If you remember our Samsung SM951 SSD review, you may recall how that drive encountred thermal throttling under sustained workloads. Likewise, AnandTech questioned whether similar throttling behavior might have occurred with the Samsung 950 Pro in its review. Those questions can only be answered by adding a heatsink to the drive, and AnandTech just got an opportunity to try one out.
The site got its hands on one of Angelbird's Wings PX1 heatsinks. This $75 passive M.2-to-PCIe adapter comes with a couple tricks up its proverbial sleeve: thermal pads and heatsink surfaces that enclose both sides of the SSD. AnandTech tested the 256GB and 512GB varieties of the Samsung 950 Pro with the PX1, and the site got some interesting results.
First off, the Wings PX1 does make a difference some of the time. Under heavy sequential workloads, the 950 Pro (especially the 512GB version) performed quite a bit better under the PX1's heatsink than it did in a bare M.2 slot. AnandTech's IOMeter write and sequential mixed tests saw a major improvement in performance—as much as 73%—as did the site's long-duration random write test.
Thing is, in most cases, intensive SSD I/O activity happens in bursts, not sustained loads. In all of its benchmarks that represent more typical PC workloads, the site found that the 950 Pro performed just as well naked as it did enclosed in heatsinks.
The type of customer buying a fancy PCIe drive like the 950 Pro may throw heavier workloads at it compared to a regular user, and those demanding users might want the extra headroom the Wings PX1 (or other heatsinks) can provide. For more typical PC users, it seems the cost of an add-on heatsink like the PX1 just isn't worth it.