Best alternatives to the Raspberry Pi mini-PC

- May 21, 2019-

The best single board computer for manufacturers and amateurs

The Raspberry Pi has been a huge success since its first release. The simplistic single-board microcomputer ignited the booming manufacturer, amateur and tinker community and became an important part of many companies' IoT deployments.


However, as impressive as the Raspberry Pi series, there are more devices besides the Raspberry Pi 3 and Zero that provide users with a small machine to test the code, create projects and even just use it as a mini desktop PC. Below we list some of the most attractive Pi-type devices.


Most of them are slightly different from Pi; some are more expensive, more powerful, some are more programmable, have more GPIO pins, some are smaller and more portable. However, all of this is good. You are using a device that can provide slightly different features for the Raspberry Pi.


UP2 Squared

UP2 Squared

Compared to the Raspberry Pi, UP2 Squared mimics the boundaries between hobby boards and ordinary micro PCs. It comes in a variety of sizes, up to the Intel Pentium N4200 quad-core 2.5GHz processor and 8GB of RAM - which is very close to your application on budget laptops.


This makes it much more expensive than the other items on this list - specifically $339 before the tax (£257) - but one of its main advantages in the competition is because it uses Intel processors, it is Technically capable of running full fat Windows 10.


Huawei HiKey 960

Huawei HiKey 960

Huawei's HiKey 960 motherboard microcomputer is the most popular version of open source and can run on Android or Linux. On the hardware side, it is packaged in the same chip as Huawei Mate 9, which is one of Huawei's best performance smartphones.


The onboard has only 3GB of memory, although Kirin's GPU adds some features, it is said to be able to power 4K screens. Other hardware features include 40-pin and 60-pin connectors for connecting hardware such as cameras. All of these features add to the price - specifically $239 (£172) - a more expensive option than the Raspberry Pi board.


ODROID-XU4

ODROID-XU4

In many ways, the Odroid-XU4 is a larger and more impressive version of the Raspberry Pi thanks to its powerful Samsung-made Octa core CPU and 2GB of memory allocation. This makes the Pi hardware a bit shaded, so if you are looking for a small desktop computer, this should be fine.


Most importantly, it also has a Gigabit Ethernet connection - although there is no built-in wireless capability. The board provides open source support and can run many different versions of Linux, including the latest Ubuntu 16.04 and Android 4.4 KitKat, 5.0 Lollipop and 7.1 Nougat.


Arduino Uno

Arduino Uno

Arduino is responsible for a variety of boards of various specifications and use cases, but the most popular and versatile is the Arduino Uno, which is now ironically the third revision. It is not a standalone computer like the Raspberry Pi - for example, no external video output and a USB Type B port.


However, it failed in self-sufficiency and it made up for it in terms of versatility. Uno is an excellent fan motherboard with a large number of programmable pins making it ideal for inclusion in IoT and robotics projects.


BeagleBone Black

BeagleBone Black

Coming from a long line of single-board computers designed for more advanced hobby computing fans, the BeagleBone Black is the company's more entry-level offering, priced at just under $50.

It's very similar in terms of specs to the Raspberry Pi, with a 1GHz ARM CPU, 512MB of memory and various input ports. It's also got both analog and digital I/O pins, meaning it can support additional add-on boards.


Asus Tinker Board

Asus Tinker Board

In the most true sense of the Raspberry Pi clone, the Asus Tinker Board looks almost identical to the Pi until its various ports. However, this is not a criticism, and the tinker committee has many suggestions.


It is much faster than the Raspberry Pi 3 and supports resolutions up to 4K from the start. It is admitted to be nearly £20 more expensive than the Raspberry Pi 3, but it is one of the faster single-board computers on the market today.


Imagination Creator Ci20

Imagination Creator Ci20

Built by British company Imagination Technologies, the Creator Ci20 is a single-board computer that's as suited to IoT applications as it is to use as a desktop machine. The 8GB of onboard flash storage comes preloaded with Debian Linux, although it supports Android as well.

Featuring built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the Ci20 is flexible and versatile, featuring a powerful 1.2GHz processor - but it's the Android support that makes this a really tempting proposition.


BBC micro:bit

BBC micro:bit

When it was first released in 1981, BBC Micro was considered by many to be the first home programming revolution. Now, the ancient machine gained its second life in the form of BBC micro:bit.


The £13 computer has Micro's original mission to get kids into the computer, with 25 individually programmable LEDs, two physical buttons and even an accelerometer. It's not as powerful or versatile as the Raspberry Pi, but as a low-cost educational device, micro:bit is a valuable successor to the family computing grandfather.


C.H.I.P.

C.H.I.P.

If you thought the Raspberry Pi was cheap, prepare to meet a computer even more affordable. Available for just $9, C.H.I.P has a lot in common with the itsy-bitsy Raspberry Pi Zero, including its minuscule size.


C.H.I.P. comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4GB of inbuilt storage, as well as a 1GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM. The company has also released a portable 'pocket' version, featuring a screen and keyboard controlled with a removable C.H.I.P.



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