What is the difference between Raspberry Pi 3 and 4

Raspberry Pi 4: what are the key differences from Raspberry Pi 3?


The release of the Raspberry Pi 4 in June of 2019 created a lot of excitement. This version of the much loved single-board computer is a big leap forward. Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and the passionate Raspberry Pi community is delighted. What has got them buzzing?


What is a Raspberry Pi

Just a quick recap. A Raspberry Pi is a single board low coast computer. The entire computer is the size of a credit card but packs a powerful capability into that package. Designed by the Raspberry Pi foundation as a way to allow people to learn computer and coding fundamentals, the first version of the Raspberry Pi was released in 2013.

The concept was a hit, and since then there have been several release building the capability without ever losing the key intentions. The power and flexibility of the Raspberry Pi have meant that while still being an exceptional introduction to computers and coding, it has grown into so much more.

See our blog on ten amazing Raspberry Pi projects.


What’s new in the Raspberry Pi 4?

The pricing

Traditionally a Raspberry Pi cost $35. While the base model will still have the original cost, there are now additional options at different price points.

The Raspberry Pi 4 comes in three configurations that differ only in the amount of RAM. The three options are:

As well as being bigger, the RAM is upgraded to LPDDR4 from LPDDR2.

The processor

At the heart of the fasted Raspberry Pi ever is a new processor. The Broadcom BCM2711 SoC with four 1.5GHz Cortex A72 CPU cores is a big step up from the Cortex A53 CPU that shipped with the Raspberry Pi 3. The 64-bit ARM cores have the capability to run at 1.5GHZ. That is a full 50% faster than the previous model , the Raspberry Pi 3+.

There are also upgrades for the graphics management with a VideoCore VI 3D running at 500MHz, up from 400MHz. While this is still 32-bit, it is augmented with an improved memory management unit. Some tests have seen a 30% or more improvement in framerates from the Raspberry Pi 3.


The ports

The port options have been better balanced. These include:

one gigabit ethernet (up form 100Mbit on the Raspberry PI 3)

two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 (up from 4 USB 2.0 on the Raspberry Pi 3)

one USB-C port as a power supply (upgraded from a MicroUSB on Raspberry Pi 3)

two micro HDMI ports with full 4K support (up from one HDMI port on Raspberry Pi 3)


The Raspberry Pi 4 has Bluetooth 5.0 support, up from the 4.0 on the Raspberry 3.


General Input / Output (GPIO) pins

One of the joys of a Raspberry Pi is the 40 GPIO pins that enable so many projects. The layout is unchanged d(stretching back to the Raspberry Pi 2) so and hardware add-ons you used will still work just fine.

There is are four more each of I2C, SPI, and UART connections. This gives you a bunch more flexibility and choices.

The improved CPU of the Raspberry Pi 4 also means much improved speed from your GPIO pins than the previous models.


Hardware compatibility

Generally, there is excellent compatibility with earlier hardware add ons. There is one exception.

One downside of the vastly improved port offering is that a layout change was necessary. The designers have done an excellent job, and you’ll have no problems with Raspberry 4 accessories. However, if you wanted to uses cases from previous Raspberry Pi versions, you might run into issues.


RAM size

While the Raspberry Pi 3 shipped with just 1GB of RAM as the only option, the Raspberry Pi 4 has the 3 RAM options described above, 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB. This is a welcome change. Along with the revised port offering, the 2GB and 4GB make the Raspberry Pi 4 a genuine option for a basic desktop replacement.

See our blog on Raspberry Pi as a desktop replacement project.


Software offerings

Again, this isn’t linked directly to the Raspberry Pi 4, but it is worth noting. The wealth of software available across a huge range is unrivalled in single-board ecosystems. The additional speed and power of the Raspberry Pi 4 mean that more complex software can be handled with ease. Again, the software ecosystem is snowballing as developers get to stretch their wings with the new hardware. 

Documentation and support

While this is not directly related to the Raspberry Pi 4, the documentation and support from your Raspberry Pi are exceptional.

As the community has exponentially grown since the release of Raspberry Pi 3, it has taken on the ethos of shared learning and development. The wealth of offerings from ideas, tutorials, FAQs, help, project instructions, and more is comprehensive and growing by the day. If you are looking for support, starting at the Raspberry Pi Foundation website is a good starting point, but everywhere from YouTube and Reddit to GitHub and Hackster, you’ll find people willing to support and share.

The release of the Raspberry Pi 4 has given an additional boost to this process.

For a full tech specification, please see the Raspberry Pi website release notes here

Where to for Raspberry Pi?

In March of 2019, Raspberry Pi celebrated the sale of its 25 millionth unit. To reach that milestone was a momentous occasion for this charitable foundation.

The release of the Raspberry Pi came just three months later. Analysts are suggesting that given the attractive price point, exceptionally capability, active developer ecosystem, and passionate user base the Raspberry Pi 4 could ship as many units again.

From where we sit, we see no reason why not. If you haven’t yet got on (single) board, now may be a perfect time, and the Raspberry Pi 4 may be the perfect device.

The original goal to promote computer and coding knowledge is being met every day. Beyond that, the uses and projects that the Raspberry Pi community are creating go beyond the wildest dreams of the Raspberry Pi creators. You can take advantage of the Raspberry Pi 4 to join the next step of the journey.