Cooling The Raspberry Pi 4 With The Fan SHIM & FLIRC For Better Performance
With the Raspberry Pi 4, a passive heatsink is an absolute minimum for running this new ARM SBC unless you want to deal with potentially drastic performance limitations based upon your operating conditions. However, if you will be enduring the Raspberry Pi 4 with significant load for any measurable length of time, an active cooler is almost warranted or otherwise a very capable passive cooler. In this article we're looking at the Raspberry Pi 4 performance with a Fan SHIM as an active fan designed for running on the Raspberry Pi off the GPIO pins as well as the FLIRC as a metal case that passively cools the device.
We've seen just how prone the Raspberry Pi 4 is to down-clocking and where as previous Raspberry Pi boards did fine with a small aluminum heatsink attached, for any serious work you will need a more capable cooler if you care about the performance. The Raspberry Pi Foundation kindly sent over the Fan SHIM and FLIRC for our benchmarking at Phoronix.
The Fan SHIM is a ~$10 fan that connects to the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi for power and aligning it with the Broadcom SoC. This friction-fit header makes it very easy to install on the Raspberry Pi and if needing to remove later. It's quite simple and the 30mm fan delivers sufficient airflow over the SoC but does not employ any heatsink or allow any heatsink to be attached.
The FLIRC meanwhile is a Raspberry Pi case for $13~15 USD that is made out of aluminum and act as a heatsink for the device to dissipate heat. While passive, our testing of the FLIRC shows it is much more capable than the small aluminum passive heatsinks we've been used to putting on the Raspberry Pi boards.
In addition to those two coolers, I also ran some Raspberry Pi cooling tests without any heatsink and then using a basic aluminum heatsink as is common to these Arm SBC type boards.
Various ARM Linux benchmarks were carried out via the Phoronix Test Suite while looking at the performance impact and also SoC temperature in real-time.