Do SSD Need Cooling?

by Paul | Last Updated: August 18, 2021

There has been some controversy if the SSD should be cooled, some people say it can shorten its lifespan, but how is this possible and is there any truth to this claim.

Does SSD need to be cooled?

At higher temperatures, electrons can flow more easily through the NAN flash causing less damage. Hence, the concerns about cooler temperatures regarding SSDs, but is this something the average person needs to worry about.

Part of the concern comes from the way electrons flow through an SSD. The NAN flash that makes up your SSD gets damaged every single time you write to it, meaning SSDs have a finite lifespan.

If you look for a typical SSD spec page they are aerated to run at low temperature. As low as about 0oC, the point at which water freezes.

While people have expressed drive longevity at cooler temperatures, the environment can also be beneficial in several ways, like for data retention. Since the electrons store would not move around as much.

The best idea is to keep your SSD away from temperature extreme on either end of the scale. For example, intel SSD tends to be rated to work between 0 and 70oC. As long as you are not too close to either of those limits you should see a noticeable effect on longevity or performance.

The best way to do is a heatsink. You do not need anything fancy. Many modern motherboards come with a small cover for your M.2 drive and that is a little more than a hunk of metal with a screw hole will work just fine for the vast majority of people

There is a significant difference in 5-10% in the thermals, between having no cooling and simply having something to cool things down a bit

If you have a 2.5” SSD, it should not need any extra cooling at all, because it has a metal casing that doubles as a heatsink. Just make sure that the casing gets a little bit of airflow inside the case.

The only time you would have to worry about temperatures, if you want to operate in the SSDs for a long period is if your PCA is getting little to no airflow, the broken fans or intakes that are clogged up with dust. That could push the temperature past their rated operating range.

The biggest thing that can kill your SSD in the nearest future is not temperatures but rather the fact that M.2 connector itself does not support enough power to handle the speeds that we can expect from upcoming PC express 5.0 drives.

Just make sure that your SSD gets some airflow and that you use the heatsink, that came with your motherboard if you have M.2 drive. You do not have to take it any further than that.

Heatsinks

Modern electronics pack an incredible amount of complexity into a very small space which creates a lot of heat. The heat that is left unchecked could reduce the lifespan or even destroy the processor that created it.

That is why when you first open up a PC or an electronic device, one of the first things you will see is one or more large metal objects called heatsinks.

Inside a PC heatsinks could be found on the CPU, graphics card, motherboard, inside the power supply, and even in other places as needed.

They can look very different from one another, they all serve the same problem to remove heat from delicate components and extend their lifespan

Types of heatsinks

There are different types of heatsinks you will come across

  1. Heat spreader: This is the most basic heatsink and it consists of a black piece of metal, it only moderately reduces heat dissipation. Though metal will send heat to the surrounding area faster than plastic, it will be more effective if it also increased the size of the area of the surface that is being used to transfer that heat.
  2. Passive/Pinned or Finned heatsinks: these are heat spreaders with structures on top of them, they dramatically increase the surface area that can be used to dissipate heat to the surrounding area

They are more effective than heat spreaders but more expensive to make and they take up more space.\

Adding a fan to blow air directly on a Pinned heatsink is inexpensive and very space-efficient as a means of dramatically improving heatsink performance, for this reason actively cooled heatsinks are one of the most common types of heatsinks found in PC systems, where size and cost are major design factors.

  • Heat-pipe or vapor chamber heatsink: the most common and most expensive is the vapor chamber heatsink. This is for very hot components like CPU, graphic cards, the limiting factor of a standard heat sink performance is no longer the speed at which the fins can be used to dissipate  heat to the air, but rather the speed at the heat can move away from a very small processing coil to the fins in the first place

Heat pipes consist of an outer copper wall and material inside that is constantly changing phases between liquid and gas

They can be used to carry heat away from a small heat source extremely quickly to a large ray of heatsinks fins when it can be dissipated to the air

Copper performs better than aluminum as a heatsink material and among aluminum alloys, some of them are better than others but the material selection like many of these other factors  can not be controlled except by the manufacturers

Lower the ambient temperature, if cracking up a room window lowers the room temperature by 50, it will lower your heatsink temperature by about 5o

More airflow, the faster the air flows the better it will perform

Better thermal interface material no two pieces of metal will ever meet up perfectly and thermal interface material fill in this micro gaps for better heat conduction or better heat transfer between them replacing the sub power solutions that come preinstalled in your components and the high performance after the market thermal compounds can easily lower temperatures by several degrees or more.

Mounting; a good solid mount improves the contact between a chip and a heatsink which ensures effective thermal transfer

Often a heatsink that isn’t performing as expected is being held back by an air bubble trapped in between or a small component nearby that is interfering with the heatsink mounting pressure.