Why use a Raspberry Pi 4B as a desktop computer?

Ever since the Raspberry Pi first appearance, many people have been hoping to use it as a desktop computer.

When the Raspberry Pi 4B came along, we saw some upgrades that can turn those hopes into reality.

Given that, let's look at some reasons why you will want to use a Pi 4B as a desktop computer.

1. You build IoT projects based on Raspberry Pis

Since a Raspberry Pi 4B is backward compatible with previous models, whatever you build on the Pi 4B will run on a previous model.

Pi4B Pi3B Pi3b+ and PiZeroWs on table

Therefore, you will want to get the Pi 4B 8GB for the best desktop experience for building IoT projects.

In case you need it, you can also get some helpful GPIO resources to serve as references to connecting sensors to the GPIO pins on your Pi 4B.

After you have tested your IoT concept with your Pi 4B, you can then realise that concept with a cheaper Pi version. For example, you may port over a hygrometer project that you built on your Pi 4B onto a Pi Zero W.

2. You don't want to spend too much money on your desktop computer

If you have a 100 USD with you, then you will be able to get a Raspberry Pi 4B 8GB, a micro SD card and a power adapter.

Given that, you will be able to run a computer with 8GB RAM.

If you have a 150 USD, then you will be able to get the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Extreme Kit - 128GB Edition.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Extreme Kit - 128GB Edition

Unless you are getting a used one, you are probably not going to get a computer with comparable specifications for less than 150 USD.

3. You can have more applications running concurrently

Since the Raspberry Pi 4B gives you up to 8GB RAM, you can run more applications concurrently.

Given that, you won't have to constantly decide which applications to close in order to continue with your desktop activities.

This is helpful especially when you need to use multiple tools to fulfil your tasks.

For example, I can write Python codes on an IDE to interface with some sensors while I write a Raspberry Pi tutorial with a browser with many open tabs without worrying about lagging.

4. You can use 2 monitor screens

When I did my review on the Raspberry Pi 4B, the ability to use 2 monitor screens really excites me as a programmer.

Indeed, if I am building a web interface for a Raspberry Pi server, then having 2 monitor screens can enhance my development experience.

For example, I can use a browser to project the web interface on one of the monitor and project my IDE on the other one.

Therefore, with a Pi 4B and two HDMI monitors, you do not have to use alt-tab as much as you do on a previous Pi version.

5. You want to watch 4K videos

When you get a Raspberry Pi 4B, you are able to watch 4K videos with 4K monitor screens.

Therefore, you get to watch funny videos on YouTube in greater detail when you want to relax for a bit.

Even if you are watching videos to learn something, being able to do so in 4K resolution is good for your eyes.

However, if you enable 4K video resolution on your Pi 4B, make sure that you have install cooling mechanisms for your Pi 4B.

6. You have 2 USB 3.0 ports to connect to peripherals at high speed

Unlike the previous versions, the Pi 4B is equipped with 2 USB 3.0 ports. Compared to a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port is ten times faster.

Given that, you can extend the storage space of your Raspberry Pi 4B desktop with USB 3.0 external SSD. When you do so, you can read / write files at up to 625 MB per second.

Even if you get half of that speed, you will still be able to access files on your SSD at 300 MB per second.

7. You want to connect your desktop computer to a high speed ethernet network

Sometimes you may want to connect your Pi 4B to a shared device on your network.

Since the Pi 4B has a natively attached Ethernet controller, it can communicate in a Gigabit network at 1000 Mbps. When you compare it with a Pi 3B+, you get a three-fold upgrade.

Given that, you can enjoy fast access speed to your Synology NAS which keep your photos and videos that you need for producing content on your Pi 4B. Similarly, remote desktop applications on your Pi 4B will run smoothly when they are connected to other devices with Gigabit ethernet ports.

If your broadband exceeds 1000 Mbps, then you will be able to use your Pi 4B to get onto the Internet highway.

8. You have limited desk space for your desktop computer

Given that the Pi 4B is the size of a credit card, you can indulge in leaving those sensors on your desk while you use your Pi 4B.

Even if you are a tidy person, you will appreciate the small estate space that your Pi 4B will need on your desk.

In case you are wondering, this is how an Argon ONE case looks like on a desk:
Argon One for Pi 4B on desk with keyboard mouse and monitor

Since the Argon ONE case bloats up the size of your Pi 4B, you can expect an even smaller estate space with smaller cases.

In case you need it, here are some cases with cooling mechanism for your Raspberry Pi 4B.

8. You can bring your desktop computer when you travel

If you want to bring your desktop computer with you when you travel, then a Pi 4B is the desktop for you.

Since you can do a lot of things with a Pi 4B desktop, bringing one along can be helpful.

For example, you can connect your Pi 4B to that hotel TV screen with a micro HDMI cable. With a Mini Handheld Keyboard with Touchpad Mouse Combo, you will be able to use your desktop in your hotel room.

In case there is no TV with a HDMI port, you can also bring along a 13 inch monitor screen.

Since the Pi 4B, mini handheld keyboard and the monitor screen are not bulky, they don't bloat your travel luggage.

When you have a computer with you, there is always something to do if you have to change your itinerary plans.

9. You are able to connect your desktop computer to a WiFi network

When you need to, you can connect your Pi 4B desktop computer to a 2.4GHz or 5 GHz WiFi network.

Given that, you can connect to most of the WiFi networks that you encounter as you move around.

Even if you are unable to find one, you should be able to connect your Raspberry Pi to your iPhone WiFi hotspot.

10. You can use your favourite Debian based operating system

If you are a Debian user, then a Raspberry Pi 4B desktop will not fail you.

When you install the official Raspberry Pi operating system, you get a familiar Debian based operating environment.

In case you prefer Ubuntu, you can also setup Ubuntu on your Raspberry Pi 4B. If you got a Pi 4B with 8GB of RAM, then you will want to install a 64-bit version.

11. You will be able to do simple image editing with GIMP

In my own opinion, doing image editing with GIMP is a good litmus test on office productivity on a computer.

In fact, it took me seconds to load up GIMP on Raspbian Buster:
GIMP on Raspbian Buster 20190710

Given that, I was able to complete my post on how to setup Raspbian Buster for Raspberry Pi4B on my Pi 4B itself without any hiccups.

Since GIMP can run well on a Raspberry Pi 4B, other office applications can too.

12. You will be able to find many resources to enhance your Raspberry Pi 4B desktop experience

Finally, the Raspberry Pi ecosystem consists of a large community of enthusiasts.

Given that, you will find lots of ideas on how to use your Pi 4B - as a desktop or not.

In addition to that, you will be able to find many hardware extensions to equip your Pi 4B with more capabilities.

For example, with the ReSpeaker 4-Mic Array for Raspberry Pi you will be able augment your Pi 4B desktop with AI and voice capabilities.

Why use Raspberry Pi 4B as a desktop computer

About Clivant

Clivant a.k.a Chai Heng enjoys composing software and building systems to serve people. He owns techcoil.com and hopes that whatever he had written and built so far had benefited people. All views expressed belongs to him and are not representative of the company that he works/worked for.