What's the Best CPU Fan Curve Setting? (Complete Guide)

Lindsay Hayes

Your CPU fan runs at different speeds depending on the CPU temperature. At higher temperatures, you need better cooling, and at lower temperatures, less noise. Your CPU's fan curve is a graphical depiction of how fast your CPU fan runs at each temperature. You can adjust fan curves to your liking to get the optimal balance between performance and noise.

It was over a decade ago that I heard about CPU fan curves for the first time. It was on a forum for gaming PCs, and after talking with one of the members for a bit, I went out to learn how to make a custom fan curve. Since then, I've made sure to control CPU fan speeds on every PC I've had, which has given me a lot of experience when it comes to controlling fans.

I've put all of my expertise in CPU fan curves into this guide, just for you. If you've been trying to understand CPU fan speeds and how to adjust them, you're in the right place. Let's jump right into what you need to know.


What is a Cpu Fan Curve?

It can be a little tough to understand, but a fan curve is simply a graph that shows the relationship between your fan speed and the temperature of the component it is attached to.

So, for instance, you can have a GPU fan curve or a CPU fan curve.

A CPU fan curve shows how fast your CPU cooler fan moves (in rotations per minute, or RPM) depending on how hot the CPU is.

This graph usually has the CPU fan speed on the vertical axis, either written in RPM or as a percentage of the maximum fan speed. The temperature of the CPU on the horizontal axis.

A Man Adjusting CPU Fan

Why Should I Worry About CPU Fan Curves?

Now that you understand what CPU fan curves are, you might be wondering, why do you need to care about fan speeds in the first place? Well, I'll explain that.

When you run your computer, the components inside it perform billions of calculations every second. With all this work going on, it is natural that they produce a lot of heat.

When this heat is left unchecked, it reduces the performance of the components producing them, particularly the CPU and GPU.

Your GPU fans and CPU cooler fans are responsible for helping reduce this heat and keep temperatures low. The faster they spin, the more of a cooling effect they can have.

However, with a higher fan speed comes more noise. This is why it is important to have all the fans in your PC run only when they are needed the most.

Fan curves make it possible to view how your fan speed changes as the temperature builds. Plus, it also lets you see how the manufacturer has set the PC fans to respond to heat.

Since this might not be optimal for you, it is possible to adjust fan curves to your taste. That's exactly why it is important to understand the CPU fan curves for your computer, especially if you want to tailor it to your taste.

What Are Optimal CPU Fan Speeds?

One of the things that impacts your average CPU fan speed is how large the fan is. The size of the fan impacts how much airflow there is.

A fan with a bigger diameter tends to run at a lower speed most of the time since it is able to push more air with a single rotation. Since the fan speed is lower, they also tend to be quieter.

Smaller fans push less air, so the CPU fan speed needs to be higher to compensate for that.

Below are some of the typical ranges for fan speeds for particular fan sizes:

However, ultimately, the best way to know the fan speeds for your system fan is to check the manual or the manufacturer specifications online.

How Can I View My Fan Speed?

If you want to take a look at your fan speed, there are two major ways that you can do this.

You can either rely on the fan RPM displayed in the BIOS of your desktop PC, or you can use third-party apps like SpeedFan or Hardware Monitor.

CPU Fan and Motherboard

Using BIOS

The BIOS on your computer is the first menu that you can access to change settings related to the motherboard. It can also be used to monitor your computer's hardware.

How your computer's BIOS settings look depends on the manufacturer and type of motherboard that you have.

Because of this, it'll be hard for me to tell you exactly how to open the BIOS or check your fan speed, but the tips below might be helpful.

Using Third-Party Software

Another way to check out your current fan speed is to use a third-party application such as SpeedFan.

Within seconds of opening this program, you'll be able to see the fan RPM for all your fans. Apart from the CPU fan, this includes your GPU fans, power supply fans, and intake fan.

To use SpeedFan to check your fan RPM, follow these steps:

  1. Download SpeedFan from the official website.
  2. Open your download location and launch the setup file.
  3. Follow the instructions on the screen until you finish installing it.
  4. Now, open SpeedFan. You may need to wait for a few seconds to allow it to be set up completely.
  5. Once it has, you'll be in the "Readings" tab. You'll be able to see the speed of your fan as well as your CPU temperatures.

There are other apps you can use for this purpose, like HWiNFO and HWMonitor. The process is pretty much the same, as these apps have simple interfaces that are straight to the point.

How Can I Do Fan Control for My CPU?

Now, it's one thing to see how fast your fan spins, but it is another to take control of your CPU fan curves and make sure that it runs optimally to keep your CPU cool, yet keep fan noise down.

The good thing is that there are a lot of applications available that give you complete control over your PC fan curve.

