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Argon One M.2 Raspberry Pi SSD Case Assessment

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I am a fan of Raspberry Pi instances that maintain my Pi cool. And the instances made by Argon Forty have nice cooling, which is one purpose they are a in style alternative. Their newest Argon One M.2 case additionally provides a built-in excessive pace SSD drive slot!

A number of months in the past, somebody from Argon Forty reached out and requested if I would prefer to evaluate the Argon ONE M.2, after they watched my video on booting a Pi 4 from an exterior SSD, and I accepted.

Not like most Pi instances, this one really provides options by way of it is design, like placing all of the ports on the again, and including a mostly-internal SSD, and so I made a decision to place it by way of its paces and see what I appreciated, and what I did not like.

Video Assessment

I additionally posted a video model of this weblog submit on YouTube:

The {Hardware}

First, let us take a look at the {hardware} design. It is not my favourite, and it will get dangerously near being an angular gaming monstrosity, however it’s muted sufficient and does not have any annoying brilliant LEDs. I do not like flashy or gaudy designs, and that is principally modern and minimal. One factor I do not like, although, is the angled high, which makes it arduous to stack the rest on it. I usually stack Pis in different instances, like my favourite passively-cooled Pi case, the Flirc.

However for most individuals that is not a giant concern—if you are going to put one in all these in your desk as a pc or subsequent to your TV as a gaming or media machine, stackability is not as necessary.

Assembling all of the elements was slightly little bit of a burden. There have been various small screws and issues that needed to be put collectively to get the entire case collectively, however so long as you are sluggish and cautious, all the things matches collectively properly.

It is positively not a case the place you will get fast entry to the Pi itself if it is advisable to pull it out and use it elsewhere typically. And even one thing easy like swapping the microSD card requires the elimination of 4 lengthy screws on the underside.

Nevertheless it does have a number of actually neat methods up its sleeve.

First, it is actually strong, as your complete high case is steel. Up on high, there’s slightly magnet cowl over a 40-pin GPIO header, with coloured labels for all of the pins, which is handy.

On the entrance, there’s an IR receiver, so you can use a distant management along with your Pi if you need. Since IR requires a clear window, you may as well see the Pi’s standing LEDs by way of it, which is a characteristic lacking from another steel instances.

The again is the place the celebration is, although, and there are some things I actually like:

As an alternative of micro HDMI, you get two full dimension HDMI ports. The USB-C and audio jack are each put out the again as properly, by way of slightly 90° daughter card that plugs into the facet of the Pi.

There’s additionally slightly energy button, which may be disabled if you need the Pi to work prefer it usually would, the place it powers up if you plug it in. That is a very nice contact, as a result of they may’ve simply as simply made it so that you have to make use of the facility button.

Then there’s an additional USB port on the backside, and that is the characteristic I am most enthusiastic about on this case. The entire backside of the case is a customized inner USB 3.0 to M.2 SSD adapter.

M.2 SSD Adapter

It accepts any M.2 SATA SSD, however I ought to word that it could be complicated determining which drives will work with it—on the label it mentions ‘B Key & B+M Key’, however that is simply the bodily connectors it is suitable with.

I’ve present in all my testing with NVMe and M.2 storage that the labels on the drives themselves are sometimes complicated, and a few drives that bodily match do not really work with the interface, relying on the USB storage controller chip that is used!

I had the next drives available:

For those who have a look at the names of all these drives, all of them have key phrases like SSD, a few of them point out NVMe, however NONE of them point out something about SATA or the M.2 key within the title.

You must dig into the drive specs to search out any details about the important thing or whether or not the drive makes use of SATA or NVMe.

And it is much more annoying as a result of you possibly can technically match M-key NVMe drives into the B and B&M key slot on the Argon One (should you push with slightly drive), although M-key drives should not match.

It is not Argon Forty’s fault, however it’s actually annoying to me, as a shopper, that I’ve various completely different adapters and USB gadgets, and all of them work with a distinct set of almost-identical wanting drives, all of which say they’re M.2 SSDs.

Anyhow, sorry about that little facet rant.

Are you able to guess what number of of my drives work with the Argon One M.2? Solely the Kingston, since it is a SATA drive with a B+M key connector.

Once more, this is not Argon Forty’s fault, however you do should watch out when selecting an SSD. Be certain that it has a B or B+M key connector, and ensure it says SATA, and never PCIe or NVMe!

