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Cheap Raspberry Pi alternatives

Here is a selection of single board computers for homebrew projects and automation, with prices starting at only $5.
BBC micro:bit
1 of 6 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

BBC micro:bit

While the BBC micro:bit is primarily aimed at schools, its low price (about $16) and ease of use makes it a great tool for learning and prototyping on.

The micro:bit is powered by a 32-bit ARM Cortex processor and comes with a built-in accelerometer, magnetometer and Bluetooth.

A unique feature of the micro:bit is the integrated 5x5 LED matrix that offers 25 individually programmable red LEDs to use as a basic display or output.

C.H.I.P.
2 of 6 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

C.H.I.P.

At $9, C.H.I.P. is a perfect demonstration of how cheap computing has become. You get what would only a few years ago have been desktop power on a tiny board.

  • 1.0GHz CPU
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 4GB of storage
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

More information

Raspberry Pi Zero W
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Raspberry Pi Zero W

OK, OK, I know that technically the Zero W is a member of the Raspberry Pi family, but this one is too awesome to not list!

Why?

Because for only $10 it offers a very impressive feature set:

  • 1GHz, single-core CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • Mini-HDMI port
  • Micro-USB On-The-Go port
  • Micro-USB power
  • HAT-compatible 40-pin header
  • Composite video and reset headers
  • CSI camera connector
  • 802.11n wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4
Omega 2
4 of 6 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Omega 2

The Omega 2 from Onion Corporation comes with built-in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) and on-board flash storage - all for $5!

The board runs a custom Linux distro that's based on OpenWrt but you can also choose to run FreeBSD.

The modular nature of the Omega 2 means that you can easily add features such as Bluetooth or GPS to suit your needs.

VoCore
5 of 6 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

VoCore

A coin-sized Linux computer that is totally open-source, and costs $20. This is a small, low-cost, totally open-source (both the hardware and software) computer that's ideal for projects such as IoT or building your own custom router.

  • 360MHz MIPS CPU
  • 32MB of RAM
  • 8MB of flash memory
  • Ready equipped with header pins for sound, USB 2.0, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi

More information

2016-06-1614-56-08.jpg
6 of 6 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

NanoPi 2 Fire

A cheap, $23 quad-core powered board that's ideally suited for hobbyists.

  • Samsung S5P4418 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 up to 1.4GHz
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB 2.0

More information

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