Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W mini review – Benchmarks and thermal performance

The Raspberry Pi Foundation launched the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W board yesterday with the main difference against Raspberry Pi Zero W board being the much faster Raspberry Pi RP3A0 SiP with a Broadcom quad-core Cortex-A53 processor clocked at 1.0 GHz and overclockable to 1.2 GHz.

I received my sample shortly after publishing the announcement, and I had time to test it. Since the main difference is the processor, I’ll focus this review on benchmarks and whether additional cooling is required for the board.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W kit unboxing

If you purchase the board for $15, that’s all you’ll get, but Raspberry Pi Trading sent me a kit with Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W SBC, a USB OTG adapter, a mini HDMI to HDMI adapter, the CSI camera cable, and four rubber pad for the enclosure that comes with three covers: full, hole for 40-pin GPIO header, or hole for the camera.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Kit

The board is exactly the same size as the Raspberry Pi Zero W, and so are the ports’ arrangements. Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W boardI have a Raspberry Pi Zero somewhere, but I’m unable to find it…

First boot and system information

I downloaded the Raspberry Pi OS May 2021 image from the official website and flashed it to a MicroSD card with USB Imager. After inserting the microSD card, an HDMI cable, and Logitech USB dongle for a wireless keyboard and mouse combo, I connected the power supply. I specifically used MINIX NEO P2 100W USB adapter so no joking around!

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Review

It would boot to the desktop, but I was unable to use the keyboard or mouse for that matter. I switched to a USB keyboard still no luck. I replaced the USB OTG adapter with mine, but no luck. I tried the microSD card in a Raspberry Pi 4 just to make sure there were no issues with the image itself and tried again in Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. It worked somehow and I could carry on with the setup wizard.

Raspberry Pi OS setup Pi0 2 W

I also enabled SSH to have easier access to the command line, and made sure I had the latest version of the packages:

Some system info:

It’s detected as the same Broadcom BCM2835 as found in Raspberry Pi Zero, instead of BCM2710 / BCM2710A0, but it does not matter as four Cortex A53 cores are detected.

The CPU frequency will vary between 600 and 1000 MHz, the idle temperature is around 47°C, and out of 493 MB total memory, 181.4 MB is used with nothing running. Needless to say, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is not designed to be used as a desktop machine, but for some specific tasks or even headless projects, it should be great value.

I could confirm idle temperature and CPU frequency (600 MHz) with vcgencmd utility:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Benchmarks with Phoronix

Let’s install Phoronix

I’m using the older Phoronix Suite 8.8.1 to match the version I used on Raspberry Pi 4 review.

Let’s start the benchmark for a comparison with others:

The full results can be found on OpenBenchmarking, but let’s check some of the specific results.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Benchmark-Phoronix John The Ripper

John the Ripper is a multi-threaded benchmark, and here the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W performs surprisingly well compared to a Raspberry Pi 3. Software/firmware may have improved since then, as in theory, the latter should be 40% faster with a score of about 729. You’ll also notice Raspberry Pi 4 is only marginally better than Pi Zero 2 W, and there’s an easy explanation the Pi 4 was naked at the time, with the firmware lacking optimizations released later on. That just means the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W performs well without heatsink even in a room at about 28°C.

C-Ray Benchmark Raspberry Pi Orange Pi

C-Ray should the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W getting very close to Pi 3 performance.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W FLAC Audio EncodingFLAC audio encoding is no different, except we’ll notice the superior performance on Raspberry Pi 4 which must have some specific instructions that accelerate encoding.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W temperature chartFor reference, this is what the temperature chart looked like during testing, so never above 75°C.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W benchmarks with SBC Bench

We can have a closer look at the performance and temperature under by various loads installing SBC Bench scripts:

Let’s run the benchmark:

No throttling was detected, and the temperature never went over 63°C. The room temperature was about 26 to 27°C at the time of the benchmark.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W SBC-Bench temperature chart

This is how results compare to other Raspberry Pi boards at stock frequency.

7-zip benchmarks

AES benchmarks
AES-256 with 16KB blocks

Let’s try to overclock the board to 1.2 GHz by editing /boot/config.txt:

then reboot and check and check the frequency:

Let’s run SBC Bench again:

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Overclock Temperature

SBC Bench detects “Silent throttling” but I’m not sure what that means with the temperature not exceeding 70C, and no apparent drops in frequencies in the log:

An overclocked Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W now performs just as well as Raspberry Pi 3 B+ in the 7-zip test, at least with the numbers we’ve got.

7-zip Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Overclocked
7-zip results

It’s too easy, so let’s put the board inside its enclosure to warm things up a bit…

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W case

SBC bench:

I got a few problems with RPI Monitor going down during the review, so no chart this time, but we can check the temperature in the log:

Still always under 70°C. I find the average load a bit low at 2.88, so I repeated the test to double-check, and there are indeed there are four p7zip processes running at the same time. It’s just the benchmark may not run long enough to get close to a load average of 4.

7zip load average

Although it will not be needed in most cases, I still decided to test the board with a heatsink to see how much the temperature would lower.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W heatsinksBut the heatsinks I used with Raspberry Pi 4 were not quite suitable for the smaller board, especially the “ICE Tower CPU cooling fan“… So I went with a smaller heatsink that could also be used within the enclosure.Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W HeatsinkLet’s run SBC Bench script one last time for today:

Same silent throttling warning, but 7-zip results were marginally better (up to 3,648 points), and the temperature only went up to about 64°C.

Pi Zero 2 W Heatsink overclocked temperatureThat’s about 6°C cooler than our overclocked test without a heatsink.


The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W performs nearly as well as a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ especially when overclocked, and despite its small size has no problem staying cool. That means most people will not need to add a heatsink to the board, unless possibly for full loads for an extended time, or higher room temperature (35°C+). However, the smaller memory capacity (512MB) and available connectors will probably make it suitable for different use cases.

I’d like to thank Raspberry Pi Trading and Eben Upton for sending a review sample. I may continue this review a little later by checking out the power consumption in different configurations using Qoitech Otii Arc power supply.

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