I went one step additional and pulled the M.2 adapter board out of the case, so I may have a look at the chip on the underside, and it is an ASmedia ASM1153E, which is an effective SATA III controller with UASP assist, so it ought to work nice for any fashionable SATA SSD.

If you do not know what UASP is or why it issues, take a look at my video on UASP and the Raspberry Pi.

Kingston SSD efficiency

Now that I’ve a working SSD, I wished to see the way it in comparison with the microSD card for common efficiency. And since I discovered from my community testing in earlier movies that the CPU clock pace on the Pi can have an effect on IO efficiency, I additionally ran my benchmarks with a 2 gigahertz overclock.

And as I’ve discovered with all the opposite SSDs I’ve examined, even an inexpensive low-end SSD just like the Kingston SA400 smokes even the quickest microSD playing cards.

The SSD is 10x sooner writing massive information, and 7x sooner writing small information.

There is no competitors, and if you are going to run a Raspberry Pi 4 as your essential laptop, or as slightly server, the M.2 slot on the Argon One is a no brainer. The whole lot will really feel sooner utilizing an SSD, and the storage must be extra dependable too.

Additionally, as a result of the Pi 4 helps USB boot now (I made an entire video about it), I examined that too, and it labored nice. You do not even want a microSD card within the Pi.

The one draw back to the way in which this case works is the way in which the USB to USB adapter is made; it stands proud a bit on high, and meaning the highest USB 3.0 port on the Pi has a tiny bit much less house out there for thicker USB gadgets, like my Corsair Voyager flash drive.

You’ll be able to repair that situation by utilizing a separate USB 3 cable, however that takes up a LOT more room and does not maintain the Argon case as tidy. Most USB gadgets are high quality, although, it is simply the thicker plugs you need to fear about.

Preserving its cool

In addition to the built-in SSD storage, one different purpose lots of people like Argon Forty’s instances is for higher cooling.

I examined the thermals on my Raspberry Pi 4 and located the case to work fairly properly with it is included fan—however it additionally works properly sufficient with out the fan that I am tempted to advocate leaving it disconnected except you actually need that further cooling, like for overclocking or tons of disk IO.

Trying carefully on the temperature graph, the Pi by no means hit greater than 60°C with no fan, that means there is a ton extra thermal headroom earlier than it could begin throttling.

And should you have a look at an infrared image of the case you possibly can see why; the entire high of the case acts like a large warmth sink, and that is a lot for the Pi to remain cool.

The highest of the case does get slightly heat, however it’s by no means scorching to the contact; it solely acquired as much as about 40°C on the hottest level, close to the center.

I ought to word that in these benchmarks, I had the fan both disconnected, or linked and operating at 100% your complete time. When the fan is operating full pace, it makes a barely annoying sound, however it’s nowhere close to as loud or annoying because the official Raspberry Pi Case Fan (video evaluate right here) I examined a number of weeks in the past.

Fan, IR, and energy management

To make use of all of the options of the Argon One case, you possibly can set up the Argon One software program for the Pi. It provides you management over energy button performance, fan speeds, and the IR receiver. I am not going to cowl all that on this video, however I was fascinated about enjoying round with the fan settings.

I put in their software program:

curl https://obtain.argon40.com/argon1.sh | bash

Then I ran argonone-config.

Once you enter the device, you possibly can select between operating the fan on a regular basis, setting completely different fan speeds for various temperatures, and even go and manually edit the Argon One Daemon config file.

I examined a number of completely different settings, and in each case, even when the fan was at 30% energy, the fan was nonetheless about as loud because it was at 100%. Once more, it is not too dangerous, however except you want the fan operating, passive cooling appears to work properly.

If you wish to do a variety of disk IO with an M.2 SSD, although, you would possibly need to depart the fan on constantly, as a result of there is not any direct warmth sink between the case and the SSD, and there is additionally no temperature probe within the drive space, so even when the Pi is not overheating, the SSD may.

Conclusion

At $45, this case is the most costly Raspberry Pi case I’ve used, and is costlier than the most affordable Pi 4 mannequin B. The built-in M.2 SSD slot saves the price of an exterior adapter, and it is the nicest general package deal for a Pi 4 plus quick SSD storage I’ve seen.

The little USB to USB adapter on the again is slightly annoying, however that is the worth you pay for having the nicest, quickest, most compact Pi 4 mannequin B setup.

I might actually like to see what Argon Forty can do with a Compute Module 4, although—with native NVMe assist, and extra secure overclocking with the higher SoC within the CM4, you can get much more pace from that setup, with an excellent smaller case!

You will get the Argon One case from Amazon.com.

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