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RoadTest Review a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B ! - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 9
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 59 / 60
  • RoadTest: RoadTest Review a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B !
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Independent Products
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Previous model Raspberry PI 2 B
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Not yet all the linux distributions are aligned with the new PI3 features

  • Detailed Review:

    Introduction

    Thanks to the great attention of the Internet sphere around the new Raspberry PI3Raspberry PI3 I had the possibility to count on a quantity of good technical stuff available.

    PI3-RoadTest 6.jpg

    Raspberry Pi Models Comparison Chart Poster FREE DOWNLOAD illustrates a comparison between the Pi3 and the previous models. The list of common features between all the Pi models gives a first good indicator.

    • GPIO: 40 pin
    • GPU: Videocore IV
    • Operating Systems: Raspbian RaspBMC, Arch Linux, Rise OS, OpenELEC Pidora
    • Ports: USB 2.0
    • Supported Resolutions: 640x350 to 1920x1200, including 1080p, PAL & NTSC standards
    • Storage: Micro USB
    • Video Output: HDMI Composite RCA

    Together with the same form factor, the new version is dramatically more powerful than the previous ones but it is 100% hardware and software compatible. The essential improvements are what makes the difference:

    A more detailed comparison chart can be found here: Raspberry Pi 3, Pi 2, B+, A+ Comparison Chart

    Many users commented about these comparison tables the absence of the PI zero; in my opinion it is truly correct as this is a very reduced yet nice model where some of the essential characterising components are not present so it can be considered a model apart (not easy to find and with a doubtful availability in the future, it seems).

    Board speed and performances

    Accordingly with the benchmarks published in A Comprehensive Raspberry Pi 3 Benchmark the usage behaviour in most of the cases I tested reflects very well the new declared performances. The hardware architecture demonstrated an average responsiveness about double (and higher in some cases) respect to the previous faster model PI2 B.

    After Raspberry PI2 B launch many projects tried to push this cheap and small yet complete SBC on a PC-like usage context. Today the Raspberry PI3 model B is the mature SBC ready to replace a traditional desktop or laptop platform, at least for vertical applications. Put less than 40$ of hardware on to the back of a full HD HDMI monitor and you can start working on a very wide range of environments.

     

    About powering

    Accordingly with the technical specifications the power consumption of the PI3 is a bit higher than its predecessors models, excluding the Bluetooth component that has been added only in this model. Adding the power consumption of the new components, WiFi chip and Bluetooth, anyway the value remain under 300-500 mA. The standby power consumption instead is almost lower than the previous models, interesting factor when the Raspberry PI3 based device should be battery-operated.

    The brand new official Raspberry PI3 power supplyRaspberry PI3 power supply actually provides 2.5A to the micro USB power plug, 500 mA more than the previous version. It seems that this detail has generated some confusion in many users. The PI3 technical references about powering mentions:

    Upgraded switched power source up to 2.5 Amps (can now power even more powerful devices over USB ports)

    This does not mean that the device itself needs 2.5 A of power but that the new powering system of the PI3 is able to provide up to 2.5 A of power to any extra device connected to one of the four USB ports. In few words, together the addition of the on-board WiFi and Bluetooth chips the availability to power more USB devices contributes making this board a masterpiece in the scenario of the Linux SBC.

    BTW, all the tests I have done with the PI3, including some hardware devices connected to it worked perfectly just using a 2.0A old version of the official Raspberry PI power supply.

     

    OS Platform performances

    An almost complete test with many different linux distributions on the Raspberry PI3 has been published separately in this section: Raspberry PI3: OS platforms overview

     

    Bluetooth and networking

    Many of the mentioned issues in the Raspberry Pi3 Bluetooth stack, after testing a number of connection modes and settings with WIndows PC, OSX and Android devices seems depending most on the software and operating system settings than the hardware reliability. On Ubuntu and Raspbian Jessie the Bt worked fine, due to a good support by the Llinux distribution. Other distributions instead does not recognise the Bluetooth component or can't manage it properly.

    The distributions - like the RetroPie - that does not recognise the Bluetooth or recognise it partially are mentioned as compatible for PI2 and PI3. This suggest that these has not yet upgraded for a full hardware compatibility with the PI3 model. A serious investigation in this direction is strongly suggested in projects where the Bluetooth availability is a key for success, before selecting the Linux distribution to be adopted on the Raspberry PI3.

    The network connection instead had no problem on any platform: the availability of the on-board WiFi, immediately recognised during the first boot and installation is extremely useful. I have also setup a jessie fresh setup bridging the WiFi over the Ethernet and also in this case I got the best performances. Detailed information on how to setup a Raspberry PI bridge can be found in Meditech: Creating a Pi Bridge I have published for the PI2 version that adapted without problems with the new model.

     

    Conclusion

    As occurs on every project it is always possible to add new options or make it better. The global impression I had using for a while the Raspberry PI3 model, with different interfaces and several OS platforms is that the PI3 represent the next level of the SBC. Maybe we should wait a while (probably before the end of summer) for the upgrade of all the distributions available for the Raspberry Pi.


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