Okay, sucks is a strong word to use for the Raspberry Pi 5. The Raspberry Pi 5 is going in the wrong direction in my opinion. It’s expensive, and only has HEVC GPU video decoding. Stick with the Raspberry Pi 3 B+, or buy a cheap x86 box like a Beelink instead if you need more than a Pi 3B+.
Raspberry Pi 3 B+
The ARM architecture uses minimal power. It’s only 1GB of RAM and a slow 4-core CPU. But for a small project, it’s perfect. Plus it has great Linux support (for an ARM based architecture).
Pi 3 B+ works great for Pi-hole and PiVPN (with OpenVPN or WireGuard)! Check out my old post about setting up PiVPN with OpenVPN.
Raspberry Pi 4
What About the Pi 4? It depends. It does have a faster CPU, and more RAM options compared to a Pi 3B+. But I don’t want active cooling. And the Pi 4 needs a fan.
Raspberry Pi 5 – Only HEVC GPU video decoding
The Raspberry Pi 5 only supports HEVC decoding. And no hardware encoding at all! HEVC is also known as “H.265”. This means no “H.264” (AVC) GPU decoding. Why does this matter? H.264 is still widely used. And that means the Pi 5 needs the use the CPU to decode H.264 (AVC), which uses more power and causes more heat in the Pi.
Raspberry Pi 5 Alternatives – Beelink Mini S12 Pro (x86)
I want a quiet and small headless home server type of solution that fits behind my TV.
I found the Beelink Mini S12 Pro works great for me. It’s actually about the same price as a Pi 5 with a basic setup! (with a case, sd card, power from CanaKit for $214.95). I got my Beelink Mini S12 Pro from Amazon currently on sale for $219 (CAD). Plus you can actually get this today, and not on pre-order like the Pi.
The Beelink Mini S12 Pro has:
- 4 core x86 CPU (Intel 12th Gen Processor Alder Lake N100)
- 16GB RAM
- 500GB NVMe disk for storage!
- 6W TDP
I’d recommend re-installing the OS though.
Linux installs and works on it just fine (tried with Linux Kernel 6.5, and 6.6). But note that WiFi and Bluetooth don’t work because of the Intel AX101 chip’s terrible Linux support. But for me that wasn’t an issue, I just use Ethernet.
This will give you way more power than a Pi 5, and not much more power usage. Yes it does use active cooling (fan), but I’ve never heard it.
However, if you don’t want to spend that much, then instead get a cheap laptop. Trade off is that it will likely use more power.
Stick with a Raspberry Pi 3B+ for any small projects. If you need something more powerful, go x86. Something like a Beelink Mini S12 Pro from Amazon, or even a cheap laptop will be better than a Raspberry Pi 5.