Don't be fooled by its size or price—the Raspberry Pi 4 rolling out today promises enough oomph to run two 4K screens at once, and it's rocking more and better RAM. It's so powerful, in fact, the Foundation says this Pi 4 is good enough to be a “complete desktop computer."
The latest version of the Raspberry Pi is available in 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB RAM variants. This is the first time we've seen multiple versions of the same Raspberry Pi model, and the first time a Raspberry Pi has had more than a gig of RAM. Prices start at the usual $35 for the 1GB RAM version, with the 2GB version costing $45 and the 4GB topping off at $55.
Here are the basic specs of the Raspberry Pi 4:
- SoC: Broadcom BCM2711 64-bit system-on-chip with four ARM Cortex-A72 CPU cores clocked at 1.5GHz
- CPU: 4x ARM Cortex-A72, 1.5GHz
- RAM: 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB LPDDR4 SDRAM
- Networking: Gigabit ethernet, 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Multimedia: HEVC/H.265 (4kp60 decode); AVC/H.264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode), OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
- Storage: microSD
- GPIO: 40-pin header, populated
- Ports: 2 x micro-HDMI, 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, two-lane MIPI Camera Serial Interface (CSI), two-lane MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI), 3.5mm analog audio-video jack
The new Raspberry Pi has hungrier power demands than its predecessors. Version 4 requires a 5 volt charger with 3 amps instead of the 2.5A the previous two Pis did. The RPi 4 also upgrades to USB-C for power instead of micro USB, while GPIO header and Power over Ethernet (PoE) options remain.
The ability to drive two 4K displays simultaneously on such a tiny PC is a remarkable feat, and we’re looking forward to testing this feature to see how the Pi 4 performs in the real world.
Raspberry Pi 4 also upgrades its SoC to Cortex-A72 cores versus the Cortex-A53 in the Raspberry Pi 3 B+. The Raspberry Pi Foundation says the Raspberry Pi 4 has three times the processing power for the Pi 3 B+. The new SoC also keeps the heatspreader we first saw on the Pi 3 B+ to reduce throttling and maintain higher clock speeds.
The option to go all the way up to 4GB of RAM (using LPDDR4 instead of LPDDR2, no less) should also make this board hum along with productivity tasks such as photo and video editing. Streaming should also improve dramatically on Raspbian, and gaming with Minecraft Pi Edition should be loads better than it is now. You'll also notice in the specs that the new Raspberry Pi 4 is rated for true Gigabit Ethernet this time around instead of the Pi 3 B+’s "pseudo-Gigabit"; the physical Internet connection on the Pi 3 B+ was hampered by connecting over a single USB 2.0 bridge. The 4's Ethernet controller is connected to an external Broadcom PHY over a dedicated RGMII link to provide "full throughput."
Finally, the Raspberry Pi Foundation says an official Pi 4 case is also available today, though pricing was not announced. Third-party cases should also roll out soon, and of course Etsy will soon fill up with its usual crop of Raspberry Pi 4 3D-printed cases.
All in all, this new Pi sounds like a great little machine, especially if you shell out for the extra RAM. We were already close to calling the Pi a true entry-level desktop computer with the Raspberry Pi 3 and the Pi 3 B+. Now with the ability to run two 4K screens, a better processor, and more RAM options it might actually get there, so we can’t wait to see how this little board handles the demands of everyday tasks.
The Raspberry Pi is available from the PiShop and other Raspberry Pi retailers.