Hey automation fans, here is something I’d like to point your attention to. This €9.90 plastic case for a Raspberry Pi 4 from LeapMatic. I probably wouldn’t cover it, but this unassuming on the surface enclosure, comes with interesting options that you don’t see on other cases at this price point. It’s not as flashy as ArgonONE (review), but MaticBox 4 comes packed with interesting concepts.
MaticBox on top of MaticBox
There is more to this box than one would give it credit for. MaticBox is slightly industrial in design, made of plastic (available in white and black) and do what all plastic enclosures for Raspberry Pi do, keep your board protected from bumps and accidental shorts.
MaticBox 4 doesn’t stop there. Its design lets you stack the cases together. It’s an interesting concept for people who want to try clusters, but don’t want to spend ages crafting incredibly looking, but time consuming racks for Raspberry Pi boards.
Thanks to the 3 piece design, each case can be attached to each other. There is no limit how many cases you could join this way, so the sky and the number of available Raspberry Pi 4 boards is the limit. I have 2 MaticBoxes sent to me, so my RaspberryPi towers are 2 stack high.
Stacking isn’t the only trick in LeapMatic sleeve. Automation conscious designers added a clip-on pad that let you mount the MaticBox 4 on DIN rails. I’m pleased to see this as an option rather than a built-in feature.
This way, if you ever need to take the board off the rail, you can simply unclip the pad, and take it with you. If DIN rails aren’t for you, then 4 holes in each corner should meet most of your mounting needs.
Apart from the DIN rail pad, each MaticBox 4 is shipped with 2 lids. There is a slim profile lid that closes off the box and provides the air intake for the fan inside, and there is an expanded version of the lid which can host a Raspberry Pi HAT inside and lets you route the wires through a side panel.
That flexibility is appreciated, especially if you have a couple of wires to hide.
In the box from LeapMatic, there was a 20mm fan included. The case has an insert that exposes all connectors inside the case plus provides an option to attach fans in different configurations. What’s pretty cool (sorry for the pun), you can run a passive heatsink with a fan in configuration, something that many fan-based cases prevent you from using.
I whipped the FLIR E5 to see what’s the heat performance looks like. LeapMatic themselves run extensive benchmarks with different fans, which is interesting to read. My own thermal benchmarks bring the following conclusions:
You can run a single case without the fan (heatsink recommended) and it won’t throttle. At 21℃ Raspberry Pi 4 was idling at 42℃ with the fan running at full speed. You could lower this to 38℃ if you add a heatsink.
The situation changes when you stack the cases. The heat gets trapped between cases and Raspberry Pi 4 throttles without the active cooling.
Adding the fan to the mix removes enough heat to stop it, but stacked cases run at around 70℃. It’s hotter than I would like, so make sure you use the heatsink and a fan in each case if you want to stack it for the cluster work. In single case configuration temperatures were around 58℃ with the fan at 100% and heatsink present on the CPU.
Not everyone will be swept by the industrial design. The case isn’t a looker that’s clear but the plastic the MaticBox is made of is a little stiff. Detaching cases from each other and removing DIN-rail pad takes a bit of effort.
There is a design imperfection that leaves a 1mm gap on one of the sides, I would love to see this addressed in a revision.
Lastly, expect to run a fan when stacking the cases. The heat bleeds through the stacked MaticBoxes and will get your Raspberry Pi 4 to throttle if you are running CPU intensive tasks for a long time.
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MaticBox 4 is an incredibly versatile case. It’s affordable, feature-packed and you get a pretty decent deal for your money. Perhaps instead of getting a generic-looking enclosure that does nothing else but protecting the board from bumps, getting MaticBox 4 is a much wiser choice. What do you think? Let me know in this Reddit thread.