I'm planning to buy a pi-top to use my RPi on the go, like a laptop: enter image description here

The problem is that I have made modifications on GPIO connector to the point I'm not sure it will be compatible with their breakout cable. I wonder if I will still be able to use a pi-top if I leave GPIO cable unconnected. As I understand it, I will lose the ability to control display brightness (done via PWM on GPIO pin) and won't get battery charge information, but the rest of it should work nevertheless. Can anyone confirm this?

I have found and read pi-top manual which didn't seem to answer my question.

2 Answers 2


From the official Raspberry Pi forum:

I disconnected the the cable from the GPIO on mine and installed Ubuntu Mate. The screen brightness and volume control keys don't work and the shutdown becomes a two step process. To shut it down you need to run the "shutdown -h now" command, wait until it shuts down, then hold down the start buttons until the red LED goes out. In my opinion a small price to pay to regain access to the GPIO.

  • Hey, thanks! This post is a gold mine of info, too bad I have missed it. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 13:46
  • No problem. It looks like a lot of customers were initially not to happy with that product.. Hope your experience will be better :-) Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 17:32
  • Yeah, after reading that topic I'm not that sure anymore if I really want to lay out $300 for it... Especially considering reports about battery failing within two months of use. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 17:57

If you don't use the GPIO cable, the notebook seems to work just fine for the first look. I am using PiTop together with MinnowBoard and XUbuntu without this cable. But I'm observing following issues:

  • No EDID access so the display only shows one resolution (the biggest) which avoid to play some older games

  • The battery symbol under the OS is odd. OS has no chance to access Smart Battery Manager chip (if there is any, I assume that it is). This implies whether it is a cause of my battery failure - I'm not able to charge it anymore.

This behavior is based on my personal experience, but I cannot exclude another root cause.

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