The pocket-sized Raspberry Pi 4 computer is beloved by DIY enthusiasts and hardware hackers for its versatility and its ease of use. But while the tiny PC is cool, it ain’t perfect. It chokes on 4K and H.265 video, it has no easy way to boot from an SSD or hard drive, and it can’t run Windows. Fortunately for those who require those capabilities in their projects, there are alternatives to the Pi.
We’ve picked five single-board computers (known as SBCs) that offer more power or flexibility than the Pi, more inputs and outputs, and more of what your project might need. Which alternative is right for you depends on what you want to do with the device. For homemade robots and other projects that don’t need a screen display, it’s hard to argue with the low cost, processing power, and profusion of in/outputs of the PocketBeagle. If you’re building your own media center, the Odroid N2 is my top pick—install CoreELEC on this $65 SBC and it can do everything from play Netflix in HD to emulate a PlayStation for retro gaming. But each of the devices listed below fills its own niche. Read on to find out which one is best for you.
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