For those seeking a pocket-sized powerhouse, VeryComputer has some of the best alternatives to Raspberry Pi on the market. Whether you search for powerful multitasking or extra connectivity, VeryComputer has the perfect mini PC for you.
Raspberry Pi is a project of the British non-profit foundation of the same name. Although the initial objective at its launch was to promote the teaching of computer science to schoolchildren, its low cost and enormous flexibility has turned it into a a tremendously popular product and has allowed it to be used in a large number of tasks, industrial, commercial, for development or by any consumer. It has also been used as the basis for other products such as tablets or laptops.
Thus, after eleven years on the market and after an overwhelming success (45 million units sold in a decade) it has become the best-selling British computer in history, and the absolute leader in the single board computer or SBC segment. for its acronym in English. Like any successful product, it has encouraged other manufacturers to develop their own solutions and in recent years we have seen the arrival of alternatives of all kinds. Most of them similar, others practically identical and the rest with superior performance or different hardware architecture, but essentially maintaining their form factor.
Raspberry Pi versions
Putting the product in context, to say that since the original model “Raspberry Pi 1 model A” there have been half a dozen new versions that have been improving the performance of the main SoC, memory capacity, connectivity and also software support, compatible operating systems and number of applications.
Currently, the most advanced is the Pi 4 model with 8 Gbytes of LPDDR4 RAM, Broadcom BCM2711 SoC with four Cortex A72 cores, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, microSD and a good collection of ports including USB Type C and A, and video output to power up to two 4K monitors. The Raspberry Pi 5 is in development, although production problems that have affected the entire technology market have delayed its arrival.
In addition to the successive versions of the general series, the Foundation has also produced other specialized versions such as the Pi Zero or the Pico Mini with lower power consumption and an even cheaper price than the $35 that has been maintained as a sales reference. Another official version of interest was the Pi 400, a complete PC built in a compact keyboard form factor that was well liked as it simplified the configuration to start enjoying this development without assembly complications.
Alternatives to Raspberry Pi
In its 11 years of existence, there has been no shortage of official and third-party accessories for Raspberry as chassis, screens, cooling systems, etc.. And also alternative developments from other manufacturers as we will see below.
Pico Pi 2
Created by Chinese manufacturer 9Tripod, it has almost exactly the same size and form factor as the Raspberry Model 4 and even has a 40-pin connector compatible with it, which will allow using some HATs from it. The big difference lies in the SoC employed, a Rockchip RK3588S which provides more performance than the Broadcom in the Raspberry Pi 4.
It also offers better connectivity, with a micro HDMI 2.1 port and a USB Type-C port with DisplayPort Alt Mode support that improves on the HDMI of previous versions offered by the Raspberry Pi. It also features Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports for added compatibility and a microSD card reader. It is sold in various configurations depending on memory and storage, from 1 GB to 32 GB of LPDDR4x RAM and an eMMC flash memory connector that can range from 4 GB to 128 Gbytes. It is usually available on Aliexpress.
Developed by the manufacturer AAEON, it is a board with ultra-compact size (85.6 x 56.5 mm) of little more than a credit card. Being an SBC like the Pi, in its architecture we already see a big difference as this one chooses to use x86 processors which increases the possibilities of using either Windows or Linux operating systems. Connectivity options are quite comprehensive with Gigabit Ethernet, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (DisplayPort 1.2 compatible), 3 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, 2 USB 2.0 Type-A and HDMI 1.4b.
The board also features a 12V power input, a 40-pin GPIO header, a six-pin module for audio input and output, and additional support for a forthcoming board that would add solutions such as an M.2 for storage, wireless connectivity, cellular networking or other add-ons. It is distributed in half a dozen versions depending on processor (Intel Celeron or Pentium) with up to 8 GB of LPDDR4-2400 memory and up to 64 GB of eMMC storage. It is available from the manufacturer’s website from 129 dollars.
