Testing new Raspberry Pi 5 Cases - $7 to $79

Since the Pi 5's launch, a number of Pi case redesigns have launched, and there are a few new entrants with something to offer. Like Fractal's 'Baby North'... which, unfortunately, is only a prototype designed for their displays at Computex, and is not being planned for sale. At least not for now! I'll write more about this case later in this post.

Fractal Baby North - Raspberry Pi 5 Case

The Pi 5's thermals are close enough to the Pi 4 that old cooling solutions work okay, but the port layout and inclusion of a power button means at least minimal redesigns are necessary.

Here are a few of the Pi 5 cases I've been testing (most for over a month, in various places), and my thoughts on each.

Raspberry Pi 5 Case (official)

The official case for the Raspberry Pi 5 is like a saltine cracker.

Sipeed's new handheld RISC-V Cyberdeck

tl;dr: Sipeed sent a Lichee Console 4A to test. It has a T-Head TH1520 4-core RISC-V CPU that's on par with 2-3 generations-old Arm SBC CPUs, and is in a fun but impractical netbook/cyberdeck form factor. Here's my video on the Lichee Console 4A, and here's all my test data on GitHub.

Sipeed Lichee Console 4A

Last year I tested the StarFive VisionFive 2 and Milk-V Mars CM—both machines ran the JH7110, a 4-core RISC-V SoC that was slower than a Pi 3.

Sipeed introduced the Lichee Pi 4A line of computers, offering a slightly newer T-Head TH1520 SoC, which is also 4-core, but uses faster C910 cores than the JH7110.

Waveshare's PoE HAT is the first for Raspberry Pi 5

Pi 5 PoE HAT Waveshare F

Power over Ethernet lets you run both power and networking to certain devices through one Ethernet cable. It's extremely convenient, especially if you have a managed PoE switch, because you get the following benefits:

  • A single cable for power + Ethernet (no need for separate power adapters)
  • No need to have electrical service near every device
  • Simple remote power on/off capability (assuming you have a managed switch)
  • Centralized power management (e.g. one UPS in a rack room covering all powered devices)

I have used the Raspberry Pi PoE and PoE+ HATs for years now, allowing me to have 4 or 5 Raspberry Pi per 1U of rack space, with all wiring on the front side. I also use PoE for cameras around my house, though there are dozens of use cases where PoE makes sense.

The Raspberry Pi, since it only requires 3-10W of power, is an ideal candidate for PoE, assuming you can find a HAT for it.

Testing a 96-core Ampere Altra Developer Platform

If you're tired of waiting for Apple to migrate its Mac Pro workstation-class desktop to Apple Silicon, the Ampere Altra Developer Platform might be the next best thing:

Ampere Altra Developer Platform in Jeff Geerling's workshop

I somehow convinced Ampere/ADLINK to send me a workstation after my now years-long frustrated attempts at getting graphics cards working on the Raspberry Pi. And they sent me a beast of a machine:

RISC-V Business: Testing StarFive's VisionFive 2 SBC

It's risky business fighting Intel, AMD, and Arm, and that's exactly what Star Five is trying to do with this:

StarFive VisionFive 2 Black Background

The chip on this new single board computer could be the start of a computing revolution—at least that's what some people think!

The VisionFive 2 has a JH7110 SoC on it, sporting a new Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) called RISC-V.

The Rock 5 B is not a Raspberry Pi killer—yet

Rock 5 model B on desk with Raspberry Pi in background

Radxa's Rock 5 model B is an ARM single board computer that's 3x faster than a Raspberry Pi. And that's just the 8-core CPU—with PCI Express Gen 3 x4 (the Pi has Gen 2 x1), storage is 7x faster! I got over 3 GB/sec with a KIOXIA XG6 NVMe SSD.

It's still half as slow as modern ARM desktops like Apple's M1 mini, or Microsoft's Dev Kit 2023 (see my review here). But it's way faster than a Pi, it comes with 2.5 Gig Ethernet, it has two M.2 slots on board... and, well—it also starts at $150!

Raspberry Pi's Camera Module 3 adds autofocus and new Sony sensor

Raspberry Pi just announced their new Camera Module 3, which comes in four variations (standard and wide angle, normal and NoIR for infrared use), and costs $25 for the standard versions, and $35 for wide angle.

Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 varieties - standard, wide, and NoIR

That's a step up from the older Camera Module 2, which cost $25 and only came in a 'standard' focal length.

I posted a video reviewing the Camera Module 3 on YouTube, and you can watch it here:

Testing Microsoft's Windows Dev Kit 2023

Last week Microsoft started selling their $599 Windows Dev Kit 2023, formerly known as 'Project Volterra'.

Microsoft Windows Developer Kit 2023 ARM Desktop - Project Volterra

I got my hands on one after a little bit of a shipping delay, and promptly started tearing it down to see what's inside. You can click here to browse the entire Twitter thread where I posted pictures of the box contents and teardown, or view it below:

Homelab Pi Rack upgrade, just in time for AnsibleFest 2022

AnsibleFest is fast approaching, and this year it'll finally be back in person, in Chicago. Since that's a short jaunt from St. Louis, I'll be headed up to talk about my Homelab this year!

More specifically, I'll be giving a talk titled Ansible for the Homelab, and I'll walk through how I have at least part of my sprawling homelab environment automated using Ansible.

Raspberry Pi Rack Pro by UCTRONICS