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At a Glance: Raspberry Pi 4 Review

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The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s single-board computers have garnered quite a bit of fanfare over the last decade due to the product’s low price point and versatile features. It’s been three years since the non-profit organization first launched the Raspberry Pi 3, which is just short of an eternity in the tech world, and yet the Raspberry Pi 3 still holds an influential position in the market. Now the Raspberry Pi 4 is ready to take the place of its predecessor. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what Raspberry’s newest single-board computer has to offer.

Specs & Design

The Raspberry Pi 4 looks essentially the same as the Raspberry Pi 3. As it’s essentially a few chips and metal bits soldered onto a PCB, however, this is to be expected. The Raspberry Pi 4 is slightly larger than its predecessor, but not by a significant margin.

At the heart of the Raspberry Pi 4 is a Broadcom BCM2711 SoC that has four ARM Cortex-A72 CPU cores clocked at 1.5GHz. This should offer a significant boost in performance over the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, which utilized four slower more energy efficient Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at 1.4GHz. The Pi 4 also has a more powerful graphics processor that is clocked 25 percent faster than its predecessor. Architectural details on Boardcom’s proprietary VideoCore graphics technology are few and far between and we can’t really judge how much of a performance boost this represents, but it will likely be fairly significant due to the increased clock speed alone.

All versions of the Raspberry Pi 4 will also come equipped with LPDDR4, which is notably faster than the LPDDR2 memory used on the outgoing Pi 3 Model B+. The least expensive model of the Pi 4 will come with just 1GB of RAM and cost $35 exactly like its predecessor. Ponying up an extra $10 will get you 2GB of RAM, and the top-tier 4GB version retails for $55.

With the combination of the faster processing hardware, faster RAM, and greater quantity of RAM, it appears that the Pi 4 will run circles around its predecessor in essentially any task. It’s also worth noting that the Pi 4 will also support gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 ports, which are features that the Pi 3 lacked.

Performance Tests & Heat

Our sister site PCMag tested out a Raspberry Pi 4 and an older Pi 3 Model B+ to figure out just how much better the new Pi tastes than the old one. The results from Sunspider 1.0.2, which is a JavaScript benchmark, showed the Pi 4 easily besting the prior model. The Pi 4 completed this test in just 845ms, whereas the Pi 3 Model B+ took more than twice as long at 1.92 seconds. PCMag next tested the two devices with JetStream 1.1. The Pi 4 in this test achieved a score of 38.14, but the Pi 3 Model B+ was unable to handle the strain and complete the test.

While the Pi 4 is undoubtedly the fastest product ever released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, it’s unfortunately also one of the hottest. When using the system to watch a YouTube video playing at 1080p, PCMag recorded the temperature of the SoC as hitting 72 degrees celsius. The temperature rose as high as 76 degrees celsius during the JetStream test. Technically it’s safe to operate the Raspberry Pi 4 at these temperatures, and the system is designed to throttle the CPU if temps hit 80 degrees Celsius to avoid damaging the unit. But it’s also a little close for comfort, and it would be best to invest in a fan, heatsink, or both to help guard against heat-related damage.

Conclusion

All things considered, the Raspberry Pi 4 is a faster solution with a richer feature set, all while matching the price point of its predecessor to the cent. Not to mention there are models with extra RAM for those that want to use the system as an HTPC or media streaming device. Realistically, I can’t see a single negative point to make about it. Just be careful not to burn your Pi with too many power-hungry apps.

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