Although making changes to your custom fan curve settings can seem daunting, I'll do my very best to run you through the process with everything I know.

There are a few ways you can do this, so let's get right into them.

Opened PC with CPU Fan and RAM


I personally like using Speedfan to modify my fan curve because it is a lightweight program, and the interface is rather straightforward, especially for beginners.

To use SpeedFan to alter your fan curve, follow the steps below:

  1. Download and install SpeedFan on your PC.
  2. Open the program and click "Configure".
  3. Click on the "Advanced" tab.
  4. Near the top of the window, you'll find a drop-down menu called "Chip". Expand it.
  5. It can be hard to know which of the options under this drop-down menu is the right one. Typically, you want to look for any entry that has "IT" or "ISA" at the beginning or end. If you can't find either of these, it is likely that your computer doesn't support fan control. However, you can also check each "Chip" option manually. Either way, you want to look for any with a "PWM Mode" property with a value of "SmartGuardian".
  6. Now, click on a PWM Mode entry.
  7. Go to the "Set to" menu and select the "Software controlled" option from the list. This will transfer control of the fan speed to the SpeedFan program.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for each of the PWM entries in the list.
  9. Now, go to the "Fan Control" tab.
  10. Tick the "Advanced fan control" option.
  11. Now, press "Add" beside the "Fan controllers" section.
  12. Select the new controller from the list.
  13. Make sure the "Controlled speed" box is ticked, choose your CPU fan (or GPU fan) from the dropdown menu, and then choose one of the options under "Temperatures".
  14. This will bring up the fan curve. You can then adjust how fast the fans spin depending on how hot the CPU is.

It takes a lot of steps, but once you do it once, you'll get the hang of using SpeedFan.

Some tips to keep in mind are that you don't want the speed on the fan curve to go under 20% at any time, to ensure that the computer is still being ventilated well.

In some cases, you may not need to push the fans to max speed, but if you experience any thermal throttling, it might be a good idea to use 100% on the fan curve sometimes.

MSI Afterburner

MSI Afterburner is made by a company that is well-known for its gaming hardware and PCs, but fortunately, its MSI Afterburner software can be used on most computers.

While you can mess around with a fan curve in this program, you should know that it majorly controls the GPU fans in your PC and not the CPU fans.

To use Afterburner to make changes to your GPU fan curve, follow the steps below:

  1. Download and install MSI Afterburner.
  2. Open MSI Afterburner.
  3. Press the "Fan" tab.
  4. Tick the "Enable user-defined software automatic fan control" box.
  5. Expand the menu beside "Predefined fan speed curve" and choose "Custom".
  6. You'll see a graph appear on the screen, with different points. You can adjust these points to change how fast the GPU fan spins depending on the GPU temperature.

Similar to when you're using SpeedFan, make sure that the fans never go below 20% of their maximum speed, as this makes sure that there's always enough airflow to prevent dust buildup.

When it comes to your GPU, you want to avoid temperatures over 80°C, so I recommend pushing the fan to 100% at this point. This will get rid of hot air and prevent thermal throttling.

Hand in Glove Installs AMD CPU Fan


Now, before we get started using the BIOS for fan control, there are a few things to note.

First of all, while the BIOS usually lets you check the speed of your fans, not all of them let you control it. Secondly, even those that give you some degree of fan control don't give you access to a fan curve.

Either way, if your motherboard supports fan control settings, here are the basic steps to follow:

  1. Turn on your computer and open the BIOS.
  2. Since the interface of your BIOS depends on the manufacturer, you need to look for a setting related to "Hardware" or "Monitoring".
  3. When you find it, look for anything related to "Fan Control".
  4. Once you open it, you'll find the default fan settings, which you'll then be able to change.
  5. For some, you can change the maximum speed or the fan profile, while others give you access to an actual fan curve. Either way, you can edit it as needed.
  6. Once done, make sure to save changes before exiting the BIOS. The computer will then restart.

Final Words

CPU fan curves are graphs that show the relationship between the speed of the fans in your computer and the different temperatures that your CPU can be at. Being able to modify these graphs is important because it can give you the ability to get better performance at higher temperatures, or to reduce the noise from your fans at lower temperatures.

You can take a look at your fan speed using your BIOS or third-party programs. If you want to actually control your fan curve and change how your fan responds to temperature increases and drops, you can use MSI Afterburner, SpeedFan, or even your BIOS to make those changes.

Did this article teach you all you need to know about CPU fan curves and how to modify them? If so, take a look at our related articles to learn more.

Lindsay Hayes

Hi, I’m Lindsay, a techie from Kansas City. That’s right; I’m a born and bred Midwesterner. I learned to take electronics apart at my dad’s GameStop way back when, and I haven’t stopped since. I spend most of my time checking out new gadgets.
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