Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop



  • Hey Raspberry Pi / SBC desktop builders out there! Wondering what experience and advice people have. Looking at building a hopefully useful Linux based desktop on a newer SBC. RP4 with 4GB of RAM is powerful enough and has enough RAM that it seems really useful as a platform, the first RP that really seems to have the horsepower to truly be useful.

    Any other SBCs worth looking at? Something with even more power than the RP4 would be nice. Don't need tons more, but the RP4 is still not super fast. And something with SATA or something other than USB connection for the hard drive would be extra nice.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Concerns?



  • @scottalanmiller

    Software for it is lacking atm, they made major change to SBC arch so i advice you try something else.

    I knew the name for it, but you know i live in Canada and Canada made it legal and i work alot and its the end of the week so i will not remeber that name for the better SBC tonight



  • Have you looked at Odroid? I have a buddy who just got an H² for some testing. Though that boards probably a bit pricy.



  • @scottalanmiller Nothing comes close to the RPi boards at the same price/performance. They sell SO many more than any of the competition.

    Orange Pi could be good if the EMMC main storage is fast enough. It's got to be better than an SD card, but how much better I don't know. 8GB ram model http://www.orangepi.org/Orange Pi 4/

    Looks like the Orange Pi 3 has a PCI slot of some sort. Might be able to get one of those tinny m.3 drives on it.



  • Problem with RPI4 is that when you want it to be as fast as possible, you are getting close to the Intel price range. So as an option it works best if you stick to a basic config.

    And to get a useable desktop you also need a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Say $150 if you have modest needs.

    So

    • Desktop with RPI4 (4GB RAM & 32GB microSD) $250
    • Desktop with NUC J3455 or similar (8GB RAM & 120GB SSD) $325

    The desktop with the Intel CPU has probably double the performance for 30% higher overall price. So value for money is better - if you need the extra performance.

    NUC are also SBCs and the Odroid H2 mentioned above is the same (Intel J4105).

    Intel CPUs to look for that are low-end but still significantly faster - J3455 (older model), J4105 and J5005. These are 10W Celerons with 4 cores in the 1.5 to 2.5GHz range.

    Obviously something like an i3 is much faster but it will bump up the price another notch.



  • I'd love for Raspberri Pi to come out with something higher performance. Even a low-end phone has 8 cores and will beat the RPI-4.

    If you think about it something like the Moto G7 play has 8 cores, 2GB RAM, 32 GB storage, a touch screen and a phone and is $129. The slower RPI4 is $99 with a case, power supply and a memory card.

    Yes, two different things I know, but if you look at the hardware they are similar.



  • Right now the storage and the GPU performance is what holds the RPI4 back the most.

    Maybe Raspberry Pi 5 will be it. (But I've been thinking that since the first Rasberry Pi, 7 or 8 years ago)





  • @jt1001001 said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    Have you looked at Odroid? I have a buddy who just got an H² for some testing. Though that boards probably a bit pricy.

    Do they have a 4GB board?



  • @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    So

    Desktop with RPI4 (4GB RAM & 32GB microSD) $250
    Desktop with NUC J3455 or similar (8GB RAM & 120GB SSD) $325

    That's a good point. That's a small price difference and even just the double RAM is big.





  • @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    Right now the storage and the GPU performance is what holds the RPI4 back the most.

    Maybe Raspberry Pi 5 will be it. (But I've been thinking that since the first Rasberry Pi, 7 or 8 years ago)

    The GPU is plenty, I think, for me. Need extremely little. But the storage, that's a killer.



  • @Pete-S The NUC8i3BEK is so nice, but the price starts to get way too high 😉 Although all it would need is a small 120GB M.2 and an 8GB stick and voila. I like the short models so much better.



  • The Khadas VIM3 looks really promising. It's quite a bit more powerful than the similar RockChip models. Sext core, 4GB, HDMI, M.2, etc.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    Right now the storage and the GPU performance is what holds the RPI4 back the most.

    Maybe Raspberry Pi 5 will be it. (But I've been thinking that since the first Rasberry Pi, 7 or 8 years ago)

    The GPU is plenty, I think, for me. Need extremely little. But the storage, that's a killer.

    The GPU performance might not be a GPU performance problem itself but rather a lack of support in the GPU for decoding common video streams. For instance VP8/VP9 (WebM) are used in things like youtube, html5 video, video conferencing etc.

    When the system encounters a video stream and it doesn't have hardware decoding support, it needs the power to decode it in real-time with the CPU or you end up with stuttering video. RPI 4 doesn't have that power on 1080p.



