With the arrival of RISC OS for the Raspberry Pi 4, I decided it was time to upgrade my old Pi 3. Traditionally, I have gone for a standard PI with just an SD card in the official compact box. But I was really taken with the stylish Delta cases shown in the RISCOSbits show talk so I decided to go for a more upmarket machine this time round with a PiHard.
It sounds like a depserate attempt by Bruce Willis to recapture the glory days of the past (I know we can all agree Die Hard 2 will never be surpassed). In reality, the PiHard is a proper RISC OS system from RISCOSbits, comprising a Raspberry Pi 4 in one of their cases and your choice of other add-ons.
My order arrived in the post nicely wrapped in a large box with everything carefully packed for the journey. I was up and running in less than a minute. There is a short PDF start-up guide if you need, which also mentions the extra software included.
RISCOSbits has a large range of cases for your Raspberry Pi. I wanted something more exciting than the traditional Pi box, and I really fell in love with the delta cases. There is a choice of sizes and materials. I went for the walnut delta case which goes nicely with my desk. The case is really nicely finished and well made. This is a premium case, so you can buy cheaper Pi boxes, but (IMHO) nothing nearly as stylish. The machine is pretty silent in operation.
Inside the box is a Raspberry Pi 4 card and a daughter board which converts the mini-hdmi to 'proper' hdmi. It also means that all the connectors are on one side. I also have a realtime clock, Wifi Hat and a 120gig SSD drive. Each machine is custom built. If you want to push your Pi, you can have a fan rather than the heat sink. It all looks very neat and clean inside.
The box is robust and very portable. I actually bought 2 power cables so I can pop just the box into my bag and take it to work (as I do with my laptop).
If you need to, you can open up the case, and the Pi SD card is tucked away but not totally accessible.
The PiHard boots straight into RISC OS 5.28. RISCOSbits has its own theme but you can switch to the usual suspects if you want.
There is lots of free software on the hard dive and an additional app !SDCtrl to show/hide the SD drive if you need. I have run everything from the SSD drive so far. I installed Elesar's excellent PCloud, shared the drive and rapidly had all my software installed on the machine.
As with the hardware, it is all very polished and setup.
My first impressions were of a very fast and capable machine, which has had a lot of care and love put into it. With a Pi4 and SSD drive and faster networking, this machine is noticeably faster than my old Pi 3 (and definitely comparable to my Titanium). Chris Hall has some benchmarks if you want a comparison.
There are cheaper and smaller cases out there if that is what you are looking for. PiHard is a premium RISC OS computer in a really stylish case and makes an excellent main machine with no compromise. If that is what you are looking for, I can strongly recommend it (but you can't have mine!).
Archive readers also get a small discount on the price so worth mentioning.
PiHard in pictures