RAM heatsink - what's the point?

A friend of mine recently bought some RAM off the 'net and received free some RAM heatsink - it’s basically some heatsink pieces of metal with sticky tape on the back which you stick to the individual RAM chips to help them cool. I never knew RAM got hot enough to warrant extra cooling, does it? Is this jus a waste of money for everyone who doesn’t overclock RAM?

TIA, 2co.

No need for it, really. Unless you’re a l33t 0v3rkl0x0r and you’ve decided you need to cool every component of your PC in thoroughly ridiculous ways.

True, overclocking is about the only reason you’d need heatsinks for your RAM. While heat is a primary enemy of your computer’s circuitry, your RAM will probably become obsolete and need to be replaced long before the few degrees you can cool it down with a heatsink become a factor over it’s lifespan. Again, only if you’re not overclocking.

The only type of RAM that needs cooling is Rambus DRAM, or RDRAM. Normal SDRAM and DDR SDRAM produces so little heat that cooling is not a factor, except when overclocking. A metal heat spreader can provide SOME benefits from improved EMI shielding, but these are minimal. The only time when memory heatsinks can be usefull are on videocard RAM chips, which tend to be running at least twice as fast as your average system RAM, as well as running at higher voltage. Even then, extra cooling does little.

Here’s more information from Dansdata (scroll down to “Blue metal”).

When overclock attempts are made, often the device’s recommended operating voltage is significantly increased to help the maximum overclock. In this case RAM can get quite warm, although I would suggest in most cases that most people use the pretty adonised RAM heatspreaders to serve other purposes. :wink:

Actually, if you’ve ever touched the RAM (well, the ramsink) on a Radeon 9800, it does get quite hot after playing games for a little bit. I believe this is because the 9800 uses DDRII (or maybe it is just the 256MB version? I think both use DDRII), which tends to run hotter.

Normal SDRAM doesn’t get very warm over the whole chip, but certain small areas can build up little pockets of heat. This still isn’t a concern anyone but people concerned with squeezing every last drop of performance of their system. Most of the good quality ram (corsair, kingston hyperx, etc) come with heat spreaders now.

      • There was an article on Slashdot about computer hacking where someone found that if you opened a computer case and pointed an ordinary 100-watt desktop drafting lamp at the RAM memory, that RAM errors occur as a result (I -think- it was about ways to hack the Java VM if you are that interested…). I don’t recall the temperatures or memory types involved, but it wouldn’t seem to take much…

Actually, I just added a second 256 MB DDR SDRAM chip, and ever since then, when playing DVDs, my Intel Active Monitor program tells me that the temperature in “System Area 2” has exceeded recommended limits. I haven’t messed with clocking or any such thing…just put in the RAM chip.

Do you guys think getting a “RAM heatsink” is the answer to this issue?

DVD-ROM players can get quite warm when in use. The additional RAM stick might be blocking just enough airflow around the player to cause the alarm. While a heatsink won’t do any harm, I’d suggest an additional case fan in the right spot instead. Or relocate your DVD player to another bay.

I agree with Horseflesh, the problem is not with the temperature of the RAM, but with poor case airflow. In addition to case fans, if you have a hot AGP videocard, you can buy a slot exhaust blower to suck hot air off of it and blow it out behind the case. This can significantly improve case and videocard temperatures.

Agressive DDR ram definitely needs it. When I mean agressive I mean your cas latency is 2, your ras precharge is 2, your ras to cas delay is 2, your precharge time is 5 and ddr_1t/2t_item is 1.

This along with a 400mhz bus and possibly more with overclocking you are looking for some hot unstable ram. That is why all mushkin DDR and all corsair XMS DDR ships with heat sinks. They know the ram they are selling is going to be used aggressively, as that is how the ram is marketed.

The average system most likely will not need it. It is basically just for people looking to get the most out of there hardware. Like me :slight_smile:

RAM heatsink? Just Drill another hole for a outgoing fan.

Kewk: Nah, it’s still just decorative on DDR. Classic PC133 SDRAM consumed 900MilliWatt per chip, DDR consumes even less (PC133 is 3.3V, DDR is 2.5V). Really, if the 360Mhz (DDR720) RAM on my Radeon 9800 Pro can get by without heatsinks, run of the mill DDR400 shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, the heat spreaders on OCZ PC4200 don’t even touch the chips. My Geil Golden Dragon CAS2 DDR433 even has a plastic shield covering the RAM chips, and it does perfectly well.