The Raspberry Pi is still the definitive small, open source computer, and a vibrant community has sprung up around it to provide accessories. One of the most popular is the case, because the Pi does not come with one by default. Buyers have to build or buy their own.
Many cases are available, but most are simple snap-on cases that do the job but don’t look particularly good, or do-it-yourself ideas that are crafty but hard for the average Joe to complete. There are, however, a handful of designs which really give the Pi a unique look. And thankfully, these unique enclosures usually don’t much – most are available for $20 or less.
The Sweetbox is an extremely small case for the Raspberry Pi that takes minimalism to the extreme. Despite its name, this case isn’t a box at all, but rather a cover that precisely fits the Pi’s mainboard. This makes it extremely slim and also provides some visual spice, as it makes the Pi look more like some space-age artifact than a computer.
The only problem with Sweetbox is availability. So far the manufacturer has built the case only through Kickstarter funding drives, which means they’re available only for a limited time. You’ll have to wait for the next funding drive or look for a second-hand reseller if you want one.
The PlyPi is a do-it-yourself case that is built from (you guessed it!) plywood. The design is unique because it extends out at all four corners, providing room for the screws that hold it together and giving the enclosure an attractive profile. The case’s only flaw is a lack LED visibility, which may annoy some power-users.
Though not for sale, the PlyPi’s plans are available for free. They’re fairly simple but will require some basic experience with wood-working. You’ll also need a saw and some sand paper to achieve the smooth finish achieved by the case’s creator.
Though also made of wood, the Bramble Pi otherwise bares little similarity to the PlyPi. This case takes rougher, craftier approach which resembles a small jewelry or craft box. The top of the case is engraved with the Raspbery Pi logo by default, but the case’s manufacturer also provides custom engraving, so you can have almost any design you’d like on your enclosure.
This is not a DIY option but instead a custom product offered through Etsy. The base case is affordable at $16.99, but options are expensive; custom engraving is $25. The Bramble Pi originates from Dresden, Germany but ships available worldwide.
The Oak Case is yet another wooden Raspberry Pi, and this one, like the PlyPi, is a do-it-yourself endeavor. Unlike the more sophisticated PlyPi, though, the Oak case is easy to put together with basic tools. A saw and drill are required, but the cuts made are simple, and you may even be able to have the wood cut to length at the store from which it is purchased.
While the Oak Case is not as eye-catching as other wood cases, it is the least expensive option, as its creator built the enclosure for just $8.50. Clever builders could easily spice up the case by using different wood or staining the exterior surfaces. This case is open on its sides, so it provides good airflow, and the case is easy to take apart for access to the internals.
There are many do-it-yourself Pi cases made of Lego, but the one hosted on Instructables is perhaps the easiest to build. The case is the brainchild of two different individuals, a girl who went by the name of “Biz” on the Raspberry Pi forums and Darren, who uploaded the design into Lego’s Digital Design software so it would be easier for others to replicate.
The price of the case will depend on the parts you already own. Buying all the pieces individually can be pricey, but it also will allow you to customize its color and look to your liking. Because the design can be opened in the Lego Digital Design software, it’s possible to modify it virtually before ordering the parts.
The Design Case is a robust plastic case that is available for purchase on Shapeways, a craft site similar to Etsy. The enclosure’s standout feature is its functional yet compact aesthetic which adds minimal bulk yet includes plenty of vents and slits for the Pi’s LED lights. There’s also a Raspberry Pi logo on the top of the case.
Color selection includes basic white and black or more attractive “polished” colors such as blue, purple and red. While the case is attractive, it is almost $35 for the polished version, making this the second most expensive case listed here.
The PiBow is actually a series of cases, all of which use layered materials with an acrylic top to achieve a clever, playful look. The basic PiBow is made out of a rainbow of plastic sheets, but other versions are made of wood (the PiBow Timber) or pure acrylic (the PiBow Crystal). All of the cases are slim and don’t significantly increase the width or weight of the Pi and, because they have transparent top layer, leave the LEDs visible.
These cases can be purchased directly from the manufacturer, which is based in the United Kingdom. Most are priced at £13, but the PiBow Timber is £15. This works out to about $20 or $25 dollars, respectively. International shipping is available, but the PiBow is also sold at a variety of third-party shops that may provide a better price if they’re local to your country.
While most cases for the Raspberry Pi focus on a slim, attractive design at a low price, the PiHolder case is a different story. This enclosure is built from solid billet aluminum that’s designed to provide maximum protection for the Pi inside. Though it’s not water or dust proof, the case is undeniably more rugged than the average competitor. It looks slick, too.
The only problem is the price; aluminum isn’t cheap, at least not when compared to plastic. All of the cases sell for $64.95 and ship free only to buyers in the United States. You can choose from an unlabeled version, a version with only LED labels, or a version with both LED labels and an etched Raspberry Pi logo.
If you do your research, you’ll find many beautiful Raspberry Pi cases on the market. Most are less expensive than those listed here, but often larger and much less attractive. You shouldn’t feel shame for giving your Pi some bling; it’s not like you’ve spent your life savings on it!
Do you know of a beautiful Pi case that’s not listed here? Let us know in the comments.