7 Tips to Get the Best Performance From Your Raspberry Pi 3
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Finding your Raspberry Pi 3 isn’t quite reaching its limits? You’re not alone. Despite it being the most advanced version of the little computer to date, it can be tricky to get your set up right.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using your Raspberry Pi to run retro games, as a media center, or any of the other wonderful projects Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners These 10 Raspberry Pi projects for beginners are great for getting an introduction to the hardware and software capabilities of the Pi, and will help you get up and running in no time! Read More that might pique your interest. If the Pi isn’t configured to run at its most optimum, you’re going to have a bad experience.

No one wants that.

So, take a look at our seven tips to find out just what you need to do to get the most out of your Raspberry Pi. Get ready for some awesome performance!

1. Connect a Reliable Power Supply

One thing you need to make sure with any Raspberry Pi setup is that you’re using a reliable power supply. The Raspberry Pi 3 (which is the best solution for desktop use) requires a micro-USB power connector. Ideally this should be connected to a power supply adaptor with a 2.5A capacity. While it may seem more convenient to connect the Pi directly to a USB port on your power bar, or to use your smartphone charger, these deliver unreliable results.

tips for improving raspberry pi performance

Consider this: You’re using the Pi for desktop work, internet, email, office tasks. Some programming. You don’t want the computer to suddenly freeze or shut down because you’re asking too much of it. Avoid this by ensuring the power supply is up to specification, and reliable. You’ll find a 5V 2.5A power supply is more than powerful enough.

CanaKit 5V 2.5A Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Power Supply / Adapter (UL Listed) CanaKit 5V 2.5A Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Power Supply / Adapter (UL Listed) Buy Now At Amazon $9.99

2. Employ a Lightweight Operating System

Once your power requirements are sorted out, you’ll need to install a distro that uses as few resources as possible. Pushing performance on your Raspberry Pi means keeping things to a minimum, and several Linux operating systems 6 Lightweight Operating Systems for Your Raspberry Pi 6 Lightweight Operating Systems for Your Raspberry Pi Need to squeeze some extra processing power out of your Raspberry Pi? You should try a lightweight operating system. These examples will get you started. Read More (distributions or distros) have been developed with this purpose in mind.

Even Raspbian is available in a lightweight “lite” flavor, but you might also consider DietPi or even the non-Linux RISC OS for a truly low-footprint experience.

tips for improving raspberry pi performance

The aim here is simple. With an operating system that takes up less space and demands few resources, you can dedicate what’s left to your current project. It could make the difference between success, and failure.

3. Disable JavaScript

If you require access to a web browser on your Raspberry Pi, you might already be using Chromium, Vivaldi, or one of the more lightweight options 8 Great Browsers You Can Run on Your Raspberry Pi 3 8 Great Browsers You Can Run on Your Raspberry Pi 3 Several browsers are available for the Raspberry Pi, but which is best? Should you stick with Chromium, or try one of the others? Let's find out! Read More . You should already know that it is sensible to restrict the number of open tabs, but improved performance can be enjoyed simply by disabling JavaScript.

While a number of websites will not appear as they usually do (or they’ll be less functional), browsing will be far quicker.

Disabling JavaScript differs from browser to browser. In Chromium, for example, use Menu > Settings > Advanced > Privacy and security > Content settings > JavaScript and switch Allowed to Blocked.

tips for improving raspberry pi performance

If you regularly visit a site that will only run correctly with JavaScript enabled, use the Block and Allow fields to add exceptions.

4. Don’t Forget to Overclock (And Stay Cool)

Overclocking your Raspberry Pi is an obvious solution to poor performance. It comes in particularly useful when using your Pi as a media center with Kodi, or playing retro video games. While older games don’t need accelerated performance, those from consoles from the 1990s and early 2000s do.

If you want to overclock your Raspberry Pi, the tools to do so are provided in most distros. For instance, in Raspbian, you can open the Raspberry Pi Configuration on the PIXEL desktop Upgrade Raspberry Pi's Raspbian OS With the PIXEL Desktop Environment Upgrade Raspberry Pi's Raspbian OS With the PIXEL Desktop Environment Since its release in 2012, the Raspberry Pi's Raspbian operating system has had a few revisions, but the desktop environment had remained largely the same. Pixel changes that. Read More , or use raspi-config in the command line. See our full Raspberry Pi guide Raspberry Pi: The Unofficial Tutorial Raspberry Pi: The Unofficial Tutorial Whether you're a current Pi owner who wants to learn more or a potential owner of this credit-card size device, this isn't a guide you want to miss. Read More to find out more on this.

Here, use the arrow keys to select Overclock, then choose the increased setting you wish to use. For the best results, step up to the next level, save, then restart your Pi and the app(s) you’re hoping to gain improved performance from.

If you’re overclocking your Raspberry Pi, you should consider some cooling solutions. Everything from heat sinks to liquid cooling 5 Cool Ways to Keep Your Overclocked Raspberry Pi 3 Chilled 5 Cool Ways to Keep Your Overclocked Raspberry Pi 3 Chilled With all the cool stuff you can do with a Raspberry Pi, it's no surprise they can get a bit hot. Here are the best ways to cool them down. Read More is available for this little computer.

