Tue. Jun 6th, 2023


For many projects, dedicating an entire PC to a project is overkill. This is where single-board computers come in handy. 

The best know single-board computer (SBC) is, without a doubt, the Raspberry Pi. It’s known worldwide for its versatility, low power consumption, reliability, and ease of use. 

But there are a number of alternatives to the Raspberry Pi available that you can use to customize unique projects, whether you want more performance, AI, VR support, or a board rated for industrial use. Or maybe you simply want something smaller than the Raspberry Pi!

I analyzed single-board computers based on processor type, graphics, RAM, and speed to find the best Raspberry Pi alternatives on the market. This guide to single-board computers can help you find the best option for your budget and needs. 

Also: The best laptops: Does Apple take the crown?

asus-tinker-board-s-r2-0
Asus

pros:

  • Color-coded GPIO for ease of use
  • Packed with features
  • Great finish

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libre-computer-board-aml-s905x-cc-le-potato
Amazon

pros:

  • Great price
  • Solid performer
  • Well made with great documentation

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odroid-n2
Amazon

pros:

  • Various hardware options
  • Powerful
  • Advanced options such as Petitboot
cons:

  • Pricey
  • More complicated than a regular SBC

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udoo-bolt-v3
UDOO

pros:

  • Excellent performance
  • Designed for large workloads
  • Almost twice as fast as the MacBook Pro 13-inch
cons:

  • Pricey
  • Overkill for most tasks

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raspberry-pi-compute-module-4
Amazon

pros:

  • Raspberry Pi quality
  • Powerful small package
  • Perfect for industrial use

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The Asus Tinker Board S R2.0 is ZDNET’s top pick overall. I’ve broken down each Raspberry Pi alternative below based on processor, storage, and speed. If one of these qualities is a priority for you, this analysis may help you choose the best single-board computer for you.

Best Raspberry Pi alternative 

Processor

Storage

Speed

Asus Tinker Board S R2.0

Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288 1.8GHz

2GB LPDDR3 dual-channel

16GB eMMC

Libre Computer Board AML-S905X-CC (Le Potato)

Amlogic S905X SoC

Up to 2GB DDR3 SDRAM

100Mb Fast Ethernet 

Odroid N2+

Amlogic S922X — 4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.2GHz, 2x Cortex-A53 @ 1.9GHz

2GB or 4GB DDR4

2.4Ghz with Gigabit Ethernet Port

Udoo Bolt V3

AMD Ryzen Embedded V1202b dual core/quad thread @ 2.3ghz (3.2ghz Boost)

2x DDR4 dual-channel 64-bit SO-DIMM Sockets With ECC Support up to 32GB

32GB eMMC 5.0 High Speed Drive

Raspberry Pi Computer Module 4

4-Core 1.5GHz 64-bit CPU

8GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM Densities

Gigabit Ethernet PHY with IEEE 1588 support

Sometimes you just need to get on with a project, so you buy a cheap single-board computer. But if you want to invest in better hardware, you want to make sure that you’re not throwing money away. To find the best SBC for your, I suggest starting with a clear idea of the projects you’ll use it for. This can be the hard part, but it’s worth the time. If you confuse your use purpose, you may get derailed partway through the project resulting in a massive setback that costs time and money.

Next, do some research. How much power and performance do you need? What operating system do you need to use? This SBC guide offers the best Raspberry alternatives, so you can find the board that fits your budget and needs.

Choose this SBC… If you want…
Asus Tinker Board S R2.0 The best alternative overall
Libre Computer Board AML-2905X-CC (Le Potato) A budget option for hobbyists and enthusiasts
Odroid N2+ A range of hardware options
Udoo Bolt V3 High-end laptop performance for VR, AR, and AI projects
Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 A Raspberry Pi 4 gutted down for industrial use

I’ve personally tested every single-board computer in this list for quality, reliability, and ability to deliver on key propositions. Put simply, they all offer something that the Raspberry Pi doesn’t. 

The Raspberry Pi is a great piece of hardware, but it’s been built within specific constraints that enable mass appeal. These SBCs take what the Raspberry Pi brought to the table further with features that allow you to customize your experience.

The Asus Tinker Board S is the perfect choice for a hobbyist who wants to learn their way around what these boards can do. It’s a nicely designed board and easy to use with clear labels — which means you’ll spend less time looking at a manual and more time working on projects. 

The Raspberry Pi Module 4 Compute is better suited to harsh industrial use. The small but durable powerhouse can handle environments that would otherwise destroy a lesser board.

The Raspberry Pi is still the best place to start if you want to get experience with a single-board computer. These alternatives are a great next step if you want to expand on your SBC knowledge, the Raspberry Pi is a great tool for familiarizing yourself with the setup and GPIO pins. You can work through the basics from there!

Not really. All the alternatives on our list cost more than the Raspberry Pi 4, which is about $35. 

There are various options. You can find a lot of generic cases out there to protect your Raspberry Pi or alternative SBC, and I recommend getting one. After all, if you’re investing in an SBC, you should protect it. Also, if you can drive a 3D printer, then you’ll have an endless supply of them!

You can try to waterproof the case by using seals or silicone grease. You could also spray the board with conformal coating to resist moisture. 

But beyond these steps, there’s no way to make them completely waterproof.

Here is another honorable mention worth considering:

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