Raspberry has made computing fun and experimental, a stepping stone for future inventions.
There is no doubt that the Raspberry Pi is an amazing single-board computer (SBC) in the world of technology, as it allows tech geeks to enter a new horizon of technological experiments.
From General purpose input/output to connectivity with IoT devices and operating systems, there is a lot to do with this device. Raspberry Pi shows you the huge space for creative and technological advancements that you can fill with new experiments.
As technology progresses and new innovations emerge, it’s natural for enthusiasts to seek alternatives to the Raspberry Pi that offer even more power, flexibility, and features.
While the Raspberry Pi continues to evolve with new models and upgrades, there are now several compelling alternatives in the market that can rival or even surpass its capabilities.
What is Raspberry Pi?
Originally developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, this credit-card-sized computer has gained immense popularity among technology enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals alike.
Designed to be affordable, versatile, and easy to use, the Raspberry Pi has opened up a world of possibilities for various applications.
It is known for its extensive range of uses, making it a go-to choice for projects such as home automation, robotics, media centers, gaming consoles, and even small-scale servers. Its compact form factor, low power consumption, and ability to run Linux-based operating systems have made it a favorite among DIY enthusiasts and makers.
The answer lies in the diversity of projects and the unique requirements of individuals. While the Raspberry Pi excels in many areas, it may fall short in terms of specific performance needs, connectivity options, or specialized applications. Some enthusiasts may require more processing power, additional ports, advanced graphics capabilities, or dedicated AI acceleration.
Here we will explore some of the best Raspberry Pi alternatives for you to consider. Each alternative brings its own set of advantages and caters to different needs, ensuring that there is a suitable option for every enthusiast’s requirements and preferences.
Libre Computer Board (AML-S905X-CC)
Libre Computer Project’s AML-S905X-CC (Le Potato) is a computer board that competes as an alternative to Raspberry Pi. The wide range of operating systems’ image compatibility is one of the top features that it has.
The list includes everything from Latest Linux 6.x to Ubuntu 22.10. Others included are Debian 11, Raspbian 11, CoreELEC (Kodi), LibreELEC (Kodi), Android 9.0 Pie, Armbian, Lakka, and Batocera. It has exciting features from the 4K Ultra-HD Video Decode Engine and hardware acceleration that enables 3D graphics.
It is the best replacement for the Pi 3 Model B, and the best part is you don’t have to change the power supplies or cases because it will work with the existing ones. A minimum of a 5V 1.5A MicroUSB power supply is recommended for sufficient power to this board.
The LED system indicates a huge amount of information about the power supply and other aspects of this board. The GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) of this board enables it to be used with an Arduino Hat.
Unlike Raspberry Pi 3, this board comes with ethernet connectivity only and no wifi on the board. Also, it doesn’t support anything from the ARM architecture family. Raspberry Pi bootloaders can be loaded only with images provided by the manufacturer. Some users have found that there are no updates on the fixes, bugs, and improvements made after this board was launched five years back. However, as per the manufacturer, the board was launched with thorough testing, so there was no need to update anything in the last five years.
Waveshare Compute Module 4
Waveshare’s Computer Module 4 is presented to the world as the best alternative to Raspberry Pi 4B. It supports all the inputs/outputs the same as the Pi 4B does. All 4B Series HATs (Hardware Attached on Top) are supported by CM4.
Onboard PoE (Power over Ethernet) header allows the connection for connecting PoE HATs. This eMMC series board comes with a Quad Core Cortex A72 64-bit processor.
Although there are so many amazing features, this board has some limitations too. The fan in this product does not come with adjustment options, and it supports only 5V rather than 12V. The recommended minimum power for the board is 5V 2A; lower than this may shut down the board or show lower frequency.
If you have used Raspberry Pi 4 and are now looking for alternatives, then there are some factors that you need to take care of. The manufacturer suggests not to connect any peripheral or device while the board is turning on; the Micro USB port is for power only. USB 2.0 is closed, and to use it, you need the overlay function.
One of the amazing and high-power mini board computers is Firefly ROC-RK3588S-PC which comes with the flexibility of having up to 128 GB of memory. The CPU model is ARM610 which is also competitive to beat Raspberry Pi alternatives.
