Case ReviewsComparisonsEDATEC

EDATEC Raspberry Pi 5 Fanless Enclosures

The increased power demand for the Raspberry Pi 5 has seen a wave of actively cooled cases being launched alongside the new Pi model. My previous review of the passively cooled aluminium FLIRC case showed it would thermally throttle under load. The official Raspberry Pi 5 case and Argon NEO 5 cases both include active cooling, though quieter than experienced with previous Pi versions, no doubt in part due to the new PWM fan control to control the speed and therefore the noise.

The passively cooled EDATEC CNC cases buck the trend in the use of active cooling for the Raspberry Pi 5 to deliver performance whilst avoiding thermal throttling and are beautifully engineered too.

Disclaimer: These cases were supplied for review by EDATEC, they do not have any editorial influence.

Design

EDATEC Passive Cooling Open CNC Case

The EDATEC passive cooling open CNC case is a two-piece design of machined aluminium with access to the various header connections on the Raspberry Pi 5 and the new power button. It’s available in both black and silver, with the white text on the black version making the logo more pronounced. There is clear attention to detail with this case, with silver bolts and light grey rubber feet used with the silver version and black bolts and black feet with the black version.

Both the top and bottom sections have thermal pads to aid heat transfer, more on these below. The top section also features colour-coded nylon standoffs/posts which ensure the top plate is mounted level and can’t be overtightened. The two and bottom feature a ridged design to increase the overall surface area, increasing cooling performance.

Peripheral Accessibility

40pin GPIO4pin POEFanCam/Disp 0Cam/Disp 1UARTRTCPCIe
✔️1✔️1✔️✔️2✔️2✔️✔️✔️2

1 GPIO and POE headers may require header extensions to ensure connected devices don’t short to the top of the metal case sections. Alternatively, a thin insulator may be required.

2 Cables must be connected to the RPi5 board before the top cover is secured.

EDATEC Passive Cooling CNC Case

The (non-open) EDATEC passive cooling CNC case provides greater overall protection to the Raspberry Pi 5, whilst sacrificing some peripheral accessibility, as there aren’t openings for the fan, UART or RTC, despite the packaging stating “All of the interfaces accessible”. Unlike the FLIRC case, the EDATEC design does not allow for the UART or RTC to be used, so no hiding an RTC battery inside the case. Each of the connector openings is labelled with text or a logo, except the GPIO and POE headers, but I think most people know what they are. Once again the case is available in black or silver and screws, feet and nylon standoffs are colour-coded.

The case has been machined to accommodate a piece of plastic which aims to improve WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, something that can be impaired by full metal enclosures. Both cases require the top cover to be removed to insert or remove ribbon cables from their connectors, as the connector latches are not accessible when fully assembled. The rear also features a small power button and a hole to allow light from the status LED to be visible outside the case.

Peripheral Accessibility

40pin GPIO4pin POEFanCam/Disp 0Cam/Disp 1UARTRTCPCIe
✔️1✔️1✔️2✔️2✔️2

1 GPIO and POE headers may require header extensions to ensure connected devices don’t short to the top of the metal case sections. Alternatively, a thin insulator may be required.

2 Cables must be connected to the RPi5 board before the top cover is secured.

Thermal Pads

The thermal pads on both the open and enclosed variants are interfacing with the same components, the SoC, PMIC, WiFi and the underside of the RPi5. The images clearly show good contact with the thermal pads, which are significantly thicker than seen in most other cases I’ve tested. The thickness of each I measured as:

  • SoC: 1.3mm
  • PMIC: 3mm
  • WiFi: 1.9mm
  • Base: 2.1mm

Thermal Testing

Testing is performed using my fork of stressberry to run all core stress tests and plot the graphs. The Pi is configured with:

  • OS: Raspberry Pi OS (64-bit) release 2023-12-05 with Desktop. All updates applied as of 21 Dec 2023
  • Kernel: Linux rpi5 6.1.0-rpi7-rpi-2712 #1 SMP PREEMPT Debian 1:6.1.63-1+rpt1 (2023-11-24) aarch64 GNU/Linux
  • Bootloader: Wed 6 Dec 18:29:25 UTC 2023 (1701887365)
  • OS configuration:
    • WiFi Enabled
    • SSH Enabled
    • System is configured to boot to the console
    • Samba, Stress, Stressberry
    • Python: 3.11.2
  • Stressberry test configuration:
    • Wait for the temperature to reach a steady state, measured through no changes of SoC temperature for 1 minute.
    • 5 minutes idle at the start and end of the test.
    • Stress on all 4 cores concurrently for 30 minutes.

Results

Unlike testing of some other passively cooled Raspberry Pi 5 cases, the EDATEC CNC cases, neither reached the Raspberry Pi 5 thermal throttling threshold to be reached during the 30-minute 4-core stress test. They offer significant benefits over a bare Raspberry Pi 5 and the FLIRC case. The inexpensive AliExpress alloy cases come close but don’t quite manage to beat the EDATEC CNC cases. Comparing the weight and therefore thermal mass:

  • FLIRC: 65g
  • Alloy Open: 95g
  • Alloy Enclosed: 190g
  • EDATEC Open CNC Case: 120g
  • EDATEC CNC Case: 165g

The extra 45g of thermal mass of the more enclosed EDATEC CNC case is the likely reason it has a slight edge on the open variant.

Conclusion

The EDATEC passive cooling CNC cases for the Raspberry Pi 5 manage to deliver great cooling performance without the need for a fan. Its performance embarrasses the FLIRC for Raspberry Pi 5 case. The official Raspberry Pi 5 case with its included fan runs at around 70°C, whereas the passively cooled CNC case reached 67.5°C during the test. Based on the data, a longer (than 30-minute test) would see temperatures continue to increase, but a 4-core 30-minute stress is intended to represent an unlikely but heavy workload.

The performance, attention to detail and overall finish shows this is a high-quality product at a competitive price point. The open variant is only ~£7 and the more enclosed version ~£15 from DigiKey (prices include VAT but exclude shipping at £12 for orders under £33).

Your personal needs for peripheral connectivity and ease of connecting and disconnecting should be a factor when considering if this is the right case for you.

I’m pleased to see that the increased power demand of the Raspberry Pi 5 isn’t going to mean the end of passively cooled cases.

Product Links

Amazon links are affiliate links which help support the site, where possible I’ve used links which should take you to the product in the Amazon store in your region. Links to other suppliers are included for your convenience.

2 thoughts on “EDATEC Raspberry Pi 5 Fanless Enclosures

  • Interesting, I’m experiencing throttling issues watching 4K movies with RPi5 in the non-open Edatec case (LibreELEC distro). Not immediately though; maybe run your stress test for, say, 2 hours and see if that makes a difference?

    Reply
    • I’ve re-run the stress for 6 hours in the non-open case and still not seeing throttling. (6 Hour stress test graph) My case is on my desk with an ambient temperature of between 20-22 degC. I can imagine if the case was in a more enclosed space with higher ambient temp, then it would throttle. The stress only exercises the CPU, whereas perhaps 4k video playback loads more of the components on the SBC generating higher heat loads?

      Reply

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