning the cooler can help lots.

The fan can also get louder if the ball bearings are giving out. That usually causes not just an increase in loudness, but a rather distinct sound that goes beyond just the fan being loud.

You can "oil" a fan if it has a sticker in the center of the fan blade that covers access to the ballbarings. Check out this link to see how it's done: http://www.dansdata.com/fanmaint.htm

Also, you can lower the speed of the fan by using software such as Nvidia Inspector. Many manufacturers also supply tools for this. Usually, you can't go below a certain threshold. You can combine this with undervolting the GPU for the card's 2D-mode which will result in creating lower temperatures allowing you to speed down the fan even more. This makes my GTX260 with dual fans basically silent. It should be a given to always use a temperature monitoring tool for this procedure and read up extensively on how to do that before attempting it!

To lower the fan speed for ATI cards open CCC and enable overdrive. Create a new profile. You can find the newly created profile here:

XP: C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\ATI \ACE\Profilename.XML.

Vista/7: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\ATI\ACE\Profilename.XML

Open the file in a text editor.

<Feature name="FanSpeedAlgorithm_0">
<Property name="FanSpeedAlgorithm" value="Manual" />
<Feature name="FanSpeedRPMTarget_0">
<Property name="Want" value="0" />
<Feature name="FanSpeedPercentTarget_0">
<Property name="Want" value="60" /> 

Change the value for FanSpeedAlgorith to manual. Then you can set FanSpeedPercentTarget to provide a new target speed that overrides the card's BIOS setting. Save the file and re-load the profile to activate it. You can also copy the above example. It will run the fan at 60% and thus slower and less noisy. This has been confirmed as a fix by Radeon 4850 users on the following forum:


  • Can i somehow decrease the fan speed, since i'm not doing anything demanding on my computer at the moment – idjuradj Sep 11 '13 at 22:00
  • I answered the very question in general in the last paragraph. I'll add a more specific approach. – Zerobinary99 Sep 11 '13 at 22:06
  • I created a profile, but ACE folder is empty o.O i can't find the .xml file with the name of the profile i created? – idjuradj Sep 11 '13 at 22:58
  • The url was slightly different, however the default value here <Feature name="FanSpeedPercentTarget_0"> <Property name="Want" value="60" /> instead of 60 was 6, i changed it to 60, and now there's not "clingy" noise, it works fine now. It still makes a little noise, but this noise is just the vent rotating fast, and the previous noise was like something "clingy" – idjuradj Sep 11 '13 at 23:20
  • Great to hear this worked for you. Please don't forget to accept this answer and upvote it :) – Zerobinary99 Sep 12 '13 at 7:47

Before you are going to replace the fan you can use compressed air to blow it clean. Usually this makes a lot of difference. Just make sure you don't rotate the fans blades because doing so can cause significant current spike down to your motherboard.

You can buy a can of compressed air from most hardware stores.

  • I'll try cleaning it up, i noticed some dust in there. If i was to replace the fan, do i need to replace the heatsink as well? – idjuradj Sep 11 '13 at 21:30
  • If you can take the fan off the heatsink you can replace the fan only otherwise you need to replace the combo (making sure you get the right one). – Rik Sep 11 '13 at 21:43
  • If you found dust in there it is definitely worth the trouble to clean the inside of you computer ;) – Rik Sep 11 '13 at 21:46

Without knowing the model, it's difficult to answer. Most fans are held in place by simple screws, but other models have assemblies with special screw-cum-springs or pronged plastic holders that either require special care to be removed, or can't be removed (once locked, they need to be broken and replaced).

If you have normal screws with or without washers, you just need to be sure not to lose them as I usually do :-). The fan is very likely to be a brushless fan: you can probably even replace it altogether with a model of identical voltage and equal (or less) current rating.

Otherwise, the common models have a hub cap that's flush with the surface and can be removed with a small blade or sometimes a fingernail (it can be covered by an adhesive reporting the fan's data). Blow air into the uncovered recess, and place one or two drops of light machine oil inside (WD-40 is also good). If you have an air bottle with flexible needle tip, you can blow "inside" the fan, under the rotor, to remove some dust. Replace the cap and, while not as good as new, the fan should be a little quieter.

Also be careful to blow air into the heatsink to dislodge the dust that usually accumulates under the fan. The heatsink is probably good; if not, replacing it would almost certainly require also reapplying thermal grease. If you're familiar and comfortable with the operation, go for it (also because some cards are equipped not with proper thermal grease but with thermal pads; in which case, replacing them with a slightly greased copper shim of appropriate gauge will improve things considerably). Otherwise, my advice is not to risk it - improperly applied grease can destroy the card through overheating, and you can find some servicing shop where they'll do that for you for much less than the cost of a replacement card.

If you really care about silence, there are special assemblies (but check for available space) that use an oversized heat exchanger, driven to high temperatures through the use of a Peltier cell. This way, if properly installed, the heat exchanger is capable of getting rid of the heat through passive convection, with no fan at all. Not all desktops can use this solution, though. Other similar solution do not go the whole way, but are able to employ a smaller fan.


Some graphics cards might use thermal paste. If yours requires it, then apply some new thermal paste. This could help, as the graphics card reached high temperatures due to your fan being unplugged, thus the thermal paste could have dried.

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