Reviewing the MakerHawk Raspberry Pi 4B Armor Case and benchmarking it

Here I talk about adding the MakerHawk Raspberry Pi 4B Armor case to my Raspberry Pi. In addition I run some benchmarks over it to see how much of an effect on temperature it has.

Reviewing the Case

Image showing top of aluminium mount

The MakerHawk Raspberry Pi 4B Armor Case is an aluminium chassis which attaches to the top and bottom of the Raspberry Pi via the mounting holes.

It is designed to conduct heat away from the primary chips on the Raspberry Pi through its aluminium frame.

In addition to improved heat distribution, the aluminium frame reduces the likelihood for damage by shielding the Raspberry Pi in the strong frame.

Image showing Raspberry Pi 4 after application of three thermal pads

Three thermal pads are provided to be attached to the main Raspberry Pi chips. These allow conduction between the Raspberry Pi and aluminium frame.

When the frame is screwed onto the top and bottom it fits tightly to these pads providing heat exchange between the Raspberry Pi and case.

Overhead image showing the case after fitting and connecting power pins to GPIO

Another advantage is that case is also cooled actively by two fans. These sit above the primary heat generating chips.

These fans are powered by the GPIO pins which means the Raspberry Pi can power the fans without additional power supplies.

Testing heat dissipation

To test how effective the case is at cooling the Raspberry Pi I am going to record the temperature while using the Pi before and after mounting the case.

I will be recording the temperature of the Raspberry Pi to the nearest degree by averaging the temperature between the CPU and GPU. In all testing these have always been within a degree of each other.

CPU temperature will be obtained using the following command

cat /sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp

Similarly GPU temperature will be obtained using the following command

vcgencmd measure_temp

I expect that these temperatures will be very similar as the CPU and GPU are in the same silicon package on the Raspberry Pi.

I will perform the following steps for both.

1. Record ambient room temperature

Ambient room temperature will effect how easily the Raspberry Pi will naturally cool down. Both tests should be performed when ambient temperature is the same or very similar. Otherwise results will be incomparable.

2. Record Temperature on start up

As soon as the Raspberry Pi is turned on I will record the temperature. This will mark the “cool” temperature of the Raspberry Pi. It is expected that the temperature will never drop below this.

Between tests I will ensure that the Raspberry Pi has cooled down to ambient temperature so the order of the tests does not affect the results.

3. Record Temperature on idle

Once booted I shall leave the Raspberry Pi for half an hour to see what its idle temperature is. This is expected to be slightly higher than the initial start up temperature.

4. Record Temperature running short CPU test

I am going to run a short CPU test to stress the CPU. This is not intended to test how fast it operates but will force it to perform calculations which will warm up the Raspberry Pi.

To do this I will be using sysbench and will run the following command.

sysbench --num-threads=4 --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=20000 --validate run

This will run a CPU load with 4 threads (the amount of CPU’s the Raspberry Pi 4 has) and will take approximately a minute. Once it has finished I will record the final temperature before it starts cooling down again.

5. Record Temperature running long CPU test

After letting the Raspberry Pi cool down to its idle temperature I will run a longer CPU test. This will again be using sysbench and will be ran with the following command.

sysbench --num-threads=4 --test=cpu --cpu-max-prime=200000 --validate run

This is expected to run the Raspberry Pi for an extended period of time to see the temperature it reaches with extended CPU load. Here I will record the highest temperature that it reaches during the test. This is expected to be higher than the short CPU test.

Test Results

Below is a table of results after running with and without the MakerHawk Raspberry Pi 4B Armor Case. All temperatures are measured in Celsius.

Raspberry Pi 4B Temperature TestingWithout CaseWith Case
1. Ambient Temperature at start2222
2. Boot Temperature3225
3. Idle Temperature4332
4. Short CPU Test5135
5. Long CPU Test7243

Overall you can see that the case dramatically reduces the temperature that the Raspberry Pi is running at. The aluminium shell combined with the duel fans allows the Raspberry Pi to run very cool.

Final Comments

The MakerHawk Raspberry Pi 4B Armor Case works very well to cool down a Raspberry Pi, both during idling and during a heavy CPU load.

I would definitely buy another one of these if I had more Raspberry Pi 4’s to cool down as the reduction is very large.

I purchased this from amazon using the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07W6VFQVQ/

If you have any questions, comments, or want to know more please add your comment below or contact me on Twitter.

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