In this guide we’re going to take a look at the Beaglebone Vs Raspberry Pi. If you’re considering buying either of these and not sure which to go with this guide will hopefully clear things up.
In this guide we will take a look at the hardware, software, setting up the device, the community & projects around the device and finally the cost. All these points should be able to help you decide in which board is better for you.
Be sure to check out my detailed video on the Beaglebone black vs Raspberry Pi debate below. This goes through pretty much everything I will mention in this article. If you prefer to watch rather than read, then this is perfect for you.
Just to begin I will just briefly go into each of the devices and the main features of them. We will then take a look at how easy it is to get started, difference in software & hardware and the type of projects there are around for each device.
The Raspberry Pi is a small credit card sized computer that is able to run a range of Linux distributions. The board is developed by the Raspberry Pi foundation and then licensed through several manufacturing agreements.
It features GPIO pins, 4 USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI, audio out and a few other hardware slots you can connect devices to. We will go more into this in a bit.
The Pi also requires an operating system in order to function. This is stored on an external micro SD card that needs to be connected to the Pi. The Pi also supports networking via a wireless USB device or over Ethernet.
If you want to learn more about the Raspberry Pi then be sure to check our guide on what is a Raspberry Pi.
The Beaglebone black like the Raspberry Pi is roughly about the size of a credit card. The board is developed by beagleboard.org foundation a non-profit corporation based in the US.
This board features a large range of GPIO pins, 1 USB port and a HDMI port. We will go into more about the hardware in the section.
This board like the Pi requires an operating system in order to function. However this board is shipped with an operating system already pre-installed on its internal memory. Making it a little easier to setup over the Pi.
Below is our Raspberry Pi 2 vs Beaglebone hardware chart. Hopefully this will give you a clear indication of the main difference between the two devices.
We will go a bit more into a lot of what all of this means straight after the chart.
|Raspberry Pi 2||Beaglebone Black Rev C|
|Processor||900Mhz Quad Core ARM||1Ghz ARM Processor|
|RAM||1 Gb||512MB DDR3|
|Storage||Micro SD Card (Required)|
Expandable via USB
|4 GB on board flash storage. Expandable by USB & Micro SD|
|Audio||Stereo over HDMI or 3.5mm Jack||Stereo over HDMI|
|GPIO**||26/40 Pins||65/92 Pins|
|HDMI||Full Size HDMI port||Micro HDMI|
|Peripherals||4 USB ports|
1 10/100 Ethernet port
|1 USB port|
1 10/100 Ethernet port
|Power Source||Micro USB||Micro USB or 5VDC connection|
One of the biggest downsides to the Beaglebone is that it only has 1 USB port compared to the Pi’s 4. This means a USB hub is a must if you plan on getting the Beaglebone and will need to hook more than just one USB device.
The Pi can only draw power through the micro USB port. The Beaglebone on the other hand is able to draw power through a micro USB port but can also support 5VDC connection.
As you can clearly see on the chart if you plan on doing circuitry that requires a lot of GPIO pins the Beaglebone is perfect for you. The Pi still has 26 pins so this will still be plenty for most projects requiring use of the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins.
The Raspberry Pi also features a camera interface port (CSI) and also a LCD interface (DSI port. The Beaglebone lacks both of these but can be added via an add-on board.
Both the boards have quite a large range of add-on boards. However, you will find that the Pi has a much larger range of add-on boards due to the larger community.
If you plan on using a lot of USB peripherals and rather a stronger processor and more RAM, then the Pi is better for you. If you plan on using a lot of GPIO pins then the Beaglebone would be the better pick for you.
If you’re completely new to microcomputers, then it might be important to you on how easy it is get everything installed and started.
Setting up the Beaglebone black is surprisingly easy. The board comes with 4gb of on-board memory that has been pre-installed with a Linux based operating system (Angstorm). You can install a different operating system if you don’t want to use the on-board one.
Getting started with a Raspberry Pi is a little more involved since a lot of the required parts aren’t actually sold with the Pi. You will need to buy them separately or in a kit. You can buy a SD card with preinstalled NOOBs on it making it a little easier to get the Pi up and going.
