Try out the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B Plus! - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Try out the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B Plus!

Author: otagadget

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: 7" touchscreen, raspberry Pi case, a full 5V 3A power supply.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: new binary firmware for Broadcom BCM2837B0 CPU/GPU break some OS (Android/Chromium OS etc); new 2.4Ghz/5Ghz wifi chip also require driver update for some OS.

Detailed Review:

 

Introduction

I have been using raspberry Pi since the first 1000 pcs of raspberry Pi was manufactured (the day where there is no mounting hole on the first raspberry Pi) and I am honor to road test the new Raspberry Pi 3 B+ from element14.

This is my first road test review so I think I focus more on the usability case on raspberry Pi 3 B+ in my daily life.

I will talking about the changes in Hardware, Software and Project you can utilize the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ in detail

 

Hardware

 

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Packaging

Packaging


The new Raspberry Pi 3 B+ from element14 come in a new package that meant for one time use and without anti static package.

Personally, i prefer the old box design with anti static bag because I can store back my raspberry Pis after finishing a workshop training.

The new packaging design seem to be a cost saving measure and it is one time use only.

I recommend to get an official Pi case or any other case to go with it as the box can't be reuse once it opened.

Board Layout

Board Layout


Let examined the new Raspberry Pi closely and see what the main difference/improvement compare to older raspberry Pi.

 

   (Left : Pi 3B+)                                                                                                                                           (Right : Pi 3B)

The color of the PCB board seem to change a bit to less darker green and element14 raspberry Pi always have the better and sharper silkscreen marking on the board.
You might notice a few change a per below:

  • A new antenna design with shielded wireless chip
  • A new CPU/GPU with heat spread cover
  • Extra 4 pin for PoE HAT
  • A new USB LAN chip
  • New power supply design
Wireless

Wireless


One of the major change of Pi 3 B+ is the improvement on the wireless feature. It now support both 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz Wifi radio 802.11ac (the Pi 3 B only support 2.4Ghz 802.11n) and Bluetooth 4.2.

It also carry a metal shielding now and Raspberry Pi foundation went ahead certify the entire board as a radio module under FCC rules, which in turn will significantly reduce the cost of conformance testing Raspberry Pi-based products.

 

   (Left : Pi 3B+)                                                                                                                                           (Right : Pi 3B)

The new Pi use the Cypress CYW43455 chip to replace the older CYW43438  on the Pi 3B.

The new Pi 3B+ also included the best feature of Raspberry Pi Zero W, the cool Proant PCB antenna compare to the ceramic antenna use by Pi 3B.

The new antenna have much superior wireless performance especially when you put raspberry Pi in a case as ceramic antenna doesn't perform well in a tight space and I see roughly 30% better 2.4 GHz Wifi performance with the new antenna.

The killer feature is the new 5 GHz Wifi which mean much higher data throughput and much less connectivity issue in a crowded 2.4 GHz Wifi area (school, company etc) as long as you have a supported 5 GHz network.

CPU

CPU/GPU

 

The Raspberry Pi 3B+ bump the Quad core A53 CPU to 1.4GHz compare to the older Pi 3B 1.2GHz. The new Pi 3B+ also use the newer revision of the Broadcom chip, the BCM2387B0 with build in heat spreader.

However, as the limitation of the BCM2387 design, there is no simple way to upgrade the RAM, so it is still 1GB LPDDR2 RAM for the new Pi 3 B+. (Trivia: the BCM2385 that run on Pi 1/0/0W is also max at 512MB due to limitation of PoP stack for both RAM and CPU)

 

   (Left : Pi 3B+)                                                                                                                                           (Right : Pi 3B)

The faster Pi 3B+ now also run cooler thanks to the heat spreader and can now work at maximum speed for longer period compare to the older Pi 3B.

The older Pi 3B tend to get throttle down to slower speed more often once it get hotter. The new Pi 3B+ fix this issue so the CPU will throttle way less often now.

