Raspberry Pi 4 ICE Tower CPU Cooling Fan Tested

Most of us know the Raspberry Pi 4 can get pretty hot, and a heatsink is required if you intend to get the maximum performance out of your board under heavy loads and/or high ambient room temperature.

Some even designed a large fansink for Raspberry Pi 4 to prevent the board from throttling. It’s actually a bit over the top, but Seeed Studio sent me a sample of their “ICE Tower CPU cooling fan”, so I’ve had the chance to test it.

ICE Tower Cooling Fan Unboxing & Assembly with Raspberry Pi 4

The package tells us it’s made by 52Pi and design specifically for Raspberry Pi 4B/3B+/3B SBC’s. It’s probably not that useful for the last two.

S2PI ICE Tower CPU Cooling FanThe package contains the heatsink with fan attached, screw sets, a screwdrivers, mounting brackets for Raspberry Pi 3/3B+ and  RPi 4, as well as a useful user manual.

Raspberry Pi 4 ICE Tower-Cooling Fan Content
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Raspberry Pi 3 and 4 are almost the same mechanically, so I wonder what may be the differences between the two backets.

Raspberry Pi 4 vs Pi 3 Brackets

There are just some small differences in terms of thickness due to different positions of headers on the new board.

.Raspberry Pi 4 CPU Heatsink
We’ll have plenty of photos of the sides and top of the heatsink latter on, but here’s a shot that shows the side that will be in contact with the processor through a thermal pad.

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Let’s start the assembly. We’ll be asked to place the thermal pad on top of the processor (after having peel the protective films), and install the first bracket with an M2 screw as shown above.

ICE Tower Assembly Spacers
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We can then install the second bracket, as well as the four spacers secured with nuts.

Raspberry Pi 4 Fansink Assembly
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The next step is to place the ICE tower CPU cooling fan on the board with the fan facing the micro HDMI ports, and tighten everything with M2.5 screws.  Note that you may have two M2 screws left over, so if if somehow you find out you can’t tighten the heatsink… have a second look in the zip bag looking for M2.5 screws.

Raspberry Pi Fan WiringThe final step is to connect the fan to the 5V and GND pins on Raspberry Pi header, and we’re good to go.

Temperature Tests

Time to connect the power, and oh…. pretty blue LEDs are included in the fan 🙂

Raspberry Pi 4 ICE Tower CPU Cooling Fan Review
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You may remember I installed a new VLI firmware (PCIe USB controller firmware) that lowers temperature of the board, but sadly messes up with USB performance and stability, so I revert to the old firmware before the tests. I also enabled ZRAM on the board to avoid using swap.

Heatsink and Fan

I’ve run SBC Bench benchmark as I did previously.


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7-zip ran out of memory during testing, but we still get our data. With the heatsink the Raspberry Pi 4 will idle at around 37°C, and tops at 46.2°C when all four cores are used (7-zip multi-threaded compression/decompression). Note: room temperature was 27-28°C

Compare this to running the same benchmark without any heatsink at all, although at 28°C room temperature.

Raspberry Pi 4 SBC Bench Temperature
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The board would idle at around 65°C going up to well above 80°C, and frequently throttling, as Broadcom BCM2711 processor will throttle if the temperature reaches 85°C.

So the fansink clearly does the job, but I hear some say they did not buy a Raspberry Pi 4 to install a noisy fan on top, and it also increases power consumption (by 0.4W).

Heatsink only

No problem.. We can disconnect the wires, and even completely remove the fan since it’s simply fastened with four screws.. We’ll lose the pretty LED light, but gain silence.

Raspberry Pi 4 Huge Heatsink
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Let’s repeat the test… [Update: This section has been updated, as the first time I did not wait long enough for the idle temperature to stabilize]


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Temperature is higher, but still fairly cool with idle at ~42°C 52°C and the maximum being 61.2 around 63°C.

Conclusion

That means the heatsink itself is more than sufficient, and for most people use cases it’s even too big as a much smaller heatsink should be enough. The fansink can still have its use if you’re going to run the board in very high ambient temperature (60°C and up), but I don’t have an oven to test that part… Laughs and giggles is another proper use case for the ICE tower…

Seeed Studio sells the ICE Tower CPU cooling fan kit reviewed above for $20 plus shipping.

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