Pi Overdose? Here’s 5 Raspberry Pi Alternatives
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It’s time for a change. You need a new challenge. Scattered around your house (or just your hobby space) are several Raspberry Pi computers, all performing different tasks. You might have a home security system Build a Motion Capture Security System Using a Raspberry Pi Build a Motion Capture Security System Using a Raspberry Pi Of the many projects that you can build with the Raspberry Pi, one of the most interesting and permanently useful is the motion capture security system. Read More powered by your Pi, or a media centre The Hardware You Will Need To Build A Raspberry Pi Media Center The Hardware You Will Need To Build A Raspberry Pi Media Center With so many ways of using it, you shouldn't be surprised to find that the Raspberry Pi has sold over 1 million units. Although designed for one key purpose (programming) this small credit card-sized computer... Read More . Perhaps you converted an old non-wireless printer into a wireless printer Make Your Own Wireless Printer With A Raspberry Pi Make Your Own Wireless Printer With A Raspberry Pi Fewer cables, flexibility about where you can put your printer – wireless printing is a win-win. Unless you have an older printer. Raspberry Pi to the rescue! Read More using the Raspberry Pi, or you’re hosting a website Host Your Own Website On Your Raspberry Pi Host Your Own Website On Your Raspberry Pi Need to run a website but can't afford the hosting costs? One way around this is with the low-powered Raspberry Pi, which is more than capable of running basic web server software. Read More , or even an automated Twitter account How to Build a Raspberry Pi Twitter Bot How to Build a Raspberry Pi Twitter Bot Twitter is the world biggest repository of short messages from people with nothing to say - and now you too can contribute to that epic project with an automated Twitter bot, powered by your Raspberry... Read More .

Put simply, you feel as though you have mastered the Raspberry Pi, that there is nowhere else left to go.

You’re wrong: take a look at these five alternatives, each of which can open a whole new world of DIY technology to you.

But First: What to Look For in a Raspberry Pi Alternative

Most people use the Raspberry Pi Model B or B+ The Raspberry Pi B+ Is Here. What's Changed? The Raspberry Pi B+ Is Here. What's Changed? Read More , so we’re going to use this as our baseline for comparison. Although the new Raspberry Pi 2 Another New Raspberry Pi... and it Supports Windows 10 Another New Raspberry Pi... and it Supports Windows 10 Read More is a strong alternative in itself, we’re going to proceed assuming that you’re “Pi’d out” enough to want to leave the platform behind, quad core or not.

To this end, we’ll compare basic specs, price and operating system, as well as highlight the key differences. By the end you should have a good idea of which Raspberry Pi alternative is for you.

ODroid-C1 $35

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For a low cost alternative to the Raspberry Pi, the first place to look is the ODroid-C1, the most basic of the ODroid series of devices that offers support for Ubuntu 14.04 and Android KitKat.

With a 1.5Ghz quad core ARM CPU, Mali-450 MP2 GPU and 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, the board has and Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 slots, and an infrared receiver. There is a micro-USB port but this is for USB OTG Get Extra Storage On Android With A USB Flash Drive Get Extra Storage On Android With A USB Flash Drive Want to add more storage to your Android device using a USB flash drive? We can show you how to do that, step by step. Read More ; unlike the Raspberry Pi, ODroid-C1 requires a DC power supply via the traditional jack.

A type D micro HDMI connector is available, and the board can be expanded and interacted with via the 40 pin GPIO header.

Beaglebone Black $55

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A step up, spec wise, is the Beaglebone Black, a computer that while superior to the Pi certainly owes its continued existence to the expansion of the small computer sector which was spearheaded by the Pi’s launch.

With support for Debian, Android, Ubuntu and Cloud9 IDE, the Beaglebone Black has a 1GHz Cortex-A8 CPU, 512MB DDR3 RAM, 4GB of eMMC on-board flash storage, a 3D graphics accelerator, NEON floating-point accelerator and 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers. OSB OTG, USB host, Ethernet and HDMI connectors are all present, as are two 46 pin headers. A vast selection of Beaglebone Black projects are available, including the construction of a mobile gaming console.

