Last year DeskPi Pro (review) has landed on my… desk, and I had a blast building it up. In case you missed it, it’s a computer alike (NUC) case that houses Raspberry Pi 4 and adds SSD storage over USB. It’s an enclosure for anyone looking for a PC alike interaction with your favourite Raspberry Pi board. Unfortunately, the release of the DeskPi was marred with some boot from USB issues. The team behind the DeskPi took the time to gather the feedback and the improved version is available.
Old DeskPi Pro vs New DeskPi Pro
Read my original review of the enclosure for all the details, as the design of the case hasn’t changed much on the outside. The new revision looks exactly the same as the old one, although, stacking both cases side by side reveals a slight increase in size (the new one is 2 mm wider). You can grab the DeskPi for Raspberry Pi 4 or treat your Jetson Nano to a DeskPi makeover with DeskPi Nano.
- DeskPi Pro case (DeskPi Store)
- DeskPi Pro kit with Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB) (UK, US, DE)
- DeskPi Pro kit with Raspberry Pi 4 (8GB) (UK, US, DE)
DeskPi Pro fix for boot from USB
The original DeskPi Pro had issues with boot from USB. A lot of users reported problems booting from a compatible drive which was a major inconvenience for a product that enables SSD drives for Raspberry Pi 4.
It’s been a long time coming, but I have some good news for existing and future DeskPi Pro owners. The boot from USB should work now on both versions of the DeskPi Pro. I tested out my original version of the enclosure with the new implementation of the boot from USB. You can follow the same as me process in my article about Raspberry Pi 4 USB boot. I’m pleased to say that when “Boot from USB, when SD card isn’t present” option worked perfectly. If your original case is gathering dust due to that reason, give it another go.
It looks like Raspbian has a more compatible boot from USB implementation which also addressed the initial problems with the DeskPi Pro boot. Anyone buying DeskPi Pro now, is sent a new revision of the board and here is the list of changes:
- T-shaped link, to ground USB ports and prevent interference
- ASMedia IC to control SATA storage with better stability and performance
- Adressed HDMI bug which rendered some devices incompatible
- Better QC management to ensure reliability of the products
- Alsways On toggle for power button behaviour instead of pins
Having both DeskPi Pro enclosures, I took them apart so you can see the differences in the pictures.
The whole board had been vastly redesigned. A lot of components were moved around which indicates a major rework of the design of the board rather than a quick fix. There is a toggle switch to set the Power State on power loss behaviour which replaced pins on the old design and the power pins were moved to the other side.
SSD Expansion board
Apart from the new ASMedia controller for USB drives, the board has shielding to remove the interference and help with grounding. The M.2 attachment board is exactly the same as the old one.
The IR expansion board has a couple of resistors and new markings for the enable/disable pins, the ribbon connecting the 40-pin header with the expansion board has a conductive mesh to ground the USB better.
The box contains new items:
- previously mentioned T-shaped grounding link
- microSD card with pre-installed RaspberryPi OS on a 32GB card
- QC compatible power supply
You will need some basic tools and about 30 min of your time to assemble your DeskPi Pro. Instructions are attached and well explained. If you are going to use a fresh RaspberryPiOS installation you can download the firmware for the button and fan controls:
git clone https://github.com/DeskPi-Team/deskpi.git cd ~/deskpi/ chmod +x install.sh sudo ./install.sh
You can configure the settings by running
deskpi-config in the terminal.
Thermals and performance
As the thermal design hasn’t changed the case still performs in the same way. Custom fan controls let you ramp up the cooling fan gradually, or overclock the CPU and set the fan to 100%.
Just like before, DeskPi Pro is compatible with 2.5″ SATA drives and thanks to included M.2 adapter board, with M.2 drives that use SATA (no NVMe support) in 3 lengths. Here is the Amazon link to compatible drives:
There is one thing I noticed on my DeskPi Pro, the 40-pin header is exposed at the back of the case, headers’ pins are soldered in too low. As result, I can fit the ribbon extension through the slot in the acrylic case, but without sanding down the connector a little bit, I won’t be able to connect it.
While you can work around that, you shouldn’t have to.
I hope this brings good news to all of you. If you were holding off, now it’s the time to make the purchase, and if you already have the case in the drawer, give it another go. Now that I have 2 of them, I have to find some funky purpose for it! You can grab yours on the DeskPi website for just under $60. If you don’t like the design, you can always consider Argon40 cases which I covered in this post. Got any ideas or comments? Let me know in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.