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Question Added an Internal Case fan manually to cool SSD, just wanted to share results

avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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Just wanted to share - I wanted to bring down my Samsung 970 evo temps. Already was using a M.2 NVMe heatsink, but part of the problem is the air flow isn't strong enough from the intake fans to the location where my SSD sits between my GPU and CPU, partly because there are objects such as the drive cage area in the way (as you will see below). There is nothing much pushing the hot air that the heatsink needs to eject, so I figured there is a need to have another internal fan to do so as shown below.



Also I could only use 20mm width M.2 NVMe heatsinks because the GPU lock is so tightly near the M.2 slot as seen in the picture above. I would've gone for a heatsink that also had a fan in it, but it simply exceeded the dimensions and It is impossible to fit it (not unless I do some effort reducing the size of the gpu lock, but its basically asking for more pain).

Here are my temps before with Hwinfo 64

Gaming


The right most numbers represent the average. So my nand flash had an average of 51C and controller's average is 56C

My case didn't have a mounting slot at the drive cage area, so I had to find a clever way to mount the 80mm fan without it falling. Used pop sickle sticks, twist ties and masking tape. Drilled some holes on the pop sickle stick to pass the ties through.
I prefer not to use zip ties as they are a pain to remove or if done so, is by then usually a waste. Twist ties on the other hand are reusable. I made sure to only use coated, non metallic ones for extra safety.
The sure way to do it is of course, drill the drive caddy - however I preferred the method above. The drive caddy has 4 holes for a 2.5" sata drive so I could just tie the pop sickle sticks with nylon string through those and it will hold.




So I had to sacrifice 1 drive caddy (I'm not going to use all of them anyway) for mounting the fan. The modified drive caddy is pretty much hard to remove now as well do to the extra inch long popsickle stick's head protuding, but I don't plan to remove it that often anyway.

If I'm going to add another HDD, I can easily do so at the top most (My PSU sata power cable can reach it) or the 2nd most bottom one.
It is also easy to remove the 80mm fan for replacement in the future. I could just untwist the zip ties from the rubber grommet at the back of the case.


Here are my temps after "manually" adding an 80mm fan while gaming.



My average temps while gaming dropped to 47C on the NAND and 54C on the controller. My current NAND temps never go past 49C!

Overall I am quite satisfied as it did drop down the temps and at least I have airflow as well, but I guess its all about getting a higher CFM fan. Usually mainstream fans are 120mm and I'm only trying to push air on a small gap between my GPU and my large CPU Heat sink. I also figured how I could easily fit the 120mm fan, just add another pop sickle stick and drill holes through them but I guess cooling gains may be negligible from there on.

Of course it would be hard to beat open case + desk fan temperatures. Surprisingly however, they have a higher average of 51C on the NAND and 57C on the controller while gaming.


(Open Case + Desk Fan Gaming Temperatures)

Any other suggestions, would be appreciated.

PS forgot to screenshot Idle temps but here it is:
Before adding fan: 40-42C
After adding fan: 35-38C
 
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think i'd just have gone with a better designed case rather than the ghetto fan rig.
it appears this would cause some major vibrations plus unneeded fan motor noise.
that sucks if you can't remove the drive cages and have any drives better located.

if the M.2 slots aren't getting cooled properly
that also means the CPU, VRMs, and the GPU could also have much better temps with much lower fan speeds
only if they had better airflow from the front intakes.

i doubt this 80mm has the airflow coverage to really help much with the rest of the components,
maybe just fit in another Noctua in place of it that hits GPU, M.2, CPU cooler, and more of the VRM area?
 

avg9956

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Yup I'm considering to fit another Noctua fan.
I started first with a cheap/generic 80mm to see how it would look like and how much temps it would drop.
Ordering a Noctua fan however may take weeks in my area locally, because stocks are kinda dry due to pandemic.

I can remove the drive cages easily as stated in my post, the noise is only audible if you peer inside the PC while its running but otherwise its fine.
Its not impossible to remove the modified drive caddy. Could just easily take off the tape and start over again once I get the new Noctua fan.

The CPU, GPU and the rest are all within reasonable temps even before adding that 80mm case fan. Its just that the M.2 drive runs hot (I know they naturally run hot), so I wanted to drop its temps if I can.

