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Raspberry Pi 5 vs. Raspberry Pi 4: What’s the Difference? Is It Worth Upgrading?

raspberry pi 5 vs. raspberry pi 4

Raspberry Pi 5 vs. Raspberry Pi 4: What’s the Difference? Is It Worth Upgrading?

Raspberry Pi 5 vs. Raspberry Pi 4: should you upgrade? The Raspberry Pi 5 is due to be released any day now, and the DIY computing scene is going wild with the potential the new device holds. The fine folks at Raspberry Pi are likely going to keep the RPi4 up for ordering for the next little while. As such, should you opt for the older and cheaper choice?

The answer is a little more obvious than you might think. That said, comparisons are rarely any fun without a deeper dive into the subject matter. This guide will cover the key differences between both SBCs and how they compare in terms of performance and other capabilities.

Raspberry Pi 5 vs. Raspberry Pi 4: Side-by-Side Comparison

Raspberry Pi 5Raspberry Pi 4
ProcessorCortex-A76Cortex-A72
Video ProcessorVideoCore VIIVideoCore VI
RAMLPDDR4X RAM, starts at 4 GB, up to 8 GB supportedLPDDR4 RAM with 1, 2, 4, and 8 GB models available
StorageNVMe SSD or microSDmicroSD
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac wireless networking, Bluetooth 5.0Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0
Input/Output ConnectorStandard Pi 40-pin GPIO connectorStandard Pi 40-pin GPIO connector
Maximum Supported DisplaysTwo displays at 4K with 60Hz refresh rateTwo displays at 4K with a 30Hz refresh rate
MSRP$60 for a 4 GB model$55 for a 4 GB model

While the price difference only amounts to around five dollars between both models, you can see a fairly clear divide in the specs between both SBCs.

Raspberry Pi 5 vs. Raspberry Pi 4: What’s the Difference?

Performance

In terms of overall performance, the Raspberry Pi 5 is going to absolutely trounce the Raspberry Pi 4. It has a stronger processor with a higher base clock frequency, faster memory, and a more powerful graphics processor. This also gets coupled together with an honest-to-goodness means of installing an SSD in place of a microSD.

Our Pick
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
$61.78
  • 2 × Micro HDMI ports 
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Micro SD card slot for loading operating system and data storage
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet (GbE)
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/11/2024 12:10 am GMT

The Raspberry Pi 4 certainly has plenty of power for most SBC-related workloads. The community around the Raspberry Pi line of computers has had years to build a massive aftermarket of peripherals and provide ample documentation.

That said, there is simply more to the Raspberry Pi 5 that makes it an overall better choice. As previously stated, you’re only paying around five dollars more for the Pi 5 over the previous model. You’re getting such a massive jump in performance that it is absolutely worth the extra money.

Display Capabilities

The VideoCore VII affords some substantial improvements over the previous model. Both Raspberry Pi models can display up to 4K resolution. However, the Pi 5 can support 60Hz on dual displays. This extra display power can also be seen with the likes of video processing, image encoding, and other workloads that call on the GPU.

The Pi 5 is substantially more powerful. The VideoCore VII is even capable of emulating Nintendo’s Switch when looking at gaming on the SBC. If you can find a Raspberry Pi 5 at launch, then it is a great investment if you’re looking into building a retro gaming station.

The VideoCore VI on the Raspberry Pi 4 is certainly a capable GPU for its time. If you’re opting for a single display, it can handle 4K resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate. This gets halved when you’re using two displays, with a 30Hz refresh rate. It’ll still handle video rendering and image decoding just fine, but it’ll go considerably slower at run time than the Pi 5.

Memory

The GPU isn’t the only aspect of the Pi 5 that sees improvements. Both the Pi 4 and 5 offer up to 8 GB of RAM as the maximum. However, the Pi 5 utilizes the more powerful LPDDR4X RAM. Clock frequencies are better and write speeds are greatly improved.

Our Pick
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 8GB
$77.11
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • 2-lane MIPI DSI Display Port
  • PoE HAT Header
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03/11/2024 12:16 am GMT

This leads to scenarios where identical workloads are going to be done faster on the Pi 5. The Pi 4 can come in at a cheaper overall price, especially if you’re opting for the 1 or 2 GB models. However, if you’re eyeing up a 4 or 8 GB model, you might as well spend the extra cash on the Pi 5. To say it is a night and day difference is an understatement. The Pi 5 is substantially faster when it comes to memory throughput.

