fladda
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:13 pm

I guess that 90% of general PC users use only a web-browser and an email client on their PCs. And both of these applications come as standard installed software packages on Raspbian on the RPi4.

I purchased a couple of 2Gbyte RPi4s on their release day but they've just sat in their boxes until this last week or so. I finally got around to installing the latest Raspbian image onto a Samsung EVO+ 32Gbyte microSD card.

Chrome seems to work well on the RPi4 - indeed I'm quite impressed with the overall 'speed' of responses to mouse clicks. Not much slower than my Asus i7 PC for day-to-day web surfing (which for me is mostly reading various forums).

Not tried the inbuilt email client on the RPi4 yet - but I'm sure it'll be fine (I use Thunderbird on my PC).

I intend to try using an RPi4 as a replacement for my desktop PC. Nothing I've found so far on the RPi4 has made me change my mind and move back to my PC.

Just need to get BBC Basic (Richard Russell version) for the RPi working now - it will be interesting to compare performance of the RPi4 to the RPi3b running BBC Basic (Sophie version) with RISC OS...

Ralph

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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:30 pm

emma1997 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:24 pm
LTolledo wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:31 pm
make, edit and flash codes to microchips
You wouldn't happen to have experience with programming Atmel AVR under latest OS? This is one of the last barriers to my use as 'primary' PC. I had it working on a PC with USBASP but not on Pi and a couple different tutorials using GPIO w/o success either.
Given Microchip/Atmel are moving everything to Visual Studio I think we can say no Linux box is going to be optimal, not just the Pi. You probably can make it work but sometimes a PC is the best solution. Trying to be Windows-only, MacOS-only or Linux-only nowadays is just being silly and/or dogmatic - each of the them is best at something so you really should have all three if you do a wide range of activities on your computers.

Whoever said audio on Linux is a bit of a mess is a gross understatement. I did get things working with ALSA and even edited the ALSA code to reduce the appalling latency, but eventually just wrote my own audio routines in C to do everything with just a couple of samples delay on an isolated core.

Finally I'm afraid that web-browsing on the Pi4 is nowhere near the quality of a PC. Chromium freezes or even crashes if you open too many screens, the mouse is often jerky and slow, and the dual monitor feature isn't as clean as on a PC.

That said it's a great small computer with a different use-case. I've got a massively polyphonic audio synthesiser running in real time on three of the four cores, something a PC would struggle to do without the odd pause. Though I did have to add an external STMH7 MCU to handle SPDIF and studio master clock.
Please write out 100 times "Linux is not a real time operating system so I will not suggest it is"

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:15 am

MikeDB wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:30 pm
emma1997 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:24 pm
LTolledo wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:31 pm
make, edit and flash codes to microchips
You wouldn't happen to have experience with programming Atmel AVR under latest OS? This is one of the last barriers to my use as 'primary' PC. I had it working on a PC with USBASP but not on Pi and a couple different tutorials using GPIO w/o success either.
Given Microchip/Atmel are moving everything to Visual Studio I think we can say no Linux box is going to be optimal, not just the Pi. You probably can make it work but sometimes a PC is the best solution. Trying to be Windows-only, MacOS-only or Linux-only nowadays is just being silly and/or dogmatic - each of the them is best at something so you really should have all three if you do a wide range of activities on your computers.

Whoever said audio on Linux is a bit of a mess is a gross understatement. I did get things working with ALSA and even edited the ALSA code to reduce the appalling latency, but eventually just wrote my own audio routines in C to do everything with just a couple of samples delay on an isolated core.

Finally I'm afraid that web-browsing on the Pi4 is nowhere near the quality of a PC. Chromium freezes or even crashes if you open too many screens, the mouse is often jerky and slow, and the dual monitor feature isn't as clean as on a PC.

That said it's a great small computer with a different use-case. I've got a massively polyphonic audio synthesiser running in real time on three of the four cores, something a PC would struggle to do without the odd pause. Though I did have to add an external STMH7 MCU to handle SPDIF and studio master clock.
I presume you mean a PC running WIndows?

Also, how much RAM on your Pi4, I can open quite a number of tabs on a 4GB Pi and have never seen the issues you are seeing. A 1GB device might show those as it starts swapping.

