Here are few best Alternatives for Raspberry Pi those can be considered as good competitors in single board computers category.
The era of Project Development Boards and Single Board Computers (SBC) is here. If maybe a college student or a High-school student, if you are looking for some cool science project ideas related to Electronics, Electrical or Cybernetics or IT Automation or even IOT (Internet of things), then you must consider Raspberry Pi as an SBC or as a Development board in your project Engineering.
Raspberry Pi came into existence in Feb 2012, but SBCs became more common in the market after 2014 around the world. Though there were a couple of single board computers present in the market when Raspberry Pi came into existence, none of them clicked that much. After the success of Raspberry Pi many Electronics enthusiasts, Entrepreneurs and even the students identified its potential and where the race began.
To stay successful at the competitive market Raspberry also updated them, they launched multiple version even their own Linux based OS. When the people started being curious about SBCs and modern Project Development Board or platforms where the hunt for cheaper and better option started. Now apart from Raspberry Pi there many more alternative products available on the market. You can choose any of them but you should understand the capability of the product and your need for the product to choose the right one.
In this article, we will be talking about a couple of popular, affordable and dependable Project Development Board and SBCs along with their range of use, hardware specification and price.
Best Alternatives for Raspberry Pi
Orange Pi Prime
Orange Pi came into the market at Jan 2015 and in a very short time, it became one of the toughest competitors and one of the best alternatives to Raspberry Pi. Though the price tag is little higher than Raspberry pi, the hardware specification they provide in this price range dissolves any negative mark upcoming. But if you buy Orange Pi Prime from Aliexpress.com the product may come cheaper.
- In Orange Pi Prime you will have Allwinner H5 Quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU (64 bit), 2GB DDR3 RAM, Mali 450 GPU, 10/100/1000Mbps, Bluetooth, IR Receiver, TF Card Support (64GB), HDMI/RCA Output, RJ45 Support, 3.5mm o/p jack, USB OTG, DCIN Though you can not power the device using micro USB OTG.
- It also comes with a 40 pin Low-speed header for project development attachments and connections (input pins and output pins).
- This device supports Android, Ubuntu, Debian OS for any kind of project. There are also some cheaper versions of the Orange Pi available with lower hardware specs, you can check out.
- Now the question arises what you can do with it? As you can see it is a powerful SBC, so the possibilities are endless. You can build a basic computer for your regular PC jobs like word processing, photo editing, web browsing, email, video call etc. Building a basic computer with any SBC is pretty simple as you only have to connect the peripherals into right ports and you will have a ready to pc, and also this kind of pcs can be made with a very little amount of money, so it is really affordable for many people. You can build a Wireless server, NAS device, Gaming console, Entertainment console (Music and Video player), DIY Tablet PC, Smart Speaker, Android devices, DIY Mobile phone, Robotics equipment, Smart rover etc.
Banana Pi (BPI-M2 Ultra)
From a company called Roboshop Banana Pi came to market in April 2016. Banana Pi mainly sold by Roboshop itself by some partners of them like AliExpress, Alibaba, etc., though you can try to find the product on Amazon. Banana Pi is also a dependable full-fledged SBC, which even comes with the SATA connectivity interface. It can be used as a Raspberry Pi alternative but with a higher price but also with more powerful hardware specs than Raspberry Pi 3b+.
- Banana Pi M2 comes with the Allwinner A40i Quad Core ARM Cortex A7 CPU, 2GB DDR3 SDRAM, 8GB eMMC flash memory onboard, Wi-Fi (AP6212), Bluetooth onboard, SATA Interface, 2 USB 2.0 Ports, MIPI DSI interface, CSI camera interface, 1 USB OTG port, 1 HDMI port, 1 3.5mm audio jack, onboard microphone, dedicated MicroSD card slot and a DC power port. It even comes with an external battery interface (3.7V Lithium-ion).
- It also has a 40 pin Low-speed header for project development (input-output pins).
- It even comes with a Rest button, a Power button and a U-boot button.
- The camera connectivity supports up to 5-megapixel camera sensor, even supports video capture in 1080p@30FPS.
- While working with videos it supports Multi-format FHD video decoding, it supports Mpeg1/2, Mpeg4, H.263, H.264, etc. You can do H.264 decoding up to 1080P60, it also supports video encoding in High-definition\(HD\) H.264 at up to 1080P@45fps.
- It supports Linux based OS, even Raspbian OS and Android-based OS for operation.
- If thinking about the utility of this product then just like Raspberry Pi or Orange Pi it also can be used as a basic PC, DIY laptop, tablet or phone, and all other projects you can just think about. As this is a total computer in a single board with external pins to connect your project related inputs and outputs, it can give you the ease of programming in your favourite programming language without learning any new specific language. Also, along with running, you can also use this kind of SBC as a control panel or console to operate your product even wirelessly.
