Anyone kicking themselves that they missed out on the Argon EON (opens in new tab) while it was still in Kickstarter has another chance to jump aboard the DIY Raspberry Pi (opens in new tab) powered NAS train, as 52Pi has revealed a mini tower NAS kit, as reported by Liliputing (opens in new tab).
There's more Pi than storage in the 3D printed case, however, as the tower only accepts a single M.2 SSD (SATA, up to 2TB), connected via a USB bridge, while the Raspberry Pi 4 (opens in new tab) board itself is cooled by an ICE Tower HSF cooler, which looks like something that should be on top of one of the best CPUs for gaming (opens in new tab) rather than a quad-core Arm chip.
The case comes with transparent side-panels so you can admire the cooling fan in action, as well as a 0.96-inch 128 x 64 I2C OLED for vital information such as how low it’s keeping the processor temperature. There's a slot in the side for access to the HDMI and USB Type-C power ports, but otherwise cable management is neat and tidy, though the board is seated in what some will no doubt consider to be the wrong position, with its USB and Ethernet ports facing the front of the case rather than being discreetly angled toward the back.
This does at least have the benefit of allowing USB peripherals to be plugged in more easily, but means you could end up with an Ethernet cable sticking out the front of your PC. A right-angled GPIO extender is supplied, allowing you to attach a ribbon cable that can reach out to your Raspberry Pi HAT based electronics projects, though one isn’t included in the kit.
The kit is available with or without an actual Raspberry Pi board, but the two options available on AliExpress are for 4GB and 8GB models and almost look like bargains given how hard such boards have been to track down recently (opens in new tab).
Despite being billed as a NAS kit, the 52Pi mini tower may be better at turning the Pi into a workable desktop computer - all that cooling means overclocking (opens in new tab) should be easy, and the presence of the SSD should help with boot times and general responsiveness. It’s a really nice case and cooler combo that deserves to be seen, which makes the imperfections in its design harder to bear. The case is available from Amazon (opens in new tab), with an Amazon promo code, as a barebones unit, or AliExpress (opens in new tab), with an AliExpress promo code, if you need a Pi board bundle.
4GB Pi Should be ~ $55 USD
8GB Pi Should be ~ $75 USD
That Ali Express link shows the case at $46, case 4 GB $193, 8GB $221, so basically a $100 markup on the Pi? Not sure that's a good deal. That's scalper prices.
At $200 there's plenty of mini PCs that start looking pretty interesting. Heck at that price you could have an actual PC (if you wanted). The only real downside I see might be power consumption?