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Top 12 Raspberry Pi alternatives (October 2018 edition)

Here is a selection of single board computers for homebrew projects and automation, with prices starting at only $5 to several hundred dollars, and ranging in application from small hobby applications to industrial use.

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Topic: Hardware
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1 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

NanoPi Neo4

The NanoPi Neo4 is the cheapest six-core, single-board computer to be released, ad at $45 the price isn't too bad either. The only downside to this board is that there's only 1GB of RAM, which may introduce a bottleneck for some applications.

  • RK3399 SoC featuring ARM-based dual-core A72 and quad-core A53 processors
  • Mali T-864 GPU
  • 1GB DDR3-1866 RAM
  • USB 3.0
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet
  • PCIe x2 interface

Highlights:

  • Powerful processor
  • Faster RAM than found in the Raspberry Pi 3 B+
  • 4K output support

More information.

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2 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

NanoPC-T3 Plus

The NanoPC-T3 Plus is the bigger brother of the NanoPi 2 Fire, and features an octa-core processor which has enough power for commercial and industrial applications.

  • Samsung S5P6818 octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 up to 1.4GHz
  • 2GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 8/32GB of flash storage
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Two camera interfaces
  • HDMI
  • USB 2.0

Highlights:

  • High-end processor
  • Ideal for industrial projects

More information.

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3 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

VoCore2

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.

  • MT7628AN, 580MHz, MIPS 24K
  • 128MB, DDR2, 166MHz
  • 16M NOR on board, support SDXC up to 2TB
  • 802.11n, 2T2R, speed up to 300Mbps
  • 1 port/5 ports, up to 100Mbps
  • Support USB 2.0, up to 480MBit/s

I especially like the VoCore2 Ultimate package, which for $44 represents excellent value.

Highlights:

  • Open source design
  • Cheap
  • Small form-factor

More information.

ODROID-XU4
4 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

ODROID-XU4

ODROID-XU4 is a new generation of computing device with more powerful, more energy-efficient hardware and a smaller form factor, and costing only $59.

Offering open source support, the board can run various flavors of Linux, including the latest Ubuntu 16.04 and Android 4.4 KitKat, 5.0 Lollipop and 7.1 Nougat.

  • Samsung Exynos 5422 Cortex-A15 2GHz and Cortex-A7 Octa core CPUs
  • Mali-T628 MP6 (OpenGL ES 3.1/2.0/1.1 and OpenCL 1.2 Full profile)
  • 2 GB LPDDR3 RAM PoP stacked
  • eMMC5.0 HS400 Flash Storage
  • 2 x USB 3.0 Host, 1 x USB 2.0 Host
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • HDMI 1.4a for display
  • Size : 83 x 58 x 20 mm approx. (excluding cooler)
  • Linux Kernel 4.9 LTS

Highlights:

  • Small form-factor
  • Linux support

More information.

Parallella
5 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Parallella

The Parallella computer is a high performance, credit card sized computer based on the Epiphany multi-core chips from Adapteva.

Starting at $99, the Parallella can be used as a standalone computer, an embedded device, or as a component in a scaled out parallel server cluster.

  • 16-core Epiphany RISC SOC
  • Zynq SOC (FPGA + ARM A9)
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1GB SDRAM
  • Micro-SD storage
  • Up to 48 GPIO pins
  • Open source design files
  • HDMI, USB (optional)
  • 5W energy consumption

Highlights:

  • Powerful processor

More information.

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6 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

NanoPi M4

Looking for a board with plenty of USB ports? This is the board for you!

In addition to a six-core processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, support for 4K displays and hardware-accelerated 4K video playback, the NanoPi M4 also features four USB 3.0 ports, along with a USB Type-C port. It also includes an interface that supports two 13-megapixel cameras.

  • Six cores, 2GHz 64-bit dual-core Cortex-A72 and 1.5GHz quad-core Cortex-A53
  • Mali-T864 GPU
  • 4GB LPDDR3-1866
  • Ethernet
  • 4 x USB 3.0 Type-A ports and 1 x USB Type-C

Highlights:

  • Powerful
  • USB-C port (and plenty of USB-A ports)

More information.

Raspberry Pi Zero W
7 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

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! This has become my go-to board to use for projects. I literally have a handful ready to go at any one time.

Why?

Well, it's not just that it comes in at $10 -- which means I don't have a huge amount of cash tied up in a project -- but also because of the very impressive feature set it offers:

  • 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

Highlights:

  • Cheap, but fully-featured
  • Ideal for low-cost projects

More information.

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8 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

MinnowBoard Turbot Dual Ethernet Quad-Core

The MinnowBoard Turbot Dual Ethernet Quad-Core is a powerful quad-core board featuring 2GB of RAM and 8MB of SPI flash storage. It also features twin Ethernet ports for flexible wired connectivity.

Another awesome feature that this board offers is an M.2 B slot for WAN cards, as well as a SIM slot. This gives the board amazing flexibility... but at a cost.

At $199 this is not a cheap board, but it does offer a number of high-end features.

Highlights:

  • High-end components
  • M.2 B slot for expansion
  • SIM slot

More information.

NanoPi NEO Plus2
9 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

NanoPi NEO Plus2

As the image shows, the NanoPi NEO Plus2 is a tiny board, less than half the size of the Raspberry Pi, but it packs a performance and storage punch and doesn't skimp on the features.

  • H5 quad-core A53 ARM Cortex processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB eMMC storage
  • 2 x USB ports
  • Gigabit ethernet

This board comes in two configurations: 512MB of RAM and 8GB eMMC storage for $32, and 1GB of RAM and 8GB eMMC storage for $44.

Highlights:

  • Small form factor
  • Cheap

More information.

UDOO X86 ULTRA
10 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

UDOO X86 ULTRA

The UDOO x86 ULTRA is something special -- it is a powerful x86 maker board and an Arduino 101-compatible platform, combined onto the same board. This combination results in a board that's ten times more powerful than a Raspberry Pi 3.

  • Intel Quad Core up to 2.00 GHz
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x miniDP++
  • eMMC 8 GB

Highlights:

  • Powerful processor

More information.

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11 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

NanoPi Neo

A cheap, $12 quad-core powered board that's ideally suited for hobbyists.

  • Allwinner H3 quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 up to 1.2GHz
  • 256MB/512MB of RAM
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • USB 2.0

Highlights:

  • Cheap

More information.

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12 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

HiKey 970

The HiKey 970 is essentially a PC running Android.

Making use of with LPDDR4X 1866MHz memory, and featuring 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage, Bluetooth, WIFI, and GPS , this is a board specifically aimed at developers, especially those looking for maximize accelerated AI capabilities that are not present of most other development platforms.

At a whopping $299 it's not cheap, but it certainly has the horsepower to handle whatever task you want to throw at it.

  • ARM Cortex-A73
  • ARM Mali G72 MP12 GPU
  • 6GB LPDDR4X 1866MHz RAM
  • 64GB UFS 2.1 flash storage, with Micro SD slot
  • Bluetooth/WIFI/GPS

Highlights:

  • Powerful
  • Plenty of storage
  • Large RAM overhead

More information.

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