Question Should my M.2 drive be flexing this much under the heat shield?

StandardFiend

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Hey all. I guess there are a number of subforums this would fit under, so hopefully this is acceptable.
MoBo: MSI Pro Gaming Carbon X470
M.2 drive: Intel 660p



Hopefully in the above image you can see how much the M.2 drive is flexing underneath the motherboard's included heat shield. This seems abnormal, and surely the heat pad is making poor contact. I tried and retried setting it and couldn't get a different result.

Right now I've installed it sans shield, but I'm worried because my GPU will essentially be exhausting right onto the drive.

Many thanks in advance for any advice!
 

Darkbreeze

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If the graphics card is exhausting directly onto the drive, the heatsink isn't going to offer any protection against that, and from every test review I've seen, all of these heatsinks have resulted in WORSE thermal performance, not better.

If you're worried, or if there is a thermal issue, you'd be a lot better off either finding and obtaining or creating a home brewed bracket and fan assembly to blow directly on the M.2 drive itself.

That flexing is definitely not normal, and you shouldn't allow it. I believe that at minimum, you are better off without the heatsink for both reasons.

I had to home brew a bracket and fan for my 970 EVO, seen here:





But am currently waiting for one of these to arrive along with my 40mm Noctua fan.

 

StandardFiend

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What about those little sticky heatsinks, the kind you usually get with like a raspberry pi kit or something? Do you think you could stick those directly onto the SSD chips and achieve any results?
 

Darkbreeze

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In some cases, they work. In others, they make things worse. Those heatsinks, without any active cooling being directly applied to them, can in some situations increase thermal problems rather than help them. But in some cases they work somewhat. Active cooling by way of heatsink WITH fan, or just fan, works much better.

https://www.gamersnexus.net/guides/2781-msi-m2-heat-shield-increases-temperatures


https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Samsung-950-Pro-M-2-Additional-Cooling-Testing-795/#Conclusion

Conclusion
Compared to just a stock Samsung 950 Pro M.2 drive without any additional cooling, every single method we tested did extremely well. Even in the worst case with the simple aluminum bar heatsink, the drive took 2.5 times longer before it started to throttle compared to the stock M.2 drive with no additional cooling. If we were to rate the different methods from most to least effective, they would be:
  1. Tie between PCI-E Adapter w/ Heatsink, 120mm 12V Quiet Side Fan, 92mm 12V High Flow Side Fan. All three of these methods completely prevented the Samsung 950 Pro drive from throttling during our testing. If you fully load the drive for longer than we did (which would mean you need to read more than 875GB worth of data from a 512GB drive), the high flow side fan should perform better than the quiet side fan, but in a practical sense all three of these methods should effectively be able to prevent a Samsung 950 Pro drive from ever throttling
  2. 120mm 5V Quiet Side Fan. While this cooling method was not able to completely prevent the drive from throttling when the system was under load, it allowed the drive to take 3-5 times longer to throttle and after throttling was 50% faster than a stock Samsung 950 Pro. For such a small amount of airflow, this is a much bigger difference than we expected and means you could read 455GB of data (nearly the entire drive) or write 172GB of data continuously before you saw any drop in performance.
  3. Aluminum Bar Heatsink. Technically, this was the worst cooling method we tested but it was still a massive improvement over the stock drive without any cooling.
  4. The main downside to a simple heatsink like this is that the hotter the system gets, the less effective a heatsink can be. We only tested with a single GPU, but if you had two or more video cards under full load, it is very possible that a heatsink may be no better than a bare drive or in some situations may cause the drive to throttle even sooner.
The different methods we tested really boil down to two types of cooling: passive cooling with a heatsink and active cooling with a fan. Both can make a big difference, but one thing that was clear in our testing is that even a small amount of airflow over the drive can be extremely beneficial. While we did not specifically test it, even better would be to combine the two methods by having a heatsink on the drive along with a fan providing some airflow over the heatsink.
Keep in mind that in the real world, it is very uncommon to fully utilize a drive this fast to the same extent we did in our testing. Very few programs will actually be able to read from a Samsung 950 Pro at full speed for more than a very short period of time, but if you do have a situation where you need a M.2 drive to perform at full speed for longer periods of time this should give you an idea of what you may need to do to achieve this.
 

StandardFiend

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So, regarding the Gamers Nexus conclusions, they were based on the first iteration of MSI's heat shield, which had a paper-thin thermal pad. The new ones have a thicker pad and reports indicate they function considerably better. My board is the newer style. Of course, the flex issue is still a problem.

I appreciate the detailed reply, by the way. I haven't built a system in many years, and it feels like everything has changed. Like, my last build was all Molex.

Anyway, a small bar heatsink might end up working for me. Between the GPU exhaust (even hot airflow is better than none) and the three front intake fans it should get enough air to keep the drive a few degrees cooler.

I could also consider making my own, with a small copper pipe bringing heat out into a more direct air path.
 
I suggest you buy a PCI m.2 adaptor and plug it in like that. There is no way your SSD will be cool when 60-70C air is blowing over it. In fact, a heatsink will actually serve to transfer the heat from the hot GPU air INTO your SSD, since heatsinks move heat from the hottest side to the coldest part.

You can use this or similar (some come with heatsinks, but you can also add your own).
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA6V85HC8902&Description=m.2 pci adapter&cm_re=m.2_pci_adapter--9SIA6V85HC8902--Product
 

Darkbreeze

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In fact, a heatsink will actually serve to transfer the heat from the hot GPU air INTO your SSD, since heatsinks move heat from the hottest side to the coldest part.
100% correct. Hot air blowing on anything is not good if cooling is desired. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that you actually WANT the NAND to be warm. It is ONLY the controller you want to keep cool. Obviously, you don't want anything, NAND or controller, to be HOT, but you don't actually want to over-cool the NAND as it will reduce it's life expectancy and performance.

If you find you actually are having thermal issues, I suppose you could abandon the MSI heatsink and use something like this.

https://www.amazon.com/NVMe-Cooler-Heatsinks-Powerful-Cooling/dp/B07DGK8PWR
 

StandardFiend

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I would hope I don't have to resort to something like that. Besides, I don't think that would fit under the GPU. I think I have to count on the fact that the motherboard manufacturer wouldn't put the m.2 slots where they are unless it were safe.
 

Darkbreeze

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I think I have to count on the fact that the motherboard manufacturer wouldn't ................
Sorry, you lost me after that part. Doesn't even matter what you put after that, it would still be inclined to either make me laugh, or cry. LOL. I mean, we're talking about manufacturers that listed 4 phase low end chipsets as being suitable for use with FX-9000 series CPUs, so no, I don't trust THEM to do anything other than what is needed in order to sell hardware.

Any idea how many completely useless Realtek audio codecs and ASmedia secondary SATA controllers have been included on boards by the manufacturer that are simply junk? A lot. Trust is one thing I don't have for any manufacturer when it comes to making assumptions. I mean, just look at the first gen of that same heatsink, like you said. Not only did it not help cool the drives, it made it worse. I'm sure people THEN thought they could trust MSI to have done the necessary testing as well.

No, they will do what looks good on paper and can be marketed. They really don't care about whether or not there are issues down the road so long as they don't affect the RMA cycle.
 

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