The days of sub-$100 computer systems being too sluggish to do something helpful are lengthy gone. Arguably it was launch of the Raspberry Pi in 2012 that proved to the broader world that low cost computer systems might truly do helpful work. Since the discharge of the $35 board, a military of imitators have borrowed its title, with the hope of capitalizing on the world’s insatiable urge for food for the Raspberry Pi, right now one of many world’s best-selling computer systems.
One of the newest rivals to leap on the Pi bandwagon is the Rock Pi 4, a board whose specs roundly trounce the Raspberry Pi. But does that technical superiority make the Rock Pi a greater laptop? That very a lot depends upon what you need to do with the board and your experience utilizing Linux and single-board computer systems. The efficiency of the Rock Pi 4 definitely outstrips that of the flagship Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (as you’ll be able to see within the benchmarks beneath), nevertheless it additionally lags behind the Raspberry Pi in a number of necessary respects.
As effectively as comfortably working Gmail and Google Docs, 1080p YouTube video appears to play with no hitch, and you may actually see the good thing about that extra reminiscence because it performs whereas different tabs run in background. Playback of native video is equally clean, with a 1080p film not dropping a body utilizing the OS’ default video participant. However, 4K video playback was nonetheless out of attain, for me no less than. The 4K/30FPS model of the Big Buck Bunny take a look at video performs within the browser and domestically, however was jerky. However, the very fact the video performed and was solely stuttering, relatively than freezing, suggests it is perhaps doable to realize clean 4k playback with the correct participant and video codec.There’s much more to the Rock Pi, with assist for Android and Android TV working techniques, and the supply of quicker storage, as much as 128GB eMMC, each of which I hope to check out in a future article. But as I continued to make use of the Rock Pi I bumped into a variety of points. The sound did not work via my monitor, in contrast to different computer systems I’ve hooked up by way of HDMI, requiring me to plug headphones into the 3.5mm jack as an alternative. And whereas every bit of software program I attempted initially labored, throughout benchmarking I up to date the software program package deal record and upgraded the put in software program packages, solely to seek out that subsequently neither the Firefox or Chromium browsers would load. Both these points could also be fixable with effort and time, however the decision is not apparent to a novice consumer, and resulted in me having to revert to a contemporary set up of the OS. In comparability, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and A+ felt extra sturdy throughout my time with them, and I by no means bumped into points the place updates broke the system. The Raspberry Pi’s different trump card over the Rock Pi 4 is its group. I sorely missed the great tutorials and boards solutions accessible for the Raspberry Pi. SEE: Inside the Raspberry Pi: The story of the $35 laptop that modified the world (PDF)A working example was compiling Quake 3 to check 3D efficiency on the Rock Pi, which I gave up on after hours of attempting totally different strategies and chasing down resolutions for error messages.This undoubtedly is right down to my very own inexperience, however when testing the Raspberry Pi I arguably knew even much less and was nonetheless capable of finding a information to stroll me via the method. In this respect, I felt the absence of the Raspberry Pi’s massive and useful group fairly acutely. The remaining subject is a little bit of an odd one. While utilizing the Rock Pi 4 I observed my board gave off a particular, barely disagreeable odor as soon as it heated up, which is perhaps a problem for somebody utilizing the Rock Pi 4 in a confined house. I additionally used the Rock Pi with a provided heatsink, which I think about would make it virtually inconceivable to make use of with present Raspberry Pi circumstances, regardless of the same dimensions of each boards.So, sure the Rock Pi 4 actually is a souped-up Raspberry Pi that delivers on its promised efficiency. When all the things is working effectively, it is noticeably snappier and will work effectively for these wanting a developer board with extra muscle than the Raspberry Pi. But by leaving the behind the Raspberry Pi’s group you may be crusing in barely uneven waters, so solely achieve this when you’re assured you’ll be able to navigate issues as they come up. The Rock Pi 4 is on the market from varied approved resellers, extra info right here .The Rock Pi 4 outperforms the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B in benchmarks, however is a dearer machine.
Image: Nick Heath / TechRepublic
Next Big Thing Newsletter
Be within the find out about sensible cities, AI, Internet of Things, VR, autonomous driving, drones, robotics, and extra of the good tech improvements.
Delivered Wednesdays and Fridays
Sign up right now
Read extra about single-board computer systems