December 9, 2023

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • Here I’m testing the Raspberry Pi 5, which has a recommended retail price of $60 for the 4GB version and $80 for the 8GB version, but finding one might be a challenge right now.
  • The Raspberry Pi 5 offers a lot more power than its predecessor was capable of delivering.
  • A few little changes will have some users needing to buy new accessories, price is a little higher, supply is being swamped by the demand, and temperature might be something to keep an eye on.

Right, I’ve finally got my hands on a Raspberry Pi 5, and it can now join the ranks of the two dozen or so Raspberry Pi 4 units I have. And given everything I’d heard about this updated unit, I couldn’t wait to unbox it and put it through its paces.

Also: The Raspberry Pi 5 is here, and it comes with some huge improvements

I have to say that I’m impressed.

Very impressed. 

There’s just one thing that I might need to keep an eye on — and that’s temperature. 

Raspberry Pi 5

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Raspberry Pi 5

More than double the CPU performance and a whole raft of other features and improvements make this an exciting release. But again, demand seems to be outstripping supply, and that means it’s going to be hard to get your hands on one.

OK, so here is the Raspberry Pi 5.

Here's the Raspberry Pi 5

Here’s the Raspberry Pi 5

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

And here it is next to a Raspberry Pi 4 (which is on the right here). 

Raspberry Pi 5 (left) and Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (right)

Raspberry Pi 5 (left) and Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (right)

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Getting a Raspberry Pi 5

Let me first tackle the elephant in the room — you getting your hands on one now.

You’re probably out of luck.

I ordered one in the UK from one of the big-name suppliers within seconds of it being announced, and had a delivery date estimated for “end of October and early November.” 

I’m still waiting for this one. 

Also: How to set up your first Raspberry Pi

I was sent one for review which I got a few days ago, and I’ve also managed to grab a couple from, well, those places that people resell stuff for at an inflated cost. I only paid some $20 more than the recommended retail price, so I’m not that bothered by the extra cost, but I can’t really recommend you do that because you are still paying over the odds. However, if you want one, well, here’s a pointer to get you started.  

If you order one from the recommended resellers such as AdaFruit or CanaKit or SparkFun, you’ll be making a preorder, and you’ll be lucky if you see your Raspberry Pi 5 this year unless supply starts to open up. 

With that out of the way, let’s focus on the Raspberry Pi 5 I have!

Physical differences compared to the Raspberry Pi 4

So, there are a few physical changes. 

You need a Raspberry Pi 5-specific case (or print your own if you have a 3D printer), and there’s no ribbon cable header for a display, so if that was your display of choice for your Raspberry Pi, you’re not outta luck and need an HDMI display, or learn to use SSH to access your Raspberry Pi from a terminal from another system.

Also: 7 cool and useful things to do with your Flipper Zero

These minor changes do mean that upgrading a Raspberry Pi 4 for a new, more powerful Raspberry Pi 5 in a project might not be as easy as just swapping out the boards.

Performance 

As for performance, official specs said that we could expect the new Broadcom BCM2712 quad-core 64-bit Arm Cortex-A76 processor to be between two and three times faster. Using a password-cracking tool called Hashcat as a benchmark, I put a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B up against a Raspberry Pi 5. Letting this run tests where it calculates hashes for various cryptographic protocols such as MD5 and SHA1, I found that the Raspberry Pi 5 was averaging out at about twice as fast as the Raspberry Pi 4. 

Note that Hashcat measures hashes per second (H/s) or thousand hashes per second (kH/s), and as you can see from the highlighted numbers, the Raspberry Pi 5 massively outperforms its predecessor.

Hashcat benchmark -- Raspberry Pi 4 (left) vs Raspberry Pi 5

Hashcat benchmark — Raspberry Pi 4 (left) vs Raspberry Pi 5

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The Raspberry Pi 5 is fast. And this is stock, with no overclocking whatsoever (I’ll come to that another time).

Heat

Right, so more performance means more heat, right?

Right!

It’s hard to take temperature readings using a thermal camera on the main chips because they have metal lids on them, and this interferes with the thermal camera because of the way it reflects the infrared (a term called emissivity). 

Thermal image of the Raspberry Pi 5 vs Raspberry Pi 4

Thermal image of the Raspberry Pi 5 vs Raspberry Pi 4

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

But take the temperature of the chip directly through the system, and you’ll notice that the Raspberry Pi 5 is hotter than the Raspberry Pi 4.

Here while running the Hashcat benchmark, the Raspberry Pi 4 is at 52ºC, compared to the Raspberry Pi 5 which is running at 71ºC.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is almost 20ºC cooler than the Raspberry Pi 5 under load

The Raspberry Pi 4 is almost 20ºC cooler than the Raspberry Pi 5 under load

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Even under idle, the Raspberry Pi 5 seemed to run a few degrees warmer than the Raspberry Pi 4.

Even under idle, the Raspberry Pi 5 is several degrees hotter

Even under idle, the Raspberry Pi 5 is several degrees hotter

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

This may suggest that cooling is an issue, although I need to carry out more tests here to be sure. But I’d suggest that if you are thinking of overclocking your Raspberry Pi 5, you need to have a good cooling solution (and right now I’m not sure which is the best).

ZDNET’s buying advice

There’s very little not to like about the Raspberry Pi 5. Sure, the price is a little higher, you’ll need some new accessories, getting hold of one might be difficult for the next few months, and that temperature difference might be a problem for some applications, but overall this is a solid upgrade over the Raspberry Pi 4.

Also: How I solved one of my biggest Raspberry Pi headaches

But that’s not to say that the old Raspberry Pi 4 isn’t still a good purchase. It is. Prices of these older boards have come down, and it might be easier to get one than a Raspberry Pi 5 for a few months. Unless you really need more power and performance, then this might be a better option until supply of Raspberry Pi 5s improves.

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