Libre Computer Project Board (Le Potato)
A wonderful product from Shenzhen Libre Technology Co. Ltd. Libre Computer is made for open source projects, and it also boasts on using Libre software products which are also free and open source pro-level apps. Though Libre Computer Project Board is much higher in cost when we compare it with Raspberry Pi, as it costs around double of Raspberry. But the hardware specs Libre provided along with their renowned customer service and huge user community support, this product worth every penny. Though we are calling it costly, it cost around just an entry-level motherboard of a normal PC, while it is a full-fledged pc on its own.
- In the specs you will have ARM Cortex-A53 1.5GHz CPU ( with Cryptography Extension support), 2GB DDR3 RAM, 2G+3P ARM Mali-450 750MHz GPU (with OpenGL and OpenVG support), Amlogic Video Engine 10, Decoder support of VP9 P2 4K60, H.265 MP10@L5.1 4K60, H.264 HP@L5.1 4K30, JPEG / MJPEG and Encoder support of H.264 1080p60, JPEG etc.
- It comes with 4 USB type a port, RJ45 Ethernet port, a 3.5mm AV jack, HDMI 2.0, Micro USB power inline, Micro SD slot (64GB), eMMC interface, IR receiver, U-Boot button etc.
- Along with the 40 Pin Low-Speed Header (PWM, I2C, SPI, GPIO), Audio Headers (I2S, ADC, SPDIF), UART Header it becomes the perfect project development board.
- It supports the Ubuntu, Debian, Armbian, Raspbian and NetBSD OS even Android for various operations.
- From the library of libre computer, you can also download a lot of apps, games and source code for various projects.
- You can code in your fav. Language for your product, as it is a full-fledged SBC it will compile your code just like any normal laptop or pc.
- It is actually a better option if you are making an SBC pc for formal and basic computer usages, and also it is a wonderful choice for any kind of project works just like the above options. Libre computer is far more reliable and dependable because of their good will, as unlike another SBC producing company, they are quite old in the IT business.
Odroid-XU4 / Odroid-C2 / Odroid-H2
First Odroid project development board came into the market at 2009, but as I said earlier that time, they were not able to crack the market. Years after years they kept developing their product and now, they have products like Odroid-XU4, Odroid-C2, Odroid-H2 etc. Since 2015 Odroid came into the business with new face which brought them huge success. These products are quite good as SBC Pc usage and also project development board.
- Odroid-XU4 consists of hardware like ARM Cortex-A15 2.0 GHz quad-core and Cortex-A7 quad-core CPUs, mali-T628 (OpenGL and OpenCL supported) GPU, 2GB LPDDR3 RAM at 933 MHz, MicroSD card slot, eMMC flash storage, 1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, HDMI connector, Ethernet connectivity.
- You will have expansion ports of SPI bus, PWM, 40 pin GPIO etc.
- It supports Ubuntu, Kali Linux, Android, Debian OS.
- On Odroid-C2 you will find Amlogic S905, Cortex-A53 quad-core 1.5 GHz CPU, Mali 450 triple-core GPU, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 4 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI 2.0, IR receiver, 40 pin GPIO and all other like the previous version.
- The OS support is much faster in Odroid-C2 as it supports Ubuntu, Kali, Arch, Kodi, Debian, Android etc.
- On Odroid-H2 you will have Intel Celeron j4105 2.3 GHz quad-core CPU which is insane and unique in this type of products. You will also have Intel UHD 600 GPU (700 MHz), 2 SATA ports, 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0 (with 4K@60FPS support), Ethernet connectivity, and a full-fledged PC OS compatibility like Ubuntu 18.10.
- Odroid takes this discussion into a level where you just can not ask more from an SBC, though every day SBCs are getting more upgrades and becoming more powerful. Who knows maybe one-day SBCs will become the only means of general computing. But Odroid products are costlier than Raspberry Pi and quite more powerful too.
- It is up to your need as if you want to do a project development only there you may compromise with a more affordable SBC as Odroid products are a little costlier than most of the SBCs. But for SBC computing they provide strong performance and quality products, so whether it is a project development or a basic pc building Odroid SBC is something of class. Huge no of OS support is one of the most unique points about Odroid SBCs.
ASUS Tinker Board
This one comes from one of the most popular computer boards (Motherboard and GPU boards) of the world. So as per the quality, they are providing you best of class equipment. The price tag, again higher than Raspberry Pi, but provides much more hardware boost than Raspberry Pi. It is a very balanced choice for all-rounder SBC jobs like basic computing, learning about SBCs and making projects etc.
