PCIe NVMe Card Comparison

My 2023 workstation build requires many NVMe drives for redundancy and performance. The need for a high number of PCIe lanes is what drove me to the Threadripper Pro platform.

I have two conflicting goals in this build:

  • Keep the drive temperatures down to prolong their life.
  • Add very little noise (or no noise) to the system, which sits next to me.

The Asus Hyper M.2 X16 Gen 4 Card has a large aluminum heatsink and a 40mm fan.


  • Adequate cooling.
  • Quiet fan. (I have two of these and one’s fan is a little bit noisier.)
  • The fan has an on/off switch on the rear bracket.


  • A little bit expensive.
  • The fan seems to make only about a 1°C difference.

The RIITOP 4P-NVTPCE16X is a generic PH44 card with an 80mm fan.


  • Good cooling.
  • Good price.


  • Does not have a fan switch.
  • The fan is audible (but not terrible).

The PH44PLUS has 2 drives on each side with a 50mm fan blowing on both sides.


  • Inexpensive.
  • Low profile (includes bracket).


  • Poor cooling. The fan moves very little air.
  • The drives on the backside of the card can prevent the use of the previous slot, especially if you add heatsinks to the drives.
  • The fan is audible on the low setting and loud on the high setting.

The ARAIERD WQ34-HT is an ADT WQ34 card with a 180mm x 90mm x 2mm copper heatsink that is apparently made for graphics cards.


  • The NVMe drives run horizontally, which allows many single heatsinks (with taller fins) to be used instead of the provided thin heatsink.


  • Terrible cooling, likely due to the very short fins.
  • With only 4 screws to clamp the heatsink on the card, the heatsink tends to bow resulting in a loss of contact between the thermal pad and the middle drives.

When my card is populated with more than 2 drives, the Linux messages log file contains errors, including “Hardware error from APEI Generic Hardware Error. It has been corrected by h/w and requires no further action“. The card seems to function correctly, but I don’t trust this particular one.

A PH44 card with a 150mm x 85mm x 12mm aluminum heatsink customized by Pondermatic.


  • Excellent cooling.
  • Silent.


  • Requires drilling holes in the heatsink and optionally two holes in the card between drives 2 and 3. I tapped the holes for M3 x 0.5mm x 10mm screws.

Which NVMe PCIe card keeps the drives the coolest? Here’s how I tested:

  • one card at a time
  • the same four Intel Optane P1600X 58GB drives
  • in slot 4 of an Asus WRX80e-Sage SE WiFi motherboard
  • in a Fractal Define 7 XL case
  • ambient temperature 24°C
  • fio --name=read-test --ioengine=libaio --direct=1 --size=64G --readwrite=read --time_based --runtime=60 --blocksize=64k --iodepth=32 --filename=/dev/nvme0n1
Card°C Idle°C Loaded
Asus Hyper M.2 X16 Gen 4 Card4048
PH44 card and 150mm x 85mm x 12mm heatsink3237

The winner is the PH44 with a customized 150mm x 85mm x 12mm aluminum heatsink. Its hottest temperature under load was the same as the coolest card at idle. If you have access to tools for drilling and tapping screw holes and have the time to do it, I highly recommend doing this project. It’s well worth it, especially if you’re installing more than one card.


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