Cases for your Raspberry Pi have come a long way since the early hobbyist laser cut cases. As time moved on and the Raspberry Pi became more powerful these cases have adapted and provided cooling in the form of heatsinks and fans. SilverStone, well known for their PC cases and accessories, entered the Raspberry Pi case market with the PI01 and have just released an updated version, the Silverstone PI02 with an MSRP of $25 and specifically designed for the Raspberry Pi 4.
This all aluminium case measures 3.7 x 1.3 x 2.6 inches (94.2 mm x 33.7 mm x 65 mm) and comes in two pieces which slot on top of one another. The two pieces are secured together using four screws but the pieces are not keyed so it is possible to incorrectly put the case together. The lower piece has cutouts for all of the ports, including an “antenna” mount for an optional antenna which is quite odd as the Raspberry Pi 4 does not have an external antenna connection. On the underside of the lower piece are two “plus” shaped cut outs which can be used to mount the case if used with care.
Inside the lower piece are four raised screw points used to secure the Raspberry Pi 4 to the case and prevent the Pi from slipping and shorting on the case.
The top section of the case has a series of stylized fins which aid in the removal of heat and provide a certain “industrial” aesthetic. On the two longest sides, there are large rectangular cutouts. On one side, the cutout provides access to the HDMI, USB-C and composite ports. On the other side, the cutout is for access to the GPIO, but this access is quite poor and requires the use of a breakout board to extend the GPIO pins. As you may have guessed this also prevents the use of HATs.
Assembly is quick and simple, but there is one tiny little snag. In the PDF manual, we noticed that the image for Step 4, applying the heatsinks to the thermal pads on the CPU and USB (PCIe) chips, did not show any thermal pads on top of the heatsinks.
These are necessary to ensure that the heatsinks connect the chips to the case, pulling as much heat as possible into the aluminium case. If these extra thermal pads are not used then the heatsinks are free to move inside the case and could cause a short.
But how well does this cool our Raspberry Pi 4? We tested by first powering up the Pi and leaving it idle for 10 minutes. The idle temperature of our stock Raspberry Pi 4 was 43 Celsius (109.4F) and the highest temp recorded during the sysbench test workload tests, verifying prime numbers up to 20,000, was 67 Celsius (152.6F). Compare these temps with those recorded using the PI02 case and we see a much lower idle temperature of 34 Celsius (98.6F). The sysbench CPU test saw the CPU temperature rise to a peak of 57 Celsius (134.6F) If you are planning to build a silent server then this case will meet your requirements.
The SilverStone Pi02 is a case for those that wish to use their Raspberry Pi 4 as a desktop computer or as a server. It provides great cooling and while it may not look fancy, it does have a robust, industrial look to it.
There are two downsides to the SilverStone PI02 case. . First are the heatsinks, which are held in place by thermal pads and just feel as if they are an afterthought. There are other all metal cases available which come with a solid “column” directly connected to their case. The Pi02 approach of two thermal pads per heatsink is a little messy. The other issue is GPIO access. Sure there is a breakout hatch which can be used with a breakout board or individual wires routed out from it, but we cannot use HATs with this case and that is one of the key selling points of the Raspberry Pi.
Those points aside, this is a really good case which keeps the Raspberry Pi 4 cool even under a heavy load.