I was very excited about theRaspberry Pi 4, especially when I learned that it was available with 4GB of RAM – perfect for running a Kubernetes cluster using software likek3s.ioandkubeadm. There’s a number of options I’ve tried to add cooling to my Raspberry Pi and I thought I’d list them here, how effective they are, and what the cost of each option is. I’ll also tell you about a firmware update that may shave off a degree or two.

Observing the temperature

Here’s a very rudimentary way to observe the temperature of the RPi

while [ true ]; do sleep 2 && sudo sudo / opt / vc / bin / vcgencmd measure_temp; done  temp=32 temp=33 temp=31

If you want to check how idle your system is, runuptimeorhtopand look at the values ​​returned, they ideally be very low.

Cooling off

Let’s look at a few of the options for cooling off. If you think I’ve missed something, then pleasereach out over Twitter.

The Pimoroni heatsink

Pimoroni have a very cheap heatsink which you can order when you purchase your RPi. It looks like this, and can shave off a degree or two at idle.

I just got a TLS certificate for my RPi4 over my home network, connected to tethered WiFi and it’s serving the same site with HTTPS. Some magic with cert-manager, k3s, and inlets-pro.

Find out more in San Diego ***https://t.co/ioYDerQ (U)pic.twitter.com/Fxes5KrW8V

– Alex Ellis (@alexellisuk) (November) , 2019

The heat will be spread out, but not moved away from the device, so once it’s hot, it will likely radiate that heat around the board.

You can’t argue with 2. (GBP -) https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/raspberry-pi-4-heatsink

Pimoroni fan shim

This option does apply a decent amount of cooling at idle and under load, it also moves the heat away from the board unlike the heatsink.

Checkout a detailedthermal overview from Pimoronion the fan shim vs. The Heatsink.

Check it out from 9. GBP –https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/fan-shim

Heatsink case

This is not the most effective option, we’ll see that next, but it is good at reducing the overall heat. It looks fantastic, and is practical on the go because it is also a case.

– Alex Ellis (@alexellisuk) (November) , 2019

I feel it may be rather overpriced, but at least it comes in several colors. It’s solid, and under load gets warm all over.

Check it out from 12 GBP –https://shop.pimoroni.com / products / aluminum-heatsink-case-for-raspberry-pi-4? variant=

ICE cooling tower

Here’s my top pick, which can get a mostly idle k3s cluster down to 31 c in no time. It lights up my whole office with blue light and has a subtle, but constant hum.

– Alex Ellis (@alexellisuk) (October) , 2019

Check it out from 19. (USD -) https://www.seeedstudio.com/ICE-Tower-CPU-Cooling-Fan-for-Raspberry-pi-Support-Pi-4-p – 4097 .html

After attaching this fan and heatsink, you cannot use a case of any form or a base-plate. It probably is best left in once place for that reason. I would like to see Seeed Studio come up with something to place the RPi on.

Try the new firmware update

You can update the RPi’sfirmware as detailed here, and it may shed a few degrees depending on what cooling solution you’re already using.

Note: you follow these instructions at your own risk.

Here’s what you need to do:


sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -qy --no-install-recommends

  • Rebootsudo reboot(don’t skip this)

  • Add therpi-eeprom-updatePackage

sudo apt install rpi-eeprom -y


sudo rpi-eeprom-update

You should see output like “update required”

Updating didn’t appear to cause an issues forDockeror k3s, but I wouldn’t recommend runningrpi-updatesince that has usually caused issues for containers.

Wrapping up

I’ve listed the ways I’ve tried to cool my RPi and given you some links where you can go and purchase your own solutions. The lowest temperature I observed was with the combination of the ICE Tower fan and the firmware update, after stopping k3s and containerd, the temperature got down to 28 c.

I prefer the heatsink case for its balance of form and function.

Follow me onTwitter @alexellisukto make sure you never miss a post.

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