vizz
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How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:51 pm

Hi everyone. I need to replace my parents home PC, and it seems unnecessary to spend ±300$ on a PC when a 35$ RPI could do the job (?).

They are already using Linux (Mint) so switching them over to another distro won't be problem. My main concern is multitasking, they usually have 4 to 5 browser tabs and some office suite opened. How well will the RPI handle this? Their current PC struggles with 3 tabs opened (depending on what they are), and has trouble with full HD video playback.

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Gavinmc42
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:04 am

When Gentoo64 OS came out for the PI I tested it with 30 tabs before I got bored.
And that was on a Pi3B+

The Pi4 with 4GB is much better.
The 2GB one would be fine for only 3 tabs ;)
That's what my old Linux Mint box had that got replaced by my Pi400.

I don't use my Pi's as video player, but I sometime have YT playing video sounds tracks on the other monitor while coder and compiling.

Storage will be the consideration for PC type use..
A network storage solution or USB SSD?
I'm dancing on Rainbows.
Raspberries are not Apples or Oranges

pidd
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:07 am

I use a Pi4 4GB with an SSD as my main desktop computer.

The only negative I have at the moment is the current version of Chromium (browser) is not as good as the previous version, some users have gone back to the previous version but the next version of Chromium is probably due soon. There are other browsers that work well such as Firefox.

Number of tabs doesn't appear to cause any problems with Chromium, I often have more than ten open.

Although my main reason for using a Pi4 was to have a silent computer (I use a Flirc passive cooling case) with much lower energy requirements, overall it is really great as a desktop unless you use heavy duty things like Video editing - its not bad at that either but obviously can't compete with a modern PC. It isn't a gaming computer either but that doesn't interest me anyway.

You have virtually nothing to lose, they fetch a really good price on ebay in the unlikely event you find its not for you.

Biggest pieces of advice should you get one .....

Use Raspberry Pi OS - it is virtually Debian and is the best supported and stable operating system.

Buy the official Raspberry Pi4 power supply

Use Raspberry Pi documentation to do anything, definitely don't take much notice of anything written on the internet more than 6 months old, you will end up in a mess. If you are getting stuck, ask on this forum giving as much detail of your problem that you can.

If you want an SSD, make sure you get a known compatible USB3-SATA adapter (I recommend Ugreen), get a low power SSD (I recommend the Kingston A400 series).

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kerry_s
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:21 am

vizz wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:51 pm
Hi everyone. I need to replace my parents home PC, and it seems unnecessary to spend ±300$ on a PC when a 35$ RPI could do the job (?).

They are already using Linux (Mint) so switching them over to another distro won't be problem. My main concern is multitasking, they usually have 4 to 5 browser tabs and some office suite opened. How well will the RPI handle this? Their current PC struggles with 3 tabs opened (depending on what they are), and has trouble with full HD video playback.
5 tabs & office on my rpi400, i think you'll be fine.
just make sure you read up on the limitations like no drm, etc....
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KeithMck
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:58 am

My RPi3B was adequete as a desktop replacement, if a little slow - but my RPi4B/4GB & RPi400 make very good desktop systems - I'd say at least the equal to a Celeron based system of equal speed.

Advantages are small size, low power consumption, & quiet computing - I don't know any down side to using them, other than heavy duty work.

ganzgustav22
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:41 am

Gavinmc42 wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:04 am
When Gentoo64 OS came out for the PI I tested it with 30 tabs before I got bored.
This depends a lot on the websites you have open. Thirty "oldschool" html-only pages are no problem, even on a Pi3. And the fact that you actually managed to open 30 tabs without running out of memory on the Pi3 tells me they have been "oldschool" sites :)

Just open a few "modern" websites (full of javascript and dynamic content, ads with video embeds, etc. etc.) and you'll notice even the Pi4 struggles with multiple of them opened.

bjtheone
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:04 pm

I also run a couple of 4B's (4GB & 8GB) as desktop computers. Mine is used for lots of different things with a web browser (typically with 6-10 tabs open, 3 of which dynamically refresh and are moderate complexity), calibre, xchat open all the time, plus a couple of terminals, and usually a multi tabbed editor. Some YouTube and NetFlix use. Son uses his for web browsing and YouTube (lots and lots of YouTube videos). I spend less time maintaining them than the Window's laptop my wife wants to have.

