While you can use a Raspberry Pi model without a case, it is fragile and has exposed circuitry that can quickly get damaged. Raspberry Pi cases protect the single-board computer from external factors, but their use does not end there. They give better aesthetics and have extra features like a built-in fan for cooling. However, there's no single best Raspberry Pi case for all applications. Each Raspberry Pi model has several covers to pick from, and we have looked at the top-rated ones to help you choose your best one. Take a look!
Raspberry Pi Case Shopping Tips
Before buying a Raspberry Pi case, consider the following factors.
Some cases feature built-in cooling systems, while others provide passive cooling, usually using the upper part of the case as a heatsink. Built-in cooling systems like fans can be noisy, but this is not an issue unless you're using the Pi in a lounge. However, they are more effective for intensive applications, like farming Chia.
A Raspberry Pi case with a fan
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Pin and Port Access
A case might limit or block access to some ports and pins, meaning you have to connect them using a ribbon cable before screwing the Pi inside. Therefore, you need to consider which GPIO pins you want to use and whether you are comfortable using an external cord. The most commonly blocked ports are the camera (CSI) and display (DSI) ports.
A Raspberry Pi computer in a black plastic case
Do You Need a Pre-Made Case?
Some projects do not require pre-made cases. For instance, you don't need to cover the Pi board inside a robot. The robot's casing will protect the computer.
Any Extra Requirements?
Most Raspberry Pi cases are generic. However, some have specific designs that resemble retro game consoles, while others have unique features like displays. Consider your requirements, then buy a case that gives you the most of what you need.
Do You Already Have A Raspberry Pi?
If you already have a Raspberry Pi, you need to buy a compatible case because the single board computers have different specs.
A Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
Best Raspberry Pi 4 Cases
Argon Neo Raspberry Pi 4 Heatsink Case
First on the list is this stylish gunmetal gray aluminum build case from Argon Neo. It features a magnetically attached cover, giving you easy access to standard HAT (Hardware attached on top) connections on your board. It also features slots for GPIO connector (General Purpose Input Output) pins and the CSI (Camera Serial Interface) Port. Additionally, it features a passive cooling method courtesy of included thermal pads that attach to the CPU and RAM.
Pimoroni Pibow Coupe 4
This case is easily the most bare-bones option on this list. It has a fully open design allowing top-down access to the GPIO pins. Although there is no purposely integrated cooling solution for this case, it is that same exposed design that provides ventilation for the board inside. If this is not enough, you can add an active cooling solution, such as a heat sink, fan HAT, or Fan Shim.
The main drawback of this case is that its open design does not provide maximum protection for your board. Therefore, take this into account when determining the placement of the case.
The SilverStone PI02 has the most industrial-looking design on our list. It is boxy, black, has aluminum construction, and features several stylized fins for cooling. The manufacturer considered MicroSD card slot access by including a handy cutout, which is convenient. Also, the lower piece of the case features four elevated screw points to secure the Pi and prevent shorting or slipping. However, the limited GPIO access means you have to use a ribbon cable.
Flirc Raspberry Case
The Flirc Raspberry Pi case effortlessly combines form and function. Its design integrates a heatsink right into the folds of the case's aluminum outer layer. Additionally, it comes with thermal pads for both the RAM and CPU. Standard size HATs integrate with this case with no problems. However, this case has no mounting holes on the bottom, so you can only place it on a horizontal surface.
Argon ONE M.2 Case
Hot on the heels of the Argon Neo is the Argon ONE. As the name suggests, the standout feature of this case is that it enables you to include an M.2 NVME SSD to the Raspberry Pi board. This SSD is a super-fast class of storage that will improve your board's performance multiple times over. Another unique feature separating this case from the rest of the list is the addition of an infrared sensor allowing you to use customized infrared remotes like you would on a TV set.
The Argon ONE M.2 case
Pimoroni Aluminum Heatsink Case for Raspberry Pi 4
Heat dissipating fins permeate the entire top design of this case, turning it into an anodized aluminum heat sink. This design makes it perfect for use cases where the Raspberry Pi needs to run for long hours at a time. However, you might want to invest in thicker thermal pads and heatsink compounds to create optimal contact.
The case leaves all the ports (microSD, GPIO ports, etc.) quickly accessible, even for large hands. However, ensure you connect the DSI, CSI, and PoE pins before assembling the case. Also, the HAT boards need a header extension to avoid accidental shorts.
Best Cases for the Raspberry Pi 3B+
Retroflag NESPi Case
If you have fond memories of your Nintendo console from the 1980s, the Retroflag NESPi is just for you. It looks exactly like the once-famous gaming console, down to the reset and power buttons.
