A Raspberry Pi 5 Is Better Than Two Pi 4s

What’s as fast as two Raspberry Pi 4s? The brand-new Raspberry Pi 5, that’s what. And for only a $5 upcharge (with an asterisk), it’s going to the new go-to board from the British House of Fruity Single-Board Computers. But aside from the brute speed, it also has a number of cool features that will make using the board easier for a number of projects, and it’s going to be on sale in October. Raspberry Pi sent us one for review, and if you were just about to pick up a Pi 4 for a project that needs the speed, we’d say that you might wait a couple weeks until the Raspberry Pi 5 goes on sale.

Twice as Nice

On essentially every benchmark, the Raspberry Pi 5 comes in two to three times faster than the Pi 4. This is thanks to the new Broadcom BCM2712 system-on-chip (SOC) that runs four ARM A76s at 2.4 GHz instead of the Pi 4’s ARM A72s at 1.8 GHz. This gives the CPUs a roughly 2x – 3x advantage over the Pi 4. (Although the Pi 4 was eminently overclockable in the CM4 package.)

The DRAM runs at double the clock speed. The video core is more efficient and pushes pixels about twice as fast. The new WiFi controller in the SOC allows about twice as much throughput to the same radio. Even the SD card interface is capable of running twice as fast, speeding up boot times to easily under 10 sec – maybe closer to 8 sec, but who’s counting?

Heck, while we’re on factors of two, there are now two MIPI camera/display lines, so you can do stereo imaging straight off the board, or run a camera and external display simultaneously. And it’s capable of driving two 4k HDMI displays at 60 Hz.

There are only two exceptions to the overall factor-of-two improvements. First, the Gigabyte Ethernet remains Gigabyte Ethernet, so that’s a one-ex. (We’re not sure who is running up against that constraint, but if it’s you, you’ll want an external network adapter.) But second, the new Broadcom SOC finally supports the ARM cryptography extensions, which make it 45x faster at AES, for instance. With TLS almost everywhere, this keeps crypto performance from becoming the bottleneck. Nice.

All in all, most everything performance-related has been doubled or halved appropriately, and completely in line with the only formal benchmarks we’ve seen so far, it feels about twice as fast all around in our informal tests. Compared with a Pi 400 that I use frequently in the basement workshop, the Pi 5 is a lot snappier.

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