A new Raspberry Pi is difficult to get hold of. Supply chain issues and demand from the educational sector have resulted in shortages of the popular single-board computer (SBC).
But do you really need a brand new Raspberry Pi for your project? With so many Raspberry Pi alternatives to consider, there is a good chance that you can revise your requirements and try a different SBC.
What to Look For in a Raspberry Pi Alternative
You’re probably trying to get your hands on a Raspberry Pi 4.
After all, it’s a powerful SBC, available in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB models. A Raspberry Pi alternative might not be as powerful (it may not need to be), but it should certainly offer some (preferably all) of the following:
- USB connectivity
- Software for configuration or programming
- Low power requirement
- Enough processing power to suit your projects
It should also be affordable. With plenty of Raspberry Pi competitors out there, finding an alternative can be tricky. But with a shortage of Raspberry Pi 3B boards, Raspberry Pi 3A boards, and Raspberry Pi 4s, getting hold of the popular credit card-sized SBC is proving difficult. Raspberry Pi Compute Modules are also hard to come by.
To help you find the best board for your project, we’ve compiled this list of 4 alternatives to a Raspberry Pi.
1. Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Is a Smart Alternative
It may be half the size and be more akin to a Raspberry Pi 3 than a Raspberry Pi 4, but many people are relying on the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. However, this alternative won’t give you the same level of processing power and doesn’t have as much RAM.
What it does have is:
- Broadcom BCM2710A1, quad-core 64-bit SoC (Arm Cortex-A53 @ 1GHz)
- 512MB LPDDR2 SDRAM
- Micro USB 2.0 with OTG, Mini HDMI, microSD slot, 40-pin GPIO, CSI-2 camera connector
- Mini HDMI
- 40-pin GPIO
- 1080p @ 30FPS with OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0 graphics
That is enough to handle basic desktop computing, video streaming/media center usage, and retro gaming. Plenty of other Raspberry Pi-based projects will run on the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. In addition, most Raspberry Pi operating systems will also run on the computer.
Meanwhile, if the lack of standard USB-A and Ethernet ports is a problem, consider an expansion board. Spotpear produces a pair of adapters that add Raspberry Pi 3 or Raspberry Pi 4 ports to the Pi Zero form factor. If you’re looking for a Raspberry Pi alternative that runs Raspberry Pi OS, this is the board to choose.
Learn more about this device in our Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W review.
2. Arduino Uno Rev3
What if you don’t actually need all the computing power of a Raspberry Pi?
Since the Raspberry Pi came along, it has been relied upon for projects that require far less power. If all that is required for your project is a microcontroller, then an Arduino is a better Raspberry Pi alternative.
The Arduino Uno Rev3 is the latest version of the most versatile Arduino, with a range of in/out pins and programmable flash memory. Specs for the Arduino Uno Rev3 don’t exactly come close to a Raspberry Pi, but that’s because they’re very different:
- 32 KB (ATmega328P) flash memory
- 2 KB SRAM
- 1 KB EEPROM
- 16 MHz processor clock speed
The purpose of an Arduino is to process instructions and control other devices. It can be used in everything from robotics and toys to basic home automation. You may also use a Raspberry Pi for home automation, of course, possibly in tandem with an Arduino.
3. “Le Potato” Libre Computer Board AML-S905X-CC
The flagship device of Libre Computer, the AML-S905X-CC is better known as Le Potato. A Raspberry Pi B sized SBC, Le Potato will run Android 9 and Android TV, Linux, Kodi, and more.
Available in 1GB and 2GB variants, Le Potato is an open source Raspberry Pi competitor that makes a great alternative. Rated faster than a Raspberry Pi 3B+ (but slower than a Raspberry Pi 4), this might be the solution you need to fill your Raspberry Pi shortage.
Le Potato has:
- Amlogic S905X quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.512GHz 64-bit SoC
- 1/2GB DDR3 RAM
- 4xUSB 2.0 Type A
- HDMI 2.0
- 40-pin header
- 4K HDR support, 1080p @ 60FPS with OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0 graphics
Silly name and Raspberry Pi 3B+ spec aside, Le Potato is affordable and available to buy.
4. Banana Pi BPI-M6 Is a Powerful New Raspberry Pi Alternative
Perhaps the most well-known Raspberry Pi alternative is the Banana Pi. In 2022, the Banana Pi BPI-M6 was released, with:
- Senary (Synaptics) VideoSmart VS680 quad-core Cortex-A73 (2.1GHz) and One Cortex-M3 processor
- Imagination GE9920 GPU
- 4GB LPDDR4
- 16GB eMMC flash
- 40-pin header
The Banana Pi BPI-M6 also has 4x USB 3.0 Type A, HTMI in, HDMI out, Gigabit Ethernet port, and an M.2 Key E port for additional storage.
While not quite a clone of the Raspberry Pi (it’s slightly smaller, at 92x60mm, and weighing 48g). The Banana Pi is a powerful alternative that runs Linux and Android.
If you need a Raspberry Pi-like device for your next project, this is the alternative to choose.
4 Raspberry Pi Alternatives For Your Next Project
With shortages expected to last well into 2023, getting hold of a Raspberry Pi isn’t going to be easy. The four alternative single-board computers listed here cover all eventualities, from full OS compatibility to specific microcontroller-only projects.
- Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W: offers Raspberry Pi OS compatibility and with an adapter, a matching form-factor
- Arduino Uno Rev3: this microcontroller can be programmed without requiring an operating system
- Le Potato: a fully open source Raspberry Pi alternative that runs Android TV, Linux, Kodi, and more
- Banana Pi BPI-M6: the latest Banana Pi is a powerful Raspberry Pi 4 alternative
If you need a Raspberry Pi and don’t have the time or money to wait or pay over the odds, use one of these alternatives to complete your project.