And yes, its really only the controller of the M.2 drive that needs to be cooled. It is hard to achieve that not unless I can get my hands on a 20mm heat sink that has a fan located onto the controller, but anyhow I was still able to achieve a temperature drop anyway with this jury rig attempt.

Ultimately, I'm also planning to get a larger case. I personally find that I want more room around to play with, but I'm not going for liquid cooling route at all. I'll stick with air cooling.
 

avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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I've also tested cooling before without all of the drive cages in the way and without the 80mm fan installed. The temps were the same. The air isn't simply strong enough to push the heat out of the M.2 drive by the time it gets to that area, so I found it highly necessary to add the additional 80mm fan to push the air of the said area.

If only my case came with a mountable fan slot on the drive cage area, there would be no need to do some jury rig attempt like this. However it did not, so I had to!
 

avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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Yes mag x570 tomahawk
Eh, I already have the 80mm fan positioned, it would be extra work already to move it down
Also I think the M.2 slot below is different from the one on the top if I'm not mistaken.

Hmm also the rear exhaust fan of the case is up high
Not quite sure if it would drop the temps because there's nothing to eject the air outside the case
 
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avg9956

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Hmm yes they're both PCI-E 4.0, but the bottom m.2 slot is run by the chipset (PCH) while the upper one is run by the CPU @ page 32.
I kind of prefer not to utilize the chipset, because I'm just doubtful about how would I replace the chipset fan in the long run. I doubt MSI uses long lasting fan bearings for chipset fan nor is it easily source able where to find replacements. Asrock on the other hand, gives free chipset fans for their x570 boards.
On the flip side if I use my jury rigged mounting, I can easily just keep replacing fans when it breaks or whenever I want to.

Anyhow here's the temps on idle with the SSD on the bottom of the GPU:



Meanwhile here's the temps of SSD on top of the GPU + jury rigged 80mm fan on idle:



Its actually even higher than what I did in my first post (35-38C on idle) but only 2 degrees lower than before I installed the 80mm fan (42C on idle) . Air from GPU going downwards to PSU shroud which is basically a big cover, but air will travel towards the path with least resistance. However if air has a hard time ejecting or if its not easy to move the hot air, its not going to drop the temps by much. Perhaps if there was a rear exhaust fan placed below where the GPU is to help expedite the exhaust of hot air from the ssd placed at the bottom, then that may result in cooler temps, however that's simply unfeasible as it is populated by PCI-E expansion slot covers.

Yes GPU fans will help. Moving air is better than stagnant air to cool a M.2 NVMe SSD, however looks like data shows you need to take into account the full picture of airflow.

So conclusively, what I've already done in place is already better for my case. Funneling air outwards towards through the small gap towards the rear exhaust fan.
I'll be set to try 120mm quality fans, would probably settle around 1200 rpm or so whichever's available. Curious though how much cooling I would get if I try a 3000 rpm fan (Noctua Industrial fan) other than the increased noise level, but that would sure be even higher than any standard table fan's rpm
 
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a case with good intake and exhaust setup with even slight positive pressure should be plenty to keep the entire board and other components much cooler.
if already at good temperatures with other components, than it would allow for even lower fan speeds and even less noise.

before worrying about ghetto-rigging custom cooling;
i would be looking into a better case
with nice airflow through the front, top, rear, and possibly bottom and\or side(s)
3 or more nice high airflow intakes
and at least 2 high airflow \ high pressure exhaust.

if your current case already has all of this available but you are finding warm pockets of air(like between the CPU & GPU),
than something isn't setup correctly.

but if you're already happy with what you got,
than who really cares what better options may be available?
just leave it for the next major upgrade or new system.
Curious though how much cooling I would get if I try a 3000 rpm fan (Noctua Industrial fan) other than the increased noise level
my current cooler has 3x Noctua iPPC NF-F12(3000rpm) fans.
they are very quiet up to ~80%.
at 90 -100% they all of a sudden turn into a jet engine.

my case fans, 140mm be quiet! Silent Wings 3 High-Speed PWM max at 1600rpm.
but they are almost totally silent all of the time while still having great airflow & pressure ratings.
 
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avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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before worrying about ghetto-rigging custom cooling;
i would be looking into a better case
Yes, spend more unnecessarily than try a solution and get a result that can be had for less.
I will get another case as I said, but still would be wasteful if I just threw my case to the garbage just because I attempted ghetto-rigging my case for extra cooling of my ssd, or if its a practice too shameful to do that warrants one to buy a new case.

