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Just what the title states. I'm looking to add a heat-spreader to my DDR3-1333 CL9 chips, and wondering whether it might make a difference ... and if so, how much

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When they first started putting spreaders on, I tore them off, they were doing more harm than good, because of the method of thermal transfer they were using. I concidered them "Art". The space they took up due to design with lips and ledges and artsy stickers, and the space between the slots, was a total package of neagative effect. Concidering the Controller part of the ram the spreader might be more important nowdays. I would still say adding a Bad Design into a tight space could be worse. adding increased flow of air might be a better investement when going that route. –  Psycogeek Oct 8 '11 at 7:40
    
^ now i have to put in the disclaimer, tearing them off they way some are installed and made now, could result in tearing a chip off with it. but any art sticker still goes. –  Psycogeek Oct 8 '11 at 7:47
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If they're not attached with thermoconductive epoxy, they don't belong on the chips. I had a set of Crucial's very expensive Ballistix memory boards have their head-spreaders pop loose. By the time I figured out what was going on, the machine had been trashed. In the early stages, it started with odd lockups (during the time the gaps weren't apparent during physical removal and inspection) which I attributed to the motherboard since changing the boards out didn't seemingly cure it. Then one of the spreaders came loose and the system proceeded to eat a chunk of the MFT on that thermal crash. –  Fiasco Labs Oct 8 '11 at 7:58
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

At cost price from my suppliers, most memory modules only cost a few pence (usually around 20-40p) more for modules with heatsinks over ones without. However, the specification is usually the same.

The main difference is that you may be able to overclock slightly more without heat issues and as the price isn't a lot more, I always purchase them with.

This being said, the memory specification is the important factor and heat sinks will not make any difference over that.

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In other words, a heat-sink only makes sense when overclocking? The reason I'm looking to add is because here summer temperatures go upto 47C, so now is a good time to prepare –  Everyone Oct 7 '11 at 19:01
    
@William Hilsum With hearSINKS or heatSPREADERS? From what I've seen, RAM with heatsinks is rare. –  AndrejaKo Oct 7 '11 at 19:14
    
@Everyone... well ... It will be slightly cooler than one without, but, critical or even dangerous temprature is a lot higher... unless you are overclocking, I doubt you need it. I personally use them, but, I doubt they are doing anything... The hard drive or motherboard will probably go long before the memory does. –  William Hilsum Oct 7 '11 at 19:14
    
@AndrejaKo I thought A passive heat sink and heat spreader are the same thing :/ –  William Hilsum Oct 7 '11 at 19:16
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In cases where large amounts of memory are heavily used, there may not be enough unused cold chips for heatspreaders to use to dump heat onto. In that case, a real heatsinks may be needed. The problem however is that due to motherboard design, standard heatsink designs usually won't work or may block other memory slots, so RAM with well-designed hetsinks is rare. –  AndrejaKo Oct 7 '11 at 19:45
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It will only make a difference if the RAM is actually overheating. Modern DDR3 RAM does have thermal throttling, which will cause it to slow down drastically if it overheats. Unless something is seriously wrong with your cooling setup, your RAM shouldn't be overheating. So the answer should be no.

There are a few special cases where RAM can overheat. One is if you're overvoltaging and/or overclocking your RAM. Another is if you're water cooling your CPU and don't have good airflow over that part of the motherboard. (Normally, the air moved by the CPU heatsink fan contributes significantly to keeping the RAM cool.)

RAM heatsinks should extend the life of your RAM, though it is quite rare for RAM to fail in normal use. It should also allow you to overclock or overvoltage further. IMO, the best reason to add cooling to RAM is to increase the safety margin between the operating conditions and the failure conditions, which should improve reliability.

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Though the temperature of the RAM is less important than its spec, there is another factor to consider when evaluating heatsinks on RAM: Case Temperature.

RAM with a heatsink can help to reduce the overall temp of your case and help prevent component degradation/damage and help make it easier to overclock other components.

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Unless the RAM heat sink is outside the case, it cannot lower case temperature. Think about it--each RAM module produces a certain amount of heat, and all a heat sink does is conduct it away from the actual RAM chips. –  CarlF Oct 7 '11 at 19:18
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...which is on the motherboard, near the CPU. A heatsink allows the heat to radiate into the cavity of the chassis (as opposed right next to your processor) to where your casefans can do the cleanup. –  Christopher Rayl Oct 7 '11 at 19:22
    
Certainly a heatsink is designed to carry heat away from the processor, but in your answer you say it lowers "the overall temp of your case". This is simply not true. –  CarlF Oct 10 '11 at 12:26
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