What to do if PC doesn’t turn on but its fans do

Elsie Otachi By: Elsie Otachi
3 minute read
CPU fan make noise after upgrade in Windows 10

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If your computer won’t boot but fans spin continuously, it indicates a problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

There are three main reasons why your computer won’t boot but fans spin:

When the power supply to your computer fails, then it won’t start or power up, but the fans spin regardless.

Similarly, when your computer won’t boot but fans spin constantly, it could be a sign of high temperatures or overheating in your computer, which if not dealt with, can cause your computer to fail or refuse to boot until it cools down.

If your fans spin beyond the normal way, you need to check that the airflow around it is not hindered.

When your computer’s components are faulty or are damaged, they can prevent your machine from booting. Such components include RAM chips, motherboard, and even the BIOS.

Here’s what you can do if your computer won’t boot but fans spin.

Your PC won’t start, yet fans spin?

  1. Disconnect external hardware
  2. Reset RAM chips
  3. Check the motherboard
  4. Change the power outlet
  5. Check with your computer manufacturer
  6. Check the peripherals
  7. Check with a technician

Solution 1: Disconnect external hardware

This involves unplugging or disconnecting any external hardware such as printers, USB drives, scanners, among others so that you leave only the basic components before trying again. Of course, we suggest unplugging the power cord and removing, primarily, all external peripherals and then moving to the internal hardware.


Solution 2: Reset RAM chips

RAM

One of the reasons your computer won’t boot but the fans spin could be a bad RAM. In this case, remove the RAM from its slot, then clean it and return it back to the same slot or try a different slot altogether. The best way to clear ram is with a cloth and gently. Don’t apply any liquid. You can also try switching positions of the RAM cards to different sockets.


Solution 3: Check the motherboard

motherboard

If you see a yellow or amber light on, it could indicate a bad motherboard. Sometimes the motherboard could have bad capacitors, which may cause the computer not to boot but the fans spin. If this is the case, you can have a new one installed on your computer.


Solution 4: Change the power outlet

electrical power outlet

If you open your computer, remove all connected devices and expansion cards, then turned it on again and it still won’t boot but the fans spin, then you’re probably looking at an issue of power supply.

As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons your computer may refuse to boot but the fans spin include a poor power supply. You can try a different wall outlet and plug into it, then try to boot your computer again.


Solution 5: Check with your computer manufacturer

If your computer won’t boot but fans spin, you can also note down the sequence of the beeps or flashing lights your computer shows while trying to boot, then check with your computer’s manufacturer what the sequence means.


Solution 6: Check the peripherals

If your computer won’t boot, but the fans spin, and you hear a beep sound as if it is booting, then one of your peripherals could be causing the problem.

In this case, you can insert one at a time then try and confirm which one is problematic.


Solution 7: Check with a technician

If all else fails, get a qualified computer repair technician to find out what the problem is and how to get it fixed. This might be (as it usually is) a PSU failure. You’ll probably need to replace it. Often, it has enough power to run the fan (low-power) and hard time running anything else.

We’d love to hear from you whether any of these solutions worked. Let us know in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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