How to Control the Speed of Your PC’s Fans

how to control fan speed
All computer systems are equipped with a set of fans that help keep things cool and thus prevent overheating. The CPU and system fans are the only ones, however, that are directly attached to the motherboard.

The problem is that sometimes these fans can get too loud. It is difficult to focus on your work when the constant whirring of these fans is making your device sound like an aircraft ready for takeoff.

This article looks at possible solutions for this problem by evaluating the ways in which you can control and set a custom fan speed.

Reasons for Fans Being Too Loud

First things first, you might be wondering just how your fans got so loud in the first place. The most common reasons are as follows.

  • Your PC has to do a lot of heavy lifting, i.e., you play a lot of video games or use video editing software and such.
  • Your CPU and GPU are overworked and overheated. (Remember to stress test these often).
  • Sometimes the problem may be as simple as dust accumulation, in which case all you need to do is open up the hardware and give it a good cleaning.

Older systems have this problem more often, so if you were already planning on switching to a new one then that’s fine. But, if you would rather just fix this problem instead of going through the hassle of getting a new PC, then read on as we explain how to control CPU fan speed.

How to Control CPU Fan Speed

While fan control software might be the first thing that comes to mind, it is useful to explore a couple of other options as well. The following methods are ordered from most to least direct.

Utilizing Built-in Controls: BIOS Settings

Before moving on to any fan speed control software, try digging into the system’s BIOS. Most modern computers already have built-in controls there. To enter the BIOS, you need to reboot your computer and press a certain key. Your computer will tell you which one.

For instance, your screen may say Press Delete to enter setup once you reboot. This is your cue. In some computers, the F12 key might be used instead.

A slight problem here is that you will now have to look for the fan settings in the BIOS because the location and title vary with different systems. For instance, it could be called Smart Fan Control (Gigabyte) or Q Fan Control (ASUS). Generally, though, you should be able to find it under the BIOS menus. You will need to enable this feature to be able to tweak fan settings.

You now have two options for controlling fan speed: you can tweak either voltage or PWM. Lowering either one will mean a slower fan. However, PWM can get speeds relatively lower and is slightly more efficient. Ultimately, the option you choose depends on how the fans are plugged into the motherboard. Long story short, remember:

  • Use PWM for a 4 pin connector
  • Use Voltage for a 3 pin connector

Lastly, this method will only allow you to control the speed of CPU and system fans. Also, if you couldn’t locate any fan settings in your BIOS, to begin with, this means that your motherboard probably doesn’t support this option. In which case you should move on to the next method.

Remember that changing the default settings in the BIOS might not turn out well if you’re not quite sure what you’re doing. If your fans start acting up after doing this, you might want to look into the more detailed factors at play here.

Plan B: Fan Control Software

If the BIOS method didn’t work for you or seems too complicated, try going for some CPU fan control software. The most popular option is SpeedFan. It offers more control than a computer’s BIOS settings, but you will need to turn off any fan settings in the BIOS before using SpeedFan to avoid conflict.

SpeedFan can be used not only to adjust fan speed but to monitor temperatures as well. Follow these steps to get started.

  1. Install and set up the software.
  2. Start it up and you’ll get to the main window. Here you have a list of your current fan speeds in RPM as well as temperatures for all your hardware. Remember to keep an eye on the GPU and CPU temperatures in particular.
  3. SpeedFan does not always name all sensors accurately. You will need to name your fans to be able to identify them later. Set control to manual and turn down all of the fans except for one. This will help you to identify them when renaming. Go to the Fans tab to rename.
  4. Next, head over to the Advanced tab. Make sure manual mode is selected for all PWM controlled fans.
  5. Set a minimum and maximum spinning speed for the fans in the Speeds tab.
  6. Next, go to the Fan Control tab and set up a temperature curve for each fan. This is extremely important because it helps you monitor the effect your changes will have.
  7. After all of this is done and you’ve saved the changes, open up a stressful application (like a game) just as a sort of test to see how your changes perform.
  8. Remember to create a shortcut for SpeedFan and to set it up to start automatically. If the software is always running, then your fans will always be cool.

Just like BIOS, SpeedFan will only control the fans connected to the motherboard. Some systems are not supported by this software though.

The Last Resort: External Fan Controllers

Fan controllers are inexpensive and will let you control all the fans on your machine. This is unlike the other two methods we’ve talked about, which only let you control the speed of CPU and system fans.

A fan controller fits into one of your computer’s drive bays, and you can use the knobs to personally monitor and adjust fan speed.

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