Best answer: Under normal conditions, the Raspberry Pi 4 runs great without any sort of external heatsink and the software throttling keeps everything within safe operating temperatures. However, if you're using custom software or are overclocking, you probably want to use a set of quality heatsinks.
Heat protection is built in
The Raspberry Pi 4 may be the size of a smartphone, but it couldn't be more different, and that includes how heat is handled. The Raspberry Pi won't slow to a crawl when it gets throttled because it was designed for use in the open air or a roomy enclosure.
Thermal throttling is when a computer's software detects that temperatures have risen above a predetermined safe reading and the CPU is manipulated so that it uses a slower clock speed. This happens on every computer, but you notice it more on some than others. When you're using a device that's designed to be thin and inside a sealed case, like a phone or a laptop, the performance hit can be noticeable because the throttling has to happen sooner and be more aggressive.
With the Raspberry Pi, the same software-based throttling is used but you won't hit the wall as soon and you'll recover faster because there is more airflow. As long as you're using things as intended, that is.
If you're running a custom version of the operating system or an alternative operating system, or you're pushing things to the limit by overclocking, you might see some performance loss as things aren't tuned to work together unless you do it yourself. The best way to prevent or minimize this is by using a set of heatsinks. A small investment can make a big difference, and by placing a heatsink over the chips that tend to get the hottest you'll mitigate much of the throttling performance drop. Luckily there's one specifically sold for the Raspberry Pi 4.
New kid on the block
Big bump in power
The Raspberry Pi version 4 is a bump up in every spec from the previous model. It's also available with three different memory sizes — 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB — to be the right fit for any project.
Built for the tweaker
If you are using your Raspberry Pi 4 in a way that's not quite within the recommended specifications, a set of heatsinks goes a long way towards keeping everything cool.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
Make the most out of your Raspberry Pi with these accessories
Want to get started with a Raspberry Pi? Here's everything you'll need (beyond the Pi itself). These accessories include ways to make your Pi even more useful, or letting you sit back and play some games.
Give your Raspberry Pi the juice it needs with the right power supply
With the right power supply, your Pi will get the right amount of clean wholesome electrons so that you can do all the cool things. However,1 you'll need to make sure you get the right power supply based on the Raspberry Pi that you own.
Use one of these cases to protect and show off your Raspberry Pi 3B+
Your Raspberry Pi is tiny, powerful, and sensitive, so put it inside a case to keep it safe. These cases come in all different shapes and sizes, but all feature great heat dissipation, and a few of them have some extra tricks.