We've got some audio changes going through the system that should help. But it's still not a panacea.
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LTolledo
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:57 am

I was able to to this on my RPi3B+
RPi3B+Desktop_vnc_RPi3B.jpg
RPi3B+Desktop_vnc_RPi3B.jpg (233.25 KiB) Viewed 1412 times
myRPi3B+Desktop.jpg
myRPi3B+Desktop.jpg (104.01 KiB) Viewed 1412 times

doing this on the RPi4B-4G will be a "piece of cake"
also tested google maps (with 8 other tabs open, including this forum).... was more responsive now than when I did it on the RPi3B+ (was horrible then).
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Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

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Fidelius
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:57 am

MikeDB wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:30 pm
Finally I'm afraid that web-browsing on the Pi4 is nowhere near the quality of a PC. Chromium freezes or even crashes if you open too many screens, the mouse is often jerky and slow,
We're using a Raspbian Pi 4 here for desktop usage, so of course with 4 GB RAM in order to be able to open several tabs on the Firefox browser (functional spec from my wife for her shopping adventures). "zram" activated on top of that to minimize µ-SD card swapping. And everything works like a charm. No mouse pointer slowdowns or stops.

The same µ-SD card in a Pi3 with 1 GB can be crashed by opening several Firefox tabs on the memory-hog Amazon.com , but the Pi4 with 4 GB masters this bloatware-benchmark flawlessly. And in the future the Linux kernel will improve on low-memory-stress-situations.

This is with Firefox, which on the ARM based Pi4 is slower than Chromium. Also this is with the XFCE GUI, which is a bit slower than Raspbian's LXDE-based GUI.

And this excellent browsing+wordprocessing+videowatching+mameing+etc desktop box named Pi4 cost us 65 €. Much better quality-per-cost ratio than any x86 PC. Oh, also the Pi4 boots much faster than our expensive x86 Linux PCs, it's like "always on". And it fits into one hand. We have to love this little Pi4 and its 4 GB, haven't we? (It's the first computer ever which my wife describes as "sweet" – and this means something... ;)

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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:13 am

Fidelius wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:57 am
It's the first computer ever which my wife describes as "sweet" – and this means something... ;)
:lol: same for me ! :lol:

BR
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Pi 4 with 4Gb memory, DVB TV pHAT ------------------- Desktop : Core i5 Linux MINT 19.2

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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:22 am

fladda wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:13 pm
Just need to get BBC Basic (Richard Russell version) for the RPi working now - it will be interesting to compare performance of the RPi4 to the RPi3b running BBC Basic (Sophie version) with RISC OS...
Just to soften the landing a bit: Richard's BBC BASIC is built for comfort, not built for speed. Matrix Brandy BASIC VI is almost as fast as Sophie's interpreter while still running under Raspbian.
‘Remember the Golden Rule of Selling: “Do not resort to violence.”’ — McGlashan.

MikeDB
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:42 pm

jamesh wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:15 am
I presume you mean a PC running WIndows?

Also, how much RAM on your Pi4, I can open quite a number of tabs on a 4GB Pi and have never seen the issues you are seeing. A 1GB device might show those as it starts swapping.

We've got some audio changes going through the system that should help. But it's still not a panacea.
Weird - my post seemed to get lost, so sorry if some people see this twice.

From my wife's company, a major multinational :

'PC' means an X86 or x64 machine running Microsoft Windows
'Mac' means an Apple Macintosh
'Linux box' means any machine (probably but not limited to x64) running any variant of Linux

My Pi is 2Gb. And swapping should slow things down, not crash the machine. An old 2Gb laptop can run large numbers of browser windows without problems. I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the Chromium memory management.

I fixed the audio by starting again. I suspect you should do the same :-)
Please write out 100 times "Linux is not a real time operating system so I will not suggest it is"

fladda
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Sat Oct 26, 2019 8:35 pm

I have now been using my RPi4 for a week as a desktop PC replacement, and everything seems to be tickety-boo (i.e. no problems). The RPi4 boots up in a fraction of the time that my Win7 desktop PC takes (and that's before the Win7 PC starts doing loads of Windows updates). I've not really missed my PC for the last week, and I now only turn-on my desktop PC occasionally for reading and writing SD card images for my RPIs !

