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Searching on Newegg for "raspberry pi", the results included many heatsinks and as well as a few other types of cooling systems, yet these items do not seem to appear when looking through the stores of the official distributors.

Does the Raspberry Pi need some sort of cooling system for its processor such as a heatsink? If one is not always required, are there special situations where a cooling system would be necessary (operating in an outdoor environment where temperatures may reach 35°C during the day)? Or is the temperature more related to how hard the processor is working?

Do home-made cases for the Raspberry Pi need to include some sort of ventilation or fan to avoid temperature buildups?

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You can put a fan on the device, it wont hurt. A heat sink wont hurt either. If you over clock the pi, then cooling becomes more necessary. –  j0h Aug 24 at 13:26

4 Answers 4

No, it does not need a cooling system. If the CPU gets too hot (>85C) it will throttle back the speed.

http://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=536478#p536478

Perhaps vendors sell heat-sinks to gullible people for the same reason they sell gold plated digital audio cables, they make a profit.

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2  
won't putting a heat sink help prevent the pi from throttling back and may help maintain performance? –  Phil Vallone Aug 24 at 16:01
    
Certainly (not the same as the need the OP was asking about though). –  joan Aug 24 at 16:21

I would like to add this image:

http://makezineblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/thermal_raspberrypi1.png?w=897&h=630

note that from the picture, the main component that gets hot is the USB/ethernet hub - by far, this MAY warrant a heatsink if you are using those components heavily, it has restricted airflow due to a case/etc. and it is in a warmer environment, or some combination thereof.

The second component that gets warm in the image is the 3.3v regulator - this is to be expected from a linear regulator, and basically a non-issue in the new + editions of the pi. These pieces are designed to heat up (that is how they work), so I would not be concerned with this piece needing a heatsink.

Finally, the CPU (and memory which is above the CPU) - this is unlikely to need a heatsink since it will throttle itself if it gets too hot - if you do notice throttling, then you may want a heatsink (and you could run into this if you overclock.. but if you really are THAT desperate for more CPU power, perhaps the Pi isn't for you...)

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Nice! Do you have a source for that image? –  IQAndreas Nov 18 at 21:03
    
@IQAndreas - it came up when I did an image search for "pi heatmap image" with many sources - not sure which one is the original unfortunately –  user2813274 Nov 18 at 21:27

If you are overclocking it then yes, you might need to provide extra cooling. However if you do decide to push it a bit it is advisable you provide extra cooling.

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The best thing I can suggest is just to monitor the temps for a while and see for yourself if it is needed in your case. (ambient temps, overclocking and continued load being major factors). The greater the load on the components, the more heat they produce.

As in most hardware cases it doesn't hurt to keep your gear cool. Just adding a fan somewhere in the setup can already work wonders, there shouldn't be a need to go looking for specialized aftermarket coolers. After all, a Pi is still a bit of a DIY thing isn't it? :)

This thread shows you how to monitor your temps:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=55940

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Is there a core temperature monitor already on the board, or do I need to purchase one of those hand-held temperature sensors? –  IQAndreas Sep 2 at 8:43

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