While rival single-board computers have surpassed the Raspberry Pi's specs for a while, an increasing number now do so for the same price.
The latest is the Pine H64 Model B, a $35 machine with double the memory of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, capable of 4K video playback (although performance varies depending on the media player) and with USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0, and Gigabit Ethernet.
The board is an upgrade to last year's Pine H64 Model A, with the main improvement being support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The H64 also has extensive options for expansion, with the mini-PCIe connector providing options for storage, Wi-Fi cards and USB 3.1 - opening up the possibility of using the board for network-attached storage or as a server.
Like the Pi, the Pine H64 is suited to be used as a developer board for software and hardware projects, media center, or retro-games console.
Specs-wise the main improvement the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ offers is that it has more USB ports than the Pine H64, although it lacks the USB 3.0 port found on the Pine H64.
As ever the Raspberry Pi's trump card is breadth of operating systems and software that run on the board, as well as the large community willing to help new users. Like most Pi rivals, only a handful of operating systems are guaranteed to run on the H64, with images available for Armbian and Android 7.0. The board's makers Pine64 say the community has also put together a "workable" headless Linux environment. Full details on available operating systems can be found here, but be prepared to put more work into getting software and operating systems running than when using a Raspberry Pi.
While the Pine H64 Model B is smaller than the Model A, having been shrunk to the same size as Pine64's Rock64 single-board computer, the board layout remains the same, so existing Pine H64 cases should fit the board.
The board will be available with 1GB for $24.95, 2GB for $34.95 and 3GB for $44.95 and we'll update this article with availability once we know more.
The Rock64 is also getting a minor upgrade, with addition of support for Power over Ethernet, a real-time clock, improved PI2 GPIO compatibility, and support for high-speed microSD cards. The board's price will remain the same.
Pine H64 Model B specs
- System-on-a-chip: Allwinner H6
- CPU: Quad-core, Arm Cortex A53-based processor
- GPU: Dual-core Mali-T720 MP2
- Memory: 1/2/3GB LPDDR3
- Storage: eMMC flash module, micro SD card (bootable), 128 Mbit SPI flash
- Video: HDMI 2.0a output
- Audio: 3.5mm stereo earphone/mic plug
- Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- USB: 2 x USB 2.0 host, 1 x USB 3.0 host
- Expansion: 2 x 20 Raspberry Pi 2-compatible GPIO header, mini-PCIe connector, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module header, SDIO 3.0 and UART
- Misc: IR receiver
Read more about single-board computers
- Rock Pi 4 review: Is this the Raspberry Pi challenger you've been looking for?
- Rock Pi 4: A closer look at the new Raspberry Pi challenger
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ review: A $25 computer with a lot of promise
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ review: Hands-on with the new board
- Inside the Raspberry Pi: The story of the $35 computer that changed the world
- How the Raspberry Pi was created: A visual history of the $35 board
- Cheap but powerful Raspberry Pi rival: $45 NanoPi Neo4 is six-core Android board with USB 3.0 and 4K support
- A Raspberry Pi-style computer you can build yourself: Blueberry Pi (ZDNet)
- What are the best Raspberry Pi alternatives? Everything you need to know about Pi rivals(ZDNet)
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.