- It comes with Cortex-A17 Quad-core 1.8GHz CPU, 2GB LPDDR3 RAM, 4 USB 2.0, one 3.5mm jack, one 4K supported HDMI, MicroSD card slot, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit LAN and of course a 40-pin header for all project related input and outputs.
- Supports OS like Raspbian, Debian, Linux, Android etc.
- Pricewise very close to the price of Raspberry Pi which makes it a more considerable option.
- Uses are endless with an SBC like this once learn to code in any of the supported languages of the OS you use, and the science behind the 40-pin header usage techniques which is almost the same with all the SBCs, then only your imagination is your limit.
Arduino (UNO / Nano / Mega / Leonardo)
While talking about Project Development Boards, Arduino is the most obvious name which has to come up in everyone’s mind, but I held this one for this long as in this article we are talking about the Raspberry Pi alternatives, while Arduino being a semi-SBC is not a full-fledged computer, hence not a pure alternative of Raspberry Pi at all.
- We are discussing it in this list as Raspberry Pi is not only meant for a single board total pc use but also it has been made to be used as a project development board. Project development is the main idea in the first place because of which the SBCs are made.
- So, if you are looking for an SBC just to use it as a project development board, and you are at a tight budget and also you do not worry about learning a new programming language (Arduino IDE), which is very easy to learn then Arduino is the only choice for you.
- Arduinos are cheaper than Raspberry Pi, it is so cheap in price that you can have 10 Arduino in price of one Raspberry Pi 3B+. But, remember Arduino s are project development board and not for general or basic computing at all. If your project needs you to employ much more logic or power for a single project development board, you can simply use multiple Arduinos as these are way cheaper than any other SBC.
If you are interested in more alternative products like Arduino then we will discuss its other article for sure. Here are the basic specifications of Arduino boards,
- Arduino Uno features an ATmega328 16MHz CPU, 2KB SRAM, 32 KB inbuilt flash memory, 14-pin digital I/O and 6-pin analogue input.
- Arduino Due features an AT91SAM3X8E 84MHz CPU, 96KB SRAM, 512 KB inbuilt flash memory, 54-pin digital I/O and 12-pin analogue input 2-pin output.
- Arduino Mega features an ATmega2560 16MHz CPU, 8KB SRAM, 256 KB inbuilt flash memory, 54-pin digital I/O and 16-pin analogue input.
- Arduino Leonardo features an ATmega32u4 16MHz CPU, 2.5KB SRAM, 32 KB inbuilt flash memory, 20-pin digital I/O and 12-pin analogue input.
- Arduino Nano is identical to Arduino Uno except for the amount of power output capacity which is lower in case of Arduino Nano, hence Arduino Anno can be used to power up specific projects with very limited power needs.
Arduino can be programmed via any Win, Linux, Mac, Android or iOS device via only using the Arduino IDE application. New learners can look for the preloaded ready-made programming within the application and many more example programs on the Arduino website to learn and practice, so just plug in your Arduino and have some practice. You have to learn the specific language of Arduino to code in Arduino IDE. I am an Arduino user and enthusiast both, and according to my practising programming skills with real-life output with an Arduino and making cool projects with those codes is the best pass time anyone could have.
If you are looking for the best raspberry pi alternatives that run windows smoothly, this one and the costliest SBC on the market. If you are looking for very serious level robotics or automation project which requires the best SBC performance, there you can use it. Else if you want to have a powerful pc for all round usages just by using an SBC only, there you can go for this Product. It is 5-6 times costlier than a Raspberry Pi, so I do not like to call it a Project development board, while it is actually a computer via all means. LattePanda is also not much older product as it was launched in 2018 and it has latest hardware parts within it.
- It features Intel Cherry Trail Z8350 Quad Core 1.92GHz CPU, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 32 GB Built-in Storage capacity, Intel HD GPU (500 MHz), 1 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI (4K supported), MIPI-DSP video o/p, Ethernet Connectivity, Gravity sensor connector pins, Touch Panel connector pins, Build Co-processing unit for Arduino ATmega32u4 for project development and enhancement.
- LattePanda Alpha comes with pre-installed, not-activated Windows 10 Home edition.
- You can play games like Counter-Strike, Max Payne, Project IGI on it, so just get the depth of how powerful it is even after being an SBC.
I put this most powerful SBC of all at the last no just for the price factor, as in project development cost is always a big factor and also just for the sake of practice and learning LattePanda Alpha just do not worth it. Go for LattePanda Alpha while you are adamant to go for this one only as on this price range you may buy a new Laptop from Amazon.