The Raspberry Pi 4 has a fan now - the Case Fan

Last year, I wrote a blog post titled The Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan.

And in a video to go along with that post, I detailed the process of drilling out a hole in the top of the official Pi 4 case and installing a 5v fan inside.

Raspberry Pi 4 Case with Fan drilled into top of case

But that solution wasn't great. The fan was a little loud and annoying, and would stay on constantly. And who wants to damage the nice-looking Pi Case by putting a hole right in the top?

The best way to keep your cool running a Raspberry Pi 4

From home temperature monitoring to a Kubernetes cluster hosting a live Drupal website, I have a lot of experience running Raspberry Pis. I've used every model through the years, and am currently using a mix of A+, 2 model B, and 4 model B Pis.

Stack of Raspberry Pi model B and B+ 2 3 4

The 3 model B+ was the first generation that had me concerned more about cooling (the CPU gets hot!), and the Pi 4's slightly increased performance made that problem even more apparent, as most of my heavier projects resulted in CPU throttling. I've written about how the Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan, and more recently how it might not.

The Raspberry Pi 4 might not need a fan anymore

tl;dr: After the fall 2019 firmware/bootloader update, the Raspberry Pi 4 can run without throttling inside a caseā€”but only just barely. On the other extreme, the ICE Tower by 52Pi lives up to its name.

Raspberry Pi 4 cooling options including ICE tower cooling fan and a case mod fan
Three options for keeping the Pi 4 cozy: unmodified Pi 4 case, modded case with fan, and the ICE Tower.

A few months ago, I was excited to work on upgrading some of my Raspberry Pi projects to the Raspberry Pi 4; but I found that for the first time, it was necessary to use a fan to actively cool the Pi if used in a case.

Two recent developments prompted me to re-test the Raspberry Pi 4's thermal properties: