The Raspberry Pi 4 is an amazing device. It is the latest and greatest in a series of computers that millions of people have programmed into and forms the basis for many DIY electronics projects. The catch is that they are impossible to get, at least not at MSRP.
A shortage of semiconductors, combined with rising popularity, has resulted in a significant supply shortfall for the Pi 4. Manufacturers say the device won’t be in stock until April next year, and in the meantime, the few that are are priced at up to 400% more than estimated. retail price.
But there are alternatives. Some of them might be a little pricey and others might not have the power of the Pi 4, but they’re all stock and ready for your next project. Let’s see what options you have while Pi is not on the menu.
Tinker Board S R2.0
If you opt for the Tinker Board S R2.0, you’ll get a 1.8GB quad-core processor, 2GB LPDDR3 RAM, and 16GB internal storage. The Tinker Board should have enough power to take on your more ambitious “Pi” projects like home entertainment systems or smart home controllers.
The Tinkerboard processor is more powerful than what you’ll find in the Pi 4 B, so you can make your builds even more ambitious. However, when they are available, you can get the Pi 4 with up to 8GB of RAM, which is more than the 2GB that Tinkerboard offers. Then there is the price. You can buy the Tinkerboard S R2.0 on Amazon for $149.99 – more than some of the inflated Pi 4s currently on sale. In short, this is a good option if you need more processing power or can’t find a Pi 4, even at a higher price. The other boards on this list also have 2GB of RAM, but their price tags are much nicer.
The Linux-based ODROID XU4Q uses “Samsung Exynos5422 octa-core Cortex-A15 2Ghz and Cortex-A7 processors” along with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. On paper, this potentially makes the UX4Q the most powerful microcomputer on this list. It also comes with a very large heatsink that appears to absorb some of the heat from its relatively powerful processor. In terms of ports, ODROID managed to fit two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an HDMI port into the tiny board.
In terms of price, at just over $100, the ODROID XU4Q sits in the middle. That’s cheaper than the current prices that several affordable Pis go for, but noticeably more expensive than some of the other options and the Pi’s MSRP. Despite the price and processing power, from the available information, I doubt that the XU4Q will be able to play 4K video, even if it has a port for it, which slightly limits its applications.
Middle of the road in terms of price. Comes with a powerful processor, but with some limitations.
Free computer board AML-S905X-CC
Libre AML-S905X-CC (or “Le Potato”) computer board with 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 4K Ultra HD ARM Mali-450 750MHz GPU, and 2GB DDR3 RAM roughly matches the Pi 4 and outperforms the Pi 3. The company claims that their potato is about 50% faster than the predecessor Pi 4. But the best thing about the Libre Computer Board is that it is available and its price. The board is compatible with Android, Linux, and most likely any other open source software you can get your hands on.
For me, the little Libre potato is the choice on this list and what I would go for to deal with the Pi shortage. At $55, that’s not a million miles less than what you’d pay for a Pi 4 at the same price in happier times. It’s certainly a lot cheaper than some of the heavily bloated microcomputers flying around these days.
Raspberry Pi Pico
The Raspberry Pi 4 has a major edge, but if you can’t get your hands on one, ask yourself, “Do I really need all that power?” The Raspberry Pi Pico is available, very cheap, and can be used for a lot of fun projects. You’ll pay more than the MSRP for a pico, but a $4 75% surcharge is a lot easier to digest than a $35 400% surcharge.
Pico is probably not enough to run your home entertainment system, replace your everyday computer, or power a smart mirror, but you can make a drone out of it. The microcontroller can also be used to emulate older games. While the Pico certainly doesn’t pack as much power as its older siblings, it’s perfect if you just want the Pi to satisfy your creative itch.
You’ll still be putting things together, coding with the Pico version of Python, and solving little problems that come up. The only difference is the scale of the project you can take on and the savings you’ll get by not spending several times the suggested retail price on your Pi.
Raspberry Pi Pico
Available for less than $10 and capable of giving you an idea of what the Pi has to offer.