Jan Leow's Press Blog

Argon One M.2 for Raspberry Pi 4

Finally, I have decided to get my hands on one of the most popular cases, the Argon One for Raspberry Pi 4; it also has one of the highest price tags in comparison with other casing in the market. What tipped me over to get it was the new base case that could house a SSD hard drive, plus the new HDMI slots on the external case.

The Argon One case has an aluminum top that doubles as part of the heat sink for dissipating the processor heat. A fan with variable speed control that can be set depending on the current heat of the Raspberry CPU.

Argon One M.2 case with its various parts

The price tag wasn’t cheap. By itself it was already priced at about two thirds of a Raspberry Pi 4 single board computer! Not to mention adding on the price of the SSD! Since I got some spare money, I’ve decided on a little splurge. After all, a little self-indulgence once in a while is good for your psyche, no?

I bought it via the Cytron.io online website. There were several options. If you already have the earlier version of the Argon One case, you could just purchase the base add-on. You could also do a bundle purchase with Cytron’s 120GB SSD with pre-build Raspberry Pi OS. And of course it was cheaper to buy the SSD from elsewhere!

I figure I could burn in the RPi OS image by myself. That way I could control what kind of SSD brand I would like to get and customize the configuration of the OS to my preference.

The order process with Cytron went without a hitch and the delivery was somewhat delayed because I happened to purchase it on a long festive weekend. Usually it just took two to three days. This time round, it took about five days.

The Argon One M.2 case was slightly larger than my other aluminum heatsink casing. This was to house the additional connectors to the Raspberry Pi 4 board to the various extended pins and fan controller. I was surprised that it uses the pins to send the power from the adapter to the Raspberry Pi board.

Using the Argon One M.2 case with Raspberry Pi 4

The Argon One M.2 HDMI slot was using the standard size port which was good as monitors and TVs use this connector size. The previous Argon One case was using the micro HDMI slot, which I felt was a little fragile.

Once you fix the board and parts, you no longer have easy access to the RPi board’s microSD card slot. The idea was that you no longer need to use it because you will be using the USB 3 slot to boot up the SSD as an external drive. The Argon One M.2 case came with a U shape USB connector to connect the base to the RPi’s USB 3 slot. There is also a handy on/off power switch above the LAN port that can be configured for shutdown, reboot and forced shutdown.

This Argon One M.2 case also has an infrared receiver. However you will need to purchase their remote controller to make use of it. So far, I don’t see any use or need for this hardware function.

Install the Raspberry Pi OS by connecting directly to the PC

As for installing the Raspberry Pi OS into the M2 SSD drive, you could actually use the base as the SSD reader and directly connect to the PC. Fortunately for me, I have an old female-to-female cable, but it was old and seemed to lack the ability to provide enough power for the read / write process. I decided to use a Y-cable instead and use the USB 2 PC slot to write the RPi OS image.

Here is something to take note: USB 3 slots from the PCs, especially the older models, did not provide enough power for the high speed transfer of data and powering of the USB devices. In such a case, you should be using the PC’s USB 2 slot for a more stable data transfer.

Installing the OS is by way of using the Raspberry Pi Imager software that you can download from the Raspberry Pi website. I wanted to multi-boot several different OS by using PINN, but unfortunately PINN just hung. That left me no choice but to install just the Raspberry Pi OS only. I guess not many OS or software support booting via the USB slot. I guess if I am running any OS off the microSD card, I could use my Raspberry Pi 400 instead.

I chose the 64 bit version of Raspberry Pi OS in order to fully utilize the 4GB RAM memory of the board. 64 bit OS would also be the better OS version for the 8GB RAM RPi board too! Since I’m just tinkering about, there is no such urge to purchase the 8GB version of the RPi4 board just yet.

Firing up the device from the SSD, it was really fast! I could hardly glimpse through the usual post messages before reaching the login screen. By using SSD for software storage, it sped up the startup of any software. Though running the software was still going at the same speed. Just the speedier process of loading up the data onto the memory.

As for the fan control and power button, it would be best to download the software from Argon.

In the terminal, the commands to download it would be:

  • Curl https://download.argon40.com/argon1.sh | bash

After installing, type below to configure the fan speed:

  • argonone-config

As for my fan’s custom settings, I’ve set it as below:

  • 40ºC ⥤ 10%
  • 45ºC ⥤ 20%
  • 50ºC ⥤ 30%
  • 55ºC ⥤ 50%
  • 60ºC ⥤ 75%
  • 65ºC ⥤ 100%

If the fan is too fast, it gets noisy. I think the above would be balanced. The case and the fan cooling was quite efficient. Giving a good average 50ºC working temperature overall.

By using the Argon One M.2 casing, there is no easy access to the microSD slot. That means I wouldn’t be able to test out other software and such with other microSD cards.

I could of course install other operating systems using a USB thumb drive and plug it into the RPI USB 3 slot. But not all the OS would boot off from the USB slot. Well, I guess I just have to use my other Raspberry PI 400 for testing other systems installed into the microSD cards.

Overall, the Argon One M.2 case is quite well worth its price tag. Much better looking than my heatsink style casing and has some added function and protection to the board too!



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