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Raspberry Pi – Performance, What Can It Do, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Raspberry Pi Performance

Anyone thinking to get a functional everyday PC on the cheap with the Raspberry Pi will either be pleased or frustrated. Pleased if they haven’t used a modern computer before, as the Raspberry Pi will let you browse the web, create word documents or spreadsheets, play simple or older games, and watch HD video. Frustrated if they’ve used anything faster than a netbook, which the Pi most certainly is not.

Raspberry Pi

The YouTube website took over 55 seconds to load, compared to under 2 seconds on the average desktop PC and virtually instantly on a powerful rig with SSD storage. Even opening or closing windows in the graphical environment of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s recommended Raspbian Wheezy (a Raspberry Pi optimised version of Debian) can take just a bit longer than is comfortable, especially if another task is running in the background. Browsing the web also requires patience, and in the OS we even clicked buttons several times at first because the response was so delayed.

We’re hoping we’ll soon be seeing in-OS graphics acceleration, at which point day-to-day performance for the Raspberry Pi should increase noticeably. The other thing we’re hoping to see is a more powerful yet still ultra-affordable Model X with a 1GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM, not outside the bounds of possibility considering there are already sub-£100 tablets with these kinds of specs.

Even if this doesn’t happen, one of the best things about the Raspberry Pi is that performance on this open-source PC will only improve, as home-brew developers and hobbyist programmers add ever more refinements, shortcuts, and efficiency to the software available for the diminutive computing platform.

Raspberry Pi Value

Well, this one’s pretty obvious. There’s nothing else out there that comes close to matching the sub-£30 Raspberry Pi for value. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy one. If you’re after a cheap as chips desktop computer for basic productivity it will do the job, but you’ll need patience.

It’s perfect for a kid’s first computer though, especially since there’s no hand-holding and even installing extras needs to be done through a command interface – meaning they’ll hopefully learn a little more than ‘click/touch here to do this’. Relatively simple game-making software on the Wheeze install will especially appeal.

Raspberry Pi 3

As a media player, the Pi is again the cheapest but not necessarily best choice compared to dedicated media players. With the correct software – either a video player on Wheeze or an XBMC/OpenELEC install - it will certainly play most video formats, including 1080p MKVs. However, menus perform slowly and MPEG 2-encoded video is off the menu due to licensing restrictions, so you might be better off with something like the far more powerful MK802 computer on a stick.

Raspberry Pi 11

You’ll probably also want a case so the Raspberry Pi looks good with your AV gear. There’s a large choice of third-party ones available from sites like www.modmypi.com – or just build your own out of Lego/wood/cardboard. Because the Pi doesn’t require active cooling and doesn’t get hot, you can make a case out of a huge variety of materials.

Where the Raspberry Pi really shines is as a hobbyist board that’s small enough to fit almost anywhere and versatile enough to handle a huge variety of projects – and cheap enough that if you fry, break or smash it, it can easily be replaced.


Believe the hype: the Raspberry Pi really is a miniature marvel. It’s a computer the size of a business card for the price of a concert ticket, with enough connectivity to hook up all the essentials and enough power to play back Full HD video.

What it doesn’t quite have enough power for is to provide a smooth experience in anything remotely intensive that doesn’t utilise its graphics chip, and it can require a lot of effort to get even basic functionality set up. Of course that’s part of the point and, with widespread community support, the Raspberry Pi is only going to get better.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 6
  • Value 10


March 24, 2012, 3:13 pm

Who writes this stuff? I taught Computer Science from 1981 - the notion that computers were "a lot more accessible" then is twisting the truth - they were a great deal more cumbersome to use and you often had to write code because that's was all you could do and/or there was no code to do what you wanted. Remember no internet then either!


August 2, 2012, 12:19 pm

"It's all backed by 256GB of RAM, which is shared by both the system and GPU."

I want one. That's the cheapest and most compact 256GB of RAM I have *EVER* seen. My macbook pro tops out at 8GB...

Has anyone proof read this article? Made me smile though...


August 2, 2012, 2:39 pm

Just to clarify that your comment is on the Preview, not the Review. And you're right, but I guess Ed (who wrote the preview) was referring to the 'guts' of the computer - you needed to know more to get anything out of them...

I'm afraid the Special Edition with 256GB of RAM that we received for review is not available to buy for the public...

Seriously though, thanks for spotting that, fixed (and as mentioned in the review, we actually used a retail Raspberry Pi). Glad we made you smile!


November 28, 2012, 2:24 am



May 2, 2013, 10:32 am

I bought a Raspberry Pi it is a brilliant piece of hardware but unlike the old BBC computer you need a lot of knowledge and know how just to get it to do anything. After help from an "expert" who spent an hour (he said it would take a few minutes) trying to get the thing to run as a media server using a pre written program we succeeded. I am not technophobic or new in this field but even with the wiki guide I am sure it would have taken me 5 or 6 hours to accomplish this task.

When running it using a PC as a vehicle can someone explain to me why it is necessary to do become a "robot" following a sequence of instructions (I have summarized them below) that are not easy and for the unwary there are pitfalls at every turn. (This is totally non creative and much of it incomprehensible to the new user). There is virtually nothing obvious and it begs the question, why can't it be automated?

All of the below could surely be automated as with a set up program", eg. Click install. then follow the on screen prompts.

Here is the a summary of the sequence!

Download image Unzip
Download USB tool
Setup as in instructions (it took ten minutes to work out that I needed to an administrator and another few minutes to work our how to become one!)
Run restore image, (Why?)
Download Putty http://www.chiark.greenend....
Place SD card in Pi. Connect network plug. Switch on.
Connect through putty - may need trial and error to get IP address (ping squeezeplug). Port 22.
Login: root Password: nosoup4u (why do you need to do this?)
Type setup
Follow prompts.
Select Expand_RootFS. (obvious isn't it)
Select Yes and follow prompts. Select Yes to reboot.

Wait a bit for it to come back and login again. Resize the window.
Run setup again.
Advanced Install samba,Media Handling.
MiniDLNA - Install

Need I say more. A shame as it really is a great bit of kit.

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