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Top Raspberry Pi alternatives

Here is a selection of single board computers for homebrew projects and automation, with prices starting at only $5. (Updated June 2, 2017)
Huawei HiKey 960
1 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Huawei HiKey 960

The Huawei HiKey 960 is essentially a PC running Android.

At a whopping $239 it's not cheap, but it certainly has the horsepower to handle whatever task you want to throw at it.

  • Kirin 960 SoC Quad Core ARM (4 x 2.3GHz ARM A73 cores, and 4 x 1.8GHz ARM A53 cores)
  • ARM Mali G71 MP8 GPU
  • 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 32GB of UFS flash storage

More information.

ODROID-XU4
2 of 19 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

More information.

Cubieboard4 CC-A80 High-performance Mini PC Development Board
3 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Cubieboard4 CC-A80 High-performance Mini PC Development Board

Not only does the Cubieboard4 pack a punch, it can output 4K video, making it a great choice for those wanting to build a media center or a gaming platform.

At $160, this board doesn't come cheap, but it's a solid basis on which to build a project on.

  • Octa-core big.LITTLE Cortex-A15/7 processor
  • 64-core IMG PowerVR G6230 GPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 64 GB storage
  • 2x USB Host, USB 3.0/2.0 Dual-Role (host/device)
  • Ethernet MAC
  • 4x SPI, 7x TWI, 7x UART
  • 4x SD/MMC

More information.

Parallella
4 of 19 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
  • HDMI, USB (optional)

More information

BBC micro:bit
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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.

PixiePro
6 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

PixelPro

The PixelPro features a i.MX6Q Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 running at 1.0 GHz, with 2D and 3D GPUs and an embedded 2GB 64-bit DDR3 RAM, which means that it is capable of running rich multimedia applications, embedded web servers, digital entertainment systems, industrial control systems, and high definition video.

At $129.95, the PixelPro is not cheap, but you get a lt of power for the cash.

  • Freescale i.MX6Q Soc Quad Core ARM Cortex-A9 up to 1GHz
  • 2GB of RAM
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • PCIe x1
  • USB 2.0

    More information

    Arduino INDUSTRIAL 101
    7 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

    Arduino INDUSTRIAL 101

    A $40 Arduino that's idea for integration into a commercial or industrial product.

    • Atheros AR9331 processor
    • 64MB of RAM
    • 16MB of flash storage
    • USB 2.0

    More information

    C.H.I.P.
    8 of 19 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

    2016-06-1615-12-17.jpg
    9 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

    Intel Edison with Kit for Arduino

    At around $92, the Intel name doesn't come cheap, but this Arduino-compatible board is turning out to be a popular choice.

    • Dual-core, dual-threaded Intel Atom CPU with a 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller
    • 1GB of RAM
    • 4GB of flash storage
    • Integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
    • Support for Yocto Linux, Python, Node.js and Wolfram

      More information

      2016-06-1615-02-58.jpg
      10 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

      NanoPC-T3

      The NanoPC-T3 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
      • 1-2GB of RAM
      • 8GB of flash storage
      • Gigabit Ethernet
      • USB 2.0

      More information

      2016-06-1614-56-08.jpg
      11 of 19 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

      Raspberry Pi Zero W
      12 of 19 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!

      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
      2016-06-1614-45-17.jpg
      13 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

      Banana Pi M3

      Banana Pi M3 is a super charged single board computer with an Octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM. It also features Gigabit Ethernet, 2 USB, SATA, WiFi, Bluetooth, and HDMI connection. It can run on a variety of operating systems including Android, Lubuntu, Ubuntu, Debian, and Raspbian.

      • Octa-core 1.8GHz CPU
      • 2 GB RAM
      • 8 GB eMMC flash storage
      • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth onboard

      More information

      cloudBit
      14 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

      cloudBit

      The easiest way to create internet­-connected devices - no programming, soldering or wiring required. IFTTT support allows it to connect with any web service, like Facebook, Gmail and Twitter, or hardware like NEST and Philips HUE.

      All for just $59.95.

      • Freescale i.MX23 ARM926EJ-S processor
      • 64MB of RAM
      • 802.11b/g/n

      More information

      Omega 2
      15 of 19 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.

      2017-02-2811-49-46.jpg
      16 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

      MinnowBoard MAX

      The MinnowBoard MAX is an update of the popular MinnowBoard, and features a 64-bit Intel Atom E3800 processor, 2GB of RAM, and Intel HD Graphics.

      There's also a SATA port allowing the MinnowBoard MAX to be hooked up to a hard drive.

      At $139 it's not a cheap board, but it does offer a number of high-end features.

      BeagleBone Black
      17 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

      BeagleBone Black

      BeagleBone Black is a low-cost, community-supported development platform for developers and hobbyists. This $55 board allows you to boot Linux in under 10 seconds and get started on development in less than 5 minutes.

      • AM335x 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8512MB DDR3 RAM
      • 4GB 8-bit eMMC on-board flash storage
      • 3D graphics accelerator
      • NEON floating-point accelerator
      • 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers

      More information

      2016-08-1917-20-38.jpg
      18 of 19 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

      Udoo Quad

      A $135 quad-core board that's just as at home running Android as it is Linux.

      • Freescale i.MX 6 ARM Cortex-A9 quad core 1GHz CPU
      • Vivante GC 2000 + Vivante GC 355 + Vivante GC 320 GPU
      • Integrated accelerators for 2D, OpenGL ES2.0 3D and OpenVG
      • Atmel SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 CPU (same as Arduino Due)
      • RAM DDR3 1GB
      • 76 fully available GPIO: 62 digital + 14 digital/analog
      • Arduino-compatible R3 1.0 pinout
      • HDMI and LVDS + Touch2 Micro USB (1 OTG type a+b)

      More information

      VoCore
      19 of 19 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

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