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There are a number of options available when shopping for a random access memory (RAM) heatsink and most of them have to do with performance. A quality RAM heatsink should be able to quickly transfer the heat coming off of the memory to keep it from overheating. While this is often easier said than done, the overall size of the RAM heatsink also plays a critical factor since many sticks of memory are often located inside a computer system with very little space in between them. Some heatsinks will cool multiple sticks of RAM at once, while others are designed to be installed directly on each memory stick. The actual ventilation systems can also vary greatly between inexpensive and the top RAM heatsink models, which usually accounts for the large price difference.
When comparing RAM heatsink models, the first choice that a consumer has to decide is whether multiple heat spreaders or a single fan heatsink would be more practical. Keeping the memory cool can improve performance by as much as 30% within many computer systems, and the overall size of the system often decides which technology would be better-suited. Heat spreaders are often sufficient inside large, well-ventilated devices that already have good airflow within the system, while a true RAM heatsink would provide superior ventilation inside smaller, compact systems. Many laptops and micro computers fail because of this oversight, simply because there is not enough room for the air to circulate within it.
If a fan-assisted RAM heatsink is chosen, it is important to consider a few options within the various models. The fan itself will require electricity either directly from the power supply or from the motherboard, so verifying that the required input is available will ensure compatibility. Also, the amount of power required will also vary significantly, and many premium RAM heatsinks are designed to be powered by high-wattage power supplies only. When the system in question already has numerous fans and other optional devices running, adding a RAM heatsink may not even be possible without upgrading the power supply.
Another aspect of fan-assisted types of RAM heatsinks is the amount of air they move through the system, with the better models providing the largest airflow. Price alone is often not indicative of this feature since many generic models work extremely well, with the only obvious difference coming from the quality of the materials or craftsmanship. Consumers should manually verify how much air each RAM heatsink is designed to provide at various workloads, since many of them can be programmed to spin at a higher revolution when the RAM is overheating.