New kid on the block

Raspberry Pi 4

Tried and true

Raspberry Pi 3 B+

The Raspberry Pi version 4 is a bump up in every spec from the previous model. The CPU, the GPU, the Memory speeds and even the SD card read and write speeds are much faster and the system as a whole should prove to be a lot more robust for those projects that were almost too much for the model 3B+ to tackle. It's also available with three different memory sizes — 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB — to be the right fit for any project.

$65 at Amazon

Pros

  • Better CPU
  • Faster Memory
  • Dual 4K monitor support
  • USB 3.0
  • More ports

Cons

  • No full-size HDMI port
  • Draws more power
  • You need a new case

The Raspberry Pi model 3B+ is still an awesome little PC board, but it's completely outclassed by its beefier sibling. It's most notable in the SD card read-write speeds and the GPU, which are a good bit faster on version 4. The good news is that it's still going to keep doing everything it always did and should be supported for a few more years.

$37 at Amazon

Pros

  • Full-size HDMI port
  • More accessories (for now)

Cons

  • Lower specs
  • USB 2.0
  • Still using OpenGL ES 2.0

The Raspberry Pi isn't the world's fastest super-computer, but it just might be the best supported. You'll find them used to power everything from Christmas lights, video game consoles, media servers, and home automation hubs and they do an excellent job. The new version 4 and its better specs mean the use case has expanded for anything that needed just a little more power, and the bump in graphical abilities mean it makes for an even better entertainment device. But that doesn't mean the model 3B+ suddenly becomes obsolete; if it works for you now it's going to keep working for a long time.

The Specs

What's really important is the difference in specs. Just like any computer more is better, but everything comes at a cost.

Raspberry Pi 4 Raspberry Pi 3 B+
CPU Broadcom BCM2711
Quad core Cortex-A72 @ 1.5GHz
Broadcom BCM2837B0
Quad core Cortex-A53 @ 1.4GHz
GPU VideoCore VI @ 500Mhz VideoCore IV @ 250-400MHz
RAM 1GB, 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4-2400 SDRAM 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM
USB 2x USB-a 2.0, 2x USB-A 3.0, 1x USB-C 4x USB-A 2.0 ports
Display ports 2x microHDMI Single Full-size HDMI
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 300Mbps Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0
Misc. 40-pin GPIO header, 3.5mm audio port, camera module support, composite video 40-pin GPIO header, 3.5mm audio port, camera module support, composite video

There's a saying about specs never telling the whole story, but when you're dealing with a low-power, low-cost single board computer they really do. Because the Raspberry Pi wasn't over-designed so that you'll have plenty of processing power to spare you really notice even the smallest performance increase — especially if you are pushing it to its limit.

Perhaps even more noticeable than a new SoC and faster (and more) RAM is the dual-monitor 4K60fps support the version 4 offers. Thanks to its beefier GPU you can not only go with dual displays without any fiddling but the output will be easier on your eyes. You'll also find OpenGL ES 3.0 support for more modern gaming. Everything has its drawbacks though, and the Raspberry Pi 4 uses microHDMI ports and uses 3 Amps of power compared to the 3B+'s full-size port and 2.5A draw.

Another thing the specs don't completely tell is that the Raspberry Pi 3B+ didn't suddenly become obsolete. It will still be supported for a while and any project that works well with it will continue to work well. If you don't need the extra power for an existing project, getting a new board and enclosure — the port layout is different and 3B+ cases won't fit — might not be worth it. If you're starting something new and don't already have a Raspberry Pi, for sure go with the version 4!

New kid on the block

Raspberry Pi 4

Big bump in power

The Raspberry Pi version 4 is a bump up in every spec from the previous model. It's also available with three different memory sizes — 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB — to be the right fit for any project.

Tried and true

Raspberry Pi 3 B+

Still great

The Raspberry Pi model 3B+ is still an awesome little PC board, even when outclassed by its beefier sibling. The good news is that it's still going to keep doing everything it always did and should be supported for a few more years.

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