Raspberry Pi

Most Powerful Alternatives to Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi’s foundation in the SBC (Single Board Computer) industry is rock-solid. It remains undisputed, with a massive 30+ million boards released since its launch in 2012. Its small size, affordable price, and PC-level performance make it an ideal choice for programming beginners and DIY project makers. Because of the popularity of Raspberry Pi, many manufacturers have joined the bandwagon, and many other similar SBCs have emerged over the years. If you are looking for boards that are similar to Raspberry Pi but have different specs, such as better performance or lower cost, this article provides a list of the six best alternatives.

Banana Pi M5

The Banana Pi M5 is probably the closest rival to the Raspberry Pi 4 B. Armed with an Amlogic S905X3 quad-core Cortex-A55 CPU, a clock speed of 2 GHz, 4 GB LPDDR4 RAM, and a Mali-G31 GPU, the performance of the Banana Pi M5 is a notch above Raspberry Pi’s fourth-gen board. Another thing that the Banana Pi M5 features that RPi 4 B lacks is the onboard eMMC, with options ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB. In addition, the Banana Pi M5 supports up to 256 GB of microSD cards. The rest of the features are already somewhat similar to RPi 4 B. The price tag of the Banana Pi M5 is around $50, which is the same price as the RPi 4 B with 4GB of RAM. If you need a board with better performance than the RPi 4 B, this Banana Pi board is worth checking out.

Odroid N2+

This SBC from Hardkernel is another Raspberry Pi rival that has a leg up on the features of the Raspberry Pi 4 B. Running not just with one, but two CPU clusters, the Odroid N2+ sports a quad-core Cortex-A73 with 2.2 GHz clock speed and a dual-core Cortex-A53 at 2 GHz. The Odroid N2+ also comes equipped with the latest generation Mali-G52 GPU. To keep the chips cool and avoid thermal throttling, a heatsink sits atop the processors. The LPDDR4 RAM comes in two options, 2 GB and 4 GB. An eMMC socket and MicroSD slot are onboard for storage. Aside from the four USB 3.0 ports, the device also sports a Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port. This SBC is not as pocket-friendly as the Raspberry Pi, but it still fares well in price performance, at $73.

Rock Pi X Model B

The Rock Pi X Model B performs well with support for a wide range of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Android. This makes this tiny Rock big as most of its competitors are limited to Linux and Android operating systems only. The first X86 SBC from Radxa features a 64-bit Intel Cherry Trail quad-core processor Z8350 at 1.44 GHz and Gen8 HD Graphics running at 500 GHz, with an optional 1 GB/2 GB/4 GB LPDDR3 RAM. For storage, the Model B has options for eMMC modules from 16 GB to 128 GB, and a microSD slot that supports up to 128 GB of microSD. Furthermore, the board has wireless support, though the Bluetooth is slightly behind at version 4.2. If you are building projects that do not require wireless capabilities, you can settle for the Model A. But if you want a complete SBC that is on par with Raspberry Pi, you can never go wrong with the Rock Pi X Model B.

NanoPi M4B

The NanoPi M4B has the same form factor as the RPi 3 B+, but it is packed with features that are similar to the RPi 4 B. Like the Odroid N2+, it has two CPUs onboard optimizing the big. Little architecture of ARM Holdings. The dual-core cluster is a Cortex-A72 at 2.0 GHz clock speed, and the quad-core cluster is a Cortex-A53 at 1.5 GHz. It also features a Mali-T864 GPU and 2 GB of DDR3 RAM. This NanoPi variation supports a number of Linux and Android operating systems, such as Ubuntu Desktop 18.04 (64-bit), Lubuntu 16.04 (32-bit), Ubuntu Core 18.04 (64-bit), Android 7.1, and Lubuntu Desktop. The device can be booted from either an external eMMC module or microSD card. It also comes with a mix of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, and a USB-C for power. The features of the NanoPi M4B are more or less the same as the Raspberry Pi’s fourth-gen board, which makes the NanoPi model a good alternative for the RPi 4 B.

Le Potato

The first SBC from Libre Computers runs on a quad-core Cortex-A53 processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, with penta-core ARM Mali-450MP GPU and a RAM configuration of either 1 GB or 2 GB. The four USB ports support USB 2.0, and the device features an HDMI port capable of 4K output. There are also slots for microSD and eMMC modules. Like the Raspberry Pi boards, Le Potato also features a 40-pin GPIO header. The performance is comparable to the hardware punch of the RPi 3, but the device lacks wireless features. Another weak point of this board is the use of the older Fast Ethernet standard for LAN connectivity. Despite its shortcomings, Le Potato is still a worthy alternative to the Raspberry Pi boards, considering its performance and price. The 2 GB board has a price tag of $35, but if you do not need that much RAM, you can go for the cheaper 1 GB option, which is only $25.

Asus Tinker Board S

Even major PC manufacturers like ASUS have joined in the SBC competition. The ASUS Tinker Board S is the second iteration of their SBC series, and this model could easily be a replacement for a Raspberry board. The Tinker Board S has the same size, layout, and features of the RPi 3 B+, but with a faster quad-core Rockchip RK3288 processor clocked at 1.8 GHz and a more powerful Mali T760 GPU. It has a fixed RAM of 2 GB and built-in 16 GB of eMMC storage, plus a microSD slot for additional storage. It can play 4K videos at 30fps and includes a smart audio jack that auto-switches to 3.5 mm from other interfaces. In some respects, the Tinker Board S has overpowered the RPi 3 B+, but the increase in power comes with an increase in price. This Asus SBC has a retail price of $89, which is a bit pricey compared to other SBCs with the same set of features.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Raspberry Pi is currently not the best-performing SBC, but it still stands as the uncontested winner when it comes to the number of boards sold. The race is still on, and the few models presented here are just some of the best alternatives to the Raspberry Pi boards.

About the author

Glynis Navarrete

Glynis Navarrete

A freelance blogger who loves to write about anything related to technology. Born and raised in the Philippines and worked in Singapore for eight years as Technical Support for a wide range of IT equipment. Took a dive into the world of freelancing and now enjoying doing what I’m passionate about while not losing touch with technology.