I will only make the piNAS joke once before we get down to the business. Argon EON is the latest adventure from Argon40, a company responsible for Argon ONE (review) and Argon ONE M.2 (review) cases for Raspberry Pi 4. Their already funded Kickstarter brings us a promise of a very interesting NAS enclosure.
As a person who made my own NASpi (project) years ago, I’m particularly looking forward to this case. It would replace my slightly outdated (and yet still very much in use for 4 years without a single fail) network storage solution.
Argon Eon promises a similar take on expanding Raspberry Pi 4 storage by taking the advantage of a USB 3.0 port on the Raspberry Pi 4. It’s the same concept that the company added to their very popular Argon ONE M.2 enclosures. The case has a futuristic design, enables 4 SATA driven ports while exposing the entire I/O from Raspberry Pi 4. It’s slated for November/December and it should cost around $130 for the case alone, with possible bundles being available too.
It’s nice to see the support for SSD as well as the regular 3.5″ HDDs. You can deploy these in various configurations, as long as the number of 3.5″ HDD isn’t bigger than 2. Argon EON will work with SSDs, traditional HDDs and probably SATA M.2 drives if you get your hands on special adapters.
The storage capacity comes from the limitations imposed by the OS, and the capacity per bay is 10TB, for the total of 40TB of data. In my opinion, it’s more than enough for this grade of the hardware. Anyone looking to store more data should really consider dedicated storage solutions instead.
From my Raspberry Pi 4 transfer tests, you should expect a complete saturation of the 1Gigabit Ethernet, while redundancy transfers will be subject to limitations imposed by the USB 3.0 bus, (shared with the Ethernet) drive speeds and the available hardware resources. Yes, it’s a glorified USB hub with a SATA connector, but it’s an attractive, well-designed product non the less.
The case comes with a custom power button that hides a small status OLED display to show you the most important information. Inside you will find the combination of passive and active cooling with a 60mm fan mounted at the top of the case for near-silent operation. The back of the Argon EON brings all ports of the Raspberry Pi 4 together including a 40-pin header for further expansions.
A dedicated RTC (real-time clock) will keep the scheduled tasks on schedule even in offline configurations and totally exposed I/O and 40-pin header will enable tinkerers and makers to add hardware modules and mods.
As the enclosure is based around Rasberry Pi 4, you will be able to use any open-source programs to manage your NAS. OMV is what Argon40 recommends (I recommend it too), and it will most likely address most of the needs.
If you used SMB shares before, DLNA streaming or Plex, all this will be available on Argon EON too. I’m pretty sure the case will let you boot from USB too since this is something they already figured out for their Argon One series.
Who is it for?
The obvious answer is: for anyone with a Raspberry Pi 4 board and $130 in their wallet. Argon EON promises not just NAS but a complete Raspberry Pi 4 experience. With the latest Raspberry at the helm, you will be able to run a Plex server alongside the NAS software and there will be enough resources to allocate for a light automation server.
The utility of the case is undeniable even if the raw NAS performance back to back with professional storage solutions from companies like Synology may not be as good. Focused on NAS as a primary use, unlike dedicated NAS devices, Argon EON doesn’t prevent you from using the case just the way you want.
Browsing articles online, I came across users complaining about the case not being built around the CM4 module and utilising USB-SATA for storage. While the criticism itself isn’t incorrect, anyone trying to pin the “made for enterprise” tag to Argon EON is missing the point of the product. This is not a case to replace the professional NAS solution which has dedicated hardware to support the workload, but to offer an easy way to transform one of the most popular makers board: Raspberry Pi 4 into a NAS without removing features that made the boards popular in the first place.
It’s fair to say that most of us doesn’t have a dedicated NAS solution at home and keeps the files on a single computer which a couple of folders synced up with a cloud here and there. This is true for the majority of households, even if your personal setup is more sophisticated. Argon EON tries to bridge this gap, offering a reasonably priced solution that works for an SBC that you are likely to have around.
Argon EON is likely to be priced around $130 which is reasonable for an enclosure of this scope. It’s less expensive than dedicated NAS solutions, looks appealing (to me) and judging the quality of previous Argon40 products, it will be made from quality components. I’ve reached out to them and I will be receiving one soon, to share my thoughts on it. In the meantime, feel free to check out my Argon 18 project – a modded Argon ONE case with mSATA support which was clearly the inspiration for M.2 series! If you have anything, in particular, you’d like me to test, feel free to let me know in this Reddit thread and I will consider it.