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RAM with heat spreaders vs. no heat spreaders

Raswan

Senior member
Jan 29, 2010
681
5
81
Is it true that unless you are doing some sort of overclocking that the RAM with fancy heat spreaders from companies like G. Skill are completely unnecessary? The reason I ask is that the good-selling, well-reviewed high-end RAM always seems to come with them (especially when people link suggestions for gaming rigs, unrelated to whether people say they are going to be doing any overclocking or not) while that RAM without the kits is significantly cheaper. Personally, I've always bought them with the heat spreaders. Have I been shelling out extra coinage to look cool, or is there a measurable benefit to them?
 

Ms. DICKINSON

Golden Member
May 17, 2010
1,221
1
81
bit.ly
I'm trying to find out if memory fan is necessary especially for 2 sticks w/ heat spread in dual channel mode. (Sorry, I'm not trying to hijack your thread).
 

IGemini

Platinum Member
Nov 5, 2010
2,473
2
81
I'd say heatspreaders help, but it's not like going from stock cooling -> tower cooler on a CPU kind of transition. Yeah, most people who don't do anything with a computer other than everyday work can likely get away with bare RAM. At the same time, your basic heatspreader usually doesn't add that much to the price, the higher-rated RAM just tends to have more ornate/efficient spreaders to dispel heat from the higher speeds.

Fan on memory is the farthest thing from necessary unless you're trying to max out the memory speed for some reason...with DDR3 there are insane 2000+ ratings, but there aren't really any benefits going beyond 1600MHz.
 

GundamF91

Golden Member
May 14, 2001
1,827
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This has more to to do with brand and their QC than the heat spreaders. Most of the RAM that don't have heat spreaders are value ones, and chances are they had less QC done on them. I dont' think you can buy name brand memory that do not come with heat spreaders. In some ways, the spreaders are also good for protecting the fragile circuit board connections. I would say buy the ones with heat spreaders. It's not that much difference if you shop around (wait for sale). You're really paying the money to ensure makers had better QC and used higher spec chips.

As for heat on RAM, personally I don't think it makes that big difference. RAM chips get hot, but not that hot. With heat spreaders, the heat go into case with more surface area. Without them, probably dissipate slower, but not that much slower. What's far more important is to move the hot air out of case. So money is better spent on a good ventilation system for the case.
 

Raswan

Senior member
Jan 29, 2010
681
5
81
This has more to to do with brand and their QC than the heat spreaders. Most of the RAM that don't have heat spreaders are value ones, and chances are they had less QC done on them. I dont' think you can buy name brand memory that do not come with heat spreaders. In some ways, the spreaders are also good for protecting the fragile circuit board connections. I would say buy the ones with heat spreaders. It's not that much difference if you shop around (wait for sale). You're really paying the money to ensure makers had better QC and used higher spec chips.

As for heat on RAM, personally I don't think it makes that big difference. RAM chips get hot, but not that hot. With heat spreaders, the heat go into case with more surface area. Without them, probably dissipate slower, but not that much slower. What's far more important is to move the hot air out of case. So money is better spent on a good ventilation system for the case.
This has generally been my thought as well, though I did not know there was a direct relation to QC. I picked up 8 gigs of DDR 1333 for 90 bucks on sale down from 119, and as far as I know modules generally go on sale often enough that it's not a big deal. Plus, I remember paying about 150 for 2 gigs three years ago when RAM prices were fluctuating like crazy, so 8 for 90 doesn't seem so bad these days :)
 

Rifter

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
11,518
745
126
Im pretty sure ive seen a review that said they did nothing or at least didnt cool the ram more than 10% faster than nothing but was years ago and i dont have a link.

All those huge ram heatsinks are just for looks/marketing and just get in the way of large CPU heatsinks. I would rather have better CPU cooling than ram cooling.

Edit im talking about corsair dominator type heatsinks, i dont see how heatspreaders matter one way or the other.
 
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bryanl

Golden Member
Oct 15, 2006
1,157
8
81
Look at the highest quality memory modules, which are from companies that diffuse their own chips and sell most of their modules to the industrial market and computer OEMs. Rarely will you see heatsinks on such modules.
 

Tsavo

Platinum Member
Sep 29, 2009
2,644
34
91
Rambus started this because the active memory module got hot and needed a spreader.

Sinks on anything else are just there for looks. Like spinners, but for your ram.
 

Blain

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
23,643
2
81
Buy memory rated at standard voltage and heatspreaders aren't needed, but are an added bonus if they come on the modules you happen purchase.
 

maniac5999

Senior member
Dec 30, 2009
497
1
81
I actually remember reading that for DDR3 with the voltage so low relative to DDR1/2 heat spreaders actually have zero, or even a slight negative effect when it comes to cooling. I think that the article was from Tom's though, so I'd be careful about treating it as gospel.
 

jduke

Junior Member
Dec 16, 2010
15
0
0
I called Kingston twice this week with memory questions...
Once the guy said "Heat spreaders work but are not needed unless overclocking."
Then the next time I called, the guy said "You don't need them ever."
Theres lots of opinion=fact out there.

Personally, I think they look cool, and thats enough for me to want them!

I'm sure they help to some degree...
 

n7

Elite Member
Jan 4, 2004
21,306
3
81
They are not necessary, but can help somewhat based on the reviews measuring temps that i've seen.

Airflow is more important if using extreme voltages, heatspreaders or otherwise.
 

fffblackmage

Platinum Member
Dec 28, 2007
2,548
0
76
Heatspreaders are only necessary if you're overvolting/overclocking. DDR3-1333 using 1.5V generally don't produce enough heat to really justify the use of heatspreaders, but most people seem attracted to it anyways.

