You don't have to buy a case for a Raspberry Pi 3, but doing so makes the experience that much nicer. That's particularly so if you plan to use your Pi as a home-theater PC or even a secondary desktop.
A whole sea of options exist out there, though, ranging from simple acrylic cases to elaborately carved wood shells. So we dug into the mix to find the best of the bunch at different prices—and came up with a selection that should make minimalists, HTPC fans, gamers, hardware hackers, and even hot rod enthusiasts happy.
The best Raspberry Pi 3 cases
C4 Labs sells a snazzy-looking wood case that has 1950s-style hot-rod flames and the Chevy Bel Air symbol. The case uses laser-cut birch wood, and works with the Raspberry Pi 3, 2 and model B+. The enclosure has appropriate access to all the various ports, including room for a GPIO ribbon cable.
If this case isn't your thing, ModMyPi also has an interesting Helix case made from "flame grilled" medium-density fiberboard. It works with the Raspberry Pi 3, 2, and model B+. This case doesn't require any screws, as it uses push fit pins to come together. The manufacture recommends that users avoid disassembling this case often, in order to keep from damaging the tight-fitting pins.
Official Rasberry Pi 3 Case
The official Raspberry Pi 3 case is pretty basic as cases go, but we just had to include it since it's the "official" way to dress up your RPi 3.
The case is attractive enough, and the main idea behind it is to make the case as affordable as the Raspberry Pi itself. The list price for the official case is $9, but you can usually find it for $6 from third-party retailers on Amazon.
Kodi Edition Raspberry Pi Case
Kodi partnered with Flirc to create a sleek-looking Kodi Edition Rasberry Pi Case that would be at home in any entertainment center. The case is very similar to Flirc's own case, but this one has the snazzy Kodi logo. It also has an aluminum core that acts as a passive CPU heat sink to keep your Raspberry Pi from getting too hot.
Price: £12.95 ($17.29 at this writing)
Sometimes a single Raspberry Pi just won't do. For those times when you're working on a dual-Pi project, the Multi-Pi Stackable case is a useful option. The case is basically two acrylic shelves for mounting your Raspberry Pi boards. There are no sides, allowing for an open air design to keep your hard working RPis cool.
Working with more than just two boards? You can buy more cases to stack on top of each other for a tower of delicious and affordable computing power.
Price: £16.00 ($21.36 at this writing)
A case that will appeal to project enthusiasts, the Pi PIR Motion Camera box is an all-in-one enclosure for a Raspberry Pi-powered motion sensor camera. This ModMyPi case has enough room to house the Raspberry Pi, the Pi Camera Module, and a PIR motion sensor. There's also room for a magnetic camera lens for those so inclined. It's also designed so that the Pi Camera's red LED won't affect the "ambient light captured by the camera," and comes with mounting bracket if you want to put the newly created device on the wall somewhere.
The case's purchase price includes the PIR motion sensor, but you'll have to pick up a Pi Camera (and RPi3 board) yourself.
Appeal to your inner retro gamer with this mini replica of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The case, called the Super Tinytendo, features the same classic buttons on the top (though sadly, they're purely decorative). It also has a cooling fan inside to make sure you don't experience a meltdown during a Super Mario World session.
If you need any help creating your classic console once you've got the SNES case, check out our SNES classic RetroPie emulator build guide.
Price: €24.75 ($29.25 at this writing)
Spain-based RasPiPC has a Nintendo Entertainment System case. You can find all kinds of versions of an NES case online, but this particular model is made from Lego. It works with Raspberry Pi 2 and 3.
Be warned this case is for hardcore Lego fans, as you'll have to construct the thing yourself. (Want an easier and cheaper NES-themed option? Try this $16 one made by Kintaro.)
Retailer: VagrantInd (via Etsy)
This 3D-printed Raspberry Pi case is for fans of the Fallout video game series. This option is a wearable replica of the Pip-boy personal computing device—a central part of the gear used by the main characters in the Fallout series. This particular model is based on the Pip-boy 3000 Mark IV from Fallout IV. Anyone ordering this case will need to supply measurements to make sure the item will fit.
To make this case into a true Pip-boy, you'll also need a touch screen, the Pi Camera, the Pip Boy software, and your Raspberry Pi board (either the Raspberry Pi 2 or 3).
Retailer: DMCreationsUS (via Etsy)
If you're a fighting-game fan (or have spent hours in arcades), then the Retro Stick Arcade case was made for you. It's designed to emulate the controls of a classic video-game machine with a joystick and a whole mess of buttons. It also has a three-inch 5 watt speaker for sound.
This case is handmade and thus doesn't come cheap at $220—but if you want something a little special for your retro gaming experience, it might be the case for you.
Price: $8 ($5 for the case, $3 for the lid)
Adafruit has its own line of polycarbonate cases for the Raspberry Pi 3 / 2 / Model B+ that are simple base units with snap-on lids. The base costs $5 and comes in a wide variety of colors that includes clear, gray, orange, blue, green, purple, and pink.
The snap-on lids ($3) are optional since tinkerers may enjoy having a base to cradle their board, while still having easy and free access to all the various board components—most importantly the GPIO pins. The beauty of buying the base and lid separately is that you can mix and match to create your own unique color combination.
More Raspberry Pi 3 cases
These are our favorite cases that we've found so far, but there's a whole world of interesting Raspberry Pi cases out there for you to explore—especially on Etsy. Among the sea of gaming-themed options are aluminum shells and even custom-etched, mixed-material frames.