How To Set A Custom CPU Fan Curve
The default settings of your CPU cooler or case fans might not be ideal for you if noise is a concern. Fortunately, you can set custom fan curves for your CPU cooler and your case fans. Tweaking the fan curve allows you to prioritize between cooling and noise, or you can find a balance between the two that works for you. In this guide, I walk you through how you can set a custom CPU fan curve and tweak your case fans.
Setting A Custom CPU Fan Curve
Different motherboard manufacturers, such as ASUS and MSI, have their own software that you can use to set a custom CPU fan curve and control your case fans. All of them work in a similar way. To cater to the masses and provide a solution that works for everyone, we recommend going with Fan Control. This is a free utility tool that you can download and use to set a custom CPU fan curve no matter what hardware you are using. You can download it from the official website.
Once you have installed the software and run it for the first time, it will collect data from the sensors in your system and will try to optimize fan speeds. That works well for most users, but you want a custom CPU fan curve.
Note: The Fan Control software can also optimize the GPU fan curve. You can check out our article on how you can set a custom GPU fan curve using MSI Afterburner.
Once you have launched the software, you will see an interface as shown in the image above. You can now press the + button on the bottom right side to create a custom fan curve for your CPU. We do not recommend setting a linear fan curve since the CPU temperature can temporarily spike, and your fans will ramp up and down when you do minor tasks such as launching Chrome, for example.
You also do not want the fans to kick in when you are browsing the web, consuming content, or when your PC is idle. So you can have the fans remain off until the CPU temperature hits a certain temperature level. The following custom fan curve can be used as an example and is the curve that I am using for my Intel 9400F CPU.
My CPU fan remains on, but it only runs at roughly 15% at 40C. It then stays at around 20% fan speed until the CPU temperature hits 50C. Note that, unlike GPUs, CPUs have a higher temperature threshold before they throttle. Your CPU can even get up to 100C before it impacts performance (if you are really pushing it to its limits). I do not want my CPU to throttle, so I have the CPU fan run at full speed once the CPU temperature hits 95C.
This is not a solution for everything since when my CPU is stressed, it is typically due to a game that I am playing. Since I play games with headphones on, I really don’t care about the noise that the CPU fan or case fans are making.
The following is a fan curve that you can use if you are concerned about noise but do not want your CPU to thermal throttle.
With this custom fan curve, the CPU fan only kicks in once the CPU temperature hits 30C, but the fan speed is limited to 20% until 40C. So the fans will not kick in if you are browsing the web or consuming content. The fan speed ramps up drastically as the CPU temperature increases and maxes out at around 90C. Since you do not want to lose performance due to thermal throttling.
I recommend setting a fan curve similar to the ones that I have provided above and then testing a game and monitoring the CPU temperature using HWiNFO. If your CPU gets too hot, then you can go with a more aggressive fan curve. Typically, if you want to optimize for silence, then you need to move the curve towards the right. Similarly, if you want to optimize for cooling effectiveness and to get the most performance out of the CPU, then you want to move the curve towards the left.
It is also worth mentioning that modern Intel and Ryzen CPUs do tend to run hot. So you should not over-optimize for cooling. It is normal for these CPUs to run at over 70C. Furthermore, a lot is going to depend on the type of CPU, CPU cooler, case, and case fans. If you have a locked CPU, then it is not going to produce as much heat as an unlocked one. The included CPU cooler is not as effective as some of the third-party ones. Similarly, unlocked CPUs (K SKUs) produce a lot more heat, and a lot comes down to whether you are using an AIO liquid cooler or an air cooler. These are some of the things that will impact the fan curve that you set.
Setting A Custom Case Fan Curve
Setting a custom fan curve for your case fans is very similar to setting one for the CPU fan. You want them to remain off until a certain temperature level and then gradually increase the fan speed as the temperature increases. The case fans are typically synced with the temperature of the CPU, but you can sync them with the GPU temperature if you want to.
You will want enough airflow in your case to cool the parts inside. So find a temperature threshold at which you want the case fans to kick in. You can run a game to monitor the temperature of your PC parts and tweak the fan curve accordingly.
If you have a case that has good airflow and you have plenty of fans for intake and exhaust, then you might not need to have the case fans running at full speed. You can set them to run at up to 60%.
A lot is going to depend on the type of case you have and the number of fans that you have installed for intake and exhaust. If you have your CPU as the source, then the fan curve you set will also depend on the type of CPU cooler that you are using. Your fans might not have to ramp up as much when using an AIO liquid cooler compared to an air cooler.
We recommend using the same fan curve for your intake and exhaust fans, but you can tweak the settings according to what you see fit.