Innovation

New Raspberry Pi thin client runs full Windows 10 and other virtual desktops

The ClearCube C3Pi is the latest in a series of thin client machines based on the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, as computer makers exploit its low base price and good-enough performance.

ClearCube has launched a Raspberry Pi-based thin client for running Windows 10 and other desktop operating systems.

The ClearCube C3Pi is the latest in a series of thin client machines based on the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, as computer makers exploit the Pi's low base price and good-enough performance.

Thin clients are low-cost machines designed to replace desktop PCs. They run a virtual desktop, which is streamed from a more powerful computer, typically a server. ClearCube says the C3Pi is designed to serve as a desktop machine within enterprises and local government.

The $119.95 C3Pi is several hundred dollars cheaper than some other thin-client offerings from HP and Dell. However, the price of the thin client is only one part of the larger cost of using virtual desktops, which also includes the annual cost of licensing the desktop virtualization software.

The C3Pi can stream various versions of Windows and other desktop OSes using a range of desktop virtualization technologies. These include Citrix HDX, VMware View with PCoIP and Blast Extreme, and Microsoft RemoteFX, all of which can be set up using the C3Pi's Ubuntu-based Cloud Desktop OS.

SEE: NComputing RX300 review: Accessing Windows 10 via a Raspberry Pi-based thin client

ClearCube claims the performance of the C3Pi is comparable to that of more expensive thin clients when virtual desktops are streamed using VMware's Horizon 7.1 with the VMware Blast Extreme display protocol. Performance of the C3Pi is also boosted by Blast Extreme using the Pi's hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding.

Admins can manage and update C3Pi thin clients using ClearCube's Cloud Desktop Management software, which is controlled via a browser-based interface.

The C3Pi joins the $99 NComputing RX300 and the $89 ViewSonic SC-T25 in the growing pool of Pi-based thin clients. While reviewers have raised issues about the usability of the SC-T25, during my time testing the RX300 I found it to be a thin client that offers 99 percent of the experience of running a Windows 10 PC, offering an affordable and relatively easy way for a smaller business to roll out a centrally managed Windows desktop.

The C3Pi's specs are: Broadcom BCM2837 SoC with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU at 1.2 GHz, Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU, 1GB LPDDR2 RAM at 900 MHz, 8GB high-speed microSD card, 10/100 LAN, 2.4 GHz 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.1, HDMI port, 3.5mm audio-video jack, 4 × USB 2.0 and Cloud Desktop Operating System.

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The ClearCube thin client.

Image: ClearCube

Read more about the Raspberry Pi

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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