RPi 4 as a Light Desktop Machine?

I love the RPi but have always felt that RAM was the limiting factor for them being useful for Desktop/GUI use. Now that the RPi 4 offers options of 2/4GB (as well as the base 1GB) I am wondering if its enough to make it a viable option as a daily machine for simple, "average person" type stuff?

By "viable" I really mean "usable". I am wondering if it is a viable option for someone doing generic stuff like web browsing (not an excessive amount of tabs but multiple tabs, maybe a couple extensions for ad blocking), email, some media (youtube, not anything extreme) and maybe some light document work in something like LibreOffice.

To expand on this...and its a bit intangible...there is a place in computer usage where you go from an acceptable wait (for booting, loading, closing, etc.) to most users either forcing something closed, losing patience or simply giving up/not using it. Its that "line" I am wondering if the RPi 4 is able to not cross for the average person.

1 Like

The wheels are spinning. lol

I guess we will not know until we get one in on what it really can and can not do. Having said that my odroid xu4 performed reasonably well with firefox. Playing movies and web vids was not very good.

The only things in my mind is upstream kernel when they do get around to supporting it omxplayer is still going to be out the window for videos. Omxplayer is not the best player in the world but it is the only one that will do gpu hardware decoding at he the gpu level. VC4 is the only option I know of but access the gpu at a higher level so the cpu will have to work more to play the video. I imagine playing a 4K video would be tough with VC4; just would have to wait and see....

Of course it will not replace a desktop but I believe a lot of things you mentioned would do ok.

The Pi foundation does not really support 64 bit and wants to make their repo a one size fit all. Guess they do not want to maintain different repos.

To tell you the truth I do not use my pi's hardly at all on a daily basis. I compile new kernels and test with them before I push to my gitlab tree. I do have 1 pi I use as a router with openwrt installed on it and another pi set up as an p25 trunking radio scanner set up to stream on the lan/internet.

I think a RPI with 4GB would make a decent desktop machine. The RPI3 was just about usable with Raspbian. Don't know how Manjaro would compare in resource use.

1 Like

Decent depending on what you're planning on doing with it. If you're planning to watch movies... you might have issues, mostly if going to 1080p. 720p might have issues too.

Haven't really tried it, but doesn't Kodi make a Pi 3 a somewhat good media center with decent quality? Actually, I will try it right now...

According to the specs, it can drive two 4K monitors/tvs and even a V2 would play a BluRay quality film OK. Couldn't do anything else at the same time mind!

Yes and could play h265 480p with low bitrate full speed, so h265 hw, the boy will fly.

I'm most interested to see is usefull to do any kind of transcoding, and how many clients is accepts throught plex simultaneous.

Kodi with LibreELEC does work pretty well with Twitch 720p@60Hz streams from my testing. Although the responsiveness of the Android remote for it does tend to be bad if you push the Pi3B into that high video quality territory.