Right now even cases are getting harder to come by due to crypto miners setting up their own rigs. With the rise of chia, some users are looking into buying chassis too.

if your current case already has all of this available but you are finding warm pockets of air(like between the CPU & GPU),
than something isn't setup correctly.
Which is the reason why I attempted this in order to fix said problem.

Temps of GPU and CPU are the same before and after I did any modifications. Its only those small pockets where air isn't flowing at much hence ssd cooling isn't as efficient.

but if you're already happy with what you got,
than who really cares what better options may be available?
Yes, I'm happy with what I've got and didn't find a need to buy a new case to solve said problem.
Knowing the hot air pocket issue is fixed, I could place in another substitute system here with M.2 ssd knowing that its cooling will have similar results.
 
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avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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Ok so my 120mm Noctua fan arrived. Its a Chromax A-12


My current 80mm fan was leaking oil, as was expected from a cheap generic one. The oil afaik is said to be non conductive and its coming from the bearings of the said fan.



So I modified my jury rigged mounting again, took me 3 trial and errors to get the popsickle stick to fit.



I could still easily remove my RAM if I needed to with all this added stuff, but I doubt I would anytime in the future.

Since the fan was slightly heavier than the previous one I used above, I needed to find another clever way to make sure it wont move about.
I initially felt that the 2 twist ties at the bottom would suffice, but just to make sure - I used adhesive tape to make it stick to the drive caddy above it.



I stacked 3 layers of double sided tape on one side and 1 layer of double sided tape on the other to stick the 120mm fan towards the drive caddy.


I fired the pc up, first thing I noticed was the noise. I double checked to see if the fan was grinding itself to the caddy, and no it was not the case.
I went to BIOS and found that my fan was running at 1700 rpm



I adjusted the fan speed a bit and tried to play around with the fan curve graph. My goal was to at least get 38C on idle, the same temps I had with my previous cheap/generic fan.

Note: Both the cheap/generic 80mm fan and the Noctua NF-A12 fan both is connected to PUMP_1 fan header. I don't think there are any issues yet with this port, but just want to point out where they are connected to.



In the screen shot above, I set my fan at 700 rpm, +100 higher than my CPU fan.
Idle temps were only 40C

Also, selecting the Temperature source was quite tricky, because the BIOS needed a temperature basis to measure when it will start ramping up the fan speed. The closest I could think of is SYSTEM and not CPU, as the NVMe SSD was connected to the motherboard. Anyhow, I just placed the 2 left most points on the graph at a higher position to make their default/starting RPM higher.


So I increased the fan rpm to 900rpm, Idle temps were still 40C

Then I thought, my Noctua NF-P12 fans (the rest of the fans that are at my chassis) all run at a maximum of 1300 rpm (This is because they're all powered via fan hub, powered by a Molex connector), so I thought of increasing the rpm further.

However when I hit past 1200 rpm, that's when the noise started becoming audible from where I'm sitting on my chair, so I reset the rpm to 1200 rpm in BIOS.
I am now getting 39C idle and occasionally hitting 38C, but not quite satisfied yet.

I was able to hit as low as 35-36C on the NVMe SSD with the generic cheap fan.

I figured if Noctua had an 80mm fan I would try it out, so I placed my order already for the NF-A8
It has a max rpm of 2200 and a low accoustic noise of 17.7 dbA (I think the comma , in the Noctua spec list means decimal?)

I tried to look up the previous 80mm fan's stats and found also similar specs
It has a max rpm 2200 and 20 dBA. Since it was running at 3 pin, then it was achieving 2200 rpm and 20 dBA.

So fingers crossed I guess, just waiting for the NF-A8. I wouldn't say that the Noctua NF-A12 Chromax that I got was a complete waste. I'll use it for my next chassis build for sure. I'm thinking that I might get the same temps again (38C) since the specs between my first 80mm fan and that are the same, but still hopeful if I could get any better temps. if not at least I would no longer have a leaking oil issue.

