The wave of Raspberry Pi 5 accessories is upon us and when I reviewed the Pi 4 ICE Tower cooler from 52Pi previously, it did a rather good job. When I saw that there was a Raspberry Pi 5 ICE Tower Cooler available, I felt like I needed to give it a shot as we do have a slightly warmer Raspberry Pi on our hands this time around. Will the ICE Tower melt the competition?
My biggest concern was whether they’d been lazy and just re-used the older stock with a new bracket, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that no, the ICE Tower Cooler for Raspberry Pi 5 wasn’t just a new bracket with the same cooler, and fan attached, it was well thought out and made me optimistic going into the testing.
Table of Contents
Specifications & Installation
The Pi 5 ICE Tower offers 26 aluminium fins, 2 5mm copper “heat pipes” and a 40x10mm RGB fan. Altogether, the heatsink and fan measure 42.5mm deep, 35mm wide, and 40mm tall, with the metal brackets being at the same height as the top of the GPIO headers.
The previous iterations of this heatsink came with a fan utilising your standard GPIO pins for power and control, however, as I alluded to previously, they did put some thought into this and the included fan comes with the correct fan header for the Raspberry Pi 5 so you don’t have to worry about using GPIO pins. The fan will run on the same fan profile as the official active cooler/case fans too so that’s nice enough.
If you’re familiar with the previous models for the Raspberry Pi 4 then it’s much the same in terms of construction. The image I’ve included above from the 52Pi website shows the steps and it’s quick and easy to get up and running.
The only thing I could potentially note on the negative side in this section is that they’re sending larger heat pads than necessary due to the Pi 5’s BCM2712 SoC having a smaller contact area on the heat spreader. They could have cut the included pads in half and saved a bit of money, or you could just do it yourself. Unless I’m missing something (along with Flirc and others) and it does have some kind of benefit? Seems a bit of a stretch though.
On a positive note, though, you do get spares of all screws/bolts/spacers and the aforementioned thermal pads and that makes me super happy. As a clumsy person, I tend to drop screws and then fail to find them, or the dog runs off with them before I have a chance to retrieve them so extras are very much welcomed. Then as someone who’s regularly switching out coolers and hardware, being able to have spare thermal pads for re-installation later is perfect.
Raspberry Pi 5 ICE Tower Cooler Performance
Whilst all of the rambling about spare screws is nice, what you’re here for is to see how the ICE Tower for Raspberry Pi 5 performs. Luckily for you, I’ve put it through its paces and have come to the conclusion that is does a damn good job!
As always with these cooler reviews, please do take note that the numbers in the graph are with the performance CPU governor enabled. This is a mode that tells the CPU to run at its maximum clock speed constantly so it does not vary the frequency to save power/thermal output. This means that if you’re using the default ondemand governor (you will be if you’ve not touched this or have no idea what I’m talking about) your Raspberry Pi 5 will be drawing around 1 watt less power from the wall and you’ll see better numbers. I do include a note on the ondemand numbers further down though as I tested those quickly too!
The final disclaimer/information before we get into the results is that these numbers are all recorded with an ambient room temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.
.As you can see, we’ve finally obtained a Raspberry Pi 5 CPU cooler that can tame the beast. My usual test duration for the load temperatures is 30 minutes (and that’s when I took the readings for this particular test) but it was doing so well I thought I’d leave it for a little while longer. In the end, it ran for 3 hours, and took it like a champ. No throttling, a peak of 76.3 degrees Celsius, and plenty of headroom should you wish to try some overclocking.
When at idle, the 49.2 degrees Celsius recorded is nearly identical to the official Raspberry Pi 5 Active Cooler which isn’t too surprising and it’s considerably better than running the Pi 5 bare (duh) or with the official case. This gives you a little more headroom for bursts of activity, though given that we were unable to get near the throttling danger zone, maybe that’s not all that interesting.
For most of you running with the default CPU governor, you can expect to save a few degrees at idle thanks to the lower power consumption. A drop of 2.4 degrees Celsius was observed going from performance to ondemand, though when under load things are, somewhat expectedly, fairly similar with a peak of 75.2 degrees Celsius as it’s pushing the Pi 5 to its max just the same.
Where to buy?
Whilst 52Pi (also often sold under the GeeekPi name) is a Chinese brand, they do also sell directly on Amazon with local fulfillment so if you want to pick one of these Ice Tower Pi Coolers up, you’re in luck as they’re available around the world on Amazon, as well as everyone’s favourite, AliExpress.
|Raspberry Pi 5 ICE Tower Cooler on Amazon
|Raspberry Pi 5 ICE Tower Cooler on AliExpress
They’re not particularly expensive in the grand scheme of things, coming in at around USD 15 before any taxes/shipping are taken into account, and considering other coolers are priced around the same but fail to stop the Raspberry Pi 5 from throttling, I’d say it’s a great deal!
Well, I say it’s a great deal but it does come with some things to consider. If you’re looking to use a hat that requires access to the GPIO headers then you’re out of luck I’m afraid, unless you purchase a GPIO extension cable to move it out of the way and deal with that tangled mess. It also prevents you from using something like the PineberryPi HatDrive Top! and depending on whether you can get the standoffs and screws to play nicely together, it may also prohibit the use of the Bottom variant too.
That aside, if you’re just looking for the best possible performance and you don’t care too much about the rest, then the Raspberry Pi 5 ICE Tower cooler should be on your radar. It handles the Pi 5 at its worst so you can deserve it at its best. Or something.
p.s. What do we think would happen if we swap out the default fan and strap some absolute units to this bad boy? I’ll show you soon!