Can Raspberry Pi 4 replace a PC?

When stacked up alongside a conventional PC, does the Raspberry Pi prove to be an apt alternative or just another tech add-on

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The Raspberry Pi 4 has been making waves in the tech community since its release back in 2019. It’s set at a low price, yet leverages both high performances and impressive flexibility, making it a popular choice for tinkerers and hobbyists alike. Due to the power of this device, people have begun to wonder whether or not the Raspberry Pi 4 can replace a PC.

The Raspberry Pi 4 could be a convenient replacement for a PC. The specs and performance shown by the device prove that certain PC-like tasks can be completed on a Raspberry Pi 4 with very few issues.

However, the longer answer would be that it ultimately depends. The fact that you end up completely satisfied by replacing your PC with your RPi 4 will depend on the type of tasks you’ll be running on the device. In general, the Raspberry Pi 4 will perform nicely in tasks such as reading articles, playing videos/audio, web browsing, or working with text. It won’t be the fastest PC ever, but it will get the job done where necessary.

Can a Raspberry Pi function as a computer?

When you buy a Raspberry Pi, you’ll get a single board – that’s it. This type of device is mostly used by DIY enthusiasts, so in order to have it functioning properly, you’ll need to learn your way around its design. That is, luckily, quite simple thanks to the many available YouTube videos that can teach you how.

To begin to make the Raspberry Pi 4 replace a PC, you need to install an operating system on your device. This can be done either from a pre-imaged microSD card or by downloading it directly from the internet onto your device. Next, you should configure your system settings in order to optimize performance and customize user experience according to your specific preferences. 

Afterward, you’ll need to have cooling in mind. The device does not have a cooling system, so the processor frequency of the machine is low by default. You might need to increase that a bit to have it work more efficiently. 

How powerful is a Raspberry Pi 4?

The Raspberry Pi 4 is a machine made to solve precise tasks. These types of DIY devices are great for retro gaming, robotics, etc. However, the Raspberry Pi 4 still lacks some necessary power to completely replace the personal computer. 

The first step in understanding how powerful this device can be is to check the board’s underlying specs. Below you will find the specs of the Raspberry Pi 4 so you can have a good idea bout how strong this device is:

  • CPU Quad Core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz
  • 2, 4, or 8GB LPDDR4–3200 SDRAM memory
  • Wi-Fi 2.4/5.0 GHz, Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports; 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • Support for two monitors, micro-HDMI connectors (up to 4kp60 resolution)
  • Support of H.265 (4kp60 decode), H264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode)

Ultimately, the Raspberry Pi 5 is much more likely to be able to function like a ‘regular computer’, and you can check our Pi 5 vs Pi 4 comparison too.

Camilo is a contributor for PC Guide. He's been into tech since he was a teen, surfing through the web and local stores trying to find the cheapest way to play the latest Half-Life on his old Windows