Certainly you can overwhelm them, but I would certainly claim they are a functional desktop replacement for typical home use. For comparison, I also have a iPad Pro, which is noticeably faster to load webpages and never stutters... However, it was around $1600.

LTolledo
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:16 pm

this RPi4B-4GB dual screen desktop is my current home pc.
RPi4-4GB Desktop dual screen.jpg
RPi4-4GB Desktop dual screen.jpg (195.53 KiB) Viewed 1200 times
its SSD boot
as seen, am watching anime on the left side (windowed) and on the left side is a 14-tab chromium browser (with two YT pages)
on very few occasions I add google map (which is a known resource hog), but I can get along fine...

am using 10" dual screen, so I usually watch 480p to 720p YT videos which is very good enough...
if I use Kodi on top of RPiOS32.... there I watch 5.1ch 1080p videos...

this is the most I've done on my then RPi3B+ desktop
RPi3B+Desktop_vnc_RPi3B.jpg
RPi3B+Desktop_vnc_RPi3B.jpg (233.25 KiB) Viewed 1200 times
it was my home PC before RPi4B-4GB came

I spend more time (roughly 95%) using my RPi desktops than my $3000 gaming laptop...
internet browsing, watching YT videos, this RPi forum, monitoring earthquake, and online shopping...
gaming? most of my gaming are now done on the Oculus Quest, and my RPi3B retropie setup ;)
"Don't come to me with 'issues' for I don't know how to deal with those
Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

Some people be like:
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vizz
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 2:58 pm

kerry_s wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:21 am
just make sure you read up on the limitations like no drm, etc....
Thanks for mentioning that, I forgot about this, and it actually might be a problem. Which really sucks because it seems perfect otherwise

pidd
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:08 pm

vizz wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 2:58 pm
kerry_s wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:21 am
just make sure you read up on the limitations like no drm, etc....
Thanks for mentioning that, I forgot about this, and it actually might be a problem. Which really sucks because it seems perfect otherwise
Not my thing but https://pimylifeup.com/raspberry-pi-widevine/ looks promising for drm.

sandwich
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:31 pm

vizz wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:51 pm
Hi everyone. I need to replace my parents home PC, and it seems unnecessary to spend ±300$ on a PC when a 35$ RPI could do the job (?).
I've been using the Rpi4 8GB for 11 months. It's a bit slow but perfectly useable. It's perhaps half the speed of a cheap Pentium Intel NUC. It has its pros and cons.

Pros:
- It's an ARM so less likely the target of malware.
- It's small and portable.
- Used with a fast MicroSD it is really not too slow.
- Overall cost after a 512GB fast Samsung MicroSD is about $200.
- You can connect numerous devices.
- It's meant to run Linux so that is pretty well supported (with caveats e.g. no OpenCL), unlike some laptops.
- It can always be repurposed e.g. for coin mining.
- It can be overclocked.
- My horrible HP printer works with it.

Cons:
- It has to be overclocked to feel responsive.
- Compared to a 10 year old used laptop the RPi is definitely better (more RAM, potentially more storage).
- Cost effectiveness compared to a cheap laptop e.g. Acer Aspire 5 (on sale) is not great.
- Android development simply can't be done.
- There is no brightness control, the signal output is always 100% brightness.
- No OpenCL support.
Last edited by sandwich on Tue Jun 15, 2021 5:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

emma1997
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:25 pm

Not good with printers. 3 out of 5 individuals I know who recently tried switching from Wintel to Pi gave it up for that reason and the other 2, like me, go back to their old PC to do photos, coupons, and labels.

