Can’t Discover a Raspberry Pi? Purchase a Used NUC As a substitute



Raspberry Pi 4 microcomputers are a scorching commodity, so scorching that costs are considerably inflated. So neglect overpaying for a Pi, purchase a used NUC as an alternative—it’s a a lot better worth.

The Pi Scarcity Pricing Adjustments the Equation

If the Raspberry Pi was constantly in inventory and promoting for the MSRP, the pricing for the Raspberry Pi 4 boards would vary from $35 for the bottom 1GB mannequin as much as $75 for the 8GB mannequin.

That candy $35 worth level is top-of-the-line issues in regards to the Raspberry Pi and precisely why the Pi has grow to be the inspiration of so many tasks. We love the Pi, and through the years, we’ve written plenty of tutorials about it. I’ve used Pi boards for media facilities, dwelling servers, pastime tasks, you identify it. So it’s protected to say we’re huge followers.

However shortages that began in 2020 and stay ongoing have modified the panorama. You’ll be able to’t get your arms on a Pi board for $35 proper now (and also you received’t have the ability to for the foreseeable future). Now your greatest wager to get a Pi is to buy on public sale websites like eBay—however as an alternative of paying $35-70, you’re paying $125 to $175. In lots of cases, that’s only for the naked board with no case, storage, or energy provide.

Throw in a good case, high quality energy provide, and a great microSD card,  you’re out one other $30-40. You’ve all the time had to purchase the extras for Pi boards, however spending $30 on high of a $35 board is much more palatable than spending $30 on high of a $150 board you bought at scalper pricing.

And at these worth factors, the “Wow, I’m getting quite a lot of microcomputer for $35!” pleasure goes proper out the window, and it is best to take into account spending the cash on one thing else as an alternative. Enter the Intel NUC. Let’s take a better look.

In This Market, Used NUCs Are a A lot Higher Worth

When you’re unfamiliar with NUCs, right here’s a fast abstract. Launched by Intel in 2013, a NUC (or Subsequent Unit of Computing) is a really small kind issue PC. We’re speaking a lilliputian 5x5x2 inches or so.

When you purchase a model new current-gen NUC, you may anticipate to spend as a lot as you’ll on a extra conventional laptop—anyplace from $350-900, relying on the {hardware} inside.

Whereas getting current-gen {hardware} packed right into a tiny little field is fairly cool, we’re not excited about taking a look at a brand-new cutting-edge NUC. In spite of everything, we’re contemplating changing a $35 pastime board with one thing of equal or larger worth whereas staying at or under the $125-$175 costs persons are charging on eBay for Raspberry Pi 4 models.

The answer? Used NUCs. When you hit up eBay, the place is simply drowning in used NUCs. All day, day-after-day, there’s a fixed circulate of outdated NUC fashions. So let’s take into account why it is best to take into account choosing up a used NUC package off eBay as an alternative of paying Pi scalper costs.

You Get Extra {Hardware} for Your Cash

On any given day, yow will discover NUC kits on eBay for a similar worth level as a marked-up Raspberry Pi 4 (and often even decrease).

$125 may get you a Pi 4 board, however $125, looking for a used NUC, will get you an i3 or i5 processor, 4-8GB of RAM, often with storage included, a case, an influence adapter, and—if it issues to you or your challenge objectives—typically occasions with Home windows 10 Professional throw in on high.

NUC5i5MYHE specifications.

The screenshot above highlights the specs of the 2015-era NUC5i5MYHE. You’ll find this stuff, RAM and drives included, on eBay for underneath $100.

When you’re keen to gamble on an “as-in” mannequin lacking the facility adapter or only a extra barebones possibility that has the facility adapter however doesn’t ship with storage, you may go even decrease. A lot of resellers have veritable mountains of outdated NUCs, they usually’ll word that they haven’t examined them.

They’re promoting them “as-in,” however that doesn’t often imply damaged. Which means the vendor has neither the time nor inclination to check each single one. We routinely see $50-75 NUCs which are extra highly effective than a Pi, however both haven’t been examined or are merely lacking a $20 energy adapter.

