This new Gigabyte board packs a lot of PC into a tiny computer.
If you're running up against the limits of what the $35 Raspberry Pi can do, Gigabyte's latest developer board could be the device for you.
Gigabyte's most recent offering surpasses the specs of the Pi in many respects, delivering a capable board for a small form factor PC.
The GA-SBCAP3450 packs a quad-core Intel processor running at up to 2.2GHz, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, gigabit Ethernet, Sata 6Gb/s connectors, USB 3.1 ports, and a mini-PCIe slot. It can also output to 4K displays.
Unfortunately for those looking for a computer as compact as the Pi, the Gigabyte board is slightly larger, increasing the dimensions to 104mm x 75mm. The price, not yet revealed, is also likely to be several times that of the Pi, with Gigabyte releasing a slightly lower-specced board last year that sells for £170 ($223).
As you'd expect given the likely price difference, the new board will outperform the top-of-the-range Pi, the third generation B+. In comparison to the Pi, the Gigabyte board supports up to eight times the memory, has faster wired networking and significantly faster data transfer to attached storage — opening up the possibility of using an SSD with the board.
While the board can output to a 4K display, there's no guarantee of smooth 4K video playback, with the board's Intel Celeron N3450 processor only marketed as offering smooth HD playback.
There is no operating system listed, and the board's predecessor was sold without an OS. However, the computer's x86 processor is able to run a wide range of Linux-based operating systems, as well as the full desktop version of Windows 10.
SEE: Hardware spotlight: The Raspberry Pi (Tech Pro Research)
Cooling is built into the board, with an integrated aluminum heat spreader attached to its base.
If you're interested in using the board to control DIY electronics, however, then the Pi remains the better choice, as the Gigabyte boards lacks the 40-pin header found on the Pi.
As with all Pi competitors, the usual caveats apply, particularly that the attraction of the Pi is not that it's the fastest board around.
A key selling point for the Pi is its accessibility to new users and ease of use out of the box relative to rival boards, due to the extensive range of software, projects and community support that have grown up around the multi-million selling board since it launched five years ago.
The Pi also has a reputation for remaining usable years after purchase, thanks to its ongoing support, as witnessed by the ongoing updates to the Pi's official OS Raspbian.