Raspberry Pi 4 Thermal Performance Is Improving With New Firmware
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 30 November 2019 at 11:08 AM EST. 25 Comments
When the Raspberry Pi 4 launched earlier this year it was quickly realized active cooling was almost required if wanting to run the quad-core Cortex-A72 SoC at full performance without thermal throttling. Fortunately, the latest Raspberry Pi 4 firmware has improved the thermal/power behavior to lessen the need for extra cooling although it's still recommended for achieving peak performance potential out of this popular low-cost ARM SBC.

Tuning of the Raspberry Pi 4 firmware has resulted in cutting around a half Watt of power consumption at idle and approaching 1.0 Watt under load. When updating the Raspberry Pi software stack users should see the lower performance and better thermal performance. There should be much less thermal throttling now especially for those running without any extra heatsinks.

The RaspberryPi.org blog has more details and results from the latest firmware. Internally I have begun some fresh testing as well.

I happened to start with a Raspberry Pi running within the FLIRC enclosure/heatsink.

The FLIRC did a good job cooling the Raspberry Pi 4 as-is, but in a few benchmarks the new update did allow for some slight performance improvements.

But the real excitement was with the lower operating temperatures...

Over the course of many benchmarks, the average temperature of the SoC was 2~3 degrees lower while the peak temperature was five degrees less. When running the Raspberry Pi 4 without any extra cooling the impact should be more dramatic especially with the performance due to less re-clocking and in December I'll have those benchmarks up on Phoronix. But even when running the Raspberry Pi 4 with adequate heatsink/cooling, it's great seeing the new firmware help out as well.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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