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, 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 commonplace. But you may need eSATA connectivity, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, or other hardware components.
Best Raspberry Pi Alternatives
Check out the top Raspberry Pi competitors!
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. You'll even find several accessories such as Orange Pi Prime cases.
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. Feeling overwhelmed? Snag an Arduino kit and start with a simple task such as blinking an LED.
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.
ASUS Tinker Board OSes abound. There's LibreELEC for an excellent HTPC, RetroPie for a DIY game console, Armbian as a lightweight desktop or server, and Flint OS/FyedOS for making your own Chrome OS PC. With a form factor mimicking that of the Pi, most Raspberry Pi cases should double as ASUS Tinker Board cases.
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.
When comparing the Odroid XU4 vs Raspberry Pi 3 B+, I found the XU4 a superior board in many ways. There's support for a bevy of operating systems, from RetroPie, Recalbox, and Lakka, to the Debian-based GameStation Turbo which, when paired with the OGST Gaming Kit makes a neat DIY N64 Classic Mini. Ultimately, it's ideal for loads of projects, from gaming and HTPC use, to cryptocurrency mining.
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.
With the power packed in Odroid H2 specs, this SBC can run Wii games via the Dolphin emulator. It's a fantastic board, though the Odroid H2 price might prove a deterrent for some uses. Though its hardware is beefy, and it's a far more capable board than the Raspberry Pi, the Odroid-H2 retails for over three times the cost of the Raspberry Pi 3 B+. Still, if you demand top-tier performance in a tiny form factor, the Odroid H2 vs Raspberry Pi is a no-brainer.
LattePanda Alpha is a nifty maker board rocking x86 support. As such, the LattePanda can run Windows 10 as well as virtually any Linux distro you throw at it. LattePanda Alpha benchmarks beat out the MacBook Pro M3, and came in just shy of the Alienware 13R2 with its i7-6500U.
You'll find a built-in eMMC memory module, 8GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 RAM, and an Intel graphics 615 which allows for 4K 60Hz video output. However, the LattePanda offers dedicated GPU connectivity. This truly expands the usability of this single-board computer. The price point is well above a Pi 3, but it's worth the cost for the expandability.
SBC manufacturer UDOO offers an array of neat maker boards. The UDOO BOLT is a complete game-changer with its onboard AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000. Available with either an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1202B system on a chip (SoC) or AMD Ryzen EMbedded V1605B SoC, the UDOO BOLT achieves GPU performance roughly on par with the GTX 950. It ousts premium PCs like the MacBook Pro 13-inch in terms of GPU and CPU performance.
With a starting price of $229 USD, the UDOO BOLT isn't for everyone. But for hardcore maker projects, from a reasonably priced workstation to a compact gaming PC or HTPC, the UDOO BOLT is a maker's dream. UDOO boards like the BOLT and x86 may be used for a variety of nifty projects.
A rock solid SBC, the RockPro64 gets its ample processing power from a Rockchip Rk3399 CPU with 6-core processing and dual ARM Cortex A-72 CPU cores, four Cortex A-53 cores, and a Mali-T860MP4 GPU. It comes with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM.
Connectivity abounds with a USB 3.0 port, USB-C, PCIe x4, and eMMC module. Further, the Pine64 RockPro64 features a 40-pin header with GPIO, SPI, UARTs, and more. An optional WiFi and Bluetooth module adds wireless networking, there's a camera module, and LCD panel.
Top Raspberry Pi Alternatives: Final ThoughtsWhile these are the best Raspberry Pi competitors, there are loads of other single board computers 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. I'm a huge fan of the Odroid XU4, and the UDOO BOLT which is the top Raspberry Pi alternative if you're willing to break the bank.
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