Making raspberries, or going bananas? We compare to find the best Pi

raspberry pi vs banana bananaraspberryheader
With the newer version of the Raspberry Pi shipping in early 2015, the maker community has experienced huge expansion as more people adopt the system on a chip (SoC) for their projects. Raspberry Pi is synonymous for SoC projects, but there are a number of other products competing with the Raspberry Pi for a share of the DIY market, and one of the more popular versions is the Banana Pi from Chinese manufacturer LeMaker.

Raspberry Pi 2 Model BRaspbi-greytable Banana Pibananapi-greytable
Processor  ARM Cortex A7 – 900 MHz – quad core  Allwinner A20 – Cortex A7 – 1 GHz – dual core
External storage  MicroSD  SD Card, 2.5″ SATA
GPU  VideoCore IV – dual core  Mali 400 MP2 – dual core
USB  4 x USB 2.0  2 x USB 2.0, 2 x MicroUSB
Video out  1 x HDMI – 1.3 or 1.4  1 x HDMI, 1 x Composite
GPIO  40-pin expansion header  26-pin expansion headers
Network  1 x 10/100 Ethernet  1 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet (802.11n on Pro)
Dimensions (mm)  85.6 x 56 x 21  92 x 60
Audio  3.5mm  3.5mm, on-board microphone input
Optics  15-pin MIPI Camera Serial Interface  Camera connector


Before the recent hardware revision of the Raspberry Pi, the Banana Pi was intended to improve on the performance of the Raspberry version, adding in a faster processor and more RAM. In doing so, Banana Pi manufacturer LeMaker wanted to ensure it didn’t cause any compatibility problems.

While this may have been true before the second version of the Raspberry Pi, the improved CPU and RAM allotment in the early 2015 revision brought the two devices a lot closer together than they were before. The Raspberry offers four cores clocked at 900MHz, while the Banana offers two cores clocked at 1GHz.

When it comes to performance now, the difference is much more dependent on the software you’re running, and whether it would benefit more from additional processor cores or a higher speed single core. The video processor in the Raspberry Pi is also a bit more advanced than the Mali GPU in the Banana Pi, so if you plan on using HDMI out for media streaming or playback, the Raspberry might be a better choice.


While most of the connectivity options are similar across both platforms, there are a few key differences that are worth pointing out. The first is that while the Raspberry Pi relies on MicroSD and USB for storage, the Banana Pi is outfitted with a SATA port that allows a faster, more permanent option for connecting mass storage devices like hard drives. That could make a huge difference in your build if you need access to a large drive to read and write consistently.

Both devices have Ethernet ports for wired network connectivity, with gigabit available in the Banana Pi. Not a huge difference since a lot of devices have limited support for gigabit anyway. However, if you choose to step up to the Pro version of the Banana Pi, you’ll find the board has built-in Wi-Fi with 802.11n support, which can simplify a lot of projects without tying up a USB port. The Raspberry offers no such option.

Other considerations

The Raspberry Pi’s design is centered around its budget-friendliness and ease of use, which are the reasons it became so popular in the maker community. The widespread support of other users only compounds the usefulness of the device, with a wealth of information on writing and compiling software, hardware built specifically for the Pi, and more tutorials for projects than you can count. While these resources exist for Banana Pi, they aren’t nearly as comprehensive or common, which is especially tricky since the Banana Pi is a bit harder to set up than the Raspberry Pi.

If you’re used to the quality and footprint of the Raspberry Pi, you might not be very impressed by the Banana’s look and feel. It’s only a bit wider and longer than the Raspberry Pi, which should only make a difference in that you have to buy a different case, or possibly expand the slot for the computer if you’re upgrading. Some users have reported that the build quality on the Banana Pi isn’t as nice as on the Raspberry, with some unclean connections and hastily soldered joints. There’s also the issue of the processor, which has been mounted to the bottom of the board rather than the top. Since the CPU generates the most heat of any of the components, you’ll need to take its location into account when building it into your projects or putting together a case for it.


While the Banana Pi may have been a notable improvement over the older versions of the Raspberry Pi, the newer hardware revision renders the performance boost mostly negligible. Additionally, the lack of support for the Banana Pi, along with the higher price tag, makes it hard to recommend over the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. If built-in Wi-Fi is really a priority, or you plan on using it for mass storage through SATA, the Banana Pi is an option, but you could set up both of those features on a Raspberry Pi without much trouble.

[Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi corporation]

Product Review

Amid a new fleet of budget laptops, the ZenBook 13 sails where others sink

It’s never been truer that you don’t need to spend over a thousand bucks to buy a good laptop. The ZenBook 13 takes we’ve always loved about its predecessor and makes enough small refinements to keep it ahead of its competitors.
Product Review

Dell’s G3 Gaming laptop knows what gamers want, and what they can live without

Compromise and budget gaming laptops go hand-in-hand, but with the G3, Dell has figured out how to balance what gamers want with what they can live without.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 packs Snapdragon 850 into Always Connected Windows 2-in-1

The Samsung Galaxy Book 2 is set to go on sale at the start of November and should be a solid addition the collection of Always Connected Windows laptops. It packs a Snapdragon 850 and a 20-hour battery.

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

To try and help nail down the best 15-inch laptops in the world, we compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15 in a head to head that looked at their power, design, and portability.

In 2018, the rivalry between AMD and Intel has become more interesting than ever

When it comes to selecting a CPU for your PC, there's no shortage of chips for you to choose from. With Ryzen, Threadripper, and Core i9 CPUs though, the AMD vs. Intel argument is muddier than ever.

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.
Product Review

Samsung CHG90 Ultrawide gaming monitor review

Samsung has taken "ultrawide" to its new limit with its 49-inch gaming monitor, the CHG90. With a 144Hz refresh rate and ungodly amounts of screen real estate, it just might be the most impressive gaming monitor ever made.

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.

Protect your digital identity with these four easy steps to online anonymity

You don't have to be a secret agent or a notorious hacktivist to care about anonymity. Consult this guide to learn tips, tricks, and best practices for staying anonymous and keeping your online activity private

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.

How does Samsung's new 2-in-1 stack up against the tried-and-true Surface Pro 6?

We're the stacking Surface Pro 6 and Galaxy Book 2 up against each other in this head-to-head. Both of these devices share a similar form factor and design, but be it LTE connectivity or difference in pricing, each offers up its own pros…
Social Media

How to turn off Safe Mode in Tumblr

If you've joined Tumblr after hearing tales about the social network's more adult communities, you may be disappointed by how family-friendly it seems. Here's how to turn off "Safe Search" in Tumblr and delve into the site's seedy…

Choose your weapon wisely -- these are the best keyboards for gaming on your PC

Your PC isn't complete without one of the best gaming keyboards on the planet. We have a list spanning full-sized models to compact versions from Razer, Cooler Master, Corsair, Logitech G, and more.

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.