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FTrevorGowen
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:36 pm

emma1997 wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:25 pm
Not good with printers. 3 out of 5 individuals I know who recently tried switching from Wintel to Pi gave it up for that reason and the other 2, like me, go back to their old PC to do photos, coupons, and labels.
T.B.H. I would consider that a "Linux" issue rather than (just) Pi specific. Historically HP devices (in my experience) have had the best support (currently using a HP DeskJet 2630 "All-in-one" Scanner/Printer but have used others in the past - including this, albeit, "ancient" Brother EP44: http://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi ... apter.html sadly, demised, due to power supply/internal capacitor failure)
Trev.
Still running Raspbian Jessie or Stretch on some older Pi's (an A, B1, 2xB2, B+, P2B, 3xP0, P0W, 2xP3A+, P3B, B+, and a A+) but Buster on the P3B+, P4B's & P400. See: https://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi/raspiidx.htm

bjtheone
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:11 pm

emma1997 wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:25 pm
Not good with printers. 3 out of 5 individuals I know who recently tried switching from Wintel to Pi gave it up for that reason and the other 2, like me, go back to their old PC to do photos, coupons, and labels.
Many printers have good "out of the box" Linux support. I have Samsung, HP and Lexmark lasers that just work. Were totally plug and play. Just got a Lexmark colour laser, was autodected by the Pi, and was something like 3 clicks to set up.

Windows 10 did not do so well and I had to manually load driver files (which really surprised me). It found the printer but could not set it up correctly.

Printers with Linux support (or IPP) are a breeze to set up. Printer that only acknowledge Windows as an OS may not be so easy.

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craigevil
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Tue Jun 15, 2021 1:08 am

You can get DRM working on the default RPIOS arm. On the arm64 beta it is possible using a docker container.
https://www.linuxuprising.com/2021/03/r ... evine.html

Other than that if they are used to using Mint they should have no problems using RPIOS.

Keep in mind that Google removed syncing from Chromium, so if they need a browser that can sync they might consider using Vivaldi or Firefox. Both of which run as well or better than Chromium anyway.
Raspberry PI 400 Raspberry Pi OS (Unstable) Kernel: 5.10.17-v8+ aarch64 DE: MATE Ram 4GB
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Mark_F
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Tue Jun 15, 2021 2:20 am

A Pi-400 works well for me.
I'm in the middle of planning a "lap" of Australia and currently have a LibreOffice spreadsheet (6 page workbook), 5 Google Maps tabs and 8 other tabs open, a few of which are complex with lots of images, etc., in Chromium as well as Evolution Mail all open. According to the taskbar CPU monitor it's currently at about 20%.

As for printers. We have an Epson XP200 which connects over WiFi and works perfectly as a printer but not as a scanner. To be honest though, I haven't put any real effort into getting the scanner and ink monitor working.

The big trip stuff is on my web site if you want to have a look at the work we put into it.
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fruitoftheloom
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Tue Jun 15, 2021 7:34 am

vizz wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:51 pm
Hi everyone. I need to replace my parents home PC, and it seems unnecessary to spend ±300$ on a PC when a 35$ RPI could do the job (?).

They are already using Linux (Mint) so switching them over to another distro won't be problem. My main concern is multitasking, they usually have 4 to 5 browser tabs and some office suite opened. How well will the RPI handle this? Their current PC struggles with 3 tabs opened (depending on what they are), and has trouble with full HD video playback.

I gave up on my 4B 4GB kit, it went to a relative, bought an Asus ChromeBox 3 as my daily driver...

...DRM no issues, Printer no issues, Google Applications no issue, Google Synch no issues, WebCam no issues etcetera etcetera
I am a volunteer, take what I advise as advice not the utopian holy grail.

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CaxtonPi
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Tue Jun 15, 2021 1:05 pm

Been using Pi4b as my desktop PC for just over a year. Works fine for me most of the time. Performance is adequate with a fast SSD but you do need some technical knowledge to set it up and maintain it. This forum is invaluable. I've not had problems with Canon and HP printers setup. A Chromebox 3 seems to be a lot more expensive than a 4b , case and SSD.( Curry's current UK price £250.00).

fruitoftheloom
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Tue Jun 15, 2021 2:46 pm

CaxtonPi wrote:
Tue Jun 15, 2021 1:05 pm
A Chromebox 3 seems to be a lot more expensive than a 4b

AliExpress link in my signature, 3 weeks to arrive ;)
I am a volunteer, take what I advise as advice not the utopian holy grail.

john-atwork
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:13 pm

craigevil wrote:
Tue Jun 15, 2021 1:08 am
On the arm64 beta it is possible using a docker container [for Widevine].
Has anybody done a writeup on this? How is the performance?

