The Samsung 950 Pro was the fastest consumer SSD on the market just two months ago. Now the 960 Pro and 960 Evo are on the market, and one of the things Samsung attempted to address was the tendency for these super high performance drives to get hot. All things considered, it actually takes a lot of abuse to push one of these drives to their thermal limit, a drive state which will result in the throttling of its data speeds to protect itself. As a resident of the great state of Texas, I've actually seen my drive throttle while doing not so typical activities on my PC. Add to that, it appears the newest firmware may actually attempt to protect the drive more so than before, and you can see I had a prime example of a first world problem on my hands.
The first thing I wanted to do was get an idea of the actual temps from the drive. But according to Puget Systems, the 950 Pro actually has two thermal sensors, "one near the storage modules and one to control throttling. Unfortunately, the sensor that is read... is actually from the thermal sensor near the storage chips, not the control sensor." This basically means the temperatures I read with Corsair Link are not the temps that actually determine if the drive throttles or not. To read more on the research by Puget Systems, I have linked the article in the description below.
Fortunately, the Angelbird Wings PX1 cools the entire M.2, not just the controller. Performance is still relative, if not exact. Installed in a similar PCIe to M.2 adapter card with no heatsink, I read idle temps at 48* C. This is after a boot of the system, with the system sitting idle for 10 minutes. After making this observation I ran ATTO Disk Benchmark, set Total Length to 2GB, and ran the test. Seconds after starting the test, the temp of the drive jumped 10*, and eventually maxed out at 71* C. I noticed the temps jumped the highest on the largest transfers, so I restricted the bench to those tests, and ran it over and over attempting to push the temps as high as they would go. After only two tests, I was able to get the drive to max out at 74* C. I ran two more tests following that, and the temp never went any higher. This is potentitally the throttle point, but it was unclear to me without better ways to measure everything.
After pulling the 950 Pro and removing the front side label sticker so the chips would make direct contact with the thermal strips, I installed it into the PX1. There was an immediate improvement in temperatures. The drive idled 5* cooler than without the PX1 heatsink. I let it idle for at least 10 minutes, and then I ran the same exact tests as before. This time the numbers were much more impressive! The highest I could push the temps with the PX1 installed was 49* C! I even ran the bench with the large transfers over and over and over, and the temp would not go any higher!
As for the unit itself, the heatsink covers the M.2 in a sort of backwards way from how we normally think of them. The black cover has the fins on the side that face the M.2. The cooler has air veins that allow the air flow of the case fans to push air from inside the case, through the fins, and out of the rear through a silver plate I *really* wish was black. The extra holes on the rear plate allow air to flow across the exposed side of the heatsink and exit the rear as well. I don't know if this unit really imrpoves performance of the drive any, but it feels like the computer boots faster and opens apps faster, but that could all be the placeabo effect. Hopefully someone that can control the environment much more than myself will soon test this unit.
So in conclusion, does the Angelbird Wings PX1 do what it sets out to do, which is keeping your high performance M.2 drive cool? Absolutely! Does it improve performance? That's still undetermined, but if you can keep the controller on your expensive NVMe M.2 running cooler, you should definitely do it! If you'd like to buy the Angelbird Wings PX1, using my link in the description below helps me out a great deal.