Flirc Raspberry Pi 4 case review

By Lucy Hattersley. Posted

We see a lot of cases here at The MagPi, but the Flirc Raspberry Pi 4 case came recommended to us via Raspberry Pi’s engineering team, so we had to take a look.

The Flirc Raspberry Pi 4 case comes in two halves: the bottom is a soft-touch plastic shell, and the top half is milled aluminium coated with more soft-touch. The result is a stylish and lovely-to-hold case made from solid metal.

Here’s where things get clever: inside the case is a protruding heat sink that reaches down to Raspberry Pi 4’s CPU. This turns the whole of the aluminium case into a giant heat sink, cooling down your Raspberry Pi 4.

Inside the pack is a square thermal pad (similar in substance to Blu Tack). You use this to squidge the Raspberry Pi to the heat sink. Putting together the case is ludicrously simple: you simply drop a Raspberry Pi in the bottom half, attach the thermal paste, squidge down the lid, and use four screws to hold everything together.

Flirc claims that this is “the most beautifully crafted Raspberry Pi 4 case” and it’s not a wholly unwarranted claim. It certainly has a sense of style. Everything is neatly constructed from high-quality materials and there’s considerable charm to the heat sink. The microSD card slot is easily accessible, and a small cut-out on the enclosure enables the LEDs to shine through.

On the box

One downside to the sealed approach is that the GPIO pins are hidden away inside the case. Unlike the official case, the lid cannot be quickly removed to provide access to the pins. To Flirc’s credit, it has addressed this issue via a small gap on the underneath of the Flirc Raspberry Pi 4 case, which could be used with a breakout I/O cable. But it’s an ungainly addition to such a lovely looking case.

If you plan to use Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer, then this might be a valid trade-off. However, for many of us, GPIO pins are the very essence of Raspberry Pi.

Under pressure

We stress-tested a Raspberry Pi 4 board on its own vs a Raspberry Pi 4 inside the Flirc case to see what temperatures it reported.

WARNING!: Stress testing should only be done for short periods. Watch your Raspberry Pi and restart afterwards.

We used stress (apt install stress) and the following script from Core Electronics to test our Raspberry Pi 4 while measuring temperature:

while true; do vcgencmd measure_clock arm; vcgencmd measure_temp; sleep 10; done& stress -c 4 -t 300s

This puts all four cores of Raspberry Pi 4 under stress. For each test, we left the Raspberry Pi to run for five minutes. Warning! Don’t do this at home without doing your research first. Unsurprisingly, the Raspberry Pi with no heat sink attached quickly went up to 79 °C and hovered at that level for the rest of the test, nudging up against (but not pushing over) the level where Raspbian starts to throttle the CPU.

Next, we put a Raspberry Pi into the Flirc Raspberry Pi 4 case and ran the same test. This time it idled at a mere 28 °C and our five-minute stress test took it up to a mere 46 °C. Because this is comfortably below the threshold, it opens up a world of overclocking (something that has been reintroduced on Raspberry Pi 4).

We took the CPU clock speed up to 1.75GHz. The overclocked Raspberry Pi (inside the Flirc case) idled at 41 °C, and running our five-minute stress test took it up to 67 °C. Again, comfortably within a threshold. We also played around with CPU clock speeds up to 2.0GHz, which idled at 48 °C and maxed out at 69 °C.

We’re going to experiment some more with overclocking, which makes this a fun case. Expect a tutorial shortly.

Verdict

8/10

We love the style of the Flirc case, and its heat sink opens up a world of overclocking. If only the GPIO pins remained accessible. If that’s not a deal-breaker for you, though, then this is a great case to get.

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