With temps up on modern SSDs, the need to keep modern Gen 5 SSDs cool has resulted in a market for m.2 heat sinks and there’s a wide variety of choices to consider. Heat sinks of sizes large and small, in a variety of form factors and even with active cooling, are now available to keep your SSD cool. Today’s review of Coolmoon’s CM-M2A has colorful RGB lights on it to distinguish it from it’s competition.
When NVMe heat sinks first hit the market, many of the units included with certain motherboards were gimmicks and actually resulted in higher SSD temperatures. Cooling m.2 drives wasn’t really a concern back then, but today’s PCI-e Gen 5 SSDs aren’t able to sustain their peak performance without some form of cooling. The controller found in most PCI-e 5 SSDs currently on the market is Phison’s E26, which has a TJ Max (maximum temperature) of 125C – much hotter than previous generation products.
Does the CM-M2A standout enough from the competition to make it worthy of your hard earned money? We’ll see in the benchmarks shortly, but first we’ll take a quick look at the unit’s features and design.
Features of the Coolmoon CM-M2A
Low Profile – No Compatibility Issues!
As you can see from the product photo shown above and below, Coolmoon’s CM-M2A has an extremely low profile and as such it will be compatible with any system you install it into.
Lights On! 3-pin & 4-pin aRGB Lighting Support
The main feature of Coolmoon’s CM-M2A is it’s support of RGB lighting, which supports both current generation 3-pin connection as well as last generation 4-pin connections.
Some of you might notice that the picture above shows a different model number. It appears Coolmoon is selling this product, with no differences that I can tell, under a few different SKUs. The Amazon product page has references to the CM-M2A, CM-M73S, and CM-735 for this unit. Yes, this is a bit confusing.
Installation, Packaging, and Contents
The VB01 arrives in a small box that’s about the same size as my cell phone, Google’s Pixel 6a. It’s a little shorter, and just a bit wider.
Included in the box are thermal pads, the heatsink, and a tiny screwdriver. To start installation you’ll need to use the included screwdriver to remove the screws from the sides of the unit.
Set the first thermal pad at the bottom of the unit, and place the NVMe m.2 SSD inside. Afterwards, use the 2nd thermal pad on top of the SSD, and then secure the heatsink to the base with the included screws.
The last step is to connect the SSD to the m.2 slot, and secure it with a screw.
One thing to note about the Coolmoon is that the PWM cord on it is very, very, VERY long! I installed it upside down to reduce the cable clutter, and it’s great that they made sure that there’s enough cabling to reach anywhere but it really would have been fine with a shorter cable. If you’re the type who is particular about cable management, I wouldn’t recommend this particular cooler.
In my previous review of Thermalright’s HR-10 Pro, some readers expressed concerns that SSD heatsinks might cause compatibility issues. That’s certainly not a problem for the Coolmoon CM-M2A, it adds only a few mm of thickness to the m.2 drive and won’t cause any compatibility issues no matter your configuration.
Thermal and Benchmark Performance Comparison
To test the performance of the heatsink’s cooling ability, I’ve run a custom IOMeter script which takes 30 minutes to complete testing. This script is designed to cause the drive, and especially it’s controller, to create as much heat as possible. You might consider it a “Furmark” of SSD testing, it’s a power virus designed for the purpose of testing NVMe cooling.
The purpose of this review is to see how well the heatsink dissipates heat. The reason I’ve chosen an extreme workload to test this is to make these heatsink reviews “futureproof” to some extent. PCI-e 6.0 and beyond will increase the power budgets available for m.2 devices, generating even more heat than current PCI-e 5 drives do.
Coolmoon’s CM-M2A heatsink doesn’t break any performance records here, running as hot as all of the worst results I’ve recorded thus far and fully saturating the heatsink. It seems as if with the lights on, temps go up. If you’re a professional with workloads that hammer a storage drive, you may suffer some performance loss with using a weaker heatsink like the CM-M2A – but how much loss is that exactly?
While reduced temperatures don’t always translate into higher performance, higher temperatures always correspond to lower performance. In this case, Coolmoon’s CM-M2A is actually the best performing unit of the heatsinks which don’t quite pass my thermal testing. Sustaining an average of 4750 IOPs during my 30 minute stress tests, that’s still 96.9% of this particular SSD’s maximum performance.
While Coolmoon’s CM-M2A does fail my personal standards for a m.2 heatsink, it will offer acceptable performance for most users today and won’t cause any lost performance for 99% of users today – even professionals with heavy storage workloads.
I’ve only tested 5 of the more basic NVMe heatsinks which fail my stress tests, and so I can’t really give a comprehensive statement on the value of this unit. To Coolmoon’s credit, while I jested about “Lights on, Temps Up”, I’ll say that of all of the heatsinks that have failed my testing the CM-M2A is the best of the worst – and it’s low profile means that you won’t have any compatibility issues no matter how tight your PC’s configuration is. So while this isn’t a heatsink I would use, it’s not a bad choice either.
Coolmoon’s CM-M2A (or is it CM-M73S? or CM-735?) is the first NVMe heatsink I’ve seen with RGB lighting built into it. I’m not a big fan of this design, but the heatsink offers acceptable performance good enough for 99% of users.
If you’re a professional or other user with storage intensive workloads, a heatsink of some kind is required to maintain peak performance with modern SSDs and Coolmoon’s CM-M2A is capable of handling all but the most intensive stress tests. If you’re interested in purchasing Coolmoon’s CM-M2A it can currently be found on Amazon.com for $12 USD.
A SSD heatsink that offers basic cooling performance with an RGB flair
- Basic Cooling Performance
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