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Will a fan cool my Pi 3 without heatsink? I'm using it for some hard-core gaming and it's heating up enough that the thermal warning comes up and I don't want to use heatsink because the case I've got for it has a fan that fits on the inside and I don't want to move it to the outside(I have not used it yet) should I just sucks it up and move it to the outside of the case and buy some heatsink or should the fan do just fine?

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    "Hard-cord gaming" LOL – Mohammad Ali Mar 19 '17 at 22:38
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Yes. Forced convection will improve cooling over natural convection. Especially if the latter is inhibited to a certain degree by the case. It is definitely worth a try even though it would of course work "better" with a heat sink due to the significantly increase surface area (after all that is the idea of a heat sink).

  • It's also worth noting that if the RPi is in an enclosed cabinet (without an opening) the fan will only delay the thermal warnings. – Jacobm001 Apr 14 '17 at 16:22
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Yes, it makes a noticiable difference in temperature. Of course you would want a heat sink with it if your doing any overclocking, but you usually don't need one for regular use.

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Yes, as mentioned in the other answers the flow you create will help the heat going away from your pi. But I must advice you to use a heatsink if you have it constantly over 70 degrees celcius. Not only for the pi to survive, but it can also be a fire hazard if you stuff the pi somewhere in a tv set or something.

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