The Raspberry Pi Foundation just announced a brand new model. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ is basically a flagship Raspberry Pi on a smaller printed circuit board, with a few compromises. It costs $25, or $10 less than the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.
The lineup is getting slightly confusing, but bear with me for a second. If you want the best Raspberry Pi, you should get the 3 Model B+. It comes with a 1.4GHz ARMv8 quad-core processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet (max 300 Mbps), USB 2.0 and HDMI.
The new Pi 3 Model A+ is supposed to be a smaller model but with most of the advantages of the Model B+. It has similar specifications, except that you get 512MB of RAM instead of 1GB, there’s only one USB 2.0 port and the Ethernet port is gone.
But that’s about it. If you don’t need a ton of RAM or Ethernet, it’s a surprisingly decent mini-computer. Even if you played with a Raspberry Pi in the past, recent models have come a long way. The processor is now powerful enough to run demanding tasks.
Sure, it’ll take longer to transcode a video, unzip a large file or launch an emulated game on a Raspberry Pi than on a laptop. But if you want a fanless computer that runs 24/7, it’s hard to find something cheaper. Docker works pretty well on it, which makes it even easier to maintain if you’re into containers.
If you want to put a Raspberry Pi into a constrained location, the Raspberry Pi Zero models have a slim design and don’t require a ton of power. Those models are much slower though. The foundation still sells older models for those who need to replace old Raspberry Pis with the exact same models — but I wouldn’t recommend buying them.