However, the new revision of the main CPU chip also mean a newer bootcode/firmware (ELF file) is required for Pi 3B+.
For those who plan the migrate their current Pi 2/3 setup to the new Pi 3B+, you might want to upgrade the operating system to the latest version first with the new bootcode before you migrate the system over.Quite a number of 3rd party OS won't able to runon the new Pi 3B+ due to the missing of the suitable binary blob for Pi 3B+ so check the OS release note update first before you try it onto the new Pi 3 B+.

(Google Android Thing and Chromium OS doesn't support 3B+ yet)

Power over Ethernet (PoE)

PoE Support

 

If you plan to run Raspberry Pi in a industrial application, you will find the new addition of PoE support in the new Pi 3B+ a nice surprise. PoE HatPoE Hat

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is use mainly in enterprise/industrial area where you wish to provide both network connectivity and power to a device using just one network cable.

Raspberry Pi 3B+ have this new Ethernet connector and extra 4 power pin to use with the soon the release (July 2018) official PoE HAT to provide 802.3af (type 1) PoE support.

I happen to have a demo new revision official PoE HAT and you can see it plug right into the 4 extra power pin to convert 48V from PoE cable down to 5V that raspberry Pi run on.

 

Previous Raspberry Pi devices have used the LAN951x family of chips, which combine a USB hub and 10/100 Ethernet controller.

For Raspberry Pi 3B+, it use the new LAN7515 chip, which supports Gigabit Ethernet. While the USB 2.0 connection to the application processor limits the available bandwidth,

we still see roughly a threefold increase in throughput compared to Raspberry Pi 3B. (from 90 MB/s increase to 300 MB/s).
However, this speed increase does come with a price, the Raspberry Pi 3B+ have much higher power draw due to the new high speed Ethernet chip (> 200mA increase) thus you will need a beefier power supply if you previously running the raspberry Pi with just 5V 2A power supply.I recommend you get the official Raspberry Pi power supply that supply 5V 2.5A reliably to your Raspberry Pi 3B+.Product LinkProduct Link

Power Usage

Power Usage

 

The new Raspberry Pi 3B+ also feature the custom design PMIC (Power Management IC) that simplify the power supply design.

The beefy PMIC is the main reason why the same BCM2387 chip can go extra 200 MHz to 1.4 GHz and generate less heat compare to the older design

 

 

   (Left : Pi 3B+)                                                                                                                                           (Right : Pi 3B)

The new design result in a much stable computing performance and reduce the chance we seeing the Lightning logo on the Raspberry Pi desktop due to under power as it operated.

However, as the the new Raspberry Pi 3 B+ feature extra 200 MHz (1.4 GHz vs 1.2 GHz), extra Wifi feature and the 3X speed increase at Ethernet performance, I strongly recommend getting a official Power Supply Product LinkProduct Link

From my testing, the new Raspberry Pi 3B+ is much stable and 15-20% faster overall once you plug in all the USB keyboard mouse and display, the total power draw might go up to 2A during heavy usage.

 

 

Software

 

Raspberry Pi foundation have updated the new NOOBS installer and Raspbian OS to included a first time setup wizard and updated Chromium browser with flash support build in.

You can download them here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/

 

You can find more detail video and step by step guide her -> https://www.raspberrypi.org/learning/software-guide/quickstart/

 

NOOBS

 

NOOBS stand for New Out Of Box Software, NOOBS is an easy operating system installer which contains Raspbian and LibreELEC.

 

 

How to Install NOOBS:

  1. Prepare a micro SD card with good enough write speed Product LinkProduct Link
  2. Download the NOOBS zip file on to your computer and copy the whole folder onto the empty micro SD card.
  3. Connect mouse/keyboard and HDMI cable to the Raspberry Pi 3B+, plug in the micro SD card, and plug in the 5V power supply.
  4. Follow the on screen instruction to install Raspbian OS.

 

The new Raspbian OS now included a first time setup wizard as per below:

 

Raspbian first time setup wizard

 

 

Project

 

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is a high performance SBC (Single Board Computer) that can be use to run a Linux Server, Media Server and Virtual Console Gaming Box.

