How to tell if my video card fan is running

I was playing a video game for about an hour when my monitor seemed to suddenly switch off (or my computer froze, one of the two). I saw a black screen and could not alt-tab out of the game. I turned the computer off. Strangely, even though the computer was off, I could hear a sound as though the CD was spinning, although no CD's were in the drive and the game was being run off the hard drive. So I restarted my computer. Instead of starting as normal, I instead heard two or three faint beeps and the computer did not seem to boot normally. Now I was scared. I switched it off again, said a prayer, and turned it back on. Oh boy... what a suprise! A fan came on super loud like a vaccuum and white stuff started flying out the top of the computer. My first thought was smoke, though there was not strong odor. Or could it be dust? I wasn't sure how to tell.

So I opened the computer up. Everything looked OK, except there seems to be some accumulation of dust around the video card (which btw is a RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition). I waited about an hour, and then decided to try it one last time. I put my finger over the power button in case of abnormal behavior, I rebooted. The computer booted normally with no strange sounds.

So that's the introduction to the problem... I came to the conclusion based on what I saw and heard (and from what I've read here) that the problem had to do with the video card fan and/or overheating of the video card.

And now for my two questions...

1. Is there a way for me to determine whether the video card fan is still functioning? I installed ATI Tray Tools based on some suggestions in another thread. I found the tool called Monitoring Graphs and plotted the GPU Temperature and Fan Duty Cycle. The GPU temperature right now is 53 and the Fan Duty Cycle is 4.5. Not too sure how to interpret those numbers or how accurate this tool is. Is there another way for me to determine whether the video card fan is in fact running? I read a post where someone said to momentarily open the side of the computer while the computer is operational to observe the video card fan. Sounds a little risky...

2. Is it possible that there was an excessive accumulation of dust in the video card fan (I have owned the computer for two and a half years and it sits on a carpet), and that it was somehow jammed, and then when I rebooted that the jam happened to come loose and the fan started spinning like crazy? Or is it more likely that the fan died and this just so happened to be the way it "chose" to die? There are no loud sounds at the moment, just the normal/healthy barely audible whirring of the computer.

Any feedback would be most appreciated.

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  1. First thought was dust in the fan,

    Dust accumulates, and blocks the air flow to cool your GPU.

    Use an air can to clean out the fan.

    This should be done with you cpu as well.
  2. The 850XT exhausts air at the back of the case through the exhaust vent in the slot just under where your monitor plugs in. You will be able to feel air blowing out there.
    Also, there is no reason in the world why you can't simply take the side off the case and actually look to see if it is working.......!?!?!?!?
  3. jitpublisher .... totally agree .... unless the fan is deep set in and hard to see while installed in a shroud ... don't know on that card . Of course you have to remember some never take the side off their case ! Never do the simple check and wonder why never cleaning the crap off everything makes them run hot or shut down ! .... I've worked on some that look like 15 cats gagged hairballs in them !!!! LOL Of course they could always lay their finger tip on the fan ... hehehehe ... just joking ...
  4. Thank you. I have opened the case recently to install a DVD drive, and the other day to check for dust. It was actually remarkably clean inside. The only exception was some dust around the video card which I cleaned.

    I do have one follow-up question. I ran ATI Tray Tools to check in on my GPU. It measured GPU Temperature Max at 52 °C (126 °F) and Environment Temperature Max at 53 °C (126 °F). Can anyone let me know if these values fall in an acceptable range?

    Thank you in advance!

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