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.
Throughout 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.
Over time the two boards will advanced in features which may slowly make one better than the other. It’s important to keep this in mind when reading this comparison guide. I will try to keep this up to date.
If you have anything to add to this comparison, then be sure to leave a comment towards the bottom of this page.
Be sure to check out my detailed video on the Beaglebone Black vs. Raspberry Pi debate below. This video 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. Please keep in mind as time moves on this article will likely become more and more out of date.
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Just to begin, I will 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.
Raspberry Pi 2
The Raspberry Pi is a small credit card sized computer that can run a range of Linux distributions. The Raspberry Pi foundation develops the board which is then licensed through several manufacturing agreements.
It features GPIO pins, four USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI, audio out and a few other hardware slots that you can use to connect external devices to the board. 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 microSD 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, one USB port, and an HDMI port. We will go into more about the hardware in the section.
This board like the Pi requires an operating system to function. However, this board is shipped with an operating system already pre-installed on its internal memory. Making it a little easier to set up 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 onboard 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 one USB port compared to the Pi’s four. This lack of USB ports 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, can draw power through a micro USB port but can also support a 5VDC connection.
As you can 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 the use of the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins.
The Raspberry Pi also features a camera interface port (CSI) and also an 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 broad range of add-on boards. However, you will find that the Pi has a much more extensive range of add-on boards due to the larger community.
If you plan on using a lot of USB peripherals, 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 entirely 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 onboard memory that has been pre-installed with a Linux based operating system (Angstrom). You can install a different operating system if you don’t want to use the onboard one.
Getting started with a Raspberry Pi is a little more involved since a lot of the required parts aren’t sold with the Pi. You will need to buy them separately or in a kit. You can buy an SD card with pre-installed 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 a software-based project such as media centers, 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 centers, retro game 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 Windows 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 regarding 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 briefly list them below along with a description of what you can expect the community to be.
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 find great projects and people to help you if you run 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 regarding 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 significant factor when picking a specific device over another. The Beaglebone vs. Raspberry Pi is no different, and there are a few essential things that you will need to take into consideration when deciding on which board you want to start investing time 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 equipment all you need to be able to start using it. You will probably still need to buy an 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 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 or circuitry based projects. The number of GPIO pins available makes 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 via 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 convinced or want to look at another device, then be sure to check out our guide on the Raspberry Pi vs. Arduino. In the guide, we 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.
I will add to your comparison that the BBB is an Open Source Platform nwhere the RPi is not..and taht makes a big difference if you need to redesign a complete board with only your needed functionnality.
Just for that reason i will go to the BBB one.
For interacting with the physical world, the BB has 7 analog input channels, while the RPi has none.
Great summary. The one thing that you missed that is worthy of mentioning is the GPIO speed difference between the two. The BBB has a Programmable Realtime Unit (PRU) Subsystem that allows for much faster GPIO usage.