I need enough power to connect to the internet and run programs like Libreoffice. I've actually got a Raspberry Pi2, and considering it's cost the performance is amazing, but still, it's a bit underpowered in my opnion for things like Youtube. Still, with the 1GB limitation, you can't really run more than a couple of programs at once. If you open a few tabs on the browser, the system hangs.

I understand the Raspberry Pi3 is out, and that it's a bit faster. But I imagine the exact same problems would occur opening multiple tabs on a browser, or running more than a couple of programs at a time, considering it's 1GB RAM memory.

There is another system I'm interested in, the Odriod-C2, also with a quad core processor, but running at 2ghz rather than pi3's 1.2 ghz. And, the network connection is faster, as I understand it, running directly off the motherboards bus instead of hitched onto the USB2 bus, as in the pi2 and pi3. And, the Odriod-c2 has a whooping 2GB RAM memory, twice as much, so I should be able to have twice as many programs or tabs on my browser open.

On paper, it looks like the Odriod-C2 would be cheapest ARM computer capable of running a Linux Desktop "smoothly" at $40 for the board, vs $35 for the pi3 (although it includes wifi and bluetooth on the board)?

Which one of these two options suits my situation best - or are there better alternatives?


If you have some DDR3 RAM and a PSU and case laying around, you might consider upgrading from ARM to x86, which would be a real boost not only to your single-threaded performance, but also to your graphics and RAM capacity. Of course as a whole package it will end up being bulkier and slightly more expensive.

If x86 isn't an option, you should be aware that MANY of the SBCs out there suffer from lackluster desktop experiences due to very poor linux support for their particular graphics drivers. Raspberry Pi uses one of the best-supported GPUs, so it's likely to give you the best possible desktop experience (especially the 3), just so long as you can figure out how to stay within the bounds of that 1gb RAM. For my money's worth, the best implementation of a Raspberry Pi OS I've ever seen has to be DietPi. Especially when you run it without X or a DE (i.e. in console, using only the framebuffer), it sips RAM. Now Adam, you might complain, I just said I need a desktop! Luckily you can still have a lot of what you like about desktops in your framebuffer using the gpm mouse driver for programs like mc and links2 which support a graphical mode in framebuffer-only environments.

A final alternative would be to get an android stick and try to make do with the Android environment, which has much better driver support for the GPUs on these ARM SBCs. You could even try running linux on it if you were feeling determined and adventurous.

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