John Sinclair 3D Printed Raspberry Pi 4 Case

I purchased the John Sinclair 3D Printed Raspberry Pi 4 case from eBay, though the design is available on Thingiverse if you wish to print it yourself or make modifications. The eBay listing included a heatsink and a 40mm fan, all for £9.99.

John Sinclair 3D Printed Raspberry Pi 4 case

Construction/Build Quality

As purchased from eBay for £9.99 the case was supplied with a 40mm Fan, a CPU heatsink and some small rubber feet. The case can be purchased on eBay for £8.99 without any accessories, just the plain case. It’s also available with a VESA mount on eBay for £12.49 (all prices correct at time of writing, subject to change). John is making continuing to tweak the design and is happy to make variations to suit your needs.

This 3D printed case is made from black PLA+ (other colours available). With a not quite honeycomb design aiming to provide a balance between protection and ventilation. The two halves of the case clip together, I’ve had the case apart several times and I haven’t broken anything yet, so it appears to be fairly robust.

I found that the case didn’t securely clip flush around the network and USB ports, and also a little bit around the 3.5mm jack and micro HDMI connections. Even with the Raspberry Pi 4 removed, the case still sat a little proud. A slight tweak to the design might be required. That said, it still all held together securely, so it is only a minor issue and there are holes to allow screws to be installed to secure it more fully.

The 40mm Fan is not glued, but simply a friction fit into the top of the case, precisely fitting the Fan included in the kit. This mounting method allows a fan to be easily installed, removed or replaced with an alternative version. More on that to follow.

This standard case has limited external access to any of the board headers. The small holes down the side do allow for individual wires to be fed through, which may be sufficient. On Thingiverse there is a version with all the cutouts, so it should be possible to get that printed if that is what you’d like, just contact John.

Temperatures

I’ve performed tests using Stressberry to load 1, 2, 3 and then all 4 cores in a series of 1hr long stress tests to see how this case performed under sustained loads.

The 40mm Fan has individual connectors on each of the positive and negative leads. This allows you to decide if you want to run it at full speed using 5 Volts, or slower and quieter using 3.3 Volts.

To see how this case performs I’ve tested with the fan off, 3V and 5V. Below shows the temperatures under full stress load. With the Fan off, the CPU his thermal throttling limits.

John Sinclair 3D Printed Raspberry Pi 4 Case - Temperatures under full load stress

In the full 4 core stress test, this case took top spot for the best performance with actively cooling. Outperforming even the non-enclosed bare board RPi4 with the Pimoroni Fan Shim. Some the of advantage is likely down to the small vaned heatsink included with the kit on ebay.

Temperature Comparison of Raspberry Pi4 actively cooled under 100% load

Full details of the all the test results can be seen in the updated: Raspberry Pi 4 Cases, Temperature and CPU Throttling Under Load

Noise

A key concern I have with all actively cooled cases is the noise some of the fans make in some of the enclosures. The size, speed and ultimately quality of the fan makes a huge difference.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any equipment to accurately measure sound levels, instead, I can only give subjective feedback.

Running the 40mm Fan at 5V, the fan is louder than the 30mm Pimoroni Fan Shim, but a lot quieter than the 30mm fan included in the generic aluminium case I have previously tested. It’s also quieter than the 2 x 25mm fans found in the twin fan armour case.

Running at 3.3V the Fan is noticeably quieter but still louder than the near-silent Fan Shim.

WiFi Performance

The John Sinclair 3D Printed Raspberry Pi 4 case performs similarly to other plastic enclosures for the Raspberry Pi 4. That is to say better than metal designs. The results from WiFi Testing have been included in the updated charts for the: WiFi Signal Strength with Raspberry Pi 4 Cases post.

Alternative Fans

As supplied from eBay the kit fan is a CUI CFM-4010V-070-273 (datasheet) isn’t a terrible fan, significantly quieter than some really cheap fans. I wanted to see how it compared against a few other fan types. This is covered in a separate post which features Sunon MagLev fans and of course the premium Noctua 40mm fan.

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