Like so:
Personally, I think they look cool, and thats enough for me to want them!

I'm sure they help to some degree...
 

CurseTheSky

Diamond Member
Oct 21, 2006
5,401
0
0
As others have said, unless you're heavily overclocking / overvolting your memory, they're for looks only. If you are overvolting like mad, you're going to want some aggressive heatspreader design (Corsair's "DHX" (sp?) or several other implementations) combined with some direct airflow on the modules. If you are overvolting like mad, you probably already know this, however.

For the most part, I'd say they're hold-overs from the old DDR (Athlon XP / Athlon 64) and DDR2 days when enthusiast memory was at its finest. These days, companies just throw them on because bare chips LOOK like they're lower quality.
 

Jamoe836

Junior Member
Aug 5, 2013
2
0
0
Heat syncs on memory are probably really not necessary if you make sure to have excellent ventilation, but they don't hurt either. If you really want best performance out of memory, fill up all available slots with DIMMs. It increases utilization and throughout far beyond any other option. So for example, if your version of the OS is actually able to use all 32gb memory, use 4x8gb DIMMs instead of say 2x16gb DIMMs... If your OS is limited to 16, then use 4x4gb DIMMs....assuming also you have 4 slots available... Good luck!
 

fralexandr

Platinum Member
Apr 26, 2007
2,010
59
91
www.flickr.com
heatspreaders can in theory improve cooling, but at least as of several years ago many of them were attached using crappy paste that didn't transfer heat well. The end result was many heatspreaders actually trapping in heat. (AKA haswell & ivybridge fiasco ;))

The only heatspreaders that might help noticeably are the ones that increase surface area near the path of airflow (the ones with the fins on top). Thus, only the ridiculously tall heatspreaders (which might conflict with CPU HSF).

-----

RAM typically doesn't use enough power (given it's size) to require additional cooling. In some cases, such as overvolting/overclocking DDR2 or RDRAM might benefit from it, but I doubt it. It's hard to find any actual data supporting/refuting the benefits of heatspreaders :(.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/247520-30-voltage-damages
michiganteddybear's post describes how power works in ram.

Historically given that RAM size/shape hasn't changed much (since DDR1 took hold anyway), DDR3 is more power efficient than DDR2 (it was heavily advertised as such), and DDR2 is possibly more power efficient than DDR1 (given its use in notebooks at DDR2 400 vs DDR 400). Heatspreaders weren't as common on the original DDR (and none of these were commercially available with the heat fins; I think it started with GSKill/Corsair Vengeance DDR2). I don't even remember them existing on SD (I guess they started out with RD/Rambus based on Tsavo's post). Thus, it's unlikely heatspreaders are actually required (except on RDRAM).

note: RAM voltages have decreased over time, amount of current unknown (but possibly constant). Manufacturing process sizes decrease over time, and likely provide similar efficiency benefits to CPU/GPU die shrinks.

note 2: the samsung ddr3 1600 (30nm) is known to be an AMAZING overclocker and DOES NOT come with a heat spreader.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Samsung/MV-3V4G3/4.html - test setup shows no heat spreader on samsung (heat spreader w/ fins on GSKILL)
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Samsung/MV-3V4G3/6.html - overclocks to 2400

thus,
TL/DR: imo, based mostly on "educated guessing," heat spreaders are mostly a gimmick and provide no performance benefit [to any ram other than RDRAM *based on info from Tsavo (thanks!)] (other than some people thinking they look awesome).

The TV Series: Futurama said:
Cubert: Hey, Leela, help me apply these flame decals I got in my cereal. They'll make the ship go faster.
Leela: And what's your scientific basis for thinking that?
Cubert: I'm 12.
 
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crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
9,532
1,447
126
The FB-DIMMs in my HP xw8600 get too hot to touch without their fan, which is built-in with a swing-away catch. They're not too common anymore, being obsolete, but for every rule there is an exception.
 

zir_blazer

Senior member
Jun 6, 2013
939
85
91
note 2: the samsung ddr3 1600 (30nm) is known to be an AMAZING overclocker and DOES NOT come with a heat spreader.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Samsung/MV-3V4G3/4.html - test setup shows no heat spreader on samsung (heat spreader w/ fins on GSKILL)
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Samsung/MV-3V4G3/6.html - overclocks to 2400
I was just going to mention those modules. They were value modules without Heatspreader and overclocked like champions. If you can consistently get 1866/2133 MHz (Currently highest officially supported Frequency on AMD/Intel platforms) without any cooling, then I would say the Heatspreaders are there just for looking cool, because they don't offer any useful benefit at the Frequencies that most people should run them at. It increases the RAM price (Because that Heatspreader should cost money, right?) for no added functionality.
 

Atreidin

Senior member
Mar 31, 2011
464
27
86
I'd never heard the term "heat spreader" used in this context before Rambus used it. I always suspected that the term was used in preference to heatsink for marketing reasons, to make it sound less harsh. People are used to heatsinks for hot things, but if all you are doing is spreading the heat around, it might not sound quite as bad. Like, oh, there's no rush to get this heat away, let's just spread it around a bit, maybe place it over there for a while. :p
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,572
467
126
I can touch the heat-spreader on my DDR3-2400 modules (G.Skill Trident X), and they're not even warm. Albeit, I might need to run a memory benchmark or two to really work them to properly check.
 

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