Raspberry Pi is a small credit card-sized, lightweight and compact computer available which is used by both professions, hobbyists, and of course hackers alike. This mini-computer can do (almost) anything a normal Linux machine can do. It is widely used in various industries, robotics, home automation projects.
But the real question is, do you really need a Raspberry Pi 4 for your project? Some times you will need just a simple Command Line Interface of a Linux system to set up a small server for home use or a home automation system. Sometimes all you need to do is drive a motor of your robot or turn On an LED. In such cases, it is always better to go for cheaper raspberry pi alternatives than spending $ on Raspberry Pi 4.
Based on a survey conducted by RootSaid, we have got a list of latest and most commonly used micro controllers and processor boards, which are used by hobbyists and
Here is a list of best and Cheaper Raspberry Pi Alternatives you can try.
Updated – August 2020
1. Rock 64
The rock 64 Single-board microcontroller is a solid Raspberry Pi alternative. The Rock 64 has a 4-gigabyte variant that utilizes the arm cortex a53 64-bit processor, in addition to the powerful processor, the rock 64 is capable of handling 4k video at 60 frames a second.
It also incorporates a 40-pin GPIO header which can be used for DIY projects. Various Operating Systems are made available by open source community and partner projects including numerous Linux Distributions, Android, BSD, and many more to come.
2. Odroid XU4
The latest iteration of the Odroid – the XU4 packs a serious punch. Thanks to Samsung’s eight core CPU. Unlike Raspberry Pi, the Odroid XU 4, for $89 adopts a smaller form factor which is more compact designed from the ground up with open-source builds of Android in mind.
It actually can run various flavors of Android including Android 4.4 KitKat, 5.0 lollipop and 7.1 Nougat and also runs different versions of of Linux including Ubuntu 16.04.
Specs wise the XU4 boasts of Samsung Exynos 5422 cortex a15 at 2 gigahertz and cortex a7 octa-core CPU. Coupled with a Mali T 628 GPU and 2 gigabytes.
Comparing Odroid XU4 with Pi, it is a bit more powerful as well as faster than the Raspberry Pi. It comes with USB 3 support and a Gigabit Ethernet interface that gives it lightning-fast data transfer speeds.
3. Banana Pi M64
The Banana Pi M 64 for $52 is an improved 64-bit version of the banana pi that runs on Android Ubuntu and Debian among several other operating systems. It supports a dual-core Mali 400 GPU, a 1.2 gigahertz octa-core processor and 2 gigabytes of RAM. Additionally it offers an 8 gigabytes of on-board storage which is expandable via microSD.
Just like raspberry pi the M64 has built-in Wi-Fi support. It also supports 1080p video playback up to 1080p. On the downside the M64 comes with only two USB ports compared to the raspberry PI’s four USB ports.
The Asus Tinker Board is just like Raspberry Pi (form factor wise). Not just the size, even the pin mapping is similar to that of Raspberry Pi. This means to tinker board functions as a replacement for any computer that you have around. It comes with a high-performance quad-core arm SOC clocked at 1.8 gigahertz, which is faster than the one on the Raspberry Pi.
Add this to the all-powerful Mali T’s 764 GPU and the 2 gigabytes of RAM and what you get is a microcomputer that strikes a perfect balance between speed and performance.
Asus tinker board comes with 4k video support. Coming to Audio quality, the tinker board does support 192 k, 24 bit audio playback.
The Asus tinker board is almost $30 more expensive than the our PI at around 57$ depending on which version of the our PI you get. Eventhough the price is a bit steep, you get more features and you will be able to crack down heavy processes better than Pi.
5. NanoPI Neo 4
Next one in our Raspberry Pi Alternative us The nano PI Neo 4. You will get this for $45. This is one of the incredible 6 core SBCs on the market today. This is powered by a Rockchip RK3399 2x Cortex-A72 at up to 2.0GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 at up to 1.5GHz with a Mali-T864 GPU.
The nano PI Neo 4 is one of the most powerful microcomputers available. It also comes with modern features such as USB 3 support and support for 4K video playback via HDMI. The Neo 4 outshines the Raspberry Pi in some ways. At the same time, there are some drawbacks.
It has fewer Type A USB ports. And also, the WiFi connectivity is pretty slow. The one gigabyte of RAM is also not very competitive but if you’re willing to work with the aforementioned limitations, you’ll get to enjoy the board’s blazing fast data transfer speeds. Thanks to its USB 3 supports and gigabit Ethernet ports. There is also a USB 2 type C port as well as fast SSD storage.
The first Raspberry Pi Zero is only half the size of a Model A+, a tiny Raspberry Pi that’s affordable enough for any hobbyist project. The only problem was that, for network connectivity, you will need an external USB WiFi adapter or Ethernet converter.
