One day ago, we reviewed the XPG SX8000 M.2 SSD. And the review demonstrated that an M.2 SSD without a heatsink can reach up to some worrying temperatures. So bearing that in mind, XPG also sent us their Storm M.2 RGB Heatsink for their SX8000 M.2 SSD.
As the product name suggests, it is an M.2 SSD heatsink, specifically M.2 2280 form factor SSD heatsink and it also got RGB LEDs and a tiny fan. So not only you’re getting some cooling performance with this heatsink, you’re also getting that extra flashy bragging right about your system. So without further ado, let’s dive right into the review.
|Compatibility||M.2 2280 SSD|
|Dimensions ( L x W x H )||81.5 x 24.55 x 23.1 mm|
|Rated Voltage||10.5V~12V (Please adjust the fan speed voltage according to your needs.)|
I did an unboxing video of the XPG SX8000 and XPG Storm M.2 RGB Heatsink together that you can check out below.
You can have a look at some close-up shots of the Storm Heatsink on the next page.
Before we check out the heatsink, there’s one thing that I missed in the unboxing video. And it’s that the installation instruction can be found at the back of the cardboard box found inside. This was easy to miss as there was no indication of it being there.
This is what you’ll see once it has been installed on the M.2 SSD and then onto your motherboard. There’s a 20mm 16500RPM fan on the right side that blows cold air right onto the heatsink. We have an XPG logo in the middle, while two white strips can also be seen on the top. The white strips and the logo is what glows in RGB on this heatsink.
This is what the bottom of the heatsink looks like. We have a double-sided non-conductive tape here. There’s a plastic film over it so as to not reduce the stickiness of the tape. At the far end, you can see two towers emerging from the body, that’s to maintain the M.2 SSD in position. While the black part on the nearest end of this picture is where the screw goes. Since the heatsink is upside down in this picture, we have an information sticker here with a barcode, otherwise, you’ll find it on the right side. While the other side is empty. As for the body composition, the heatsink itself is made up of aluminum, then we have a PCB layer in middle for the fan and the LEDs. And right at the top, we have a somewhat glossy plastic cover.
First, we have a 4pin female to 4pin male cable. This is your RGB LED cable. The form factor of the cable on the heatsink isn’t what you see on your motherboards, nor is it long enough to reach the headers so XPG included this cable to utilize the RGB LEDs on the heatsink.
Then we have a 2pin to 3pin cable. This cable is to power the 20mm fan on the heatsink directly from your motherboard ‘s fan headers. Since it’s a 2pin fan header, you don’t have the PWM functionality.
Then we have a 2pin Molex to 2pin cable. This cable is to power the 20mm fan on the heatsink via a Molex connector through your PSU. In case you don’t want to use the fan header on the motherboard or if there’s none available, you can still power the fan directly through your PSU.
We also got two screws along with the heatsink. You cannot use the ones provided with your motherboard with this heatsink as it adds that extra height to the overall product. So two of these screws are included.
First, you’ll need to peel off the plastic film on the double-sided tape. Then you’ll attach the M.2 SSD to the heatsink in such a way that the XPG on the heatsink is readable in normal position, the gold connectors are on the right side, and the curved cut on the the M.2 is on the left side.
Slide the drive to the right until only the gold pins become visible. And make sure that the curved cut on the left side has aligned with the hole on the heatsink. Now lightly press the M.2 drive onto the heatsink from the left and right side so that the drive sits better on the heatsink and you won’t have any problem while installing the drive onto the motherboard. If the drive does not stick good enough onto the heatsink, then it’ll come loose while installing onto the motherboard. Also, don’t press on the M.2 drive from the middle as there’s a chance that with too much force, you might end up breaking it.
Once that is done, go ahead and install the M.2 drive with the heatsink onto your motherboard like you would. Use the screw provided with the heatsink as the one that came with motherboard most likely won’t work.
Now all that’s left is to connect the fan power cable and the RGB led cable. So simply connect the white end of the 4pin to 4pin cable provided with the heatsink to the 4pin connector on the heatsink. Then connect the other end of the 4pin cable (black connector) to your motherboard’s RGB header. Then connect the 2pin connector from the 2pin to 3pin cable provided with the heatsink, to the 2pin fan header on the heatsink. And connect the 3pin header to the motherboard fan/chassis header.
Now all that’s left is to boot the system and play with the LED effects. Also, if you think your heatsink fan is making too much noise (which it doesn’t really in a closed chassis), then you can also lower the voltage for the fan header from the bios.
We used the same rig from our SX8000 review for the Storm heatsink testing.
|CPU:||Intel Core i5 8600K|
|Motherboard:||Aorus Z370 Gaming 5|
|RAM:||ADATA XPG Spectrix D40 3200MHz 16GB CL16|
|SSD:||PNY Optima 120GB for primary OS|
|SSD1||Apacer AS720 240GB|
|SSD2||ADATA XPG SX8000 250GB|
|HDD:||Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM|
|PSU:||Antec Neo Eco 550W 80+ Bronze|
|Cooling solution:||Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate 360mm AIO|
|Monitor:||Gechic 1503H Portable Monitor|
|OS:||Windows 10 Build 16299.248|
The testing methodology was pretty simple. We monitored the thermal readings with the help of HWinfo64 S.M.A.R.T sensor. The software was set as a startup program so we could grab the minimum reading as soon as possible. Then the system was left ideal for the temperature to get normalized. The average and max reading at idle loads were taken 15 minutes after the system boot. While the Max temperature at load was taken by by running the ATTO Disk benchmark twice.