The 5 GHz wifi support and the higher speed of the CPU make Raspberry Pi 3 B+ much suitable than Raspberry Pi 1/2/3 for CPU intensive task.

 

Here is the suitable project you can use Raspberry Pi 3B+ for:

 

LibreElec

 

LibreElec (Libre Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) is super light weight Linux OS for home theater PC.

It design to boot quickly from flash memory and provide complete media center software suite that comes with a pre-configured version of Kodi and third-party addons

 

 

With 5 GHz wifi and higher 1.4 GHz clock speed CPU, LibreElec can now play Full HD (1080p) video directly over the network shared drive or from internet with no lag.

Previously I was using a Pi Zero W and a Pi 2, both having problem loading video higher than 720p and often the bluetooth sound will get choppy once the system have higher load.

There is no such problem with Raspberry Pi 3 B+ and best thing of all, LibreElec is bundled with NOOBS installer so you can easily install it using NOOBS as well.

I connect the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ with my HDMI pocket projector and Bluetooth speaker and I can now enjoy mini theater at my bedroom without the hassle to booting up a full size PC.

 

RetroPie

 

RetroPie is a community developed operating system that based on EmulationStation. RetroPie design to run retro arcade/console game emulator with gamepad controller in mind.

RetroPie is best run with Raspberry Pi 3 B+ because of the higher CPU speed help running the game smoother and support more modern game console emulation.

 

 

I using retro game case call NESPi Case and it have USB Hub and power switch build in. The gamepad i use is Buffalo USB retro gamepad.

You can play open source game or game ROM easily by just copying the ROM file through network share \\retropie.

 

MotionEyeOS

 

Motioneyeos is a light weight video surveillance system that build for low power device like Raspberry Pi. You can use standard USB webcam or Raspberry Pi Camera Product LinkProduct Link for it.

One of the key feature of Motioneyeos is the ability to track movement and record multiple video stream from each video source, the beefy Raspberry Pi 3 B+ have the CPU power and 1GB memory and high speed internet just perfect for this purpose.

 

 

I am using a few Raspberry Pi Zero W v1.3 with the official Pi Zero case that come with camera mounting and cable, together with a low cost Raspberry Pi Camera module (Product LinkProduct Link).

The Raspberry Pi 3 B+ will act as command center and received all video feed from the Pi Zero W and process them accordingly and done further analysis on it.

The road test Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is mount in the official raspberry Pi case (Product LinkProduct Link) and I drill a hole and glue the camera module onto the case itself.

The Motioneye Hub require higher CPU power and higher internet speed as all the data will be passing through the hub to be view and manage by a single website address.

For further analysis, I then send the motion tracking image to Amazon Web Service - Rekognition service to identify who is the person appear in front of my security camera.

The Rekognition service provide a simple API to track and recognize the indexed face data that I upload earlier in the system.

I follow the AWS implementation as example -> https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/machine-learning/build-your-own-face-recognition-service-using-amazon-rekognition/

The Pi 3 B+ is robust enough to run Boto3 python code and send the captured image as base64 encoding for rekognition and send notification to my telegram if there is a unknown person near my makerspace.

 

Conclusion

 

The Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is a great addition to the Pi family, the higher CPU speed and faster network connectivity mean It is now suitable for application that require high performance.

While there might be other SBC out there with more RAM or better CPU/GPU spec, none of them came close at the price point nor community support available to the Raspberry Pi.

With the much stable and improved hardware spec and FCC certified radio module, the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is the best tool for maker.

In short, unless you're looking for a much smaller computer (in this case you want a Raspberry Pi Zero W), the new Pi 3 B+ is the place to begin.

Anonymous
  • Did you do any timing tests on how long it took to capture and move the camera images over the wifi?

    Have you tried the same experiment with video images?

     

    It would be very useful to the element14 community to see an assessment of the enhanced wifi capability with some good timing measurements to verify everyone's expectations.

     

    DAB