Review: C4Labs’ Pi Squared Enclosure

I recently decided to do another Raspberry Pi media center build using OSMC. My previous build using Raspbmc was a bit of an eyesore. The original enclosure I used was one of the traditional “pack ‘o cigarettes” style of cases that are so often more functional than stylish. Cables slither from all sides of it like tentacles. The IR receiver sits next to it, forever determined to be in any orientation except for right-side-up. There’s nothing pretty about that part of our TV stand. Nothing pretty at all.

For this build, I really wanted something nice to look at. Something a bit more polished. Perhaps something that looks more like a craftsman made it and less like something a computer nerd threw together. And that’s when I came across the Pi Squared enclosure from C4Labs.


The enclosure is made of a beautifully stained wood. The top of the enclosure is customizable at the time of order, with different options for the acrylic and the wood frame that sits on top of it. There are three options for the acrylic – clear, mist (white translucent), and black (completely opaque). The wood top also has three options – Mackintosh Rose, solid (which is more of a mini-drone frame shape), and frame (think picture frame). There are even two options for case size – standard and tall.

The enclosure only has one side configured for ports – where the USB and Ethernet connect. HDMI and power are attached at build time, with the cables routed out the back beside the Ethernet port. It comes with an HDMI elbow connector for this purpose and a zip-tie to keep the power cable seated in one spot.

It fits Raspberry Pi models 3, 2, and B+ and comes with three heat sinks that are intended to be applied to the CPU, network, and RAM chips.

Pros:

  • It’s very nice to look at.
  • Easy to assemble.
  • Once it’s together, it’s very solid.
  • The tall enclosure provides room for Pi HATs.
  • Provides a solution for cable management.
  • It has rubber feet to prevent scratching furniture.

Cons:

  • The HDMI and power cables can’t be easily disconnected without taking the whole thing apart. This makes it hard to travel with. It also poses a challenge if you need to share an HDMI cable with another device.
  • If you intend to use the mini-jack for audio or the camera connector, you’ll need to get creative. Creative may mean a drill or a saw.
  • I’m skeptical of the heat sinks. They attach to the chips using 3M adhesive strips. Will this hold up to heat? Maybe. But I expect the one attached to the RAM chip will fall off one day. No one says you need to use them though.

All in all, it’s a pretty sweet enclosure. Perfect for a media center build. And at $15.99 (at least of this writing), it’s also a good deal. If your intention is to build something stylish that rarely needs to be moved, give this enclosure a try.

Two thumbs up.

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