Over the years, the Raspberry Pi became an alternative to plain desktop computers for a fraction of the cost. Whereas the original version still was slow and came in just one configuration, the new Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is powerful enough to handle the most common applications.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation explains that it has listened to customer feedback which has resulted in improved performance and speed of the Raspberry Pi 4. The Raspberry Pi 4 has the same basic shape and size as the Raspberry Pi 3 but boasts dual HDMI outputs, better USB and Ethernet performance. A few other notable features onboard wireless connectivity and Bluetooth 5.0. The Raspberry Pi 4 will remain in production until January 2026.
Let’s take a deeper look at its improved specs:
Choose Your RAM Size
For the first time, a Raspberry Pi comes in different RAM sizes: You can choose between 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB.
The 1GB RAM model will cost $35, the 2GB RAM model costs $45. The 4GB RAM model offers four times as much memory as the previous Pi model and costs $55.
Thankfully, the RAM access rate is also twice the speed of the Raspberry Pi 3. This will make the overall experience much smoother, especially if you’re having a lot of computations going on. It is fair to say that the extra memory will ease a lot of old pain points, especially if you are working with multiple programs.
A Faster CPU
Compared to the Raspberry Pi 3, the CPU of the 4 is a major upgrade. The Raspberry Pi 3 offered a Broadcom BCM2837 SoC (4× ARM Cortex-A53 running at 1.2GHz).
However, the CPU for the Raspberry Pi 4 offers an upgrade thanks to a Broadcom BCM2711 SoC. This is a quad-core Cortex-A72 running at 1.5GHz.
The overall performance should allow you to do the same work on a Raspberry Pi that you do on a regular vanilla PC now. Of course, it depends what software and operating system you are using… but overall, this is a significant power boost for this tiny single board computer. The only drawback: The Raspberry Pi 4 will get significantly warmer than its predecessors.
Benchmarks conducted by Tom’s Hardware showed that the Raspberry Pi 4 was 37 percent quicker than the Raspberry Pi 3 when zipping a file in multithreaded mode, and a whopping 60 percent faster for single-thread computations.
Improved Graphics Capabilities
The credo “More speed” also applies to the GPU, which gets a nice boost, too. You can now even hook it up to two HDMI devices thanks to the VideoCore VI graphics which supports OpenGL ES 3.x.
The graphics hardware has a 4K 60p output resolution and can decode 4K-H.265 and 1080p60-H.264 video content.
This means you can – theoretically – hook up two 4K displays on a single Raspberry Pi 4. Still, 4K video playback is the Achilles heel of the Raspberry Pi family: It’s a bit too slow to give you full 60 Hertz imaging. Surfing the web, on the other hand, is a breeze once you have 4 GB of RAM.
USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0
While the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ has four USB 2.0 ports, the Raspberry Pi 4 offers two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. While the storage is still handled by an SD card, the team added USB 3.0 to make hooking up SSD’s faster.
The Raspberry Pi 4 B offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the same as the Raspberry Pi 3 B+, but sports Bluetooth 5.0, compared to Bluetooth 4.2 on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.
To improve upon PCB routing, the Raspberry Pi team moved the Gigabit Ethernet mag-jack from the bottom right of the board to the top right.
Like its predecessor, the Raspberry 4 is also compatible with the Power over Ethernet HAT.
For the power connector, the Raspberry Pi 4 has moved from USB micro-B to USB-C. The benefit of this is that it supports an extra 500mA of current. This means a full 1.2A for downstream USB devices even under heavy CPU load.
There’s No Model A
In the Raspberry Pi cosmos, the Model A version always was the less capable, slower and – to most buyers – the less interesting model. The Raspberry Pi Foundation decided to start with a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B version instead. On the website, they just talk about the “Raspberry Pi 4”.
There‘s no sign of a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B+ yet.
More Raspberry Pi 4 Greatness
- The 40 pin expansion header has the same layout
- The overall measurements and layout of the board is still the same, although some connectors are different now.
- Thanks to its camera connector and its computing power, the Raspberry Pi 4 will become a low-cost solution to many involved in machine learning, object and facial recognition, and AI.
- Besides the popular Raspbian OS, you can still run various Linux distributions like Ubuntu, or even Windows 10 IoT Core, RetroPie, OSMC, PiNet, or RISC OS.