DDR5: How Hot Is “Too Hot”? (Does DDR5 Need Special Cooling Or Heatsinks?)

DDR5 is here and – thankfully – cheaper than ever. This has led to lots of PC builders wondering if they should finally upgrade to DDR5 RAM.

However some early adopters of DDR5 memory complained that their RAM was “overheating” or running “too hot”. Is this still true? And do you need special cooling for your RAM?

I answer these questions and more in this video:

Some of the useful links and webpages I mention throughout this video are:

If you prefer text over video, please read on for the guide/transcript version of this video.

Video Transcript And Guide

Hey everyone, DDR5 prices have thankfully come down LOADS in recent years, meaning that more people than ever are considering an upgrade to a DDR5 based system. HOWEVER some people say that DDR5 RAM “runs too hot” and can overheat. But is this true? And why have SOME people removed the factory heatsink and stuck random bits of metal on the PCB instead?

DDR5 Thermals

Well let’s take each question in turn. Yes, DDR5 RAM DOES run fairly hot. It’s a bit like how gen 5 NVMe drives are hotter than gen 4 ones, and so you really need to pay attention to how you’re cooling your gen 5 SSDs. Some people have found that their DDR5 RAM runs at 70 to 80 degrees celsius, especially when experimenting with mild overclocks. That’s pretty high. Now Crucial DOES say that their DDR5 sticks work up to 95 degrees (celcius), but in reality, you’ll experience thermal throttling and possibly memory errors if your RAM gets up that high. That’s ‘kinda why some people then perform funky mods to their RAM. In an ideal world, you should aim for your DDR5 RAM to run below 60-70 degrees celsius during typical use.

Basic DDR5 Cooling

So does this mean that if you purchase DDR5 RAM, you’re going to have LOADS of thermal problems? Well, probably not. Apart from some early teething issues, DDR5 is fairly stable now  and if you purchase brand new RAM from a reputable company like GSkill, Corsair or Kingston, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience thermal issues. That’s because RAM makers nowadays ‘usually’ use the appropriate cooling solution for the RAM. The faster the RAM, the hotter it will run. In other words, if the DDR5 you purchase runs at a slow speed – say between 4800 and 5400 Mhz – the RAM sticks will likely be “naked”:

New DDR5 RAM in a box with no heatsink on them
New DDR5 RAM in a box with no heatsink on them

They won’t have any heatsink or heat spreader on them. And that’s because these slower and higher latency sticks don’t usually heat up too much.

BUT a low CL RAM that runs at 6000 Mhz, for example, WILL run hotter. That’s why you’ll pretty much always see them with an “aluminum sheath” on them (to use the American term):

Corsair 6000MHz RAM with heatsinks on them
Corsair 6000MHz RAM with heatsinks on them

But of course, that’s not a sheath, it’s a heatsink. It helps to move heat AWAY from the DDR5 RAM, so that it doesn’t overheat.

Checking RAM Temps

You can check your RAM temps fairly easily. A free program like HWInfo will show your RAM temperature, as will some “packaged” software like the Asus Armory Crate *shudders*. You should check your DDR5 temps when idle, and also when using your computer – whether that’s for gaming, video editing, or doing AI work. You can also kick things up a notch and use a program like MemTest86 or TestMem5 to REALLY stress test your RAM and check the temps then. Ideally your RAM will be below 70 degrees celsius during these tests.

I should quickly point out, though, that not all RAM modules actually have temperature sensors within them. If HWInfo doesn’t show any RAM temperature reading, that’s probably why:

HWInfo saying that temperature sensors are disabled on RAM
HWInfo saying that temperature sensors are disabled on RAM

In this case you can either hope for the best, or take the “don’t try this at home” approach and touch the RAM module with the back of your hand. Be careful though. If your RAM IS running at 80 degrees, you could burn. But if you’re careful and you SLOWLY move the BACK of your hand towards the RAM, you should be okay. This isn’t medical advice though. If in doubt, don’t touch it. 

Custom DDR5 Cooling

Anywhoo, let’s say that you ARE concerned by your DDR5 temps. Do you need a special cooling solution? Well, maybe. The default heatsinks on DDR5 RAM will always be inherently limited because RAM modules are spaced closely together in the motherboard:

A bare motherboard showing the four RAM slots being close together
A bare motherboard showing the four RAM slots being close together

If the heatsinks were really wide, you wouldn’t be able to fit all your RAM into the motherboard slots. So if you have “above average” demands from your RAM – for example you’re overclocking it or you have a small form factor build – you might need to explore alternative cooling methods, even though physically modifying your RAM will almost certainly void the warranty – and that’s worth knowing:

Corsair RAM with a removal will void warranty sticker
Corsair RAM with a removal will void warranty sticker

What some people have done is use a specialist heatsink, or apply some aluminium heatsink fins – like these. The greater surface area will help to better move heat away from the RAM. To firstly remove the original heatsink, you’ll need to use a heatgun or hair dryer to gently heat the adhesive and then you should be able to pry it off. Once this is done, you’re left with the “naked” (or bare) RAM stick. You can then either apply the specialist heatsink by following their instructions, or you can use special heatsink adhesive to “glue” aluminum fins onto the black memory chips.

At this point your RAM should run cooler than the default heatsink, but most people take things a step further and mount a series of fans above them:

A RAM modification including various Noctua fans above it
A RAM modification including various Noctua fans above it

40 mil (or 1 and a half inch) fans like the Noctua A4x10s can work especially well for this. A few people have followed this approach and their DDR5 temps ended up below 40 degrees celsius, which is pretty impressive.

Final Thoughts

But of course, case airflow is generally important here too. You’ll want to make sure that colder intake air is flowing near your RAM for best results.

And that wraps up this video, I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please click the thumbs up button – this tells the YouTube algorithm that more people should see this video. Please also subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already and thanks for watching!

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

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