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?

  • 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, 2014 at 13:26

5 Answers 5


I would like to add this image:


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...)

edit to add new model:

Giles Read has added a heatmap image of the Pi 2:

Pi 2 heatmap image

Seems like the quad core CPU is more power hungry, but looking at the scale on the right helps bring it into perspective: under 40 degrees Celsius is fine for a CPU package, no heatsink needed

and to quote from the RPi foundation

No. The chip used in the Raspberry Pi is equivalent to a chip used in a cellphone, and does not become hot enough to need any special cooling.

  • Nice! Do you have a source for that image?
    – IQAndreas
    Nov 18, 2014 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 Nov 18, 2014 at 21:27
  • This picture may be of an early Pi B, which had a circuit error, connecting two 3.3 V (or 1.8?) busses. This made the networking chip supply 3.3V to the whole board, making it very hot and unreliable.
    – tomnexus
    May 17, 2015 at 19:56
  • What level of cooling do you need if you want to overclock it using the system settings? Do I need a fan, or would I just need a heat sink, if I wanted to do the highest level?
    – jfa
    Sep 19, 2015 at 23:15
  • @JFA it depends a lot on the ambient temperature and humidity, and for how long you need the max performance but I stand with what I said before - you probably want to look into a different system with more CPU power than to try and overclock the Pi to a higher performance level (intel Edison comes to mind, there are several snapdragon dev boards, etc. ) Sep 20, 2015 at 11:39

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


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

There are tests videos on YouTube. Here is one with heatsink and one with an additional fan. It's clear that the heatsink alone does only make a marginal difference, which probably does not justify the money you pay for a heatsink.

  • 6
    won't putting a heat sink help prevent the pi from throttling back and may help maintain performance?
    – PhillyNJ
    Aug 24, 2014 at 16:01
  • 2
    Certainly (not the same as the need the OP was asking about though).
    – joan
    Aug 24, 2014 at 16:21
  • How likely is it to hit that 85C temperature and throttle? Unlikely. Here's one person's experience in a room at a reasonable temperature (25C / 77F) : raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=11579#p169872
    – dannysauer
    Jan 23, 2019 at 22:28

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:



this returns core temp in °C

/opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd measure_temp
  • 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, 2014 at 8:43
  • 2
    '/opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd measure_temp' gets you your core temp
    – Havnar
    Jan 20, 2015 at 14:48

Sure it doesn't help much, but they are typically only a few dollars and look nice so why not? http://www.rootusers.com/raspberry-pi-heat-sinks-temperature-before-and-after/ temperatures do drop a bit, yes it's a cheap device so this isn't exactly critical.

  • 1
    If only they were all that cool (pun!) though.
    – goldilocks
    Nov 19, 2016 at 14:30

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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