Thermal ThrottlingDue to the compact form factor, M.2 drives lack the ability to cool themselves and usually have to rely on passive airflow instead. All vendors include some form of thermal throttling on their drives as a safeguard, which limits throughput once a certain temperature is exceeded.
On this page, we will investigate whether the tested drive has such a mechanism, how high temperatures get, and what effect this has on performance. We will test the drive in a typical case and the M.2 slot between the CPU and VGA card. A second data point shows the result with a 120 mm fan directly blowing on the tested drive. Each of the charts has time moving from left to right, with the blue line displaying transfer speed in MB/s and the red line showing the temperature in °C (measured using SMART).
In a pure read scenario, the drive doesn't throttle at all.
When heavily loaded with writes the drive does see some throttling fairly quickly. The loss in performance is quite acceptable though, as it still achieves 1 GB/s when thermally throttled, and the drive will aggressively try to ramp up speeds.
Thermal LimitsThe tests above represent a worst-case scenario for the SSD since we're running it at maximum speed for an extended period of time. Beyond that, it becomes important to look at how storage performs when it's under lighter load, which is the case with many consumer applications. For this test, we're sending a fixed-rate stream of data to the drive until temperatures have stabilized. As long as there is no thermal throttling, we'll increase the data rate and chart it below.
Thermal Image & Hot Spot
We recorded a thermal image of the running SSD as it was completing the write test. The hottest part reached 93°C, while the drive's own thermal reporting claimed temperatures of 68°C—quite a big difference.