This board computer takes your IoT applications to the next level through AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things). High-frequency CPU equipped with an 8-core processor. Bluetooth and wifi support give it an edge over other tools. Being a step beyond other processors, it comes with 8K video encoder compatibility.
This board becomes the alternative to Raspberry Pi as it can be used in various applications from basic computing to cloud servers and smart NVR (Network Video Recorder), smart video walls, multi-lens cameras, smart car projects, etc. Users of Firefly ROC recommend it for research and production-based experiments and projects.
Being a capable and widely used board computer, this product has a huge library on the internet for learning resources. Finding tutorials for this product is a lot easier than any other, as it provides SDKs, technical documentation, tutorials, and standalone developer tools.
Tech support from the manufacturer is also available for the users. In addition to the product, in the package, you will get one fan, a power supply, type-C, and an antenna. Several applications can be done with this single-board computer, including gaming, media player, automation, smart appliances, etc.
It supports a variety of frameworks, including Caffe, MXNet, TensorFlow, PyTorch, etc. When it comes to media playing, then this board provides you with all the required input/output options like a headphone jack, Line input, Mic input, HDMI ports, and USB, along with other onboard connectivity options such as Bluetooth and wifi.
Orange Pi 4 (Rockchip)
Rockchip RK3399 by Orange Pi supports multiple operating systems and comes with multiple ports for GPIO. It has open-source support for Android, Ubuntu, and Debian OS. It has amazing specifications such as LPDDR4 memory, 1.8 GHz clock speed, storage memory of up to 16 GB, integrated graphics card, onboard Bluetooth, and wifi support.
As per its specifications, this mini board computer is mostly recommended for advanced networking applications. As it leads the network with its onboard capabilities and functionalities.
From wireless connectivity to USB slots, it has everything for you to connect it with other devices and implement super fast IoT (Internet Of Things) projects based on networks.
Media-supporting features like binocular vision ranging, dual cameras, TF card storage, and expandable storage options such as SD and SATA are all amazing. The media bandwidth that it has allows it to be used successfully for media-based development projects.
It supports low-level peripherals and can be used for high-definition video and audio output as it supports the 4K output. LED indicators and robust power management systems allow it to tell you more about its operational status so that you can tweak it and avail a longer life period for it.
Due to its wide range of connectivity functionality, it is suitable for development projects based on contactless and smart technology. You can build up smart appliances that can be connected to your phone or computer via different network channels.
Less information over the internet community and not that responsive customer tech support may lead to some issues. But there are no issues with the functionalities of this board computer. Improper documentation and insufficient powerhouse are also some concerns that existing users have shared online.
Khadas VIM4 Amlogic
VIM4 Amlogic A311D2 by Khadas is a 64-bit mini-board computer that supports different operating systems as well as a wide range of network options. It supports wifi, LAN, Micro USB, and Bluetooth for connectivity.
Other GPIO options available are Micro US and HDMI input/output. Also, VIM4 provides four types of video output options such as HDMI, V-by-One, MIPI-DSI, and eDP.
Heating is not an issue with this board, as it comes with a heatsink and fan on the board. Its active cooling kit is super and provides enough ventilation and cooling options for the board. You can simply turn it into a media-playing device, a 5G network module, touch screen development kits, etc.
This board from Khadas comes with a 4G LTE Module but doesn’t support 5G LTE. Hopefully, a new update for the 5G LTE support is still awaited. Another drawback of this board is that it does not support some of the best DIY cases. Also, it doesn’t support IR remotes, as there are no receivers on this board. Exclusive OS OOWOW by Khadas is available for this board.
Orange Pi 5 Rockchip RK3588S
Another Orange Pi 5 board computer has amazing features that empower technology enthusiasts to dive more into IoT and computing. Rockchip RK3588S is available in up to 8 GB of memory range, DDR4 type of RAM, compatible with Android and personal computers, PCI Express onboard graphics, and wireless connectivity (Bluetooth). Other OS, such as Ambian, Droid, Ubuntu, Linux, Debian, etc., are supported by this board.
It has Micro USB slots, two memory slots, a Type-C power supply, HDMI & LAN port, and USB 2.0 & 3.0. Also, it comes with an expandable port that lets you expand its functionality further. Its on-board AI-based accelerator NPU has TOPS (Trillion Operations Per Second) that enables faster processing.
Apart from the general specifications, this single-board computer can be used in a variety of projects related to media, gaming, and networking. For wifi support, you need to order an extra module for PCI wifi.
