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Raspberry Pi: What are its limitations?

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by Sean McManus & Mike Cook, 25 Apr 2013Features
Raspberry Pi: What are its limitations?

For something that costs so little, the Raspberry Pi is amazingly powerful, but it does have some limitations. Although you probably use it as a desktop computer, its power is closer to a mobile device (like a tablet) than a modern desktop PC.

By way of example, the Raspberry Pi Foundation says the Pi’s overall performance is comparable with a PC using an Intel Pentium 2 processor clocked at 300MHz, which you might have bought in the mid to late nineties, except that the Raspberry Pi has much better graphics.

The memory of the Raspberry Pi is more limited than you’re probably used to, with just 512MB or 256MB available. You can’t expand that with extra memory in the way you can a desktop PC.

The graphics capabilities lag behind today’s market somewhat too: The Raspberry Pi Foundation says the Pi’s graphics are roughly the same as the original Microsoft Xbox games console, which was released 10 years ago. Both the Pentium 2 PC and the original Xbox were fine machines, of course, for their time.

(ed : The first Xbox ran on an Intel Pentium 3 processor clocked at 450MHz with an Nvidia Geforce GPU).

They’re just not as snappy as we’re used to, and that’s where you might experience some problems. You might find that the Pi can’t keep up with the demands of some modern software and that some programs don’t run fast enough to be useful on it.

However, it’s easy to find programs, try them, and remove them if they’re no good, and plenty of programs for work and play run well on the Raspberry Pi. If you already have another computer, the Raspberry Pi is unlikely to usurp it as your main machine. But the Pi gives you the freedom to try lots of things you probably wouldn’t dare to try, or wouldn’t know how to try, with your main PC.

This is an edited extract taken from Raspberry Pi For Dummies by Sean McManus and Mike Cook, published by Wiley. It is on sale for less than £10 from Amazon.

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