As a device, an SBC computer has all of its components baked-in, including CPU, GPU, and RAM. SBC computers are not like the typical desktop PC, where the motherboard comes sans processors and memory. Also, while desktop counterparts feature bigger footprints, most SBCs have smaller ones. Furthermore, some maker boards are decidedly more extensive, while others are in credit card-size form factors.
A single-board computer has all its vital components, including GPU, CPU, and RAM built in. Typically, they are like the size of a credit card or a little larger. However, they are smaller than the average desktop PC.
What to Look For in an SBC Computer
It is vital to consider the users’ priorities when selecting the best top SBC computer for their needs. One of the factors is the cost, and the cheapest single-board computer devices can be around $5. Powerful and pricey dev boards can clock in around several hundreds of dollars. Another essential factor is size. Designers may want to go for a larger single-board PC for power-hungry, advanced applications, while robotics projects or wearable tech will only require a tiny maker board.
The main factor in the whole process is their use for their Raspberry Pi 4. Users can get going with almost any board when they are setting out basic tasks that don’t need much computing power. However, their advanced or multi-tasking processing requires a more capable device. The ranges of SBC applications are from home servers to smart home hubs, retro gaming consoles, basic Linux PCs, and various other use cases. What comes to play also is the underlying architecture and operating system compatibility. Users must figure out which operating system they will use, whether a non-Linux OS like FreeBSD, Android, or Linux. What shapes which operating systems can run is whether they go for an ARM single-board computer or an x86. Some of the considerations designers must have while purchasing an SBC computer include:
- Desired OS
- Underlying architecture – x86 SBCs vs. ARM
- Intended use
Uses of SBC computers
Though there is a caveat, SBCs can handle typically all tasks any traditional laptops or desktops can do. The exception depends significantly on power types. However, others use pretty modest power, not some single-board computers like GPU and CPU. Users can use some SBCs to tackle basic desktop uses, including office productivity and web browsing. A popular pastime is gaming on maker boards, from emulation to Linux gaming and native Android.
Popular also on dev boards are Internet of Things projects with internet connectivity. Also possible are file servers and media, whole-home ad-blockers, VPN servers, smart home hubs, and various other connected device applications. Single-board computers are ideal for mechanical tinkering with small low-power draw and form-factor. In some cases, designers may even utilize maker boards for artificial intelligence. They can also find Android operating systems and those of Chrome operating systems to build Android tablets and PCs apart from the fact that most single-board computer operating systems are Linux-based. A specific single-board computer can do the main limiting factor, not what a single-board computer can do.