bjtheone
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:26 pm

CaxtonPi wrote:
Tue Jun 15, 2021 1:05 pm
Been using Pi4b as my desktop PC for just over a year. Works fine for me most of the time. Performance is adequate with a fast SSD but you do need some technical knowledge to set it up and maintain it. This forum is invaluable. I've not had problems with Canon and HP printers setup. A Chromebox 3 seems to be a lot more expensive than a 4b , case and SSD.( Curry's current UK price £250.00).
I suspect that a Chromebook or Chromebox would be a lot closer to plug and play, and likely as close as you can get to zero maintenance. I have a couple of Chromebooks. My son's is "stock" and just works, the other has full Linux via crouton with the same amount of maintenance/fiddling as any other Linux box.

If you only want a mainly content consumption device, and are happy with cloud apps a Chromebox is a good alternative.

However, there is nothing magical about it so it is going to be roughly the same price as other Intel/AMD NUCs, which is rather different that a Pi.

fruitoftheloom
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:37 pm

bjtheone wrote:
Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:26 pm
CaxtonPi wrote:
Tue Jun 15, 2021 1:05 pm
Been using Pi4b as my desktop PC for just over a year. Works fine for me most of the time. Performance is adequate with a fast SSD but you do need some technical knowledge to set it up and maintain it. This forum is invaluable. I've not had problems with Canon and HP printers setup. A Chromebox 3 seems to be a lot more expensive than a 4b , case and SSD.( Curry's current UK price £250.00).
I suspect that a Chromebook or Chromebox would be a lot closer to plug and play, and likely as close as you can get to zero maintenance. I have a couple of Chromebooks. My son's is "stock" and just works, the other has full Linux via crouton with the same amount of maintenance/fiddling as any other Linux box.

If you only want a mainly content consumption device, and are happy with cloud apps a Chromebox is a good alternative.

However, there is nothing magical about it so it is going to be roughly the same price as other Intel/AMD NUCs, which is rather different that a Pi.

£140.00 ChromeBox as I stated above not exactly a huge huge price difference:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32966393971.html
I am a volunteer, take what I advise as advice not the utopian holy grail.

bjtheone
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:30 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote:
Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:37 pm

£140.00 ChromeBox as I stated above not exactly a huge huge price difference:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32966393971.html
With a Celeron, 4 GB RAM, and 32 GB storage it is marginal. Bumping up the specs to 8GB and at least 64 GB storage which I would argue is the minimum config for a desktop machine, does bad things to the price.

fruitoftheloom
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:53 pm

bjtheone wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:30 pm
fruitoftheloom wrote:
Wed Jun 23, 2021 7:37 pm

£140.00 ChromeBox as I stated above not exactly a huge huge price difference:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32966393971.html
With a Celeron, 4 GB RAM, and 32 GB storage it is marginal. Bumping up the specs to 8GB and at least 64 GB storage which I would argue is the minimum config for a desktop machine, does bad things to the price.

Even with a basic Celeron CPU and 4GB memory it far outperforms a RPi 4B 4GB for Google Chrome, YT, Docs etcetera, which I would define as *desktop use*.

£25 for a 4GB memory module, not expensive.

Need extra storage just use an USB MSD.

Though I make use of Google Cloud Storage myself.
I am a volunteer, take what I advise as advice not the utopian holy grail.

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manu2007
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Re: How viable is RPI 4B as a home PC?

Thu Jun 24, 2021 6:08 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:53 pm
Even with a basic Celeron CPU and 4GB memory it far outperforms a RPi 4B 4GB for Google Chrome, YT, Docs etcetera, which I would define as *desktop use*.
Do you have smooth playback of this video ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuXsupMuik4

What is the CPU clock ?

On a Raspberry PI the best result I could get so far is with Raspbian 64 bit, overclocked to 2 GHz, with Firefox ESR and a few about:config tweaks.

Still it's very choppy, even in 480p, not smooth at all, so not good for a modern desktop use in 2021 IMHO.

In comparison, a 56 Euro AMD Athlon 200 GE from 2019 plays that video perfectly smoothly under Windows 10 at the max resolution without any kind of hiccup. :-P And of course under Windows 10 I don't have any kind of Xorg tearing. :-P

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