The {Hardware} Is Extra Highly effective

Benchmarking a NUC vs. a Raspberry Pi.

Except you’re shopping for the oldest NUCs, and Celeron-based ones at that, NUC {hardware} runs laps round even Pi 4 (and outright blows any earlier Pi fashions out of the water).

Even a mid-2010s NUC with a better-than-Celeron processor will outperform a Pi by 200% straightforward. When you’re curious to check stats, you may all the time use this Raspberry Pi 8GB Geekbench check as your baseline after which use the search perform on Geekbench Browser to take a look at builds akin to the NUC you’re contemplating. Right here’s the hyperlink to the NUC5i5MYHE vs. Pi stats seen within the screenshot above.

When you get past utilizing the Pi as a easy pastime board or a light-weight laptop, it actually pays off to have extra energy.

There’s additionally a profit to the machine working an x86 processor by way of energy and adaptability. You’ll have extra choices concerning what you may run on it, and it’ll deal with working concurrent resource-heavy duties higher.

The Storage Is Quicker and Extra Steady

Poke round any pastime discussion board for a pastime the place folks regularly use Raspberry Pi fashions for issues, just like the House Assistant neighborhood, and also you’ll shortly discover folks lamenting the restrictions of the Pi’s storage.

The Pi’s default SD card storage is perhaps OK for some tasks however something that requires plenty of frequent studying and writing will shortly not solely reveal the restrictions of the medium however will put on it out. You’ll be able to work round that and add exterior storage to the Pi to assist alleviate the issue, however it’s nonetheless an issue.

The NUC, however, makes use of extra conventional storage. Relying on the mannequin, you’ll both have the power to make use of an M.2-style SSD, an everyday 2.5″ drive (SSD or HDD), or each—plus no matter you need to add through the USB3 ports.

NUCs Are Semi-Upgradable

You’ll be able to’t change the CPU or GPU on a NUC as they’re built-in proper into the board. You’ll be able to, nonetheless, improve the reminiscence and storage.

A NUC motherboard.

When you discover a whole lot on a NUC and it doesn’t have as a lot reminiscence as you’d like, you may simply purchase extra. Similar factor if you happen to get it dwelling, spin up your server or no matter different challenge, and discover that you just want extra. With the Pi, you’ll both have to purchase a brand new board or hand over as a result of the boards max out at 8GB.

Similar factor with storage. Perhaps the little 120GB SSD drive that got here with the used mannequin is greater than sufficient to your wants, but when it isn’t, it’s trivial to improve.

Energy Use Isn’t As Completely different As You’d Assume

The older era Raspberry Pi’s had been legendary by way of energy utilization. You possibly can energy them off a great high quality cellphone charger.

A Pi 3 would eat about 1.5W at idle and about 3.5W underneath heavy load. The Pi 4 consumes about 4W whereas idling and 7W underneath load. That’s nonetheless fairly nice—working your Pi 4 underneath load makes use of about as a lot energy as leaving on an LED gentle bulb.

NUCs do eat extra vitality, however not as a lot as you’d assume. Most NUCs eat round 5-10W at idle. The facility consumption will increase from there based mostly on load and the way highly effective the NUC in query is, however for duties equal to what you’ll in any other case have used the Pi for, you possible received’t hit greater than 15W or so.

For duties past what the Pi might have dealt with, most low to mid-level NUCs aren’t going to interrupt 35-45W—and that’s solely when underneath heavy load.

So, realistically, your NUC will possible hover round 10-15W more often than not. For the sake of comparability, let’s say the Pi averages 6W over the yr and the NUC averages 15W. At 12 cents per kWh, leaving them run for a yr would price $6.31 and $15.78, respectively.

Given the huge enhance in efficiency that comes with swapping out the Pi for even a modest NUC, that’s not unhealthy in any respect.

So till Raspberry Pi boards are extra out there—and even when they’re, if you happen to want a extra strong microcomputer to your tasks—it’s fairly laborious to beat the worth a used NUC to fill the hole.

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