Orange Pi 5
Another popular SBC arriving from Chinese manufacturer Shenzhen Xunlong that outperforms the Raspberry Pi by several degrees in terms of performance, memory and connectivity, albeit at a higher price. Its processor is an ARM Rockchip RK3588S that acts as the main engine and offers greater performance, as does the maximum RAM capacity, which rises to 32 GB. In terms of storage, it has an M.2 2242 slot for NVMe SSD and another for microSD memory cards.
Its connectivity is also more extensive, with a 26-pin header connector, an RJ45 for Gigabit Ethernet, an HDMI, a 3.5-millimeter jack for audio, an integrated microphone, two 4-lane MIPI DSI connectors capable of supporting 4K at 60fps, a USB 3.1 Type-C for power supply and DisplayPort 1.4 support, a USB 3.0 Type-A, two USB 2.0 Type-A and a DC power connector. It supports systems such as OrangePi OS, Android and Debian 11, and can be purchased on Aliexpress currently for. €85.
Free Computer Le Potato
In a not-too-subtle nod towards offbeat social media memes, Libre Computer’s Le Potato is technically known as AML-S905X-CC in relation to the Amlogic S905X SoC it mounts which includes a 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.512 GHz, putting it more or less on par with the Raspberry Pi 3B+.
It features four full-size USB 2.0 ports, a 40-pin GPIO header, and HDMI 2.0. This will be especially useful as Le Potato features 4K HDR, 1080p@60fps support with OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0 graphics. It is available in 1GB or 2GB variants and is among the most basic of the Raspberry Pi alternatives. It is also the cheapest, starting at $30 on sale at Amazon. It can run Ubuntu, Debian, Xubuntu, Retro Arch and others.
ASUS Tinker Board
Following the concept marked by the Raspberry Pi, a large PC manufacturer like ASUS created the Tinker series that today accumulates a dozen different versions. One of these models is the 2S, equipped with the Rockchip RK3399 6-core SoC based on the new 64-bit Armv8 architecture and a Mali-T859 multi-core GPU. It has 2 GB of DDR4 RAM, 16 GB of internal storage and fairly comprehensive connectivity. It is available on Amazon for 197 euros.
Another development of the same series, but with different architecture, is the. Tinker Vthe Taiwanese manufacturer’s first single-board RISC-V chip computer. It was unveiled last month at the Embedded World and is mainly dedicated to platform entry and development tasks. It features a 1 GHz single-core AX45MP processor built by Renesas RZ/Five, 1 Gbyte of DDR4 memory, a microSD card slot for storage and optional support for a 16 GB eMMC module and SPI flash. It will be available soon from the manufacturer’s website.
The integrator specialized in mini-PCs, Hardkernel, has been producing SBC boards for quite a few years for multiple uses, professional, development or consumer. One of them is the C4 with an ARM Amlogic S905X3 CPU and 4 Gbytes of DDR4 memory. It has four 4 USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet LAN RJ45 port, microSD card reader and an HDMI 2.0 output. It is available on Amazon for 99 euros.
Another higher performance option is the ODROID N2+, with the 6-core Amlogic S922X SoC and Mali-G52 GPU, with 4 GB of DDR4 memory and an eMMC module for storage up to 128 GB. With a connectivity also more extensive, you will have to pay more for it, 203 euros currently on Amazon.
Banana Pi M2 Zero
Another of the alternatives to Raspberry Pi, although in this case to its cheaper and low power versions, Pi Zero. They have the same form factor and unless you look closely, it is hard to tell the difference. However, this Banana with 512 MB of memory is equipped with a quad-core CPU with a clock speed of 1.2 GHz and a Mali-400 MP2 GPU, which puts it ahead of the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W and far outperforms the Zero.
Another advantage is that it has hardware power and reset keys on the board itself, so it avoids wearing out its micro USB port when you want to cut power. On the software side, there is currently Ubuntu support for the board, as well as an unofficial version of Armbian. It is available from Amazon for 37 €..