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Pi versus Pi: Which is right for your project?

23 August 2019

In the first of an exclusive 3-part series, Sven Pannewitz, Product Manager, reichelt elektronik, asks which Pi is right for your project?

Since its very first generation, the Raspberry Pi has been a device with huge potential. While initially designed as a tool to teach people the basics of computing, the micro-computer has since evolved into a must-have for anyone looking to build their own computing project. Whether it’s a controller for your smart home, an internet radio, or a connection for your printer, the Raspberry Pi has become the go-to for anyone who would rather do it themselves. 

There’s now a brand-new edition in town, as the Raspberry Pi 4 joins the line-up of small-but-mighty computers. It’s more powerful and capable than ever before, opening up new projects and possibilities that could not be done with the existing Raspberry Pi 3 B. But do you need the new Raspberry Pi 4 for your project? We break down the key differences between the versions, so you don’t have to. 

Power 

For starters, the Raspberry Pi 4 packs more power than its predecessor, with a 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A72 Quad Core CPU. This compares with 1.4GHz of its predecessor. While this may seem like a small upgrade on the surface, if you’ve been pushing your micro-computer to its limits, the new model will allow you to go that extra mile. If you’re using your Raspberry Pi for any sort of graphics or visual intensive purpose, you’ll appreciate what that additional power can do for your project. 

Storage

More interestingly, perhaps, the Raspberry Pi 4 offers a range of different RAM options. Whereas the previous Pi 3 offered just 1GB in RAM, the Pi 4 can come in 1GB, 2GB or 4GB variations. This opens up more projects where speed and storage are key factors, and while it might not replace a very large external hard drive for home entertainment projects, it might allow you to skip adding external storage for smaller more limited projects. 

Connectivity

Not all projects require Bluetooth connectivity, but for those that do, the Pi 4 comes enabled Bluetooth 5.0 for the first time, versus Bluetooth 4.2 on the Pi 3. What difference does it make? It means that connections are more reliable and can reach much greater distances. Bluetooth 5.0 can connect a distance of 300 metres, which is four times the distance of 4.2. It’s also substantially faster, more secure, and uses less power. If you’re using Bluetooth to connect to additional devices, particularly for smart technology, the new Raspberry Pi 4 gives you much greater flexibility. 

Ports

The way that we connect our devices has changed since the Raspberry Pi 3 was released too. While the Pi 3 sported USB 2.0 and microUSB connections, the new Pi 4 swaps these for USB 3.0 connections. This means much faster connection speeds of 5Gb/s compared to just 480Mb/s from USB 2.0. 

The Pi 4 also swaps the one HDMI port for two microHDMI ports. For the first time, the Raspberry Pi can output in 4K, up to 60fps. If you’ve been locked down to a single screen or TV output before, you can now double your output, all while displaying at the highest resolution. Just because the Pi 4 is small, doesn’t mean it can’t create something beautiful. 

Finally, the Pi 4 swaps the microUSB charging port of the Pi 3 for a USB Type-C, so there’s no need to hold onto old wires from 2016 era Android phones. 

The Raspberry Pi 4 opens up even more projects for people to experiment and create in industry and at home. From 4K visuals to increased storage, there is a whole host of new innovative ways people can use the new micro-computer. The Pi 4 shows that a small and extremely low-cost computer can be exciting and powerful. 

Stay tuned for the second part of this exclusive Raspberry Pi series, where Sven Pannewitz will talk you through getting started with the Raspberry Pi 4.


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