I have a Roku 2720X. I’ve had it since 2014, so it’s a few years old now, but I like it. Lately it’s been having some problems though. It works fabulously with Hulu and Netflix, but streaming local media and streaming baseball give me trouble. I traced it to overheating. So let’s look at some Roku overheating fixes.
Some people replace their devices with newer models with faster dual- or quad-core processors. This works; a more powerful chip will handle the load of newer, more demanding apps better without heating up as much. But you can extend the useful life of your venerable single-core 600 MHz Roku devices too, at least until Roku stops releasing updates for them.
How you know your Roku is overheating
If your Roku is uncomfortably hot to the touch, it’s likely that’s causing you problems. But I’m willing to bet you probably don’t go around feeling up your Roku all the time. That would be kind of weird. Overheating problems are more likely to manifest themselves as lockups, sluggish performance, buffering issues, videos not starting, and other weird behavior.
What I noticed was that when I watched baseball on MLB.tv, my Roku did fine in the early innings. But once we got to the 7th inning or so, it started buffering a lot. Of course that’s often when the game gets really good. And if you’re following the game on Twitter while you watch, that buffering can cause you to lag several minutes behind everyone else, so people are talking about things you haven’t seen yet. That can be annoying.
I also like to use my PCs as a DLNA server to stream audio and video content to Roku Media Player. If my Roku has been on a while, local video content often doesn’t play. It just starts to load, then hangs up before it can start.
Put your Roku on a smart power strip
Your Roku box is on all the time, which means it’s heating up. It will run longer without problems if you can start it cold. Putting it on a smart power strip that cuts power to everything you plug it into when the TV is off will shut the Roku down instead of running it idle, cutting its power consumption and increasing its usable run time.
Use a wired connection if you can
One solution that may or may not be practical for you is to use a wired connection instead of a wireless connection, if you can. I also have a Roku 3100R, and that one doesn’t give me any problems even though it’s slighly less powerful than my 2720. The difference is the 3100R has an Ethernet port and I use it.
If part of the issue is unstable wireless, using a wired connection helps. But a wired connection also causes less heat than wireless. Running wires isn’t always practical, but you can use powerline networking to get Ethernet near your Roku if you don’t want to run wires. It’s not as fast, but it’s faster than 54-megabit wireless.
Set your Roku on its side to reduce Roku overheating
Setting the device on its side helps improve heat dissipation. I noticed the underside of my 2720 gets uncomfortably hot, even when the top isn’t especially warm. The case design on many Roku second-generation devices doesn’t lend itself all that well to setting it on the side, so you may need to rig up a bracket to hold it. Making a U-shaped bracket out of Legos would work fine. Just make it tall enough to hold the device upright.
But some generations have squared-off sides, rather than rounded sides, and those will do just fine on their side.
Add heatsinks to help Roku overheating
I’m an IT professional by trade, so I have a fair number of parts laying around. I found a rather large heatsink nearly the size of my Roku that I set the device on and attached with a rubber band. I placed a smaller heatsink on top. I’ll have to come up with a more permanent solution but lashing my Roku up to a couple of heatsinks helped. The result looks a little funny, but it’s not like anyone ever looks behind the TV anyway. Once I was happy with the results, I replaced the rubber band with some zip ties to get a better connection that won’t deteriorate as rapidly over time.
If the surface isn’t flat, take a piece of aluminum foil and crumple it a bit to put it between the heatsink and the case. This will move the heat away from the case and onto the heatsink faster. Crumpled foil isn’t the ideal heat conducting surface, but it moves heat faster than a large air gap.
If you can plunder a heatsink from an old or broken computer or two, this can be a very cheap way to make your Roku run a lot cooler. While the case isn’t conducive to heat transfer, we don’t have to lower the temperature by a lot. The heatsinks feel cool to the touch when the Roku is off, but soon warm up under use, which indicates they help with heat dissipation even though the conditions aren’t ideal.
Last and least: Modify the case
Some people have taken their Rokus apart and drilled ventilation holes into the case to help cooling. Plastic dissipates heat poorly, so this option can definitely help. It’s more difficult than just strapping on a heatsink, so I like the heatsink method, but if you want to drill holes, or fabricate a metal case to put the board in, some people have had success doing this.