Is your Raspberry Pi warm? The Raspberry Pi has a great factory setup when not in use, but if you use it a lot in a heated office, does it get too hot? Find out in a few easy steps.
Monitoring temperature on the Pi
If you have a brand new Ubuntu installation on your Pi instead, check out vcgencmd for Ubuntu 20.04 aarch64 on RPi 4B by Hamid Elaosta.
Once you are at the terminal prompt, you will first want to check if the
vcgencmd utility is available to you. It will likely be present if you use Raspbian. Let’s check:
If you have received output that contains more information than a leading
vcgencmd:then you are ready to go.
Manually test the temperature on the Pi
Go ahead and run the following command:
You should receive an output similar to the following:
Note that the temperature on your Pi can be higher, say 45 degrees Celsius. Mine (a Raspberry Pi 4) runs in a sleek metal case (the Armor double fan aluminum radiator housing) with a single spinning cooling fan, and it’s pretty cool in here tonight. I have another Raspberry Pi 3 with a plastic shell, a few heatsinks, and no fan, and it’s currently running at 44.4 degrees Celsius.
How much is too much?
Good question. The Raspberry Pi Foundation recommends keeping your Raspberry Pi below 85 degrees Celsius. That’s an upper limit, and you have to keep in mind that there could be some chips on the Raspberry motherboard that are only qualified to go up to 70 degrees Celsius. In general, if you can run at 50 degrees Celsius or less, it looks like you need to be in the green zone.
Even if you had to go above it, you might be able to add a small fan, some coolers, and lower the temperature quickly. The environment / room temperature is also not important. As your environment gets warmer (summer weather etc.), you can expect your Raspberry Pi to rise in temperature as well.
And it’s good to keep in mind that the Raspberry Pi generally throttles (i.e. slows down) when the temperature reaches a certain point. Unless you’re doing something non-standard like overclocking or changing settings.
There is also a lot to be said about which case you choose for your Raspberry Pi 4. Different choices will lead to much better or much worse cooling results. See Raspberry Pi 4 Cases, Temperature and CPU Throttling Under Load by Martin Rowan for a thorough overview of cases.
Scripting temperature and more
vcgencmd command is quite versatile. You can read more about it on the vcgencmd man page. Let’s make a little script with some of the most useful commands, which we’ll save as
#!/bin/bash vcgencmd measure_temp vcgencmd get_throttled vcgencmd measure_volts vcgencmd get_mem arm vcgencmd get_mem gpu
Here we checked the temperature, throttle status (see the website link above for more info), a volt reading and available memory for the GPU and ARM processor. Keep in mind that your total memory may be greater than what is available for ARM. You can see your total memory using a tool such as
htop (sudo apt install htop && htop), or just through
free -mh on the command line (first result, top left, is your total memory size).
Keeping your Raspberry Pi cool is certainly an important aspect of keeping your Pi running properly. Invest in a case that optimizes the temperature, add one or two fans and, most importantly, regularly check the temperature performance of the system, even under load. Enjoy the wealth of information
vcgencmd can provide you and keep an eye on that temperature!