5. Don’t Abuse Your SD Card

After the power supply, the Raspberry Pi’s SD card is probably the weakest part of the setup. When the original Pi was launched with a standard SD card, it was particularly prone to failure. Later models of the Raspberry Pi rely on microSD cards, but again, there is a problem.

First of all, you need to ensure that you’re using good quality cards. $5 cards off eBay are not suitable. You should be using high quality cards for the best results, preferable microSDHC type cards. These have superior error correction, and are much faster than cheaper cards.

tips for improving raspberry pi performance

Similarly, the card you select for your Raspberry Pi should have the highest rating you can afford. For instance, I use cards with a 10 rating. This tells me that the card can transfer data at a minimum of 10MB/s — ideal! Check our guide to choosing the right SD card How To Choose The Right SD Card For The Job How To Choose The Right SD Card For The Job SD cards aren't all about storage! In fact, there are several other factors to consider, and when purchasing your cards, you should make yourself aware of them. That said, SD cards aren't all created equal,... Read More for further help.

Looking after your microSD card is vital. One of the ways in which cards are misused is when it comes to switching off the Raspberry Pi. In short: do not unplug the Pi without first shutting down.

If the operating system is running when you disconnect the power, you risk corrupting the operating system, and even shorting a sector on your microSD card. The way around this is to always use the safe shutdown option in your chosen operating system. You’ll find a desktop button for this, but you can also use this command:

sudo shutdown -h now

This is one of the key commands every Raspberry Pi user should know. You can also time the shutdown:

sudo shutdown -h 12:01

This will shut your Raspberry Pi down safely at one minute past 12.

If you’re concerned about data on your Raspberry Pi, and want to maintain a level of continuity between projects, it’s a good idea to back up. See our guide to cloning your Raspberry Pi’s microSD card Easily Clone Your SD Card For Trouble-free Raspberry Pi Computing Easily Clone Your SD Card For Trouble-free Raspberry Pi Computing Whether you have one SD card or several, one thing that you will need is the ability to back up your cards to avoid the problems that occur when your Raspberry Pi fails to boot. Read More for more information.

6. Run From USB/HDD

You probably know that the Raspberry Pi boots from the microSD card. But did you know that it can be reconfigured, and the OS boot from a USB device? If you have a spare USB flash memory stick, or hard disk drive, this may prove useful.

It will certainly speed up booting, and make performance more reliable, while expanding the storage capacity of the Pi. This will only work on a Raspberry Pi 3. If you have this version of the board, you should certainly try this out.

tips for improving raspberry pi performance

In short, it means you can change the Raspberry Pi’s boot mode in Raspbian, then format the new storage and copy the key files from the microSD card. The card will still be required for the initial boot sequence, but everything else is then run from the USB device. See our full guide on how to boot your Pi from USB How to Make Raspberry Pi 3 Boot From USB How to Make Raspberry Pi 3 Boot From USB The Raspberry Pi is a versatile piece of kit, capable of a diverse range of tasks. But it has one glaring flaw: the inability to boot from USB. Until now, that is. Read More , and improve your Raspberry Pi’s performance considerably!

7. Take It Easy, Don’t Push Your Pi

Finally, consider what it is you’re using your Raspberry Pi for. Is it really suitable for that little computer? Isn’t it time you stopped using a Raspberry Pi for everything Why You Should Stop Using a Raspberry Pi for Everything Why You Should Stop Using a Raspberry Pi for Everything Many people turn to Raspberry Pi for all of their projects. The problem? They're making the wrong decision. Here's why you should think twice before using a Raspberry Pi. Read More ?

After all, it’s just a credit card sized computer. It does a lot for the size, and puts many of the PCs you were using 20 years ago to shame. But that doesn’t mean that you should employ a Raspberry Pi for every single project.

tips for improving raspberry pi performance

Other devices are available. Some projects may work better with a full PC, or laptop. Others might be improved by switching to a smartphone or tablet. Or another single board computer (SBC) entirely. So, even with overclocking, a superior power supply and top-end microSD card, make sure your Raspberry Pi is the right device for the project. That’s arguably the best way to get top performance out of it.

How Do You Get the Most Out of Your Raspberry Pi?

By working your way through these tips and tricks, you’ll soon have a much faster Raspberry Pi. While intended for desktop use, many of these tips can be transferred to other uses. Here’s a reminder:

  1. Use a reliable power supply
  2. Install a lightweight distro
  3. Disable JavaScript
  4. Try overclocking!
  5. Look after your SD card
  6. Run the OS from a USB stick or HDD
  7. Don’t do too much at once

Do you get the most out of your Raspberry Pi? Does it run well, or have you had to make sacrifices? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. RPiHappy
    January 13, 2018 at 11:28 am

    You can boot from an SD card and run the OS on a USB (or HDD) Aldon on RPi 2 and 1 (possibly also on the 0?). The RPi 3 can actually be configured to boot directly from USB (or HDD), no SD card needed at all (except for that first boot to configure it). H..., it (the RPi 3) can even be configured to boot from and/or run the OS on a network share with no need for an SD card, USB stick, HDD or any other connected local storage at all.