Raspberry Pi 4 running hot? New update will cool your board down

Firmware update should reduce board temperatures by 3C to 5C.

Raspberry Pi 4: A guided tour of the new board A walk-through of all the features on the most powerful Raspberry Pi released yet.

If you thought your new Raspberry Pi 4 was running a bit hot then help is at hand.

The Raspberry Pi 4 was released last Monday, upping the Pi's memory to 4GB, introducing USB 3.0 for fast storage, and adding support for dual 4K displays.

During testing of the new board, however, some found the Pi 4 was throttling its performance during multi-threaded performance benchmarks. The Pi boards typically throttle performance at around 80C to reduce the processor temperature, which gradually builds with sustained heavy use.

To lower average temperatures, the Raspberry Pi Foundation will this week release a firmware update for the board's Via Labs VL805 USB controller.

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"We're expecting this to reduce the temperature of the board by 3 - 5C in most conditions," the Pi's co-creator Eben Upton told TechRepublic.

The firmware update will initially be made available via the Raspberry Pi forums, so users can manually update boards, and then as part of a new system image for the Pi 4 later this week.

In tests, TechRepublic found this new firmware had a noticeable effect on performance, presumably by reducing how long the processor's operating speed was throttled for.

TechRepublic found that when running sysbench to check 40,000 primes on a 4GB Pi 4, the test completed in 174 seconds using the current firmware and in 170 seconds using the new firmware. An improvement in benchmark performance after installing the new firmware was also found by CNX Software, which also found a reduction in board temperatures of 3C to 5C.

Despite the signs that performance throttling has been kicking in during benchmarking, Upton says that in general most users shouldn't need to install third-party cooling on the Pi 4.

"We expect people who want to run continuous quad-core use cases (benchmarking, big compile jobs) without throttling to require a third-party thermal solution (decent heatsink or fan)," he says.

"Most typical use cases are intended to run without throttling."

To find out more about the Raspberry Pi 4, check out our review, our gallery, or our interview with Upton about the new board.

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The Raspberry Pi 4 will get new firmware to reduce temperatures when using the board.

Image: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

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