m.2 SSD heat issues: how to cool SSD

The heating of computer components is an eternal problem. While we are focusing on CPU and GPU cooling, it turns out that solid-state drives are capable of heating up to 100 ° C. This is not in line with the cool and quiet concept that today’s high-performance system builders adhere to. Is it worth worrying about M.2 SSD gets very hot and how to cool SSD with improvised means we figure it out?

In gaming assemblies, solid-state drives dominate as system drives. They are fast, compact, quiet, and resistant to wear and tear SSDs have no moving or mechanically interacting elements.  Therefore, the limit on the number of rewriting cycles is often an indicator of the longevity of a drive.

M.2 SSD Heat Issues

And yet, depletion of the microcircuit resource is not the only problem. Users are often faced with heating some learn about it from reviews, others “burn” from their own experience. 

Most components have heat dissipation a processor, a video card, RAM, and even wireless modules. But the listed nodes work with an active or passive cooling system – radiators, fans, and liquid cooling systems. In the case of SSDs, not everything is so rosy – they also heat up but are rarely equipped with a heat removal system.

Why M.2 SSD Heat Issues ocurse?

There are several heating elements in the design of solid-state drives memory chips, a cache memory chip, and a controller. The reason for the heating is the same for everyone the current flowing through the transistors, the value of which depends on the operating mode of the drive. The controller, the miniature processor that controls the life of the disk and the information that gets into the cells of the storage device, heats up the fastest and most heated. Half of the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of an SSD depend on this chip drives with the same memory chips and different controllers can show different performance and reliability results from each other. At the same time, replacing memory chips with improved ones can make the same controller work with a vengeance.

Good examples are the Samsung 970 EVO and Samsung 970 EVO Plus. Both drives are based on identical controllers but are equipped with different memory chips the 970 EVO runs on 64-layer V-NAND at 800 Mbit / s, and the 970 EVO Plus has 92-layer NAND at its disposal with data rates up to 1.4 Gbps. /with. With the transition to a multilayer technology for arranging transistors, the temperature regime of the new chips has not changed, since they are performed on an improved technical process and operate at a reduced voltage. But the controller is having a hard time – along with the increased density and data exchange rate, more work has appeared. Hence, not only the increased performance in IOPS and megabytes per second but also exorbitant temperatures.

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are M.2 SSD Heat Issues dangerous?

Under sustained load, some SSDs reach over 100°C, mostly NVMe devices. It is known that high temperatures lead to the degradation of silicon components, therefore, they can cause premature failure of the drive. Basically, the controller suffers from overheating – even in idle time it always does something, and under heavy load, it can heat up to values ​​at which you can get burned. Naturally, this does not benefit the surrounding components, as well as the nearby memory chips, for which even 60–70°C turns out to be a test.

solving M.2 SSD Heat Issues

Therefore, sometimes manufacturers put a radiator and thermal pads in the kit, although this only partially solves the problem with strong heating. For proper heat dissipation, it is necessary to expose the microcircuits remove the sticker with unique data, which interferes with heat conduction. This automatically voids the device’s warranty, so it only exacerbates the maintenance situation for faulty SSDs.

You can install the radiator together with the label and enjoy the preserved warranty. Of course, in this case, the efficiency of the cooling system will be reduced exactly to the level of thermal conductivity that the plastic sticker possesses. For each material, this is a different value – users note that a layer of factory-made “cellophane” conceals only 3-4°C.

It’s another matter if the drive works for days on end and throttles it drops the clock frequency and voltage in order to reduce heating. Throttling is a factory technology to protect the device from overheating and failure. It hits performance but does not allow the drive to fly out of the system with smoke and sparks. Then the user has to go to great lengths to keep the read and write speed at maximum – and even to the loss of warranty.

M.2 SSD Heat Issues test

Let’s check the theory in practice let’s heat up the solid-state drive and try to bring it to throttling. The interest of this experience is that the SSD used is considered one of the hottest among classmates and should warm up to red. Or shouldn’t – that’s what we’ll find out.

