Raspberry Pi 3 vs Raspberry Pi 2 vs Raspberry Pi B+: Which is the Pi that’s best for you?

The Raspberry Pi has become one of the biggest successes in British computing, selling eight million of its microcomputers since it first started commercially producing them in 2012. In case you’re wondering, that now makes it the most popular British computer ever made, a title formerly held by the Amstrad PCW.

As you may already know, the Raspberry Pi has become a favourite with those who like to tinker with homebrew projects and it’s also worked its way into schools, helping educate young minds about how computers work. Now with the Raspberry Pi 3 out in the wild, you’re probably wondering which microcomputer you should buy. Well, worry no more, as Alphr’s head-to-head guide is here to serve up the right Pi for you.

Raspberry Pi 3 vs Raspberry Pi 2 vs Raspberry Pi B+: Specs

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For less than £30, the Raspberry Pi 2 packed a lot of power into the same small frame that the Raspberry Pi has always had. Now the Raspberry Pi 3 has managed to do the same, usurping the Pi 2 as the most powerful Pi yet.

From a pure specs standpoint, the Pi 3 benefits from a boost of processor speed, upping the Pi 2’s 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU to a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM v8. Compare this to the Pi B+’s single-core 700MHz ARM v6, and you’ll realise that the Pi 3 is a powerful pocket-sized computer.

In terms of pure performance, running the Whetstone Pi A7 benchmarking tool revealed that the Pi 3 is around 65% quicker than the Pi 2, scoring 711 to the P2’s 432.

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While its increase in power may only be marginal, the new processor is actually more power-efficient. While the Pi 2 always ran at a steady 900MHz, the Pi 3 drops down to 600MHz when idle, meaning it draws far less power – ideal if you plan to run your Pi via a battery.

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The rest of the Pi 3’s specs remain the same as the Pi 2 (1GB of RAM, 4 USB 2 ports, 100Mbits/sec Ethernet port, HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack and microSD slot), although it does feature a couple of welcome additions: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4. Those who grew tired of wasting USB ports by plugging in Wi-Fi adapters and Bluetooth dongles won’t have to worry anymore.

The Raspberry Pi 3’s Wi-Fi chip is also reasonably impressive for a device without a separate antenna. In our review, the Pi 3 achieved data-transfer speeds of 12Mbits/sec, compared with 26Mbits/sec from an 802.11n laptop when positioned 10 metres away from the router. When moved to within a metre of the router, speeds rose to 19Mbits/sec on the Pi 3, compared to 84Mbits/sec on the laptop.

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It’s worth noting that, if you don’t need to use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the Pi 2 or even the Pi B+ may better suit your needs, but with half as much RAM and non-powered USB ports, the Pi B+ could be somewhat underpowered.

All three versions still have the same design, layout and footprint, so all previous Raspberry Pi cases should fit the Pi you want.

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