Exploring the Best Raspberry Pi Alternatives for Tech Enthusiasts in 2023
By Eliot Steele
November 11, 2023
As single-board computers (SBCs) become integral in DIY and professional projects, finding the right one can be a challenge. This comprehensive guide presents the top Raspberry Pi alternatives of 2023, with a focus on their distinctive features and ideal use scenarios, complemented by user feedback and visuals.
1. Le Potato (Libre Computer Board AML-S905X-CC)
Pros: Great value for its price, offering a solid performance for most general projects.
Cons: Smaller community and less third-party support compared to the Raspberry Pi.
Best For: Budget-friendly projects and beginners in the SBC domain.
User Feedback: Users commend its affordability and reliability for basic tasks.
- ● SoC (System on Chip): Amlogic S905X with a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU running at 1.5GHz.
- ● GPU: ARM Mali-450 GPU supporting OpenGL and OpenVG, capable of handling 4K video output.
- ● RAM: Available in 1GB or 2GB DDR3 SDRAM configurations.
- ● Storage:
● MicroSD: Slot available, requires a minimum of 8GB microSD card.
● eMMC: Connector available for higher speed eMMC modules (sold separately).
- ● I/O Ports:
● 4 x USB 2.0 ports
● 100M Ethernet port
● 40 pin GPIO header
● HDMI output
● Analog AV output
- ● Other Features:
● Absence of DSI (Display Serial Interface) and CSI (Camera Serial Interface) connectors.
● Compatibility with Linux distributions such as Ubuntu 16.04 and Android OS.
- ● Power Consumption: Approximately 200mA at 5V in a headless configuration, equating to around 1W.
- ● Connectivity: Lacks onboard WiFi and Bluetooth; external adapters required for these functionalities.
This board aims to be a more powerful alternative to the Raspberry Pi with its rich set of features, but it should be noted that it may lack some of the peripheral support and community resources of the Raspberry Pi ecosystem.
2. Orange Pi 5
Pros: A robust eight-core processor makes it suitable for demanding tasks.
Cons: Its price point and complexity may not appeal to hobbyists.
Best For: Users who require a high-performance SBC for advanced computing needs.
User Feedback: Appreciated for its power but noted for a steep learning curve.
- ● Processor: Rockchip RK3588S octa-core 64-bit ARM processor
● CPU: Quad-core Cortex-A76 and quad-core Cortex-A55 with a main frequency up to 2.4GHz
● GPU: ARM Mali-G610 MP4
● AI Accelerator: Integrated Neural Processing Unit (details not fully quoted)
- ● RAM: Options for 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB LPDDR4/4X
- ● Storage: TF card slot for external storage media
- ● Video Support: 8K video codec support
- ● Connectivity:
● HDMI 2.1 output
● Gigabit LAN port
● USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports
● Type-C for power supply
● 26-pin header for additional peripherals
- ● Additional Features for Orange Pi 5 Plus:
● Two HDMI output ports and one HDMI input port
● Two PCIe extended 2.5G Ethernet ports
● M.2 M-Key slot supporting NVMe SSD installation
● M.2 E-Key slot supporting Wi-Fi6 and BT (Bluetooth) modules
● Additional USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and Type-C ports (details not fully quoted)
These specifications make the Orange Pi 5 a powerful alternative to other SBCs, with high-performance computing capabilities and a wide range of connectivity options
3. NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit
Pros: Specifically designed for AI and machine learning tasks with powerful GPU support.
Cons: Not as versatile for non-AI focused projects.
Best For: AI enthusiasts and professionals in robotics and machine learning.
User Feedback: High marks for AI project suitability but some concerns over the learning curve.
- ● GPU: 128-core Maxwell
- ● CPU: Quad-core ARM A57 at 1.43 GHz
- ● Memory: 4 GB 64-bit LPDDR4, with a bandwidth of 25.6 GB/s
- ● Storage: microSD card slot for storage (card not included)
- ● Video Encoding: 4K at 30fps, 4x 1080p at 30fps, 9x 720p at 30fps (H.264/H.265)
- ● Video Decoding: 4K at 60fps, 2x 4K at 30fps, 8x 1080p at 30fps, 18x 720p at 30fps (H.264/H.265)
- ● Camera Interface: 2x MIPI CSI-2 DPHY lanes
- ● Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, M.2 Key E for wireless modules
- ● Display Outputs: HDMI and display port
- ● USB Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0 Micro-B
- ● Other Interfaces: GPIO, I2C, I2S, SPI, UART
- ● Form Factor: 69 mm x 45 mm, with a 260-pin edge connector.