  • @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    The GPU performance might not be a GPU performance problem itself but rather a lack of support in the GPU for decoding common video streams. For instance VP8/VP9 (WebM) are used in things like youtube, html5 video, video conferencing etc.

    OIC, shouldn't be an issue here, won't be used for that. But very good to be aware of.



  • @Emad-R said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @scottalanmiller

    ROCK Pi 4
    https://rockpi.org/

    So after more research, this one is bubbling up to the top over and over again. Low cost (found it for $75) with great specs (6 core, 4GB) and the connector that we need (M.2 and GigE.) Likely this is what we are going to start with.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    The Khadas VIM3 looks really promising. It's quite a bit more powerful than the similar RockChip models. Sext core, 4GB, HDMI, M.2, etc.

    So the issues here...

    4GB model is $130 which is a little high. PoE and hard drive connectors are on an expansion board for another $30 or so. By the time all is said and done, it adds up a bit. The Rock Pi offers nearly the same CPU but from a bigger vendor, with the same RAM and the drive connector that we want all on a board for half the price and only a single board instead of two boards that have to be mounted together.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @Emad-R said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @scottalanmiller

    ROCK Pi 4
    https://rockpi.org/

    So after more research, this one is bubbling up to the top over and over again. Low cost (found it for $75) with great specs (6 core, 4GB) and the connector that we need (M.2 and GigE.) Likely this is what we are going to start with.

    I'm sensing YT Video review idea



  • I've been thinking about this too, to turn a smart TV into a genius TV. Something permanently attached would be convenient.



  • @Obsolesce said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    I've been thinking about this too, to turn a smart TV into a genius TV. Something permanently attached would be convenient.

    If nothing else, you can always velcro a case to the back of the TV. I bet you could also print off a mount from thingiverse if you have a makerspace somewhere close (or your own 3d printer, but that's not so common yet.)



  • We are talking about getting a 3D printer for not just custom cases for this project, but custom wall racks.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    We are talking about getting a 3D printer for not just custom cases for this project, but custom wall racks.

    If you've done any 3D modeling in the past, the current tools are so, so much easier to use. Still not something just anyone can just pickup and do, but the consumer 3D printers tend to have all the software wrapped up and taken care of, unlike in the past. The tooling workflows from the 90s that I dealt with were atrocious.



  • @travisdh1 said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @scottalanmiller said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    We are talking about getting a 3D printer for not just custom cases for this project, but custom wall racks.

    If you've done any 3D modeling in the past, the current tools are so, so much easier to use. Still not something just anyone can just pickup and do, but the consumer 3D printers tend to have all the software wrapped up and taken care of, unlike in the past. The tooling workflows from the 90s that I dealt with were atrocious.

    I've not, but I have worked extensively in manufacturing.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @travisdh1 said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @scottalanmiller said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    We are talking about getting a 3D printer for not just custom cases for this project, but custom wall racks.

    If you've done any 3D modeling in the past, the current tools are so, so much easier to use. Still not something just anyone can just pickup and do, but the consumer 3D printers tend to have all the software wrapped up and taken care of, unlike in the past. The tooling workflows from the 90s that I dealt with were atrocious.

    I've not, but I have worked extensively in manufacturing.

    It's what I was supporting in the late 90s. The 3D printers of today really are that much better, and free software that is actually usable is available today.



  • @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    Problem with RPI4 is that when you want it to be as fast as possible, you are getting close to the Intel price range. So as an option it works best if you stick to a basic config.

    And to get a useable desktop you also need a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Say $150 if you have modest needs.

    So

    • Desktop with RPI4 (4GB RAM & 32GB microSD) $250
    • Desktop with NUC J3455 or similar (8GB RAM & 120GB SSD) $325

    The desktop with the Intel CPU has probably double the performance for 30% higher overall price. So value for money is better - if you need the extra performance.

    NUC are also SBCs and the Odroid H2 mentioned above is the same (Intel J4105).

    Intel CPUs to look for that are low-end but still significantly faster - J3455 (older model), J4105 and J5005. These are 10W Celerons with 4 cores in the 1.5 to 2.5GHz range.

    Obviously something like an i3 is much faster but it will bump up the price another notch.

    This is where I stand as well. We got into a discussion at one of my old employers about possibly deploying linux thin clients. Most people instantly thought about RPI, but I basically said the same thing as @Pete-S . The long term value is not there compared to a low end desktop even when using as a thin client. I think alot of people are in love with the idea of RP, but RP really shines when used for very low end tasks that can be done with a $40 RP.



