Thermalright’s new M.2 heatsinks point to a sizzling M.2 future

Readers used to building PCs in the 90s and 2000s would remember the days of some extreme north bridge coolers. Companies like Thermalright were leaders in this aftermarket cooling category. Currently, M.2 drives sit in the same place as the northbridge chipset used to, but instead of keeping the memory controller hub cool, these modern heatsinks are designed to keep your M.2 NVMe SSD cool.

Thermalright new HR-09 2280 and HR-09 2280 Pro M.2 Refrigerators (by Tom’s Hardware) are designed to cool standard M.2 NVMe SSDs. The heatpipe design and large surface area promise to keep your hot M.2 drive running cooler, with less throttling than you can get with the motherboard’s built-in cooling or low-profile M.2 coolers. (or aluminum strip).

The HR-09 2280 Pro really reminds us of those old school northbridge coolers. It is 86mm tall, which is taller than many CPU coolers. It has enough surface area to ensure that even a small amount of airflow is enough to keep a unit cool, particularly if it’s getting air from an adjacent CPU fan.

The lower profile HR-09 has a slightly more subtle appearance, although it should still provide superior cooling over standard solutions. Well, we hope so, otherwise there’s little point in it!

The fact that these coolers exist points to a warm M.2 future. PCIe 4.0 drives surprised us when we saw how hot they could get and how easily many could accelerate. PCIe 5.0 drives are configured to work even more. It’s easy to see how M.2 drives will require fancier cooling solutions to keep them running at their best.

In fact, from what we’ve heard from a motherboard manufacturer, high-performance PCIe 5.0 drives are presenting a challenge to passively keep cool. It is possible that we will see a return to active motherboard cooling and any user running two or three PCIe 5.0 M.2 drives in the future may be in for an unwelcome surprise.

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Thermalright HR-09 M.2 SSD Cooler

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Thermalright HR-09 M.2 SSD Cooler

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Thermalright HR-09 M.2 SSD Cooler

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Thermalright HR-09 Pro M.2 SSD Cooler

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Thermalright HR-09 Pro M.2 SSD Cooler

(Image credit: Thermalright)

M.2 cooling should become a growing market. Teamgroup recently revealed its CPU and M.2 AIO cooler design combination. We’re sure other companies are busy preparing their own projects.

Thermalright’s HR-09 M.2 coolers are priceless yet, but we’ll make sure to keep you updated as soon as they do. PCIe 5.0 M.2 SSDs are in development and should be released in late 2022, perhaps alongside Intel’s 13th Generation and AMD’s Zen 4 platforms.

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