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Raspberry Pi 4 vs 3:What’s the Difference?


The Raspberry Pi is a powerful, low-cost, credit card sized computer that has become a platform of choice for electronics enthusiasts, hobbyists and educators. Since the launch of the original Pi in 2012, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has steadily released newer, more capable models. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is the latest iteration, succeeding the very popular Raspberry Pi 3 Model B/B+.

This article provides a detailed technical comparison between the Raspberry Pi 4 vs 3 across various aspects like compute power, interfaces, multimedia capabilities and overall improvements. For users considering an upgrade from Pi 3 to Pi 4, it highlights the key differences that matter.

Raspberry Pi 4 and 3 Models Overview

The Raspberry Pi family consist of several models of single board computers with different capabilities. Here is a brief overview of the Pi 4 and 3 variants:

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

  • 1.5GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 CPU
  • 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB LPDDR4 RAM options
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Dual micro-HDMI display interfaces
  • USB-C power supply

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

  • 1.4GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU
  • 802.11n wireless LAN
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports
  • Full-size HDMI
  • Micro-USB power

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

  • Same as 3 B+ except:
  • 1.2GHz 64-bit quad core ARM Cortex A53 CPU
  • 802.11n wireless LAN with 150Mbps max speed
  • 10/100Mbps Ethernet

The Pi 4 brings significant upgrades over the Pi 3 family with faster processor, modern ports and extra RAM capacity.

Processing Performance Comparison

Raspberry Pi Zero Board

The Pi 4 provides a noticeable jump in processing power and speed over the Pi 3:


  • Pi 4 – 1.5GHz 4-core Cortex-A72
  • Pi 3 – 1.2GHz/1.4GHz 4-core Cortex-A53

The Pi 4’s quad-core processor is more advanced with improved pipelined execution for higher instructions per clock compared to Pi 3’s CPU.

CPU Benchmark Comparison

ModelGeekbench 5 ScorePercent Increase
Raspberry Pi 3333 Single / 1227 MultiBaseline
Raspberry Pi 4598 Single / 1990 Multi80% Single / 62% Multi increase

This translates to real-world performance boosts like:

  • Faster application and boot up times
  • Better multitasking under heavy workloads
  • Lower latency for time sensitive tasks like audio/video streaming

The Pi 4’s processor delivers excellent processing power for the price point.

Memory and Storage

The Pi 4 offers more RAM and versatile storage options:

  • Memory: 1GB/2GB/4GB/8GB LPDDR4 RAM options vs 1GB LPDDR2 for Pi 3
  • Storage Interfaces: PCIe M.2 slot for SSDs, MicroSD card for boot media

The extra memory combined with fast LPDDR4 RAM provides capacity for running bigger applications, larger datasets, and intensive workloads like image analysis with lower likelihood of slowdowns.

Onboard PCIe M.2 socket allows adding fast SSD storage instead of slower microSD cards in Pi 3.

Wired Connectivity Comparison

The Pi 4 comes with modern high-speed wired connectivity:

  • Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet port
  • USB Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • USB Boot: Supported

This improves on Pi 3’s 10/100Mbps Ethernet and 4x USB 2.0 ports. The faster network and USB allows building high bandwidth data logging, media streaming, automation and IoT applications.

USB boot support allows booting the OS directly from a USB mass storage device rather than just SD cards.

Wireless Connectivity

For wireless connectivity, the Pi 4 has:

Compared to 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 in the Pi 3.

The modern WiFi standard in Pi 4 improves wireless network speeds and reception. Bluetooth 5.0 doubles the range and quadruples throughput over Bluetooth 4.x for whole-home coverage and better audio streaming.

Multimedia and Display Capabilities

For media, graphics and display, the Pi 4 provides:

  • Video: 4Kp60 hardware decode of H.265/HEVC video codec
  • Graphics: OpenGL ES 3.x graphics
  • Display Interfaces: Dual micro-HDMI ports supporting dual 4K displays
  • Audio: Stereo audio and USB audio class support

This is significantly improved from Pi 3’s maximum 1080p30 video playback, OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics, and single HDMI port.

Dual display output allows using the Pi 4 as a desktop computer with multiple monitors. 4K video streaming, graphics and interfacing are enabled for building media centers and gaming rigs.

Power Supply

The Pi 4 switches to a USB Type-C power supply that provides ample power delivery:

  • 5.1V 3A USB-C for a recommended 3A power supply
  • Higher stability under power surges and fluctuations
  • Can source more current allowing additional USB peripherals

The Pi 3 uses an old-style micro-USB port with a 2.5A maximum recommended supply. The new USB-C supply powers the Pi 4 properly under all use cases.

Size and Form Factor

Both Pi 4 and 3 maintain the same compact footprint and layout:

  • Dimensions of 85 x 56 x 17mm
  • Identical mounting hole patterns
  • 40-pin GPIO header located along top edge
  • Full-sized HDMI and audio jacks
  • All connectors along the boards’ edges

This consistent form factor allows using most Pi 3 cases and add-on boards with the Pi 4.

Summary of Notable Improvements in Raspberry Pi 4

  • Faster quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 processor
  • Up to 8GB RAM capacity with fast LPDDR4
  • Hardware 4K video and 3D graphics decoding
  • Higher speed USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with longer range
  • Dual 4K display support via two micro HDMI ports
  • USB-C power supply with higher current rating
  • PCIe interface to add SSD storage


The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B offers a major upgrade over the Pi 3 across all areas including faster processing, additional memory, modern connectivity options and 4K ready video and graphics capabilities. It takes the Pi to the level of an entry-level desktop PC while retaining its compact single board footprint. For those needing more power for heavier workloads and bandwidth intensive applications like media centers, web servers, automation controllers etc., the Pi 4 is a significant step up. It continues the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s mission of pushing affordable technology for students, hobbyists and casual computing uses.

Frequently Asked Questions about Raspberry Pi 4 and 3

Raspberry Pi 3B
Raspberry Pi 3B

Here are some common questions when comparing the Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi 3 models:

Q: Is the Raspberry Pi 4 compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 cases?

A: Yes, the Pi 4 has identical physical dimensions and port positions as the Pi 3 allowing reuse of most cases and enclosures.

Q: Can Pi 4 accessories like HATs be used with a Raspberry Pi 3?

A: Unfortunately no. While the Pi 4 board has the same 40-pin header, it uses different pin functionality so Pi 3 add-on boards cannot be used.

Q: How do the processors compare between Pi 3 and Pi 4?

A: The Pi 4 uses the newer 1.5GHz quad-core Cortex-A72 while Pi 3 uses the 1.2GHz or 1.4GHz quad-core Cortex-A53. The A72 has better performance per clock cycle.

Q: Does Pi 4 have built-in WiFi like Pi 3?

A: Yes, both Pi 3 and Pi 4 have on-board wireless connectivity, with Pi 4 using the latest 802.11ac WiFi standard.

Q: Can Pi 4 power external hard drives properly unlike Pi 3?

A: Yes, the higher current USB-C power supply on Pi 4 is designed to provide stable power to external USB hard drives.




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