Raspberry Pi Competitors: ConsiderationsWhen selecting a Raspberry Pi alternative, think about what you plan to use your single board computer for. This ultimately determines which SBC is most appropriate for your needs. For instance, while a Raspberry Pi Zero might be appropriate for modest tasks, a it’s underpowered for powerful processing. Whereas the Raspberry Pi 3 is suited to many applications, video game emulation for instance is decidedly choppy for Dreamcast and Nintendo 64 games. However, the Odroid-XU4 provides ample performance boost over the Pi.
You’ll also need to consider what devices you intend to connect and which operating system (OS) you plan to run. Although most SBCs run Linux OSes flawlessly, you may wish to run Android or Chrome OS. In this case, you’ll need a compatible SBC. Further, think about what devices you wish to use with your SBC, and what ports you’ll need. Largely, microSD slots, USB ports, and GPIO headers are common place. But you may need eSATA connectivity, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, or other hardware components.
10 Best Raspberry Pi Alternatives
Check out the top Raspberry Pi competitors!
The Orange Pi Prime is a powerful SBC capable of running Linux operating systems (OSes) such as Ubuntu, Debian, and Raspbian, as well as Android. At its core, you’ll find an AllWinner H5 system on a chip (SoC). For connectivity, there’s an HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet port, Wi-Fi b/g/n, and Bluetooth. With its 2GB of RAM, the Orange Pi Prime comes specced out similar to the Raspberry Pi 3. Yet, with its Mali-450 GPU, the Pi Prime can handle 2K video, handily trouncing the Raspberry Pi 3.
However, Orange Pi offers loads of hardware options. Notably, the Orange Pi 2G-IoT is a mini board which rivals the Raspberry Pi Zero. Unlike the Pi Zero or Orange Pi Zero though, the 2G-IoT iteration includes a 2G modem for data transfers.
As the Orange Pi and Banana Pi prove, the SBC space is a fruitful area for do-it-yourself (DIY) development boards. Outfitted with 2GB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, a SATA port, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, the Banana Pi M3 challenges the Raspberry Pi 3. Its Cortex A7 packs in a whopping eight cores and the PowerVR GPU is a capable video processor. You can run Android, as well as Linux. With Octa-core processing and a beefy GPU, the Banana Pi M3 stands out as one of the most appealing SBCs available. In its tests, Love Our Pi found the Banana Pi M3 a high-performing board which beat out the beastly Odroid-XU4 in its John the Ripper benchmarks.
Pine64’s Rock64 single board computer is a rock solid Raspberry Pi alternative. The 4GB variant utilizes an ARM Cortex A53 64-bit processor. Also, you’ll find a 40-pin GPIO header which is essential for DIY projects such as creating an Ambilight kit. What’s more, the Rock64 boasts an eMMC module and can handle 4K video at 60 frames per second (FPS). That’s impressive, especially for a board with such a small footprint. Therefore, the Rock64 makes an ultra-powerful yet energy-efficient HTPC.
While the Raspberry Pi caters to both power users and beginners, the Arduino is mostly a development board. Neat Arduino projects include the ArduinoPhone, a MIDI controller, and even Arduboy, a handheld game console with an Arduino as its heart. Particularly, the Arduino is adept at music projects such as connecting with a DIY Eurorack prototype board, a DIY keyboard synth, and more.
Check out the Asus Tinker Board for a robust, quad-core SBC. Sporting 2GB RAM, and capable of pumping out 4K video, the Asus Tinker Board is a nifty little ARM device that’s ideal for Linux projects. Like many SBCs, the Tinker Board comes replete with GPIO headers. As Trusted Reviews revealed, the Asus Tinker Board delivers superb performance with exquisite hardware. However, unlike more popular boards such as the Raspberry Pi, the Tinker Board doesn’t feature in-depth documentation and official support. Moreover, software support is a bit hit or miss. Nevertheless, with a fantastic Mali-T764 GPU, four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet, and a quad-core 1.8GHz CPU, the Tinker Board is an excellent Pi alternative.
In its tests, Hackaday found the Odroid-C2 beating the Raspberry Pi 3 in its benchmarks. This 64-bit quad-core ARM-based board rocks an Amlogic S905 SoC, and ARM Cortex-A53. The 2GHz clock speed tops the Pi’s 1.2GHz. Plus, the 2GB of RAM adds a processing punch, and its Mali-450 GPU churns out 4K video.
Unfortunately, unlike the Pi 3, there’s no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Yet, you’ll find a Gigabit Ethernet port, and you can always use a USB device for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Despite a few concessions, the Odroid-C2 delivers a performance boost at a price on par with the Raspberry Pi 3, making it a true potential Pi killer.
Love Our Pi performed a set of CPU benchmarks on SBCs. During these, the Odroid-XU4 clocked in some of the top benchmarks, alongside the Banana Pi M3. In fact, the only benchmark where the XU4 did not outright win was in John the Ripper tests. Aside from that, the Odroid-XU4 trounced the competition. Therefore, it’s one of the top performing SBCs you can buy.
The Pine A64+, as the name suggests, is a 64-bit SBC. Onboard, you’ll find a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 64-bit process, 2GB of RAM, and microSD card slot. Additionally, there’s a GPIO bus for use with various sensors. There’s even an eMMC module for up to 128GB. What sets the A64-LTS board apart is that it’s guaranteed for support over at least five years.
Decked out with an octa=core big.LITTLE Cortex-A15/7 processor, 64-core IMG PowerVR G6230 GPU, and 2GB of RAM, the Cubieboard4 CC-A80 is an absolute beast. Furthermore, the Cubieboard packs a staggering 64GB of storage, and is further expandable via SD and MCC slots.
Like the Cubieboard the BeagleBoard X15 does not come cheap. However, it runs pretty much any Linux distro you throw at it, as well as Android, and is capable of running 1080P at 60FPS. Its PowerVR GPU provides a graphical oomph, and the 4GB of RAM is more than enough for most tasks. Plus, the X15 houses two Ethernet ports. Unfortunately, it’s pretty pricey, but for the cost, it’s a phenomenal deal.
Top 10 Raspberry Pi Alternatives: Final Thoughts
While these are the 10 best Raspberry Pi competitors, there are loads of other single board computer worth considering. The MinnowBoard Turbot is a quad-core SBC with two Ethernet ports, 2GB of RAM, and 8MB of SPI flash storage. Have a look at the BBC micro:bit which is super cheap yet functional. The NanoPi M3 is a good option too as is its K2. The LattePanda runs Windows 10, features twice the RAM of the Pi 3, and has a faster CPU.
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