MSI seeks to Shield M.2 SSDs from thermal throttling

A good bit of the PC enthusiast product space is devoted to solving problems most computer users rarely experience or notice. The proliferation of mechanical keyboards, RGB-illuminated graphics cards, and tempered-glass case panels serve as examples. MSI seems to think that thermal throttling on high-end M.2 storage devices may be next product to separate corporate desktops from enthusiast rigs. The company may be onto something, if our experience with Samsung's otherwise excellent SM951 SSD is anything to go by. MSI dropped a photo of a specially-shaped heatsink called the M.2 Shield on its Twitter feed early this morning.

Details were sparse, but the M.2 Shield appears to natively accept a 2280 (80mm) M.2 storage device, and it has additional mounting holes to accept devices in 2260 and 2242 sizes. The build materials were left unspecified, but we expect that the heat shield is constructed from aluminum. Whatever the material, the lower side of the M.2 Shield is coated with a thermal pad to facilitate heat transfer and eliminate the possibility of short-circuits against a bare PCB. The effectiveness of this product likely depends on the locations of other heat-generating components in the system.

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    • jts888
    • 3 years ago

    While non-enterprise users shouldn’t regularly be sustaining enough IO to make NVMe drives thermally throttle, the fact that it does happen makes me wonder why some manufacturers like Samsung are so dead set against 2.5″ u.2 drives.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    The biggest problem with a heatsink on any motherboard-mounted M.2 SSD is that half the time it will be in the hot exhaust airflow of the GPU.

    This could actually [i<]raise[/i<] temperatures of some SSDs by ensuring that the insulating plastic package of the SSD's chips are able to catch as much of that hot air as possible! \o/

    • Bauxite
    • 3 years ago

    How about everyone designs boards with better placement, duh? So many slots are right underneath the primary GPU x16 slot, literally the worst place. Most likely to have a double slot card on top of it both blocking access and keeping it hotter.

    See the asrock x99 updated boards (tachi etc) for an example of non-suck placement, if they can do [b<]two[/b<] m2 slots on an ATX board with the larger socket and 8 dimms surely everyone else can do [b<]one[/b<] on the smaller socket with 4 dimms. I'm also surprised no one attempts vertical either, that would be a method you could integrate with a heatsink module.

    • watzupken
    • 3 years ago

    I am not surprise in a few years time, you may see active cooling on high end M2 SSD.

      • Airmantharp
      • 3 years ago

      Honestly, this is a controller issue; in a few years time, the controllers will be efficient enough that more than basic passive cooling will be necessary.

        • HERETIC
        • 3 years ago

        Maybe-A few years is a long time.
        Will their gained efficiency be offset by the need for more powerful controllers?
        Larger SSD’s and the increasing complexity requires more powerful controllers.

        I’m also wondering if full length heatsinks is a good thing-Do we really want to
        send controller heat to the flash?????????
        Last year a few sites started taking temp/photos of SSD’s-Then stopped abruptly
        think they were alarmed at the high temps they were seing.

    • tom_in_mn
    • 3 years ago

    If it does not add surface area, like heat sinks do, then it won’t do anything other than help for the short time it takes to heat up the additional mass.

    • NTMBK
    • 3 years ago

    Why not just get some of those stick on VRM heatsinks for a couple of bucks on Amazon?

      • SsP45
      • 3 years ago

      There might not be enough clearance with the videocard right next to the SSD.

      • ColeLT1
      • 3 years ago

      It’s what I do (look for the blue heatsink on the 950):
      [url<]http://imgur.com/93wNBMR[/url<]

    • Waco
    • 3 years ago

    So, right below the hottest thing in the case, they add something that’ll effectively transfer heat [i<]into[/i<] the M.2 SSD.

      • DPete27
      • 3 years ago

      Well, the SSD is there regardless. Keep in mind also that the exhaust air from the GPU is not as hot as the GPU core itself. I don’t recall what temp these M.2 SSDs are throttling at, but I’d bet having a heatsink is still beneficial.

      The M.2 slot location is less than ideal, but it’s probably there for trace purposes.

        • Waco
        • 3 years ago

        True. This is why I generally dislike M.2 placement on the front of a board (unless it’s all the way at the bottom). As much of a hassle as a rear-mount is, it’s thermally isolated.

      • chµck
      • 3 years ago

      In a case with sufficient airflow, this shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

        • Waco
        • 3 years ago

        Flow in that area is typically pretty stagnant, but yes.

      • brsett
      • 3 years ago

      Do you think the SSD is likely to be writing data while the GPU is crunching on a block? Maybe if you’re running folding or tensorflow?

        • Waco
        • 3 years ago

        Heat can throttle reads as well.

          • brsett
          • 3 years ago

          I’ve never seen reads throttled by heat, I didn’t even know that was possible.

            • Waco
            • 3 years ago

            In extreme cases, it’s possible. I wouldn’t say likely though. The only one I ever had a chance to prove it on was an ioDrive Octal that I mercilessly punished with optimal writes that overheated it. 😛

        • just brew it!
        • 3 years ago

        It takes a while for things to cool down. If the GPU is heating up your SSD while gaming, the SSD will still be hot when it comes time to load the next level.

          • _ppi
          • 3 years ago

          Depends when it starts throttling. If GPU has some 70C, then SSD still has some room. The air coming out of GPU is not that hot by far. Considering the speeds of latest NVMe SSDs, it does not need much time to do all the work, especially with reads, some 5 seconds, and your 16GB RAM is full.

          At the same time, there was this chart of long-term write longevity when drive is left cold. And that actually worked best, when you had higher temperature at the time of writing data, while storage was done in cold environment.

          I see people being afraid of throtling, when reviews of 950 Pro and later products have shown basically no kind of throtling even under benchmark-level loads.

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