Cooling: Active, passive, none?

With older Raspberry Pi models, we never recommended active coolers. Has the situation changed with the Pi5? It depends. The good news is that, like its predecessors, the Pi5 can run without any active cooling. When used as a music player, the system load is usually very low, and the Pi won’t operate at high loads for extended periods. This setup works well without active cooling. If you want to enhance heat dissipation, a simple passive heatsink can help. Our new Pi5 steel case adds an additional 9mm of space between the Raspberry Pi and the HiFiBerry sound card, improving airflow.

Are you planning to run server software on the Pi? This could include applications like Logitech Media Server, HomeAssistant, or other resource-intensive software. Some of these applications may require more CPU resources than others. If you find that the system runs too hot for extended periods, you can add an active cooler with a fan. The active cooler from the Raspberry Pi Foundation works quite well. It is temperature-controlled, meaning you usually won’t hear it as the fan will run slowly or not at all. As with all small fans, longevity can be a concern, but based on the design, it seems the Raspberry Pi team has delivered a high-quality cooler. There’s a good chance it will function well for several years.

The active cooler will also fit perfectly in our Pi5 steel case. This means that even if you don’t want to use an active cooler now, you can easily add one later without needing to change the case.

One final note: You cannot damage the Pi by running it without active cooling. If the Pi gets too hot, it will automatically throttle its performance to cool down. This may temporarily affect performance, but it is often unnoticeable.

May 28, 2024

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