[SOLVED] GPU Fan Speed Pulsing and Grinding Noise

Caster13

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Apr 1, 2011
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3 weeks ago I bought and installed a Gigabyte RTX 3060 Ti (rest of my specs in my signature). It worked wonderfully until yesterday when it started making a consistently intermittent grinding noise. After a bit of fiddling about in MSI Afterburner and experimenting with fan speeds, I was able to create this fan speed % and tachometer graph which illustrates much about the problem (the graph is multiple graphs photoshopped together so the different fan speeds were labelled).

Things of note:
  • The grinding noise (lasts about 0.25 seconds, audible through the PC case, causes a noticeable vibration in the GPU itself) was being caused by the GPU fans starting up. Each little spike in the graph was its own grinding noise I could clearly hear/feel. I can also see the fans spin and stop repeatedly.
  • Setting the fan speed to < 40% resulted in this pulsing/grinding noise
  • Setting the fan speed > 40% resulted in a stable fan speed.
  • Setting the fan speed to go directly to > 40% from 0% still causes the grinding noise/vibration to occur, but results in a stable fan speed instead of the pulsing.
  • Sometimes, lowering the fan speed back below 40% resulted in a stable fan speed without any pulsing/grinding noise. This happened about half the time in the handful of tests I did. Otherwise, the pulsing/grinding continued.
  • The GPU is installed horizontally (fan faces pointing downwards) in my case. Placing the case on its side so the GPU fans point left/right eliminated the grinding noise and vibration, but not the pulsing.
I have about 7 days left in the stores exchange window (for store credit, since it looks like this exact model is out of stock) and I could use some advice:

Probably a long shot but any chance anyone has any solution to this problem I might've overlooked?

Is the pulsing (fan speed starting/stopping) normal? When I googled this issue I found some posts claiming this is normal.

But the grinding/vibrating definitely isn't normal right? Especially considering how the problem goes away when the GPU is re-oriented, this is very clearly a fan ball bearing problem right? Considering that I won't be able to get the GPU exchanged and would only end up with store credit, I could theoretically deal with this problem by adjusting my fan curve so that 40% is the minimum fan speed even if that won't make the grinding noise go away, but that just leads to the further issue that this could very well be a problem that becomes even worse.
 
you do not want to physically alter the card because it would void any warranty.
and you don't want to deal with this noise or risk the GPU, or it's fans, failing in the future.
you also don't want to be stuck with no RTX 3000 GPU by refunding through the retailer.

so RMA through the manufacturer for a replacement card.
 
you do not want to physically alter the card because it would void any warranty.
and you don't want to deal with this noise or risk the GPU, or it's fans, failing in the future.
you also don't want to be stuck with no RTX 3000 GPU by refunding through the retailer.

so RMA through the manufacturer for a replacement card.
 

Caster13

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so RMA through the manufacturer for a replacement card.
After some thought about this suggestion I agree that RMA-ing the card from Gigabyte seemed like the best option: especially since the card is under a 1 year warranty that gives me more flexibility compared to the retailer's return window.

As I looked into the process for RMA-ing the card from Gigabyte, I ended up discovering that the issue I'm experiencing appears to be a very common problem. I've seen people mention this problem on cards ranging from the RTX 1660, to 20XXs, to other 30XXs. This includes cards from multiple AIBs but but especially Gigabyte (lots of annoyed Gigabyte customers on their forums). Seems the fans just do not play nice with low fan speeds. Saw some theorize it might have to do with how Nvidia cards manage fan speeds via fixed RPM instead of PWM.

Thankfully, I didn't find any cases where people have stated this problem lead to something worse. Also, Gigabyte customers seemed to have had mixed results when trying to RMA for this issue. I've seen some say their RMAs were accepted while others were told this is expected behaviour.

Seems the most common solution is to set a fan curve that avoids the low fan speeds though others have had some luck by setting power management mode to adaptive in the Nvidia control panel (haven't had a chance to test this yet. Edit: tested the different values for this setting, changing it had no effect).

Anyhow, below are references to what I've found for anyone else coming across this problem and who want to know they're not alone.

Reddit thread (including video)
LinusTechTips thread (including more video)
Guru3D thread (very detailed lots and lots of video here)
Gigabyte forum thread (lots of annoyed customers, mixed RMA results)
 
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