Another Important factor in the Beaglebone vs Raspberry Pi debate is whether you’re interested in doing software based project such as media centres, emulators, web servers and much more.
The Pi 2 has a quad core CPU and 1 Gb of ram it is also able to run software packages a lot better than the Beaglebone. You will see improvements in performance over the Beaglebone in things such as media centres, emulators and much more.
The Raspberry Pi 2 at the time of writing this article still lacks any Android port which is a bit disappointing. However, you do have access to a lot of Linux distributions such as snappy Ubuntu core, Raspbian, Ubuntu mate and a few others. It also supports Window 10 IOT.
The main Beaglebone black operating systems include Angstrom (default preinstalled OS), Debian, Fedora, Android, Archlinux and many others. As Angstrom is the default operating system you will get the most support and the least problems using this on the Beaglebone.
Since the Beaglebone black doesn’t have nearly the same specs as what the Raspberry Pi 2 currently has it falls a bit behind in terms of performance. You will find that running software packages a bit slower on the beagle.
Support & Projects
An important factor when choosing between the devices is how much support and projects there are for each.
Both have a wide range of projects that you’re able to do with them. I will just briefly list them below along with a description on what you can expect the community to be like.
The Beaglebone black projects that I have seen around include the following:
- Sensor Logging
- Audio Looper
- Lighting control
- Motion Sensors
- And much more
If you’re looking for help, projects and guides for the Beaglebone. You will find the forums & live chat over at the official website incredibly helpful. The community is a lot smaller than the Raspberry Pi’s but you will be able to still find great projects and people to help you if you into trouble.
The Raspberry Pi projects that I have seen that you’re able to do include the following:
- Retro game emulator
- Web server
- Network attached storage
- Webcam Server
- Motion sensing
- And much more
You will probably have no trouble finding Pi projects and help. You have plenty of project sites like this one and also the official forums to get help, project ideas and much more.
Overall in terms of support and community the Raspberry Pi has probably one of the largest communities around its board. That said you can still find plenty of help and advice on the Beaglebone.
Pricing is always a very important factor when picking a specific device over another. The Beaglebone Vs Raspberry Pi is no different, there are a few important things that you will need to take into consideration when deciding on which board to go with.
In terms of price the Beaglebone black sits at about roughly $50 USD. This will get you the board and a USB cable. This all you need to be able to start using it. You will probably still need to buy a HDMI cord and possibly a USB hub if you plan on using more than one USB port.
The Raspberry Pi 2 sits at about $35 USD but it doesn’t come with everything you need to be able to use it. Assuming you don’t have anything you will need to buy a micro SD card, power adapter to just even get the Pi running. There are also plenty of Raspberry Pi accessories you can use to help with looks of the Pi and increase its functionality.
You can find kits that contain everything you need and they sit at about $70 USD.
In terms of price both of them end up to be about roughly the same price by the time you add the required extra bits and pieces.
Beaglebone Vs Raspberry Pi 2 Winner?
The Beaglebone Vs Raspberry Pi debate is a difficult one as they’re very similar in a lot of ways. However, there are a few defining points that will hopefully be able to make your mind up in choosing the Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone.
I would personally pick the Beaglebone black if I were looking into more device/circuitry based projects. The amount of GPIO pins available make it amazing for extending the boards capability.
You can also install Android relatively easy onto here so if that’s a deal breaker then Beaglebone is for you. However, I did find Android a little slow on the Beaglebone.
If you’re looking at picking up a Beaglebone you can find it through the link below.
Raspberry Pi Summary
I would personally pick the Raspberry Pi if I were looking into more software based projects or projects that didn’t require a huge range of GPIO pins.
The Raspberry Pi also doesn’t currently support android very well (This may change in the future) so the Beaglebone would be the better pick if you want to run Android.
If you’re looking at buying a Raspberry Pi 2 you can find it for sale through the link below.
If you’re still not really convinced or just want to look at other device. Be sure to check out our guide on the Raspberry Pi Vs Arduino. In the guide we basically go through the same process which will hopefully help you decide in which board is better for you.
I am sure I have probably missed something so if you think I should’ve mentioned something important please drop us a comment below! Also feel free to let us know your thoughts on the Beaglebone Vs Raspberry Pi debate and why someone should go with over the other.