I've tested-out a 4Gbyte RPi4 and also a 2Gbyte RPi4. With 22 windows open on Chrome and a load of other application running, the memory used on my 2Gbyte RPi4 remains under 1 GByte - so still 1 GByte free. So for general desktop use (e.g. web-browsing, document writing, spreadsheets, emails, playing music and printing), a 2Gbyte RPi4 seems more than adequate with the current 32-bit Raspbian Buster operating system (unless you are deliberately trying to break it by deliberately targeting worst cast web-pages etc.). I've not had any crashes or lock-ups on the RPi4 to date.

Richard Russel's BBC Basic seems to run OK on the RPi4, and the speed seems fine for one of my programmes that reads blocks of text from an input file, and then outputs processed text to an output file. Must give Brandy Basic a trial as a comparison...

So I have to agree with Eben and his gang that the RPi4 really is suitable as a replacement for a 'typical' desktop computer running a range of typical widely used programmes. Note that I don't play games (apart from !Pacmania and !Chocks Away in the distant past;-). I can understand that high-end games players require top-end NVidia cards et al. But for a typical non-game playing PC user who can handle basic DOS and Linux style commands if required, then the RPi4 is a good replacement for a typical desktop PC IMHO.

The RPi4 is almost certainly cheaper to purchase that a typical desktop PC, and the RPi4 uses a tiny fraction of the electrical power of a desktop PC (electricity is very expensive in the UK these days). And as a 'Brit' is is nice to be using something that was (largely) designed in the UK, and also manufactured in the UK. Indeed, a (rare) UK success story where a relatively small team is able to provide and sell a world-class product. Unfortunately, Acorn never really managed this with the original BBC B (cost around 400 GBP in 1983) or the Archimedes (cost around 900 GBP around 1987) - they were just too expensive and also very poorly marketed. Eben's $35 target price for the RPi is one of the big reason's for the RPi's amazing success. If the Archimedes had been $350 at launch, then the desktop computer market might have been different today ?

Bosse_B
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:23 am

Just a question regarding speed/swap:
Will the RPi4B-4G model benefit from attaching an SSD drive (say 128 GB) and using that as the main drive (especially putting swap on it)?
Is connecting it via USB going to be a bottleneck?

Looking for a computer replacement for my wife since her old Win7 laptop (mostly used as a desktop connected to an HP docking station) is having hardware issues.
She uses Word, Outlook, Excel, FireFox/Chrome and I guess mot much more except maybe for Spotify.
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rpdom
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:59 am

Bosse_B wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:23 am
Just a question regarding speed/swap:
Will the RPi4B-4G model benefit from attaching an SSD drive (say 128 GB) and using that as the main drive (especially putting swap on it)?
Yes, as long as it is connected to one of the USB3.0 ports. They are significantly faster than USB2.0 and the micro SD card interface.

For now you will still have to put the boot partition on the SD card, but that will change when USB boot is ready (don't ask when. I mean *seriously* don't ask. It will be announced when it is ready and not before).

For Word, Excel etc you can use LibreOffice and save in MS Office formats if needed. Not sure about Spotify.

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:50 pm

MikeDB wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:42 pm
I fixed the audio by starting again. I suspect you should do the same :-)
Not sure what you mean by this - we have been making changes to the bcm audio drivers and Desktop panel applets to make the audio destination specification easier.
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Technocolour
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:29 am

jamesh wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:50 pm
MikeDB wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:42 pm
I fixed the audio by starting again. I suspect you should do the same :-)
Not sure what you mean by this - we have been making changes to the bcm audio drivers and Desktop panel applets to make the audio destination specification easier.
Have those changes gone live BTW?

I've got a BT speaker (Duke, some generic thing) that experienced constant reconnections when I tried it last week. It used to be rock solid, and the wireless environment looks about the same as before. So I'm curious.

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:41 am

I think all the current changes should be in a apt full-upgrade.