Some users have issues getting enough tech support from the manufacturer of this board. However, with its memory capacity, this board is one of the best alternatives for Raspberry Pi and can be utilized in various ways for IoT-related projects.
Khadas VIM4 Amlogic A311D2
VIM4 Amlogic A311D2 by Khadas comes with an active cooling kit to make sure there is a high-end cooling methodology used to manage the heat of the board. If you are not satisfied with the passive cooling systems, such as heatsinks on your board, and they seem insufficient, then switching to one that has an active cooling kit is always the best option.
When it comes to GPIO, then this single-board computer has a lot of options, such as HDMI, microphones input/output, smart display, video conferencing applications, and video encoders (H.264 and H.265) with 4K 50 FPS capability.
Multiple displays can be connected with this board more than one at a time. Standalone 64-bit memory for the core and intensive software. Connectivity to the internet is also available with the embedded OOWOW service as it is a wifi 6-enabled board computer.
Online support and delivery of operating systems make it an optimum choice for technology geeks. Apart from proper documentation for the user’s help, in this package there, you will get enough accessories such as VIM Heatsink, two Antennas, and a Cooling Fan.
Stacking multiple units on Khadas VIM4 Amlogic A311D2 is no longer a problem as it comes with an active cooling kit. Some challenges that you might face with this board are related to PoE’s limitation to supply only power and no ethernet data transfer while using the M2X extension.
Tinker Board Rockchip RK3399
Tinker Board Rockchip RK3399 by WayPonDEV is a single-board computer that comes with sufficient GPIO connectivity, wireless connectivity options, and dual-display features. This board is more suitable for data handling related IoT projects. It comes with an ASUS IoT cloud console for data analysis.
Advanced computing is possible with this board computer as it comes with exciting onboard features. Apart from its powerful 6-core system on a chip (SoC), it has Android Neural Networks APIs, performance tweaking tools, and Adiantum encryption.
All these high-end systems allow better efficiency, along with 3D and cloud computing enhancement. Finding a proper DIY case for this board computer might be challenging for the users. Its Armv8 architecture makes it an optimum solution for IoT (Internet of Things) related projects.
Another good thing about this board is that it can be installed in three simple steps. The firmware update is not an issue in this board as the manufacturer provides Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) services so that the firmware for this board can be easily updated over wireless connectivity.
Frameworks like OpenCL and graphics accelerators enable it for 2D/3D graphical usage. The wireless connection of this board has a faster transit speed than the normal board computers. Transmission speeds are enhanced as well as secure over the connections with TLS 1.3 transmission process and AES encryption.
Geniatech Rockchip RK3128
Rockchip RK3128 by Geniatech is an XPI-3128 Single Board Computer embedded with modules that enhance its functionality. The size of this board size computer is impressive. This one is just a credit card-sized board computer. So it is very easy to fit into several places for the board computer projects developments.
GPIO interface is pretty much similar to all the other board computers available as Raspberry Pi alternatives. Micro USB, UART, wifi, LAN, Micro SD card support, and USB hosts are some of the basic features of this board.
The Processor is a quad-core Cortex-A7 that has a 1.2GHz frequency. If you are planning to migrate from Raspberry Pi 3, then Geniatech Rockchip is very convenient and comes with a smooth migration system.
Alternate pin functions are also feasible on this board as it comes with a 40-pin header that enables the hardware re-use. Multiple operating systems can be installed on this board, but some users have encountered issues related to OS installation. But this problem can be resolved after you install the manufacturer-provided SDK (Software Development Kit).
Direct loading of the OS from the SD card is sometimes an issue. Documentation for user help and online information is not sufficiently provided by the manufacturer, which can be an issue.
Alternatives to the renowned Raspberry Pi have their unique features and capabilities, catering to diverse needs and preferences. Whether you seek enhanced performance, specialized applications, or cost-effectiveness, these alternatives provide exciting possibilities for DIY enthusiasts, makers, and technology enthusiasts alike.
While Raspberry Pi continues to hold its position as a popular choice, the alternatives highlighted are compelling options to consider. The best choice among these Raspberry Pi alternatives depends on your specific requirements, project objectives, and personal preferences.
Next, check out the Raspberry Pi kit to unleash your creativity in upcoming projects.