Unfortunately, nostalgia comes with a few drawbacks because slots in the case do not align with the Pi board's ports. Therefore, this case uses internal port extenders to reach the cutouts.
The Retroflag NESPi case
Also, it is difficult to squeeze the Raspberry Pi 3B+ inside, connect all its tiny cables, and line it up with the screw holes. Although it is easy to access the microSD card port, the case is different with the GPIO, DSI, and CSI connectors.
iUniker Raspberry Pi 3 B+ ABS Case with Cooling Fan
While most sleek cases are aluminum built, iUniker's case looks fantastic in its ABS plastic construction. It is a popular option for Raspberry Pi 3 B+ users because it comes with:
- A thermal pad
- Two heat sinks
- A 30mm quiet cooling fan
Another unique selling point is its removable upper cover design. This component makes it easy to access the camera and GPIO connectors.
STARTO TFT Pi 3B+ Case
Some applications need a touch-enabled input, and this case is ideal for such projects. It features a 3.5-inch TFT touchscreen plus a stylus to improve the touch input experience. The TFT screen has a refresh rate of 50 fps, meaning it is fast enough to watch videos or play games without flicker. Neat cutouts on the sides give access to HDMI, ethernet, A/V, micro USB, and USB ports.
Best Cases for the Raspberry Pi Zero / Pi Zero W
Retroflag GPi Case
The GPi is another one for retro gaming enthusiasts. It turns the Raspberry Pi zero into a replica old-school Nintendo game boy. You attach your Pi to a small box that resembles a cartridge, then plug it into the case. After that, the case gives you control over the Pi via the four-game buttons, a D-pad, an on-off switch, etc.
The Nintendo game boy. Note the D-pad and other control buttons.
Official Raspberry Pi Zero Case
This piece has a red and white color scheme to match the official colors of the Raspberry Pi foundation. However, the outstanding feature is the removable lid. It includes three of them: one with exposed GPIO pins, another with a camera mounting hole, and a third sealed one. The camera lid makes it ideal for projects involving small cameras.
The official Raspberry Pi case
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Zebra Zero Case
In the looks department, this zebra zero case does quite well. It features a plastic (transparent) and stainless-steel construction, plus a visible hit sink on the upper side. The stainless steel sides leave slots for the Pi's ports. However, the included heatsink will not fit the Pi Zero with GPIO pins.
Best Universal Cases for the Raspberry Pi
Waveshare’s Game HAT for Raspberry Pi
Waveshare's Game HAT also converts your Raspberry Pi to a classic game console. It can fit most Raspberry Pi models and features a built-in 480x320, 60FPS non-touch display. One unique feature is the battery charge circuit integration, although you have to buy the 18650 lithium battery separately. Included with this feature is an onboard battery level indicator.
A Raspberry Pi case with a TFT display
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Retro Power Genesis Retro Brick Case
This Retro Power Genesis Retro Brick case is essentially a Raspberry Pi LEGO kit. It comprises 336 small bricks that you assemble to have the final build. Once complete, you will have full access to the power, HDMI, USB, and Ethernet ports. Like the Waveshare Game HAT, the case can fit several Pi boards. They range from the Pi 2B board to the newest 4B model.
A custom Raspberry Pi LEGO case
Source: Wikimedia Commons
GeeekPi Cluster Case
If you want to group multiple Raspberry Pi boards in a single case, the GeeekPi is an ideal choice. It can accommodate four Pi boards between the acrylic separating layers and features three open sides to maximize airflow for cooling.
Additionally, there is a large fan on the fourth side to blow cool air to keep each Raspberry Pi board cool. However, the case is incompatible with the Zero W and Pico boards but can fit all the rest.
Best DIY Raspberry Pi Case Ideas
So you've gone through this entire list and still decided that you don't particularly like any of these cases. The following are a few DIY ideas you can use to construct a Raspberry Pi case.
As the name suggests, these cases have cardboard as the construction material. You can print a case design on the cardboard, then use it as a template to fold the case. While doing so, ensure to leave enough spacing for the individual GPIO pins, USB port, SD card port, etc. Some of the examples you can try out include the punnet and printout Pi case.
Recycled cases come from old equipment like CD drives, the old rotary phone cases, sardine tins, tic-tac boxes, NES cartridges, etc.
The last alternative is to build a custom case. You can use wood, copper, or aluminum construction, order custom LEGO bricks, or 3D print one using any material.
A custom Raspberry case built to spec. Note the various ports
Source: Wikimedia Commons
In conclusion, there are several Raspberry Pi model cases, and each has specific features to suit different use cases. If you want such a case or have any questions, contact us for more details.