I think the reason why I also was unable to get 38C or lower with a 120mm fan is because the air flow was too wide spread. I only needed to channel it through that narrow gap/pocket, so the 80mm fan would've been the ideal size, coupled with 2200 rpm for maximum air flow. Am also thinking of connecting it to DC instead of PWM in BIOS since my first 80mm fan's noise was bearable at 2200 rpm max speed (I would be surprised if Noctua's NF-A8's noise level was unbearable than the 80mm cheap/generic fan).
 
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Red line for Samsung 970 EVO (Plus) is 80c (960 evo 90c) and that's only for it's control chip, memory chip itself is much cooler and is not bothered by high temps, All of trouble to get temps better than 56c is just not wort it.
My 970 evo plus never reaches over 51c (under torture test) and only heat sink is one supplied by my MB.
 

avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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True, that is the limit
However additional cooling doesn't hurt
I'm inclined to replace the 120mm fan back to the 80mm generic one for the 1C drop while waiting for the Noctua NF-A8

Here's my temps of the 120mm Noctua NF-A12 Chromax fan while gaming


I'll just have one more shot at this with the Noctua NF-A8 for better or worse.
Better to have tried than not try at all :)

Strange though, that Noctua NF-A12 run at 1700 rpm with a high noise output. This means I can't connect them to a 3 pin port/fan hub
I've ordered several of these for my next case simply because Noctua NF-P12s are phased out/out of stock (they're the older model that runs max at 1300 rpm with no audible noise).

I will have to get a fan hub that allows for fan speed control and run them all at 1200 rpm for the noise to be bearable.
 
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avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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Finally got the Noctua NF-A8 80mm fan. It was sagging so I had to apply tape on top to keep it upright.
View: https://imgur.com/20urWdt


I checked the BIOS to confirm if the fan speed was running at full speed.

View: https://imgur.com/WM0Ge0E


It wasn't so I adjusted it and flatlined the fan curve. This had to be done in order to compare it with the cheap/generic 3-pin 80mm fan that was running at full speed. As I detached that cheap 80mm fan, I found it wasn't leaking grease anymore.

View: https://imgur.com/Ab8UUJN

At full speed, the fan is actually quiet.

Here are the idle temps with the Noctua NF-A8, I am quite surprised the controller temps is getting down nearer to the NAND Flash.
View: https://imgur.com/V7SloZ6


All of trouble to get temps better than 56c is just not wort it.
Quite the contrary, I was able to achieve controller temps better than 56C while gaming, so I think it was worth it:

View: https://imgur.com/beJSbZU


I was able to beat my record of 56C on the controller while gaming, substantial 4C drop. Even my averages for both the NAND and controller temps dropped from using the cheap fan to using the Noctua NF-A8. The NAND flash temps were pretty much similar but its not necessary to cool that anyway.

View: https://i.imgur.com/C20CcTU.jpg


Overall quite satisfied with the experience. This is one of the things I guess that you'll never know unless you try out and I've learned some things at least. Here are my observations:

To cool the ssd efficiently:

You need both air flow and colder ambient temperature (i.e. air conditioned) to cool down SSDs
-I find that NVMe SSD temperature also rises when I turn off air conditioning on the room.
-The faster you can deliver cold air to the NVMe SSD, the better the temperature drops.

A lower sized fan (80mm) can do a higher RPM (2200 rpm) at an acceptable noise level, however smaller fans than that doesn't necessarily mean they will have higher airflow.

*Noctua has NF-A6 (60mm) which has 3000rpm and 29.2 m^3/h, while Noctua NF-A4 (40mm) has 5000 RPM and 9.4m^3/h of airflow - so the Noctua NF-A8 was the optimal choice as it can concentrate enough air flow on the desired area.

-You don't necessarily need a larger sized fan to do the job, but if that's what you have then use what you've got. Any fan is better than having no airflow to cool your SSD.
--Even if the larger fan has a higher Airflow than the smaller fan (e.g. Noctua NF-A12 vs. Noctua NF-A8), this air flow is spread across a larger area.
You essentially need to get the appropriate size of fan to match the surface of the object that you are trying to cool down.
Since a NVMe M.2 SSD is small, you only need an 80mm fan which can do 55.5 m^3/h airflow. There is a balance to be made between fan size, air flow and acceptable noise levels.

Edit (5/23/2021)
View: https://imgur.com/VjXl0Jl


Best idle temps that I got so far with the Noctua NF-A8. Very impressed, even my average idle temps are down (36C Nand, 39C Controller) :)
 
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