Hailing from the United Kingdom, the first generation of Raspberry Pi was released in 2012 with the intention of teaching students about computers. Due to its size, cost, and modularity, it has been utilized for other purposes, such as in IoT (Internet of Things), robotics, electronics projects, and is now being promoted for industrial use as well.
The unbelievably tiny computer has spanned four generations so far. There are normally two versions for each generation, models A and B, but revisions and enhancements come along the way, upgrading the models to A+ or B+. Although inedible, these Raspberries have delightful features. Two of the most in-demand models are from the third and fourth generations of the Raspberry Pi. Expectedly, Raspberry 4 is a better model, but it costs more than its predecessors. Is it a worthy upgrade from Raspberry Pi 3? Read on as we dig deeper into the gratifying features of its two recent versions.
Raspberry Pi 3 vs. Raspberry Pi 4
Both Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi 4 offers complete functionalities of a basic computer on a single board. They are equipped with ARM processors, RAM, Ethernet port, display port, USB ports, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, and a 40-pin GPIO header. While there are three variations of Raspberry Pi 3 (B, A+, B+), Raspberry Pi 4 only has one, Raspberry Pi 4 B, but it comes with four configurable memory amounts.
These two boards also differ in performance, connectivity, and display capabilities among many other things. For comparison purposes, we will be using Raspberry Pi 3 B+, the final revision of the Raspberry Pi 3 generation, and the closest predecessor of Raspberry Pi 4.
When it comes to performance, Raspberry 4 is a sure winner. Sporting a higher-end Broadcom quad-core processor running at 1.5GHz, newer memory technology with selections ranging from 1GB to 8GB, and a Broadcom Videocore VI GPU, it is a beast, at least in the Raspberry Pi family.
Although it lacks the RAM options of the fourth generation, Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is not far behind when it comes to performance. Embedded with a lower-end Broadcom quad-core processor with just a slightly lower clock speed of 1.4GHz, it can still deliver a pretty nifty performance when paired with 1GB of RAM and a Broadcom Videocore IV GPU.
Here are the key components driving the performance of the tiny boards:
|Raspberry Pi 4 B||Broadcom BCM2711, Quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC, 1.5GHz||1GB, 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB LPDDR4 SDRAM||Broadcom Videocore VI|
|Raspberry Pi 3 B+||Broadcom BCM2837B0, Quad-core Cortex-A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit SoC, 1.4GHz||1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM||Broadcom Videocore IV|
Display and Audio
Raspberry Pi 4 B carries two micro-HDMI connectors onboard, allowing dual display output. Media playback is also a notch higher than its predecessors, supporting up to 4K videos. But one downside to it is you likely need to find a micro-HDMI to HDMI adapter.
On the other hand, Raspberry Pi 3 B+ has an embedded HDMI port and can play videos at 1920×1080p. Although the resolution is lower than Raspberry Pi 4’s, video playback is still considerably satisfactory, plus you don’t need a special adapter to connect your HDMI display.
For audio connectivity, both models come with a 3.5 mm analog audio-video jack.
The two miniature computers have both wired and wireless capabilities. Bluetooth also comes as a standard.
Both models support Gigabit Ethernet, but Raspberry Pi 3 B+’s gigabit performance is hindered by the USB interface that connects the Ethernet port to the motherboard. This interface greatly reduced the maximum throughput to only 315Mbps. Because of this limitation, the interface was eliminated on Raspberry Pi 4 B. The gigabit Ethernet jack is instead directly connected to the motherboard, unobstructed by any interface for optimum gigabit performance.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
The wireless LAN for both Raspberries is up-to-date, supporting 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. When it comes to Bluetooth, Raspberry Pi 4 B has the latest Bluetooth 5.0 in place while its predecessor is using the earlier version, Bluetooth 4.2.
Ports and Storage
Aside from the ports already discussed, there are still other ports on the miniaturized computer boards. There are four USB ports in each of these Raspberry boards. While all four USB ports on the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ adopt the USB 2.0 standard, two of the ports on Raspberry Pi 4 B have been upgraded to USB 3.0; the other two remain as USB 2.0.
Raspberry Pi boards are more than just a computer. The inclusion of a 40-pin GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) port also makes it suitable for electronics experiments and projects, as it allows you to control your electronic circuit from the Pi itself. In addition, the GPIO port on Raspberry Pi 4 B can serve as the power port, but Raspberry Pi 3 B+ lacks this capability.
Raspberry Pi 4 B is mainly powered up via the USB Type-C port while Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is through a micro-USB port.
Another common thing for both models is the microSD slot reserved for the microSD card that is loaded with a Linux-based operating system. The diminutive SD card also serves as the computer’s hard drive.
Which Pi Should You Buy?
Based on all the features discussed, it can easily be seen that the Raspberry Pi 4 B is an upgraded version of Raspberry Pi 3 B+ in almost all aspects, but it has one disadvantage – heat issue. The faster processing speed will generate more heat and heat issue is inevitable down the road. If the board is used extensively, especially those with higher RAM, a separate cooling system may be required (which means additional cost). Apart from this, Raspberry Pi 4 B is a superb choice for an affordable yet powerful, versatile, and complete computer board.
Still, Raspberry Pi B 3+ is not to be brushed aside. Its components may be at the lower end, but its performance is still up to the mark. Except for dual display support, it’s still capable of all the things that its successor can do at a lower price. If you don’t need all the fancy upgrades of Raspberry Pi 4 B for your computer or projects, then Raspberry Pi 3 B+ would be a good alternative.