Once touted as a Raspberry Pi successor 3 Potential Raspberry Pi Successors 3 Potential Raspberry Pi Successors It's a fantastic little device, a low-spec computer available for under $30 – but how long will the Raspberry Pi dominate the small PC hobbyist market? Are there any competitors ready to take its place? Read More the Beaglebone Black has built its own user base, remaining relatively successful while failing to match the popularity of the Pi.

Banana Pi $35

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The Android-built Banana Pi is not quite a clone of the Raspberry Pi – more of an enhancement. Around 10% larger than the Raspberry Pi, this board has various OS options available such as a Debian variant Bananian (although the Raspberry Pi’s Raspbian is also compatible), Lubuntu, Fedora, Arch Linux and FreeBSD among others, as well as Android 4.2 and 4.4.

A Cortex A7 dual-core ARM processor, Mali-400 MP2 dual core GPU and 1GB DDR3 DRAM controls the unit, which has the Raspberry Pi-style microUSB connector. Two USB ports and a single USB OTG connector are included, along with the expected SD card slot, Ethernet connector, HDMI, camera connector, and audio output. Some differences to the Raspberry Pi include the power, reset and uboot switches mounted on the board, a user-defined LED, and IR receiver.

The Banana Pi is a curious beast, but one that offers the familiarity of the Raspberry Pi at the same time as representing an upgrade of sorts.

A slightly upgraded version, the Banana Pro, is also available.

Hummingboard-i1 $70

More expensive than the Raspberry Pi but with more connectivity options, the Hummingboard comes in three models. We’re looking at the least costly option, which features Ethernet, powered USB ports (no more external hubs!), a GPIO header, HDMI, microSD slot, digital and analogue audio and an IR receiver and a camera.

Controlling this lot is a single core system on a chip processor with 512MB of memory and GC880 GPU. Power comes to the board via microUSB, and the Hummingboard-i1 can run XBMC and Linux. Additional options are available with the other models, as well as additional cost. If you’re looking at a home media project that is more powerful than that offered by the Pi, this should be your choice.

Minnowboard Max $99

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Finally we have the single core version of the Minnowboard Max, an open source board with an Intel Atom CPU (1.46GHz, 64-bit). This particular component enables the device to run Windows 8.1, as well as Debian, Android 4.4 and is Yocto Project Compatible (it also runs, unofficially, Fedora, Linux Mint and CentOS).

The $99 version (an upgraded $139 alternative is also available) features 1GB DDR3 RAM, Intel HD graphics, HDMI out, microSD card slot, SATA2 connector, Ethernet, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, GPIO pins and UEFI firmware option.

Put simply, this is a collision between a Raspberry Pi-style project board and a Windows PC. The Minnowboard Max was used in the building of a K9 robot from the popular British TV series Doctor Who – this video tells you more…

That’s five top alternatives to the Raspberry Pi, but which will you chose? Do you know of one we have missed? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. ro
    December 17, 2016 at 5:29 am

    you didn't mention the banana pi has a Sata port and gigabit ethernet (as opposed to raspberry pi's 100Mbit port).

  2. coar
    August 3, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    without any shit.. who faster? mean CPU, RAM and fast USB?

    • Anonymous
      June 27, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Looks like the O-Droid is the fastest in this article, in therms of CPU speed (1,5 GHz), cores (Quad) and RAM (1 GB).
      The thing's faster than my phone!

  3. Dennis Cochran
    March 17, 2015 at 10:48 am

    There is also the Banana Pi M2, which is a quad-core processor, but have not been able to find a release date yet.

  4. MallePietje
    March 17, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Comparing devices is not just about the hardware. It is also about software (projects) that (can) run on that hardware and the maturity of that software. It is therefore also very dependent on what you want to use it for. So simply comparing hardware specs helps just a really small bit in making an educated decision.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 20, 2015 at 8:59 am

      This is a fair point, which is why we've attempted to give OS options alongside each alternative board.

  5. Fatfinger
    March 16, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Yeah, like the PiPo X7 for $100

  6. likefunbutnot
    March 14, 2015 at 4:31 am

    Not quite the same thing, but if you're at the point of buying a $100 single board computer, why not just pay the extra $20 to get a Bay Trail Quad Core stick?