How To Set Custom GPU Fan Curve
The fan curve allows you to tweak how fast your GPU’s fans spin at various temperature levels. The faster the fans spin, the more heat is dissipated, but faster-spinning fans also mean more noise. Setting a custom fan curve will allow you to tweak how fast the fans get, the cooling performance, and the noise levels. Not only can this get you the perfect balance between cooling performance and noise, but you can also prioritize one of these over the other. In this guide, I walk you through, step by step, how you can set a custom GPU fan curve using MSI afterburner.
Note: Even though I am using MSI Afterburner with my MSI RTX 3060 Ti Ventus 2X, you do not need an MSI graphics card to use the utility tool. MSI Afterburner works for both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
Setting A Custom Fan Curve In MSI Afterburner
Firstly, you will need to have the program installed on your PC. If you do not, then you can download it from the official website. Once you have it downloaded and installed, you need to launch it and follow the steps below:
- Select Settings (the gear icon on the left side). This will open up the menu.
- From the menu, select the fan tab.
- Check the box “enable user defined software automatic fan control”
- You will now have the option to select custom fan speeds.
On the graph, you can move the different points in order to increase or decrease the speed of your fans at different temperature levels. Typically you should go with a linear setting so that the fans get faster as your GPU gets hotter. You can even have the fans spin at max speed when the GPU temperature hits 80C if you want to avoid thermal throttling.
You can even remove points from the graph by selecting the point with your mouse and pressing the Delete key on your keyboard. Once you have entered your custom GPU fan curve settings, you can confirm them by selecting Apply and then OK.
As you can see in the image above, I have my fans running at 40% speed until the GPU temperature hits 40C. The fan speeds ramp up to 50% once the GPU temperature hits 50C, and so on. The dotted line shows the fan stop feature and when the fans kick in. 30C is the default setting, and this means that the fans are only going to start spinning once the GPU temperature exceeds 30C.
It is worth mentioning that once you have checked the “enable user defined software automatic fan control” your fan curves will only be applied if the software is running.
How Should You Set Your GPU Fan Curve?
To set an ideal GPU fan curve, you need to figure out how much noise you are able to tolerate. If you care about noise levels, then you will want to have the fan speed hit 60% at max. Do not that when the temperature of the GPU exceeds 80C, it will thermal throttle in order to keep temperatures low, and you will not be able to take full advantage of the power that the graphics card has to offer.
If you are only planning on gaming and you use headphones, like me, then chances are that noise is not a concern, and you can have your fans go up to 100% in order to ensure optimal temperature and GPU performance.
If noise levels are a concern, then I recommend setting a fan curve and then launching a game that is reasonably demanding. You should then use MSI Afterburner or HWiNFO to check the temperature of your GPU. You can even use the default fan curve to test how well the graphics card manages to run and what kind of noise it makes.
If it remains below 80C, then you can keep the fan curve. If not, then you will need to go with a more aggressive fan curve since the GPU is typically going to start thermal throttling once the GPU temperature exceeds 80C.
The included example keeps the fans off until the GPU temperature hits 40C. The fan speed increases as the GPU temperature rises, and the fans start running at max speed once the GPU temperature hits 80C. This should give you silent operation when the GPU is not under load and avoid the GPU throttling. Noise levels and performance are going to depend on your graphics card and the game that you are playing, so your mileage may differ.
Typically, if you want to decrease the temperature of the GPU, then you need to move the curve towards the left. Alternatively, if the card is noisy, then you can move the curve towards the right, but this will increase the thermals.
Are you looking to do the same with your CPU and case fans? Check out our CPU fan curve guide.