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Raspberry Pi 3 review: The revolutionary US$35 mini-PC cures its biggest headaches

Brad Chacos | April 20, 2016
The Raspberry Pi 3's subtle improvements add up to a major usability and performance upgrade.

Though the Raspberry Pi’s ARM-based processors render it incompatible with many major benchmarks, we ran a handful of tests to quantify the generational improvement. To do so, we loaded the Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3 with the latest Raspbian Jessie build maintained on the Raspberry Pi website.

sunspider
Click on image to enlarge.

First, we tested both systems with the Sunspider 1.0.2 Javascript benchmark in Raspbian’s default Epiphany browser. The results (which you can click to enlarge) show how many milliseconds it took to complete the benchmark, so lower results are better. Simply put, the Raspberry Pi 3 blows its predecessor away in pure performance.

octane
Click on image to enlarge.

The same holds true for Google’s Octane 2.0 test, which we benchmarked using the Iceweasel browser. Higher scores are better. The Raspberry Pi 3 almost doubles the Raspberry Pi 2’s results.

sysbench single thread
Click on image to enlarge.

We also measured the systems’ computing performance directly using the long-running sysbench tool. We configured the test to calculate every prime number up to 20,000 using both a single core, to determine the Raspberry Pi 3’s single-thread performance gain...

sysbench quad core
Click on image to enlarge.

…as well as on all four of each system’s cores. The results show how many seconds it took for each machine to perform the operation, so lower results are better. As you can see, the Raspberry Pi 3 mopped the floor with its opponent yet again, finishing calculations minutes ahead of the Pi 2. Zoom zoom!

And remember: The Raspberry Pi 2 delivered four to five times more performance than the original Raspberry Pi, so if you upgrade from the original model to the Raspberry Pi 3, prepare to be blown away by its speed.

The whole Pi

It’s impressive how (relatively) potent the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 can be, but the board won’t work by itself. You’ll need to connect it to a monitor or TV via HDMI; connect it to power via a 5-volt micro-USB cord capable of drawing 2.5 amps from the wall (I used a Kindle Fire charger; my Moto X’s charger wasn’t sufficient); and connect yourself via a USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, though you’ll need to set it up using USB peripherals before you can activate Bluetooth pairing. Grabbing a case or at least a box to house the Pi is a swell idea too, because the board is fully exposed in its default state.

 

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