  • @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    Desktop with RPI4 (4GB RAM & 32GB microSD) $250
    Desktop with NUC J3455 or similar (8GB RAM & 120GB SSD) $325

    So in running our numbers, it came out more like...

    Rock Pi, 4GB, 120GB SSD: $145
    NUC J3455, 4GB, 120GB SSD: $220

    The NUC is $150 with no RAM, but it has a case. The Rock Pi is $75 and has RAM, but needs a case. We can custom make the cases ourselves and get something really cool and custom for $10 or so. The NUC case is well built, but seriously ugly. So assuming 4GB RAM is $10, it's basically $75 premium for the NUC and you can ignore things like the drives because you'd use the same drive in both situations.

    You can easily get more than 4GB RAM on the NUC which is a huge deal, if you need it, but we don't think that we do. The Rock Pi is also a significantly more powerful machine than the Raspberry Pi, both in CPU (faster six core compared to slower four core; M.2 drive connector vs. USB only.) And we believe will be more than fast enough for the needs.

    We are looking at the same hardware for servers, so having it be exactly the same between the two is great.

    $75 sounds trivial, but it is also more than 50% more expensive. In absolute dollars, it is small. In relative dollars, it is huge.



  • @IRJ said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    Problem with RPI4 is that when you want it to be as fast as possible, you are getting close to the Intel price range. So as an option it works best if you stick to a basic config.

    And to get a useable desktop you also need a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Say $150 if you have modest needs.

    So

    • Desktop with RPI4 (4GB RAM & 32GB microSD) $250
    • Desktop with NUC J3455 or similar (8GB RAM & 120GB SSD) $325

    The desktop with the Intel CPU has probably double the performance for 30% higher overall price. So value for money is better - if you need the extra performance.

    NUC are also SBCs and the Odroid H2 mentioned above is the same (Intel J4105).

    Intel CPUs to look for that are low-end but still significantly faster - J3455 (older model), J4105 and J5005. These are 10W Celerons with 4 cores in the 1.5 to 2.5GHz range.

    Obviously something like an i3 is much faster but it will bump up the price another notch.

    This is where I stand as well. We got into a discussion at one of my old employers about possibly deploying linux thin clients. Most people instantly thought about RPI, but I basically said the same thing as @Pete-S . The long term value is not there compared to a low end desktop even when using as a thin client. I think alot of people are in love with the idea of RP, but RP really shines when used for very low end tasks that can be done with a $40 RP.

    It's frustrating to talk about deploying 'thin clients' when the damned device costs the same, or in some cases more than a full blown PC with a Windows license.



  • @Dashrender said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @IRJ said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    @Pete-S said in Making a Raspberry Pi 4 or Similar SBC Desktop:

    Problem with RPI4 is that when you want it to be as fast as possible, you are getting close to the Intel price range. So as an option it works best if you stick to a basic config.

    And to get a useable desktop you also need a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Say $150 if you have modest needs.

    So

    • Desktop with RPI4 (4GB RAM & 32GB microSD) $250
    • Desktop with NUC J3455 or similar (8GB RAM & 120GB SSD) $325

    The desktop with the Intel CPU has probably double the performance for 30% higher overall price. So value for money is better - if you need the extra performance.

    NUC are also SBCs and the Odroid H2 mentioned above is the same (Intel J4105).

    Intel CPUs to look for that are low-end but still significantly faster - J3455 (older model), J4105 and J5005. These are 10W Celerons with 4 cores in the 1.5 to 2.5GHz range.

    Obviously something like an i3 is much faster but it will bump up the price another notch.

    This is where I stand as well. We got into a discussion at one of my old employers about possibly deploying linux thin clients. Most people instantly thought about RPI, but I basically said the same thing as @Pete-S . The long term value is not there compared to a low end desktop even when using as a thin client. I think alot of people are in love with the idea of RP, but RP really shines when used for very low end tasks that can be done with a $40 RP.

    It's frustrating to talk about deploying 'thin clients' when the damned device costs the same, or in some cases more than a full blown PC with a Windows license.

    I think that that is really only true because of bad expectations. Why do people feel that thin clients should be cheaper to purchase than thick clients? That's not been the case for so long, it's weird that people have a memory of it, and was never true on any scale.

    Thin clients have to do a lot of processing, and always have. And most "thin clients" are only thin in use, nothing else. You want them to be smart, be manageable, and most people expect them to run their own apps, making them fat, not thin.

    Choosing a thin client device vs. a thick client device is about management capabilities, nothing else really.



  • Here I was thinking about using a $Pi for something around home...

    Can any of them use "last power state" to turn back on after power failure?