The Raspberry Pi first debuted in 2012, and since then the single-board computer (SBC) underwent a series of iterations, culminating in the launch of the Raspberry Pi 3 B+.
While the Raspberry Pi is a popular single-board computer, there are plenty of Raspberry Pi alternatives that provide superb hardware. Nevertheless, the Pi continues to dominate the maker space.
In this article, we explore why the Raspberry Pi is more successful than Odroid boards and other SBCs.
What Is a Raspberry Pi and What Can It Do?
As I’ve grown accustomed to explaining, no, a Raspberry Pi is not a tasty dessert. Rather, it’s a tiny computer roughly the size of a credit card. Onboard, the Raspberry Pi includes all of the components required to function as a PC. Just add an operating system and peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse.
A Raspberry Pi makes an excellent foundation as a mini PC running Linux distributions (distros) including Raspbian and Ubuntu MATE. Additionally, you’ll find retro gaming OSes such as RetroPie, Recalbox, and Lakka on the Pi. A popular Raspberry Pi project is a low-powered media center with Kodi-based distros.
Alternatives to the Raspberry Pi
Though the Raspberry Pi is arguably the most popular single-board computer, it’s not alone in the do-it-yourself tech space. Among the most popular single-board computers, you’ll find the Odroid XU4, Banana Pi, Rock64, and Orange Pi. Many of these Raspberry Pi alternatives remain compatible with Linux distros, retro gaming or media center operating systems, and even Android and Chrome OS.
The Odroid XU4 for instance yields a performance punch with its octa-core processing and twice the RAM of the Raspberry Pi 3. In its benchmarking, Love Our Pi compared SBC CPU performance and found the Banana Pi M3, Odroid XU4, and Odroid C2 each besting the Raspberry Pi 3 in many tests.
Why Raspberry Pi Is More Successful Than Other SBCs
Despite plentiful Raspberry Pi alternatives, the Pi remains a top choice among single-board computers. Its main advantages include a low price, tons of community support, lots of Raspberry Pi project ideas, and a bevy of accessories.
Considering its widespread use, the Raspberry Pi stays at the forefront of the SBC market. Here’s why the Raspberry Pi is more successful than the Odroid XU4 and other SBC competitors.
From websites such as the Raspberry Pi Foundation to the Raspberry Pi subreddit, there’s a treasure trove of community support available. This includes tutorials, reviews, and more, greatly simplifying troubleshooting.
Chances are, if you have a question, someone else has already asked and answered it. We also feature plenty of robust articles and tutorials, such as our guide to getting started with Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi Projects
To get started, there are plenty of Raspberry Pi projects for beginners that are practical and fun, which can’t exactly be said for other SBC competitors.
Raspberry Pi Accessories
There’s no competition when it comes to available Raspberry Pi accessories. You’ll find everything from Raspberry Pi camera options to Raspberry Pi touchscreen devices, and loads of cases. I upgraded to a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) model Raspberry Pi 3 B for my Raspberry Pi 3 B+ running RetroPie. On the front, the RetroFlag NESPi case sports functioning power and reset buttons.
Yet, Raspberry Pi accessories extend well beyond cases. Indeed, the Pi boasts what’s likely the largest array of case options for any SBC. But it’s maker-oriented add-ons such as Pi HATs that make the Raspberry Pi an adaptable device. Available Pi HATs include power-over-Ethernet (PoE) adapters.
Moreover, the Raspberry Pi features plenty of buying options, from the standalone board to comprehensive kits. Its GPIO pins make the Pi a truly utilitarian device.
Sure, there are plenty of Raspberry Pi alternatives on the market. However, low pricing makes the Pi a top choice. Whereas the Odroid XU4 retails for $62 for the board alone, a kit costs about $90.
That’s definitely reasonable for the hardware, but the Raspberry Pi is ultra-affordable at $35 for a Raspberry Pi 3 board. The Raspberry Pi Zero and Zero W retail for $5 and $10 respectively. Though less powerful than the Pi 3, the Zero and Zero W are ideal for less processing intensive tasks.
Raspberry Pi Models and Choices
For even further flexibility, consider the many Raspberry Pi board models you can buy. From its flagship Raspberry Pi 3 B+ to the previous generation boards like the Raspberry Pi 3 B, and entry-level Raspberry Pi Zero and Zero W, you can snag an option to fulfill any need.
Ease of Use
Getting started with the Raspberry Pi is only as difficult as you make it. With an image appropriately named NOOBs that includes a smattering of Raspberry Pi operating systems, a Raspberry Pi project can be as basic as a low-powered HTPC. Alternatively, you can create a full-on wall-mounted Raspberry Pi dashboard, server, or voice assistant.
Raspberry Pi Software Options
Because of its popularity, you gain access to countless Raspberry Pi operating systems. These range from Raspbian, Ubuntu MATE, Kali Linux, and even the infamous Hannah Montana Linux to OpenELEC, OSMC, RetroPie, and Windows 10 IoT core.
Aside from the base OS, lots of software is available specifically for the Raspberry Pi. You can easily transform your Pi into a server with either software installed within an operating system, or a ready-made image such as OpenMediaVault. Raspbian for instance is packed with pre-loaded software such as Minecraft and Python, and can be used for programming on the Raspberry Pi.
Overall, its variety of software, both OSes and applications, makes the Pi a fantastic choice. Compare that to many Raspberry Pi alternatives which rely on third-party community development. The Odroid XU4, for example, is compatible with RetroPie, though the Odroid XU4 RetroPie image is community-created, not an official RetroPie project build.
Raspberry Pi: Yes, It’s Better Than Other SBCS
Ultimately, the Raspberry Pi is a versatile single-board computer which affords tons of project ideas and remains compatible with a variety of operating systems and apps. It’s not necessarily the most powerful SBC on the market, but a balance of computing power, flexibility, affordability, and a thriving community make the Raspberry Pi perfect for everyone from beginners to seasoned makers.
Try these awesome uses for a Raspberry Pi to make the most out of your SBC!