When it comes to single board computers, the Raspberry Pi is probably the most popular and well known choice in the field. But it is far from the only contender. Depending on your needs for a small sized computer, there are multiple alternatives that you can consider, some of which may fit your purpose even better than the Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi remains a popular choice for good reason. It is small, powerful, and has more than a decade of proven reliability. Newer models are always introducing newer and more powerful features that push the envelope of what we thought was possible from such a small device. While the Raspberry Pi has put these small sized computers on the radar of many consumers, it is also responsible for spawning some alternative devices.
In this tutorial, we will go over some of our top picks for Raspberry Pi alternatives. If you are looking for a single board computer to run Linux, these candidates are good choices to consider before going straight to buying a Raspberry Pi. We will discuss the pros and cons of various alternative devices below. Depending on your needs, you may find the perfect fit with one of the alternatives below. If not, you can’t go wrong with a Raspberry Pi.
In this tutorial you will learn:
- Various alternatives to the Raspberry Pi, and their best features
|Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
|Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the
# – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user
ASUS Tinker Board 2S
Best alternative for hands on users and GPIO projects
The ASUS Tinker Board is great for, well, tinkering. It is a powerful device that comes with a color coded GPIO header, which makes it very easy to understand where things are supposed to plug in. It also has different GPIO APIs available for download that support a variety of programming langauges like Python and C. If you plan to use extra peripherals with your single board computer, this is a good choice. While great for hobbyists and IoT enthusiasts, it comes in at a higher price point than the Raspberry Pi, which is its only glaring drawback.
Current price point: $129.99
- CPU: Rockchip 6-Core RK3399 processor
- Memory: 4GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Graphics: Integrated Graphics Processor, ARM® Mali™-T764 GPU
- Storage: 16GB eMMC Storage
- Wireless Data Network: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V5.0 + EDR
- Internal I/O ports: 40-pin header with 28 GPIO pins, and more
- Form factor: 3.35 x 2.2 x 0.39 inches
- Weight: 12.6 ounces
Arduino Rock 4 Model SE
Best alternative for processing input and producing output
The Arduino is a more specialized single board computer than the Raspberry Pi. While the Raspberry Pi is more versatile in its range of useful applications, the Arduino does a few things but does them very well. Arduino is ideal for projects where we need to translate inputs into specific outputs. For example, reading an input in order to turn on a light or activate a switch.
Current price point: $69.60
- Processor: RK3399T, Arm® big.LITTLE™ technology (Dual Cortex®A72 frequency 1.5Ghz, quad CortexA53, frequency 1.0Ghz)
- GPU: Arm Mali™ T860MP4 GPU, supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1/3.2, Vulkan 1.0, Open CL 1.1 1.2, DX11
- RAM: Dual channel 4GB 64bit LPDDR4
- Dual display via HDMI and MIPI DSI supporting mirror or extend modes H.265/VP9 (HEVC) hardware decode (up to 4Kp60)
- H.264 hardware decode (up to 1080p60)
- WiFi 5/BT 5.0, BLE, Gigabit Ethernet
- USB TypeC™ PD/QC power input
- Micro SD, eMMC/M.2 (M key) connectors
Libre Computer Board Le Potato AML-S905X-CC
Best alternative for affordable quality and intro to single board computers
The Libre Computer Board can serve as the perfect introduction to those looking to wet their feet in the pool of single board computers. Although it is less powerful than the Raspberry Pi, it comes in at a super affordable price point. If you are not quite sure that single board computers are the right fit for you, and you do not want to invest much money in finding out, then the Libre Computer Board will be a great choice.
Current price point: $35.00
- Quad-Core 64-bit ARMv8 Cortex-A53 CPU with NEON and Crypto Extensions
- Penta-Core ARM Mali-450 MP3 GPU with OpenGL ES 2.0 @ 750MHz
- 2GB of DDR3-2133 SDRAM on 32-bit Bus for up to 69Gb/s Unified Memory Bandwidth
- Multi-Plane Multi-Format 2.5D Programmable Pipeline Display Engine with HDMI 2.0 Output
- 4K Ultra-HD High Dynamic Range Video Decode Engine with Hardware Accelerated Decoder for VP9, H.265, H.264
- Form Factor and GPIO Compatibility with Raspberry Pi 3 for Maximum Re-usability
Orange Pi 5
Best alternative for better performance than the Raspberry Pi at a similar price point
The Orange Pi is a more powerful system on chip, meaning that the performance will be better than what you get on the Raspberry Pi. At the same time, it is a little more expensive. Is the extra processing power worth it for you? It depends on your projects and personal preferences.
Current price point: $137.99
- 8 core 64-bit Rockchip RK3588S processor
- Choice of 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM
- HDMI 2.1
- Gigabit LAN port
- USB 2 and USB 3 ports
- USB type C power supply
- TF card slot
- 26 pin headers
Best alternative for a powerful and performant single board computer
The ODROID N2+ is a powerful alternative to the Raspberry Pi 4. Its biggest drawback is that it lacks some of the support for various software and there are not as many tutorials or other documentation online to follow. This makes it a little more complex to use, but that should not be a problem for tech enthusiasts that are anxious to roll up their sleeves and dig in.
Current price point: $83.00
- CPU: Amlogic S922X Processor. Dual-core Cortex-A53 (up to 2Ghz)
- Memory: DDR4 4GiB or 2GiB with 32-bit bus width
- Storage: up to 256GB eMMC connector and micro SD slot
- Network: 1 GB LAN port and Wi-Fi
- Form factor: 90mm x 90mm x 17mm
- Weight: 200g including heatsink
In this tutorial, we learned about some of the best alternatives to the Raspberry Pi that can suit a variety of different needs. Although the Raspberry Pi is, generally, a great choice for a single board computer at a fair price, many users also swear by the alternatives listed here that can offer better performance or cheaper price, etc. At the same time, most of these come with at least one drawback, too. There are even more alternatives than what was listed here, so be sure to do your research before investing in your next single board computer.