M.2-heatsinks review: which SSD-cooler performs best?

SSD-coolers of motherboard manufacturers and EK compared

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Introduction

Fast m.2-SSDs have the tendency to become quite hot. If you are reading or writing a lot of data, an NVMe-SSD will more often than not throttle in order to keep the temperature within acceptable limits. Motherboard manufacturers thought of something to prevent this: nowadays many motherboards come with heatsinks that you can stick on your SSD, while cooling brands such as EK even sell standalone m.2-heatsinks. Although, do these metal plates in all shapes and sizes even work? We experienced a hot afternoon.


You probably never worried about the cooling of an SSD before. Even under full load the average sata-SSD becomes lukewarm at most, even without any airflow whatsoever. However, due to multiple reasons NVMe-SSDs like the Samsung 960 Evo and 960 Pro become a lot hotter.

Samsung 960 Pro 512GB
Fast m.2-SSDs often get quite hot under load.

For starters the m.2-format that originates from the laptop world is not ideal for good cooling. The components of an SSD, like the controller, the cache memory and the nand-chips, are placed very close to each other. Furthermore m.2-SSDs that are flat on the motherboard barely have any airflow and some are even (in part) covered by your graphics card. All the while the NVMe-SSDs are a lot faster than regular sata-drives, use faster controllers and therefore generate more heat.

For this test we place eight different M.2-heatsinks on a Samsung 960 Pro-SSD, often a true hothead. On the next page we you can read which ones we test.


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