M.2 SSD Heat Issues test

The following system is used for testing:

  • Asus Maximus VIII Hero motherboard is the top model with Intel Z170 chipset. It has a high-quality processor power subsystem and a good PCIe control cascade.
  • The Intel Core i7 9700K processor is an eight-core processor in the ninth series. Let the reader not be confused by the tandem of the processor and MP of different generations – people call it a “coffee mod”.
  • The Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB Solid State Drive is the market average and just a good SSD with a hot temper. What you need for experimentation.

Working as system storage, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is almost always in a safe temperature mode, even considering that the intake air temperature is 29°C this is evidenced by the readings of the external T_Sensor. Typically, in this state, the heating is 50–55 ° C for memory chips and 65–70 ° C for the controller.

This drive model degrades performance around 80°C. Let’s load the disk and check how quickly the chips and controller heat up without additional cooling. To do this, we will use the built-in test of the AIDA64 disk subsystem. For example, let’s turn on linear reading for 10 minutes:

In this mode, the device warmed up to 76 ° C, while the microcircuits remained within 58 ° C. Too easy for a high-speed storage device – about 30-40% of the disk space is taken up by system files, programs, and games. This prevents the chips from opening up, so the read speed hovers around 140 MB / s, and the temperature is reluctant to move.

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Let’s check the heating during the recording of 300 files with a total volume of 100 GB:

Controller -77°C, microcircuits -62°C. Already more interesting, but still falls short of the critical values ​​at which the drive will turn on throttling. Conclusion NVMe does not require cooling, and drives going off-scale under 100 ° C turned out to be a myth? Let’s check one more scenario.

heating during the recording of 300 files with a total volume of 100 GB

Caught the controller warmed up to 98 ° C, and the microcircuits heated up to 74 ° C. But, as we saw earlier, such heating is a rarity for drives that are used for work, and not for bullying. Work is a day-to-day task, and mockery is about testing SSD performance with benchmarks or stress tests, and non-stop reading and writing terabytes of information. However, in this mode, the disk is more likely to be “killed” due to the wear and tear of memory cells, rather than a melting controller.

Still, many users find it annoying if the components get hotter than 36.6 ° C. For such cases, a solution is provided you can reduce the temperature using complete or universal radiators. Or something to “poke fun” which we will do.

ways to reduce M.2 SSD Heat

In some scenarios, it is impossible to cool a solid-state drive using heatsinks this can be hampered by the characteristic location of the device, elements protruding next to the SSD, or a banal lack of space in the case. In this case, it remains to spit on heating and leave everything as it is or optimize the situation in your own way.

  • Distribute the load. Do not load the drive with work 24/7, leave time for rest. Do not install programs on the SSD that use resources intensively – miners, video converters, archivers, databases.
  • Select the “cold” connector. If several connectors are wired on the motherboard, then it is advisable to install the most loaded drive in the connector near which there are no additional heating sources. For example, farther from the heatsink of the chipset or video card.
  • Reduce stress. If the device has to be installed near hot components, it is possible to reduce the heating of the components by using undervolting .
  • Configure fans. Some users forget to adjust the fan speed in the system. Correct adjustment of the intake and exhaust will help to throw off a few degrees, not only from the drive, but also from other components.
  • Install filters. Dust is one of the causes of overheating of equipment. To prevent the “felt” from getting into the cooling system and on the surface of the components, you can purchase a dust-proof housing or install filters yourself.

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SSD Hot or it seems?

Recently, even the owners of low-power assemblies are most worried about the heating of components. To some extent, the race for tenths of degrees has become fashion and even addiction. The manufacturers themselves are partly involved – cooling systems are becoming part of the illuminated design and unique styles.

In most cases, heating is a subjective sensation. The average user measures the temperature of components by touch, so even 45 ° C can seem like a dangerous heat. In fact, the silicon from which the microcircuits are made can withstand temperatures up to 200 ° C. Of course, this does not mean that the processor or graphics chip will work safely with such heating – but 80 ° C, which is “terrible” for fingers, turn out to be quite cool for a desktop processor, and mobile chips, at all, live for ten years, heating up to 90 ° C under load.