Sunday, July 1, 2012

Raspberry Pi Heat Sinks

A friend of mine noticed that his Raspberry Pi got quite warm while playing 1080p video.  I am planning on using my Raspberry Pi in the garage which gets pretty dang hot here in Texas so we were both interested in adding additional cooling to the Pi. He found a post talking about making custom heat sinks out of old CPU heat sinks. One of the commenters on that post suggested using Zalman VGA Ram Heatsinks. Fry's Electronics has the silver colored version of these heat sinks for only $4.99. They come in a pack of eight and you only need three for each Raspberry Pi. 

The Raspberry Pi CPU (or SoC to be completely accurate) is 12mm x 12mm and so are the Zalman VGA Ram Heatsinks. So the CPU is easy enough to add a heat sink. You can just peel off the backing of the thermal tape and stick it on the CPU. There are two other components that would benefit from cooling as well. One is the USB/Ethernet controller and the other is the voltage regulator. For these two chips I had to cut down the heat sinks so they would fit without touching other components on the board. I used my Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel to trim them down to size and then a sanding drum to clean up the edges. The thermal tape that was on the heat sinks got pretty messed up during the cutting but the pack of eight came with two extra pieces of thermal tape so I trimmed down those extra pieces. You could also use thermal compound to stick them on if you have some of that.

Location of the various chips that may need cooling.

I just eye balled the closest fins that would fit the chip and marked it
 with an ultra fine point Sharpie marker.

After cutting the heat sinks with my Dremel tool.

Heat sinks installed on my Raspberry Pi.


  1. out of curiosity what did you use for thermal compound? paste or tape?

    1. I just used the tape that came with the heat sinks.

  2. First off, thanks for the blog. I remember seeing these here, but couldn't find them at Fry's. Later I saw them on Ebay and ordered them. I think they look very cool, especially how you cut them. BTW it get's pretty dang hot here in Florida too!

  3. Are these made out of Aluminum?I'm wondering what are you getting for average temps at idle? Are you overclocking at all? the reason I ask, i have done a similar thing however tried copper as the material. I'm overclocked at 900 MHz and usual idle temp is around 42 C at my work (70-75F typical).

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  5. I used a GPU cooler when I did my Pi. Search through your old GPU coolers and you will be amazed at what you find.


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