Just in case: a guide to choosing a case for a Raspberry Pi
Though it is perfectly possible to use a Raspberry Pi without a case, you could increasingly see good reasons to invest in one for this programmable microcomputer.
However, Tom’s Hardware warns: “Over the years the amount of Raspberry Pi cases available is almost as numerous as decimal places in the number Pi.”
You could therefore easily appreciate some guidance in how to select a suitable case for your Pi. Here are various factors you should strongly consider.
How would you like the case to look?
This might initially seem like a superficial concern, but it can be a good starting point for helping you to determine the right case.
The maketecheasier website wisely points out: “If your project is for a more utilitarian device that could get dirty, such as a controller for an oven, it makes sense to choose or print with a darker and sturdier material that is more forgiving.”
Conversely, if the device will be left sitting on a table, you might prefer a more colorful case.
What openings will the case need to have?
The answer will depend on what is connected — or what you will be connecting — to your Pi. It’s worth warning that many cases restrict or entirely block access to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins, which are required for attaching Pi-compatible lights, sensors and motors.
However, when shopping for Raspberry Pi cases, you might come across some that permit access to all of the board’s connectors and ports — including HDMI and USB ports.
How would you prefer to keep the Raspberry Pi cool?
You need to keep in mind that, if you place your Pi in a case that overly hampers its airflow, the board could overheat. As a result, the Pi could suffer in its performance, turn off, or incur damage.
What you want is a case that has been designed to release heat from the inside rather than keep the Pi exposed to heat over a prolonged period of time. You could thus opt for a case that has openings for airflow or you would be able to modify by adding fans and heatsinks.
Have you actually obtained the Raspberry Pi yet?
If not, you could buy a Raspberry Pi starter kit that contains not only a specific Raspberry Pi model but also a case that has been built for it. That way, you will know that it will be possible for the two to be slotted together with ease.
The Pi Hut’s online Raspberry Pi Store stocks starter kits each including a Raspberry Pi 4 unit and an official case made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation for that particular Pi model.
Think about whether you really need a case for your Raspberry Pi right now
It’s understandable if you currently feel indecisive about what Raspberry Pi case to get — especially given the staggeringly broad choice available.
You could even eventually decide that your particular Pi project would work better without a case, or that you simply need more time to decide on a specific one.