Typically the easiest fix to RGB fans not lighting up or flickering is to check your wiring. However, this isn’t always the case. Today I’ll be going over the many reasons why your RGB fans are not lighting up or flickering.
If you are like many gamers out there then your PC might be littered with RGB fans. RGB fans are becoming very popular when it comes to modern PC building. They give your build a unique look, and allow you to customize in whatever way you want to.
But, they can be finicky. Especially if you get some of the more budget options out there. Most of the time, there is an easy fix. However, on some occasions, you might have to get new fans.
Don’t worry! I’ll go over everything to help you sort out what you need.
- Why My RGB Fans Are Not Lighting Up (or Flickering)?
- ARGB vs RGB Fans (Which One Do You Have?)
- How to Fix Your RGB Fans Not Lighting Up?
- Why Are My RGB Fans Not Spinning?
- Why Are Some of My RGB Fans Not Lighting Up?
Why My RGB Fans Are Not Lighting Up (or Flickering)?
The most common reason for your RGB fans not lighting up is the cables becoming unplugged. Typically your motherboard will have a 3-pin or 4-pin header, and if the cables become disconnected or have poor contact, then you might experience flickering.
Additionally, you have to ensure that you are connecting the correct cables. For example, if you have an ARGB 3-pin fan, then you cannot connect it to a 4-pin header (and vice versa). ARGB vs RGB can be confusing, but I wrote a whole article explaining it.
Furthermore, you should not assume your motherboard supports RGB. If your fans came with an RGB controller, then you can use that to obtain lighting. But, if you don’t have one, and your motherboard doesn’t support RGB, then you might be out of luck.
Other common reasons for flickering or fans not working:
- RGB controller broken
- Wires are broken or torn
- Power supply is not sufficient
- Connections becoming unplugged
- Connectors are in the wrong header locations
- Physical fan damage
- Motherboard does not support RGB lighting
- LED’s burnt out
ARGB vs RGB Fans (Which One Do You Have?)
Before doing any troubleshooting, you’ll need to verify what type of RGB fans you have: ARGB or RGB. The main difference is ARGB (addressable) is a 3-pin 5V connection where RGB (non-addressable) is 4-pin 12V.
Typically static RGB or non-addressable 4-pin fans will be able to change color with just a SYS_FAN header. While this isn’t the case with every fan, it is a possibility. But, this won’t be the case for 3-pin fans.
How to Fix Your RGB Fans Not Lighting Up?
The first step to pretty much anything with computers is a simple reboot. Rebooting your computer might cycle through some error that was happening with your fans.
Additionally, you can simply unplug and re-plug in your RGB fans. This might require you to take off your side panel, but will be worth it.
1. Make Sure Your Motherboard Supports RGB or ARGB
Firstly, you’ll have to check to see if your motherboard even supports RGB. This can be in the form of an ARGB or RGB header, but you’ll need one of them. There can be motherboards that support RGB through USB, however this isn’t as common.
Above, you can see the difference between a 3-pin and 4-pin motherboard header. While they might seem similar, in practice they are very different. A 3-pin 5V header supports addressable RGB, where a 4-pin 12V header supports RGB.
What is the difference between addressable and non-addressable RGB? Addressable RGB allows for individual control of the LED’s, while non-addressable does not. In addition, ARGB gives you a bunch of cool effects and unique lighting capabilities.
I wrote a big guide on what to do if your motherboard doesn’t have an ARGB header, but in short you’ll need an RGB controller of some sort.
Now, there might also be a SYS_FAN header on your motherboard. This header should just power the fan for it to spin, it won’t power the lighting. So, ensure that you aren’t plugged into one of those headers by mistake.
If all else fails, resort to your motherboard’s manual, it will help explain what headers you have.
2. You Might Need a New RGB Controller
If your fans came with an RGB controller, then you might want to try a different one. Sometimes they can short out or go faulty. You can additionally try and re-plug all of the cables in to see if one was seeded incorrectly.
One very common issue with RGB controllers is the polarity. You might want to check to see if you plugged your fans in upside down. In that case, just flip the connectors around and you should have light.
3. Use a Different RGB Header
If you have the fans plugged in correctly and are confident that fan is good, then you might want to try another RGB header. If your motherboard doesn’t have any additional headers, then you can use something like a USB adapter or controller.
While it’s not common, your motherboard can have damage from the factory or even from assembly.
4. Check for Wire Damage
While this isn’t the most common issue because fans don’t see a lot of heavy handling, it can happen. Check along the entire wire length to ensure there is no breaks in the insulation, or visual damage to the wires.
Typically if the fans have wiring damage, then you’ll have to replace the fan. However, for the most tech-enthused, you can re-solder to try and fix the problem (read more).
5. Ensure Everything Is Turning On
Check your power-supply (PSU), and make sure everything else on your computer is working. It can be pretty obvious that your fans aren’t working if the rest of your computer isn’t either.
6. Replace the Fans
Finally, if you are still having trouble, then you might have to consider replacing the fans. While it can be costly, there are awesome budget options out there.
Companies like Corsair or Thermaltake have great warranty programs that you might want to take advantage of as well.
Why Are My RGB Fans Not Spinning?
Your RGB fans might not be spinning for several reasons including: plugged into the wrong header, wire damage, faulty power supply, not plugged in at all.
If you have an RGB fan that is plugged into the RGB header on your motherboard, you’ll still need to plug it into a SYS_FAN header as well. Unless your fans come with a built-in controller, then you’ll need two wires going from your fan to the motherboard (1 for lighting and 1 for spinning).
If you have run through all of the troubleshooting steps and your fans are still not spinning, then you might want to consider replacements.
Why Are Some of My RGB Fans Not Lighting Up?
In the case that only some of your RGB fans are not lighting up, there might be issues with where they are plugged in.
For example, if you have 5 fans and they all connect to the same RGB controller, then you might have some connectors flipped upside down.
Additionally, if they are all plugged into your motherboard, then that might be an issue with your motherboard’s headers.
Most of the time, if you have one fan out then all of your fans will be out, unless they are connected via different methods (3 on a controller, and 2 on motherboard headers).