This kit is aimed at developers, makers, and learners and is part of NVIDIA's broader ecosystem, which supports AI development across a range of applications.
4. Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W
Pros: Its compact size is ideal for space-limited applications, while still delivering decent performance.
Cons: Not as powerful as its full-sized counterparts.
Best For: Small-scale projects and IoT devices.
User Feedback: Lauded for its ease of use in educational and beginner projects.
- ● System-on-Chip: RP3A0, custom-built with a quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 CPU
- ● CPU Speed: 1GHz
- ● RAM: 512MB SDRAM
- ● Wireless Connectivity:
● 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN
● Bluetooth 4.2, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), with an onboard antenna
- ● Ports:
● Mini HDMI port
● Micro USB On-The-Go (OTG) port
● Micro USB power port
- ● Storage: microSD card slot
- ● Camera Interface: CSI-2 camera connector
- ● Expansion: HAT-compatible 40-pin header footprint (unpopulated)
- ● Video Capabilities:
● H.264, MPEG-4 decode (1080p30)
● H.264 encode (1080p30)
● OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0 graphics
- ● Power: Micro USB power
- ● Additional Features: Composite video and reset pins via solder test points
- ● Dimensions: 65mm x 30mm.
5. Banana Pi BPI-M5
Pros: Offers significant onboard storage, which is a plus for many applications.
Cons: The user community is less active, which may affect troubleshooting and support.
Best For: Storage-demanding uses such as servers or media centers.
User Feedback: Users appreciate the onboard storage but desire more community support.
- ● Central Processing Unit (CPU): Employs a quad-core Cortex-A55 from Amlogic, the S905X3, operating at a 2.0GHz frequency for robust computing.
- ● Graphics Processing Unit (GPU): Features a Mali-G31 MP2 with four execution units, clocking in at 650MHz for crisp graphics performance.
- ● Random Access Memory (RAM): Boasts 4GB of LPDDR4 memory for efficient multitasking and smooth operation.
- ● Data Storage Options:
● Expandable microSD storage slot accommodating cards up to 256GB for flexible data management.
● An integrated 16GB eMMC flash module, expandable to 64GB for additional storage needs.
- ● Networking Capabilities:
● Wired Ethernet support with speeds up to 1Gbit/s for reliable connectivity.
● Offers compatibility with a WiFi dongle via USB for wireless network connections.
- ● Visual and Audio Outputs:
● Single HDMI 2.1 port supporting 4K resolution at 60Hz, complete with HDR and EDID features for a high-definition visual experience.
● Standard 3.5mm audio jack alongside HDMI for sound output.
- ● Peripheral Connectivity: Includes four USB 3.0 ports to connect a range of external devices.
- ● General-Purpose Input/Output (GPIO): Provides a 40-pin header that supports a variety of uses like UART, I2C, SPI, and PWM, accompanied by power pins.
- ● System Controls: Comes with dedicated switches for reset, power, and U-boot functions.
- ● Indicators: Features LEDs to indicate power status and operational activity.
- ● Power Requirements: Operates on a 5V @3A input via a micro USB (TYPE C) connection.
- ● Form Factor: Measures 85x56 mm and weighs a light 48 grams, making it a compact and portable option.
- ● Supported Operating Systems: Versatile in software compatibility, running both Android and Linux environments for a wide array of applications.
This SBC is suitable for applications requiring more computational power and storage, such as media centers, game consoles, and small servers.
This guide showcases the versatility and breadth of the current SBC market. Each board brings unique strengths to your projects, whether they are cost, performance, size, or storage-centric. By considering the detailed feedback and visual comparisons provided, you can select the most suitable SBC for your specific needs.