Storage

The Pi 4, like all other previous SBCs in the product line, utilizes microSD cards as the primary means of storage. Read/write speeds are decent on these, especially if you’re springing for a more expensive name-brand storage option like Samsung. However, it doesn’t compare to a dedicated SSD.

The Pi 5 brings a dedicated PCI-E lane, which opens up the playing field to NVMe SSDs. As we’ve covered in the past, these are substantially faster than the likes of SATA SSDs. As such, you’ve got a blazing-fast setup when choosing to go for an SSD on the Pi 5.

Of course, you still have access to the microSD slot. Simply having the option for an SSD opens up a vast array of potential applications for the Pi 5, especially if you’re looking at using one as a micro file server.

Connectivity

Both Raspberry Pi models come with the standard 40-pin GPIO connector. This has been one of the hallmarks of the SBC since the introduction of the first model. As such, any older accessories will work with both the Raspberry Pi 4 and 5.

The additional power and better specs on the Pi 5 open up the playing field to some interesting possibilities, though. Time will tell if peripheral manufacturers and DIY enthusiasts are willing to capitalize on the greatly increased performance. You still have access to HDMI, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports. These are fairly standard across the newer offerings from Raspberry Pi.

Networking

Networking hasn’t seen any notable improvements. The Pi 4 was using the cutting edge Wi-Fi 5 standard and Bluetooth 5.0 at the time of release. While Wi-Fi 7 is due to be released soon, you would think the Pi 5 would at least have 6 or 6E functionality.

Our Pick
BrosTrend Wi-Fi 6 Antenna
$40.99
  • 1201 Mbps on 5GHz or 574 Mbps on 2.4GHz
  • Supports WPA3 encryption
  • Compatible with Raspberry Pi OS 11/10/9/8
  • Seamless 4K streaming, smooth gaming, and fast downloads
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03/11/2024 12:22 am GMT

Unfortunately, this is one area where there aren’t notable improvements. You’ll be stuck with the same 802.11ac standard on the Pi 5. The gigabit Ethernet port is universal on both models. You do get access to Power over Ethernet (PoE), which is always an interesting option. This opens up some possibilities for using the Pi 4 and 5 as miniature servers on a network.

The PoE functionality has changed for the Pi 5 and will require additional accessories to function as needed. As such, you’ll likely be stuck with a standard AC adapter or USB power instead of combining networking and power in the same package.

Raspberry Pi 5 vs. Raspberry Pi 4: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. The Pi 5 has a greatly improved processor.
  2. The Pi 5 has a more powerful GPU.
  3. The Pi 5 has better RAM, with 4 GB as the minimum selection.
  4. The Pi 4 can be found cheaper.
  5. The Pi 4 will be easier to get a hold of in the launch period of the Pi 5.

Raspberry Pi 5 vs. Raspberry Pi 4: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

So, which of these SBCs should you purchase? The clear answer, and the real winner in this comparison, is the Raspberry Pi 5. There is nothing but clear improvements in every conceivable category, aside from the wireless capabilities. One can hope that a future revision of the Pi 5 at least updates the wireless standards to something a bit quicker.

If you’re in the market for a SBC, the Raspberry Pi 5 is the clear choice. The simple fact that you can continue to use the same peripherals that made the Pi 4 such a flexible platform is just icing on the proverbial cake.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use the Pi 5 as a retro emulation console?

Absolutely, the increase in power should make it an extremely capable retro emulation station.

Can you use the same accessories for the Pi 4 on the newest model?

Yes, all peripherals utilizing the 40-pin connector are universally backward compatible.

Does the Pi 5 have a power button?

It does feature one, which is a new addition to the entire product line.

Does the Pi 5 come with a case?

No, you’ll need to purchase a case to protect the board if you’re looking to use it as a desktop replacement.

What can you use the Raspberry Pi 5 for?

You can use it for a whole slew of different applications. Some users build theirs as custom laptops, tablets, or even arcade machines.

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