Is rpi still the single board go-to?

submitted by Scrubbles

Hey all, I'm looking to build a couple dashboards out around my house. I've done this before with rokchip boards and they are... fine, but not great. Is rpi the best option right now? Are there alternatives you really like? I'd like to keep it a single board to easily mount behind things where it doesn't take up a lot of space, and I won't lie I like the DIY feeling of it over something like a thin client.

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Avid Amoeba , edited

For an SBC, yes. I don't think anyone's come close to its software support. I'm using quite a few in different applications, some 24/7. I've yet to experience hardware or software failure. I'm using official/quality PSUs and SanDisk Extreme Pro/ Samsung Evo Plus SD cards.


For projects, yes... most of the things I want to build don't need to go fast, so the pi zero is amazing and so so small. If you are just talking little cheap computer to stash somewhere, then no. I do think it would be neat if someone made a SBC N100 in the "credit card" size.


Many have said this. If you don't need the GPIO, get a small PC.


Or if you do not care about power consumption.


The n100 and n200 have quite low TDP values for much better performance than a Pi.


They still consume *way* more power than the pi. My pi fully loaded uses less power than my N100 router idle.


If you search ebay for Intel based thin clients, many are more powerful than RPi while being passively cooled and having very similar power consumption.


Never have seen a thin client that goes below 7ish Watt on idle. Basically every RPi does.

mea_rah , edited

Thin clients based on J5005 or J4105 generally idle under 5W. (Futro S740, Wyse 5070,..) They consume a bit more when 100% loaded (11W vs 8W), but they also provide about 2x performance of Pi4.

(That article you shared is measuring power consumption on the USB port, which does not take into account overhead of USB adapter itself)


Pls, provide some proof for those numbers. The 'under 5W mark' gets often claimed but i still have not seen a valid proof (a simple measurement with a wattmeter) of it other than some spec sheet.

The overhead does not matter really. USB 5V power supplies are cheap and efficient these days, yes you need to look out for an efficient one but even one with only 50% efficiency (which is really really bad) would only add 1W to the (lower than) 2W power in idle. That would still result in lower power in idle.


What if I want a computer I can power via PoE?


I have never thought about this. Thanks for pointing it out.


You’re welcome.

And I do. I have a PoE switch so the more things I can make PoE the easier it is.


I got a NUC on ebay for about the same price, maybe a little less. Has more I/O and an SSD.


IMO there is something magical about having it all running under such a small footprint device, where a simple aluminum case brings it enough cooling.

Obviously if you want to go for huge media consumption or local AI, then it won't be enough, but for running Home Assistant, qBitTorrent, syncthing... You'll be fine and supergreen.


as long as it is something simple they work fine.

But compare their price to some 1L mini PCs on the second hand market. you will get a lot more guts at around the same price.


Second that.

RPis are still unbeaten in terms of power usage, but the difference to a low end thin client is small.

Cost isn't really an argument either, you can get thin clients with case, psu and SSD for something like 40€.


RPis are still unbeaten in terms of power usage, but the difference to a low end thin client is small.

Not even close when it comes to tuned idle power usage.


My pi 3 idles at 3-4W, my Futro at around 5-6W. I'd say that's pretty close.


You can get your 3b+ (and 3 even lower) to under 2W easily on idle. 3-4 is a lot. Check out some guides, basically disable BT, display out and WiFi.


So, basically don't use it.

I mean, I get the effort, but if you account for your own labor, the power savings probably will probably take years to amortise - even with high energy costs like here in Germany.

Just as a rule of thumb: 1W of constant power costs is at most 25cents (40cent/kwh, which is even high for Germany).


I feel like its not very fair to compare prices of a new product from a shop to a second hand product price. Then again, I am not even sure you can find many second hand rpis so maybe it is just the reality.


I think you need to provide the criteria you're using to define "best".

Scrubbles [OP]

I can compare specs on my own, I'm looking for opinions here. I heard rpi wasn't completely on the up and up recently, shipping problems, overserving corporate clients, etc. If people have had bad boards, bad customer service, things are overpriced for what you get, etc.

Right now it looks like the rpi5 is the best option, but $80 is a lot, and if I can get a couple of lower end boards for half the price with a better company rep, then I'd probably seriously consider those.


Those issues were related to Covid. It made perfect sense for them to focus on their corporate clients, who are their largest revenue source. I've also never heard anything bad about their customer service, nor the quality of the products or pricing.

Now that those supply issues have been solved, there's no real reason to be wary of them. They make an incredible product at a fantastic price.


I have two rpi4 running 0/24 for more than 4 years. Get quality SD card and you are golden. I would avoid it if you need to connect multiple USB drives, but seems like you are fine with SD only. I have no experience with pi 5 or any alternative brand


I've had an RPI3 running for 7+ years (currently running Home Assistant on it). Still uses the original SD card that shipped with it, too. These things are durable and reliable as hell, as far as I'm concerned.

Avid Amoeba , edited

I had a 2-disk mirror hooked to the USB 3 ports. I think it did >200MB/s per disk prior to mirroring and the mirror speeds were similar. It only really started dragging itself when I put disk encryption on top. I think it used to do 80-90MB/s. Exposed it via NFS and it ran it as NAS for an active Plex server for a couple of years. The Pi 4 is still alive, now on another duty. 🫠

Politically Incorrect

I prefer Orange Pi over Raspberry Pi

Valmond , edited

Slightly less good (software wise) but so much worth the money IMO. I'd avoid like the i96(IIRC. If no video output well I couldn't setup ssh etc. That was some time ago so take the information with a grain of salt).

It's a little more difficult space to navigate but worth it if you know why you want one for sure.

Politically Incorrect

OPi definetly worth the money, and you can always use Armbian and software problem solved.


Do you know if it works well with GPIO from python? IIRC I had to use a OPi image and then fix and compile some low level lib.

Politically Incorrect , edited

I don't mate, you will have to test it by yourself or maybe the "AI" knows..

Scrubbles [OP]

I've never even heard of Orange Pi, thanks for the heads up to them!

floatingpaperweight , edited

If you're looking for a quick way to see its potential try using one of these images.

I use this to run 4k video, you would be surprised with how many things just work on here.

Also I slapped a 1tb M.2 SSD on there and flashed the OS there so it is very fast and has the potential to be used as a full desktop


OPI is a great SBC! 👍

Politically Incorrect

Yeah I'm using right now like 6 of these and they are working like a charm 👍👍

Possibly linux

Short answer: no