The Sorry Saga of the EK M.2 Heatsink

I decided to add a heatsink to my computer's M.2 drive, a Samsung 970 EVO 1TB, as the SSD was getting quite hot even at idle (62C) using only the Gigabyte motherboard's flat plate heatsink. I ordered the EK M.2 heatsink from Amazon, as EK have a pretty good reputation in the liquid cooling world and the reviews for this product on Amazon were OK (not that that means much these days).

The EK M.2 heatsink comes as a finned top and plain bottom plate, with thermal pads you can cut to size and clips to fasten the two together. However, what the scrap-of-paper "manual" doesn't tell you is that the clips have a hook on one side and a clip on the other, NOT two clips as you might expect. If you don't notice this and attach the clip end first, it is then almost impossible to get the hook to attach, no matter how much you squeeze the sandwich. Also if you use both thermal pads the whole package is too thick for the clips to work anyway... especially if you started out using said clips the wrong way around.

Fortunately my Samsung 970 doesn't really need the bottom pad, so after I removed it and figured out how the clips actually work I was able to get the thing to fit, But by then the poor quality finish on the heatsink was scratched to hell by all my shenanigans as you can see.

But the pain doesn't end there, oh no. The heatsink doesn't have any physical stops to guide you in fitting the drive forwards-backwards, and if you get it wrong you will be completely unable to get the microscopically small M.2 screw back in again. After realising this you will have to disassemble the whole thing and repeat the entire process. Ask me how I know...

After all that effort I see a 4C drop in idle temps over the motherboard heatsink, and only 2C at load. Was it worth the nausea and risk? Hell, no. The EK M.2 heatsink isn't actually a bad product, it does at least reduce your drive temperatures, but it could have been made immeasurably better by a few cents spent on a decent fitting guide. This EK product was, as we say in English, spoilt for a ha'porth of tar. So how did I finally decide to improve the situation? I went old-school and installed a small BeQuiet non-RGB 80mm PWM fan driven from a spare motherboard header, to provide decent airflow to the heatsink.

This really drove down temps, around 10C at idle and 5C under load. From the angle I sit, next to and above the computer (it's under the desk), I can't even see the fan through the tinted glass side panel. Because it's PWM I can apply a fan curve from within the BIOS to just that fan, and control the speed from the motherboard temperature sensor just next to the SSD. Result.