Igor Bubelov
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Raspberry Pi 4 Case Review: Argon ONE M2

Raspberry Pi · Linux · Jan 25, 2021

This is my second review of Argon cases. I like my Argon ONE, but it doesn’t offer enough performance for IO intensive workloads. Argon ONE M2 has a built-in SSD slot, so I’ve decided to give it a try.

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Original Argon ONE Case Review

This post assumes you’re familiar with Argon ONE case. If not, you can check it out.

What’s Changed

Let’s take a look on all the parts:

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The extension board looks a bit different:

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Nice, it looks like Argon ONE M2 has properly sized HDMI ports. The original Argon ONE case uses micro HDMI and it’s hard to find cables for such an exotic port. This is a really nice improvement. Let’s say you have a game console nearby your TV and you also want to play some retro games using Raspberry Pi 4 with RetroPie. With normal HDMI port, you can use the same HDMI cable for both consoles. Or maybe you have a spare HDMI cable. With such a case, you can put it in use instead of buying more cables.

Let’s examine the top board:

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Nothing interesting here, except the newly added IR port. The manual says it’s supposed to be used with a proprietary remote. I’m definitely going to pass on that. One more thing: don’t forget to move the jumper to “ALWAYS ON” mode if you want your Raspberry Pi to turn on automatically in case of a power shortage. It doesn’t turn on by default.

When I saw this switch for the first time, I thought it’s responsible for controlling the fan, but the new manual says it’s all about power management. The default mode is good for devices you actively engage with, such as a desktop computer or a game console. The “ALWAYS ON” mode is perfect for servers because they’re supposed to self-heal and keep on doing what they’re doing without your help.

Now, let’s take a look on a bottom panel with an M2 slot:

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It looks like all M2 lengths are supported. The most important one is obviously 2280, so let’s try to install such a module:

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It fits well enough, although the fact that it bends the module gives me chills. I don’t think it will break it, so I guess that’s fine. Keep in mind that this case supports SATA M2 SSDs only. Most of SSDs on the market are actually NVMe, and they won’t work with this case! I wish it supported NVMe SSDs, and I’d say it’s the biggest flaw of this product.

Redirecting all the ports to the back of the case is a genius move. It makes connecting cables much easier which also makes the end results more aesthetically pleasing:

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Lastly, let’s take a look on this strange little USB thing:

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That’s where the M2 magic happens. It connects the M2 module with one of the USB 3 ports on Raspberry Pi 4. USB 3 can handle high transfer speeds, especially if the case supports UASP. Spoiler: it does!

Conclusion

Argon ONE M2 case is a good choice when you need high speed disk IO. It’s well-built and aesthetically pleasing. The main drawbacks are high price and lack of NVMe support. We often overestimate how much performance we would really need to run our software. I’m using a $95 Android phone and its pretty damn fast! More performance never hurts, but in this case it can easily hurt your wallet. I would only advise using such a case only if you absolutely sure that SD card is not an option.