A little while ago, I tried a pair of the early Raspberry Pi cases. Desiring a change, I fetched myself two more, one from British online retailer ModMyPi, the other from UK electronics firm Cyntech, which also worked with Pi specialist Pimoroni on the Pi Hub, reviewed here.
The Cyntech case is larger than I expected. The Pi sits inside a good 5-6mm from the edges, but the board’s ports are all readily accessible.
There’s a slot on the side for a GPIO breakout ribbon cable. It’s formed from a suitably sized gap between both halves of the case, so it’s easy to put Pi and a connected cable inside.
Contrast the ModMyPi case. It also has a space for a GPIO breakout cable, here situated on the top of the case. There’s a plastic panel you need to press out first. However, it’s hard to feed the breakout cable’s female connector through. It’ll go, but it’s not an easy fit. Getting it out again is harder still. This is worth bearing in mind if you expect to be frequently taking your Pi in and out of the case.
Like the Cyntech case, the ModMyPi offering makes all the other ports readily accessible, and it has the advantage that it’s barely bigger than the Pi itself. The Cyntech case also lacks gaps for ribbon cables you may have coming from the Pi’s other slots, such as the camera port. The ModMyPi case does make room for these.
Update Cyntech tells me it can supply a camera ribbon cable folded so it’s routed out through the GPIO cable slot, so the lack of a gap in the lid isn’t a problem.
The ModMyPi case comes with a pair of small bolts and nuts which you use to fix the Pi to the base of the case. You’ll need to do so: it ensures the ports stay correctly aligned with the appropriate gaps in the case, though there’s plenty of room to cope with misalignments, and to stop the board rattling. Again, it makes the ModMyPi case less appealing to users who think they might want to take the Pi out of it every now and then.
That said, the case’s two halves clip together and do so gently, so it’s easy to open and close it up. In fact, that alleviates the breakout cable problem I mentioned earlier: leave the cable off and just pop off the top of the case to access the GPIO pins. The Cyntech, on the other hand, comes with four long, tight fitting screws to keep its two halves firmly attached to each other. Spars inside the case hold the board snuggly.
The Cyntech case has no ventilation beyond what the port holes provide, but I’m not sure how much the Pi needs extra airflow – or how effective the vent holes in other cases actually are. The ModMyPi case has seven holes drilled in its base for extra cooling. It comes with four self-adhesive rubber feet.
It also has a pair of screw holes should you wish to fix the cased Pi to something. The Cyntech case doesn’t but it does have a pair of holes to allow you clip and grip the case onto a pair mounting points on the wall or another device should you have them.
Both cases are made of injection moulded plastic so they’re attractively finished, whatever colour you choose and have a good, quality feel. The Cyntech sports the Raspberry Pi logo – cute, but not essential. Of more use are the screen-printed labels for each of the Pi’s status LEDs, light from which are fed through a set of see-through light pipes.
The SB Components case I first bought for my Pi had light pipes too, but they were poorly fixed so didn’t actually feed the light up out of the case correctly. Not so the ones on the Cyntech case, which I found to be placed perfectly. And thanks to the labelling, it’s clear at a glance what the lights mean.
ModMyPi’s case has no light pipes. There are simply five holes in the top of the case, the innermost pair cut into a power switch symbol. Unless you look directly down onto the case, you won’t see any of the status lights at all.
I like both the Cyntech and the ModMyPi case and I don’t think I’d be disappointed with either. Each has its strengths and weaknesses resulting from their size; how readily the two halves of each fit together and can be separated again; the space they allow for GPIO ribbon cables and other breakout wiring; and how viewable they make the Pi’s status lights.
Of the two, the Cyntech is the perhaps the better looking, but the ModMyPi is by no means ugly. Both make the Pi’s HDMI, SD, power, USB, Ethernet and analogue AV ports easily accessible. They’re both the same price, too: £5.95 – half the price of Pimoroni’s nice-but-not-so-cheap PiBow.