The Raspberry Pi is a computer the size of a credit card that is aimed at do-it-yourselfers. The cheap and tiny device costs less than you’d pay for a few drinks in San Francisco, so it’s already proven to be a hit among hobbyists who want to add light computing or internet connectivity to their projects. But the newest version of this little board has some additional features that make it capable enough to possibly replace your desktop PC.
With the Raspberry Pi 4, the one-size-fits all approach of previous releases is gone. It’s available with either 1, 2, or 4 gigabytes of RAM. (This is the first time it’s been possible to get a Pi with more than 1 GB of memory.) The extra RAM opens a new world of functionality for the Pi, including running desktop software—but the Raspberry Pi 4 is still the same great little DIY machine.
The Raspberry Pi began life as a hacker’s dream: a cheap, low-power, highly extendable, hackable PC that shipped as a bare circuit board. Intended as one part educational device, one part tinkering tool, it became something of a phenomenon that has been used to power everything from scaled-down Mars rovers to millions of science and hackday experiments in schools around the world.
Along the way, the Raspberry Pi spawned countless imitators. Today’s would-be tinkerers have a wealth of options to choose from. That said, the Pi remains the most popular and best known among them. It also has the largest community around it, which makes it particularly appealing for new entrants into the world of tiny PCs.
I tested the new Pi 4 Desktop Kit, which features a 4 GB motherboard, a white and red plastic case, a keyboard, mouse, two Micro HDMI to Standard HDMI cables, a USB-C power supply, and a 16 GB MicroSD card with Raspbian Linux installed. As the name implies, this Pi bundle is trying to be a desktop computer than a board for tinkering.
As always, the base model, bare board Raspberry Pi is $35, which gets you the board with 1 GB RAM. That part of the Pi 4 remains, remarkably, unchanged. For $10 more you can get the 2 GB version, or you can pick up the 4 GB version for $55.