Even though the heatsink comes with RGB LEDs, its primary purpose is to keep the SSD cool, and this is what matters the most. So let’s check that out in the chart below.
As you can see, that we have some good improvements in the thermal department. The minimum temperature has dropped down 10C, but that’s not where the SSD will be sitting at mostly. So the average and max loads are what we should be concerned about. And the average temperature at no load is around 50C. That’s 9C less compared to the M.2 drive without SSD. The max temperature we reached on idle load was 52C, that’s only 2C more compared to average load. Which means around 50C to 52C is what you can expect when you’re not running anything off of the M.2 drive, in 39C ambient temperature. However, at max load, we still have a somewhat worrying temperature, at 64C. It is just off by 6-degree Celsius before it crosses the manufacturer’s rated operating temperature.
But then again, we are talking about an ambient temperature of 39C, which equals to a delta of 25C. So, our thermal performance chart shows that the XPG Storm M.2 RGB did manage to keep the SX8000 M.2 SSD under their rated operating temperature of 70C and that at some harsh ambient temperature. And this heatsink even has a fan on it, so I do not expect much from various other M.2 heatsinks without a fan.
RGB LED Effects
Now that we have covered the thermal performance, let’s have a look at the RGB LEDs on the heatsink. The Storm M.2 RGB heatsink doesn’t come with its own software or IR remote to control the RGB LEDs. Rather, it’s controlled via the motherboard’s RGB software like ASUS Aura Sync, Aorus RGB Fusion etc. So the effects are mostly dependant on what motherboard you’re currently using.
One thing that’s worth mentioning is that there are about 3 individual LEDs beneath the top plastic cover. These LEDs doesn’t produce enough brightness that they can light up the entire surrounding underneath the cover. So they’re somewhat distinguishable beneath the cover. This also means that the LED effect on the cover does not look as neat as on some other RGB peripherals. Also, I found that the LEDs brightness was rather a bit lower compared to the other RGB zones on my motherboard. It doesn’t make the overall LED effect of the system weird, but you can easily spot it once it crosses your vision.
Now that we have seen the thermal performance with and without the heatsink, there’s one thing that I can say for sure. And it’s not to use an M.2 SSD without a heatsink. These drives generally aren’t designed according to the harsh temperature that we face here in Pakistan, but it was good to see that the XPG Storm M.2 RGB heatsink can still keep the SSD’s temperature within the manufacturer’s rated operating temperature. Also, the max temperature that we reached during some real-world file transfer was 61C at 39C ambient temperature. So you’re not really going to reach those numbers unless you’re transferring a large number of small sized files.
As far as acoustic performance is concerned, even though the fan is only 20mm, it’s a 16500RPM 20mm fan. Since I don’t have a sound meter, I won’t be able to provide you the acoustic performance in numbers. And nor do I believe in the accuracy of smartphone sound meter application. So you’ll have to take my word for it. The fan, does spin very fast, but it’s barely noticeable from within a closed chassis in an environment where a wall fan is spinning at full speed due to the 39C ambient temperature. But even without that, my AIO CPU Cooler fans make more noise at load that the noise from the heatsink fan goes unnoticeable. However, if your system makes barely noticeable noise, and the environment is silent, then you will notice the heatsink fan as being the loudest thing in the room. But you can still lower that by decreasing the fan voltage from the BIOS to 10.5v. And since I don’t have the luxury of silence in my room due to the wall fan and windows on two side of the room, I can barely notice the heatsink fan from an arm’s length.
As for RGB LED effects, they could have been done a little bit better by either increasing the brightness or numbers of LEDs on the heatsink. But it still blends in very well with the other RGB LED peripherals within the system and gives an overall good presentation.
But do keep in mind, that since the Storm heatsink also adds extra height into the mix, you won’t be able to use it with a double slot GPU if the M.2 port on your motherboard is right underneath the PCIe slot. So make sure you have enough space to use the heatsink with a dual slot GPU.
So keeping everything in mind, and knowing that the Storm RGB M.2 heatsink can keep the M.2 drives within rated temperature even in harsh temperatures, let’s conclude the review. The XPG Storm M.2 RGB heatsink has an MSRP of $30. And the cheapest one that we came across on the market is about one-third the price of this. But with XPG Storm, you’re not only getting a heatsink, you’re also getting a fan that helps in the cooling performance, but also RGB LEDs to make your M.2 drive stand out. A little lower price point would have been golden for the XPG storm, but even at $30, it’s makes for a good overall purchase. So I would like to give the XPG Storm M,2 RGB our Recommended Buy award.