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I received 2 different types of heat sink in a kit for the raspberry pi 3. I am going to be doing lots of overclocking with a fan and heatsink.

Copper heatsink

Aluminum heatsink

Which one will release the most heat when paired up with a fan? Anyone have the exact statistics?

  • TECHNICALLY, just putting this out there, could I put the aluminum heatsink ON TOP of the copper one, would it make a noticeable difference? – Milan1360 Apr 14 '17 at 13:57
  • Not sure the performance of heatsinks is really related to the Pi. Copper is the better thermal conductor, but given how little heat energy these heatsinks would have to dissipate anyway, I doubt its going to make much difference. Depending on how far you are overclocking and for how long the overclock is applied for, active cooling, like using heatsinks is not even necessary. – Darth Vader Apr 14 '17 at 14:05
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    Welcome to the site. Per previous comments, this isn't really a Pi question. The effect of the heatsink on the operation of the Pi might be relevant here, but the design of the heatsink isn't. I took a quick look around and the best place to go for this question is likely to be the Electronics board, where I'm getting 1762 hits on 'heatsink'. I suspect your question's already been answered in there somewhere - make sure you check before you post a new question there. – goobering Apr 14 '17 at 14:26
  • Since you have both available why not run some tests and come up with your own answer? While it es technically true that copper has a higher thermal conductivity then Al that particular heat sink might give it all away with respect to fin efficiency (thicker and shorter fins). It might well be that the difference is negligible in real live. Also noteworthy is the thermal contact resistance between chip and the heat sink (possibly an thermal adhesive). If that is just bad enough (it likely is) different heat sinks don't really matter. – Ghanima Apr 14 '17 at 19:28
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Copper heatsink if they are of similar dimensions. Generally, aluminium is about 60% of copper in terms of thermal conductivity, specific types vary but not much.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium

The fan will be the most important factor - speed, flow rate, pressure. And if using a case would be ventilation.

Some improvements can also be had depending on how the heatsink is mounted. Typically this is using double sided thermal tape. A solution is to cut out a square section in the middle and fill that with thermal paste. If you have clips or mounts, then you would already be using thermal paste.

With overclocking, keep in mind the temperature at which thermal paste breaks down (i.e. dries out).

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While it es technically true that copper has a higher thermal conductivity then aluminum that particular heat sink might give it all away with respect to fin efficiency (thicker and shorter fins). It might well be that the difference is negligible in real live. Also noteworthy is the thermal contact resistance between chip and the heat sink (possibly an thermal adhesive). If that is just bad enough (it likely is) different heat sinks don't really matter.

  • Who cares if this is one and a half years late. As I said, it's for overclocking, so thermals do matter. – Milan1360 Oct 23 '18 at 1:18
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    @Milan1360 and I am not arguing against that. I am just stating that I have reason to believe the copper heatsink will not be performing better despite its higher thermal conductivity and that the "efficiency of cooling" will be largely determined by the thermal contact of the respective heat sink to the chip. If you happen to test both of them please feel free to post your own answer based on your findings... actually I (and future readers for that matter) will be interessted. – Ghanima Oct 23 '18 at 4:42
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Copper is several times better at shifting heat than aluminium, more than 3X. Always use copper if you have it. I use a small 5V fan and a thermally triggered switch (45°) to dump air on a few small heatsinks in my RPi. foo bar

The small heatsinks can never remove the heat of the chips adequately without airflow, and are only in place to expand the surface area for passing air. The switch closes the circuit at ~53°, and opens again at 35°..: Google 5Pcs KSD9700 5A 250V Degrees Celsius Thermostat Control Temperature Switch R06 . You can pull 5V from near the microUSB jack, use a DMM.

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