This article presents experimental and numerical investigation on natural convection air-cooling of discrete square heat source array in a vertical channel. Conjugate heat transfer for three-dimensional laminar developing flows over an array of square heat sources representing integrated circuit components for electronic cooling has been studied. Experiments are conducted using three-substrate board materials viz. FR4, Bakelite, and copper clad board having thermal conductivities of 0.3, 1.4, and 8.8 W/m K to study the effects of substrate thermal conductivity on fluid flow and heat transfer. A finite element-based software is used to solve the coupling between heat transfer in solids and fluid region. Incompressible flow over discrete square heat sources is modeled using Navier–Stokes equations under Boussinesq approximation. Air-cooling of circuit boards populated with heat sources is modeled and simulated to present heat transport in combination with the fluid flow resulting from the natural air circulation at constant heat fluxes of 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 W/m 2 . Multilayer copper clad board of thermal conductivity of 40.5 W/m K have been studied numerically. The results show that single sided copper clad board is the preferred candidate. Experiments indicate a deviation of under 5% with simulations. © 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.