The new Raspberry Pi Zero ‘W’ solve this connectivity issue by employing an inbuilt WiFi and Bluetooth chipset. We can easily connect this board to a network using GUI or CLI and easily build your project.
Even though the processing power is a bit lower than Raspberry Pi 3, this board can handle smaller projects in robotics and hobby circuits. It can also acts as a wireless server or a torrent client.
7. Orange Pi 2G IOT
This year, Orange Pi come out with their own board competing with Raspberry Pi Zero W. The new Orange Pi 2G-IoT have an 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth along with a 2G Mobile Radio module for 2G cellular connectivity.
This is a fully functioning linux machine similar to that of raspberry pi with less processing power and cheaper rate. You can run Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian and Raspbian OS in it. You can use it as a wireless server, games, entertainment etc and so, the Orange pi boards can be considered as cheap raspberry pi alternatives.
The micro:bit is based on nRF51822 micro-controller, which includes an inbuilt Bluetooth Low Energy chipset.[AdSense-C]On top of the board, there are mainly 2 buttons which can be used for programming as well as other functions such as games, sending messages, activation of display etc. It also have an inbuild accelerometer and magnetometer chips can detect motion as well as the direction you it is moving.
Another board in cheap raspberry pi alternatives list is the ‘CHIP’. CHIP is a single board board computer, targeting hobbyists as well as professionals. The board is powered by SoC processor R8 and integrates an ARM CortexTM-A8 CPU and peripherals, such as Graphic Engine, UART, SPI, USB port, CIR, CMOS Sensor Interface and LCD controller.
This one is similar to Raspberry Pi zero W. You can use it as a server, in robotics and for entertainment. One of the cheap raspberry pi alternatives you can online.
10. Arduino Family
If you are here, reading this post, you should have heard the word ‘Arduino’ at least once in your life. So what is Arduino? Arduino is an open-source platform focussed on easy to use electronics hardware and software. Arduino is the world’s most widely used microcontroller boards among students, professionals, and hobbyists due to low price and simple and accessible user experience. Arduino boards are really cheap and easy to use.
It has a cross-platform IDE (runs on Windows, Linux, and MAC) that have a simple and lightweight programming environment. This IDE is open source and can be expanded by adding C++ libraries. There is no doubt that Arduino boards can be cheap raspberry pi alternatives in the field of robotics and home automation.
Below are the most commonly used Arduino Boards.
10.1. Arduino Uno
Uno is the most widely used micro controller board that you can start playing with if you are a beginner. Arduino uno is powered by ATMEGA 328P and has 14 Digital IO pins and 6 analog pins. It have a USB port wchich can be attached to a computer for easy upload of programs. You can do anything you want with this board because worst thing that could happen is you chip getting fried, which by the way can be replaced for a few dollars.
This board is good for making small – medium sized robots such as line followers, light following robots, maze solvers and other hobby projects like light sensors, GSM integration etc.
10.2. Arduino Mega
Need more pins? Go for Arduino Mega. Arduino Mega is a powerful microcontroller board based on Atmega1280. This one has 54 digital IO pins (of which 14 are Pulse Width Modulated signal outputs), 16 analog pins, 4 hardware serial ports (2 TX RX pairs) clocked by a 16 MHz crystal oscillator. This one also has a USB connector that can be directly connected to a computer for uploading programs.
If you are using projects that requires more number of GPIO pins like a hexapod, octapod or large LED Cube, then this is the board for you.
10.3. Arduino Nano
This one has same specs as that of UNO but is much smaller and compact. Unlike arduino UNO, nano doesn’t have a DC power jack, and it works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard USB cable.One advantage is, this board is breadboard friendly, which means it can be connected to a bread board and easily connect components and sensors to it.
This one is compact, light weight and can be enclosed in tiny boxes and containers, which makes it suitable for compact and tiny robots. Due to its light weight, it is most commonly used in drones, aeroplanes, helicopters and other aerial robots.
10.4. Arduino MKR GSM 1400
Arduino MKR GSM 1400 is the latest member of arduino family. There is a reason why I included this new member to this list. This board has an awesome feature that all other micro controller boards lacks till now. This board support wireless connectivity using GSM 3G network which is widening the scope of IOT development for hackers and hobbyists. This board enables people who are not much experienced in the field of networking to build their own IOT projects.
This one can be used in all IOT projects which can be deployed on remote areas with GSM connectivity to gather information from the sensors like weather data by reading data from humidity sensor or rain detector. This can also be used to control robots in a remote location.
Thats it guys, these are some of the top Raspberry Pi Alternatives you’ll find today. All of them are available on Online Markets too. Check them out and let me know your thoughts.
New to Robotics?
We have a beginners guide on “Getting Started with Robotics” which will give you a kick start in this field. Check out our free video tutorial below for a brief introduction.
Top Arduino Projects You can Try this Summer Vacation
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