$35 Raspberry Pi 4 Model B brings power, 4K and faster CPU

The Raspberry Pi 4 brings significant upgrades from the previous version, according to the vendor, such as multiple memory capacities to choose from and 4K support.

Months ahead of its projected release date, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has unveiled its next-generation minicomputer, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. The size of a deck of cards and starting at the vendor's signature $35 price point, the Raspberry Pi 4 brings more desktop-like capabilities than previous iterations.

Notable in this release is the offering of multiple memory capacities for the first time. All other Raspberry Pi single-board computers max out at 1 GB RAM, while the 4 gives users the choice of 1 GB, 2 GB or 4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM, ringing in at $35, $45 and $55, respectively.

Additionally, a 1.5 GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 processor brings three times the performance of the preceding Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, which featured a 1.4 GHz 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPU.

The boost in memory and adjustments to the form factor of the new model unlock its potential to serve as a viable desktop computer replacement, which might be worth the increased price points for users.

The Raspberry Pi 4 moved from USB micro-B to USB-C, supporting an additional 500mA of current to accommodate heavy CPU load, and features two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. The Raspberry Pi 4 also supports dual-monitor support for the first time, with up to 4K resolution -- a significant step into the everyday work- or consumer-desktop realm.

The Raspberry Pi 4 also ships with an overhauled OS, Raspbian Buster, based on the upcoming Debian 10 Buster release. The Raspbian OS brings a modernized UI, updated apps in the Chromium 74 browser and a new graphic driver stack -- retiring its legacy one for the Mesa V3D driver -- that offers faster web browsing, supports 3D applications and eliminates almost half the lines of closed-source code in the platform.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation unveiled its desktop-like Raspberry Pi 4 Model B months in advance of its rumored release date.
The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B has an almost identical, credit card-sized form factor as the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

Additional specs of the Raspberry Pi 4 include the following:

  • 5 GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 CPU
  • Full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • VideoCore VI graphics with OpenGL ES 3.x
  • 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video

Traditionally, the Raspberry Pi line of boards have been used for smaller computing projects, a supplement to an enterprise's environment of devices or a low-cost computer for kids to learn how hardware and software work.

The developments and added power -- especially with the higher-end models -- of the Raspberry Pi 4 make the machine a more universal and traditional computer, without sacrificing the flexibility and versatility of its predecessors.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released a new version of its single-board computer, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B.
The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B features four USB ports -- two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0.

Raspberry Pi debuted in 2012 and has since gained many competitors in the single-board computer realm as users realized the benefit. Popular alternatives in a similar price range -- many building off the nod to fruit-filled pies -- include the Orange Pi Prime, Odroid XU4, Banana Pi-M64 and NanoPi NEO4.

Except for its slightly altered form factor from the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and, subsequently, new casing, Raspberry Pi 4 retains compatibility with most of the brand's earlier products.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has historically offered pared-down iterations of boards, categorized as Model A, that are more limited in features but come at a lower price point. As noted in a blog post, the vendor has not developed a Model A of the Raspberry Pi 4, but it will continue to explore the possibility.

Dig Deeper on Desktop management

Virtual Desktop