Raspberry Pi 5 brings extra kick, creeps in price and power usage

Four years after its latest microcomputer launch, Raspberry Pi debuts the new Pi 5, which offers performance and other improvements at a slightly higher price.

Raspberry Pi is one of the most popular and versatile microcomputers, which found many applications due to its low cost and wide array of capabilities.

While Raspberry Pi boards are often used in schools or universities to teach about electronics and computer science, they also have real-life applications such as in home automation for controlling lights, thermostats, cameras, or other devices, media centers (although not very capable), retro gaming, industrial applications such as machine control, data collection, environmental monitoring.

The new Raspberry Pi 5 offers 2-3 times speed improvement in CPU performance, roughly twice faster GPU, and “enormous onboard IO bandwidth.” The microcomputer 5 is capable of driving two 4K monitors at a 60 Hz refresh rate.

“Virtually every aspect of the platform has been upgraded, delivering a no-compromises user experience,” the company’s post reads.

However, some compromises and changes were introduced.

The performance gains are not that impressive when compared to Moore’s law, which observes a doubling in transistors in less than every two years. This also roughly translates into doubling the computation performance. Four years, according to the law, should bring four times the computing power.

Also, the new Raspberry Pi 5 requires a lot more power to run at full speed – a 27-watt power supply may be required when driving high-power peripherals.

The audio jack was removed from the board together with the four-pole composite video. The latter is still available from a pair of 0.1”-spaced pads on the bottom edge of the board. Instead, Pi5 adds connectors (four-lane MIPI interfaces) for CSI-2 cameras or DSI displays and a single lane of PCI Express 2.0 connectivity for high-speed peripherals.

Coming at the end of October, Pi 5 will be slightly more expensive. The microcomputer is priced at $60 for the 4GB variant and $80 for the 8GB sibling. In comparison, the Pi 4 started at $35 for a 1GB variant, the 4GB version costs $55, and the 8GB version’s MSRP was $75.

What’s new?

On the outside, Raspberry Pi 5 closely resembles its predecessors and retains the overall credit-card-sized footprint.

According to the company, the single silicon piece that was not changed in the new variant is the Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth 5.0 / Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chip.

Other Pi 5’s key features include:

  • 2.4GHz quad-core 64-bit Arm Cortex-A76 CPU
  • VideoCore VII GPU, supporting OpenGL ES 3.1, Vulkan 1.2
  • Dual 4Kp60 HDMI® display output, 4Kp60 HEVC decoder
  • 2 × USB 3.0 ports, 2 × USB 2.0 ports, microSD
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • PCIe 2.0 x1 interface for fast peripherals

Raspberry Pi is known for its standard 40-pin GPIO header, which is not changed.

Higher performance will not be sufficient to stream video at high resolutions, as tomshardware.com found out. 1080p YouTube playback performance was jerky and sluggish when the screen ran at 4K.

“Raspberry Pi 5 marks the introduction of a number of manufacturing innovations. One of these is intrusive reflow for connectors, which improves the mechanical quality of the product and increases throughput,” the company writes.

While more efficient, Pi5 has a higher peak power consumption: around 12W, versus 8W for Raspberry Pi 4.

When using a standard 5V, 3A (15W) USB-C power adapter, Pi 5, by default, will limit downstream USB current to 600mA to ensure sufficient margins, which is twice lower than the 1.2A limit on Raspberry Pi 4. To drive high-power peripherals or to try overclocking, the new Raspberry Pi 27W USB-C Power Supply will be needed. Such supply will increase the USB current limit to 1.6A.

The new Raspberry Pi model is accompanied by new accessories, such as an updated case, priced at $10, an active cooler for $5, the aforementioned 27W power adapter for $12, and others. Brand new beginner guide will set you back by $24.99.

The new Raspberry Pi OS will launch in mid-October and will be the sole supported first-party operating system for Raspberry Pi 5.