There are still issues with multiple BT audio devices paired at the same time, we are waiting a fix from the developer of the appropriate library.
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bjtheone
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:29 am

rpdom wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:59 am
Bosse_B wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:23 am
Just a question regarding speed/swap:
Will the RPi4B-4G model benefit from attaching an SSD drive (say 128 GB) and using that as the main drive (especially putting swap on it)?
For Word, Excel etc you can use LibreOffice and save in MS Office formats if needed. Not sure about Spotify.
Spotify works but you need to the the same DRM fix that is required for Netflix. Once you do that, it works great. I use it almost daily.

Technocolour
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:50 pm

jamesh wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:41 am
I think all the current changes should be in a apt full-upgrade.

There are still issues with multiple BT audio devices paired at the same time, we are waiting a fix from the developer of the appropriate library.
Ok! This is just one device.

fladda
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:07 pm

Well, after more than two weeks or regular use, I am still using my 2Gbyte RPi4 as my primary desktop computer. I am still very impressed with the overall performance and usability of the PRi4 for general internet-based tasks. I've got a 4Gbyte RPi4 sitting in my RPi drawer, but I've not needed to power it up in anger yet. If this was a 2Gbyte Win7 PC I'd be really struggling running more than one application.

I just performed a start-up comparison with my PC, to time from initial power-on to getting a google search screen running on Chrome. Timings are approximate (i.e. +/- a couple of seconds):

RPi4 35 seconds to boot up, load Chrome and load the google.com search display.

My Win7 i7 PC took a staggering 2 minutes 25 seconds to do the same :-o

The ratio of time taken to shut down each device is similar (i.e. the PC seems to take forever - and that's without it doing a Windows update!).

Everything I've tried on the RPi4 seems to have worked fine, although getting some stuff to work has takes a few Google searches. But getting stuff to work on my PC often takes a similar amount of 'research' and hassle.

Plus I get dual screens for free on my RPi. I've never really used dual screens before (not an option on my desktop PC as it lacks the hardware). But I could come to like using dual screens on my RPi4 :-)

The one think I've not worked out how to do on my PRi4 yet, is how to get an icon on the taskbar that takes me direct to the desktop (i.e. minimises all of the currently open windows).

Ralph

bjtheone
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:16 pm

fladda wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:07 pm
The one think I've not worked out how to do on my PRi4 yet, is how to get an icon on the taskbar that takes me direct to the desktop (i.e. minimises all of the currently open windows).
Which OS and desktop are you running? Also do you want to be able to "toggle" back to the state you were in before you minimized all open windows (ie have it remember state, or just be able to minimize everything)? Minimize all is different that show desktop.

I suspect you are running Raspbian, which is Debian Buster + LXDE, and that desktop certainly supports programmable hotkeys. If you must have an icon you could create an icon that runs xdotool, devilspie or wmctrl (or another tool that plays with windows).

Technocolour
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:08 pm

Technocolour wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:50 pm
jamesh wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:41 am
I think all the current changes should be in a apt full-upgrade.

There are still issues with multiple BT audio devices paired at the same time, we are waiting a fix from the developer of the appropriate library.
Ok! This is just one device.
I sat down to have a look at this today. And began by running an update. While so, I saw that pi-bluetooth was updated. After doing this I set upon to try and replicate my error.

I don't know if it's correlated with said update or not, but now my Duke's working just fine again. Looking at GitHub, makes me think something else was amiss, but I could well be wrong.

===

To fall back on topic, so far it's been a decent desktop for me.

Gadgetguy
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:30 am

fladda wrote ".....The one think I've not worked out how to do on my PRi4 yet, is how to get an icon on the taskbar that takes me direct to the desktop (i.e. minimises all of the currently open windows)."

Right click your taskbar, select "add" then select "minimize all windows " and move the icon to an easily found location on your taskbar. Ah but that little icon makes life so much easier!

takyon
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:18 pm

It actually is not too hard to use more than 1 GB or 2 GB, and on top of that, the system will use memory for caching. So I have seen most of the memory get used up and some of the default 100 MB swap get used a few times now.

4 GB is good, and I'm not saying you need more, but if an 8 GB option is introduced (e.g. with a Raspberry Pi 4B+ or Raspberry Pi 5), I would get it. If RAM prices remain stagnant, an 8 GB option might cost $75, which is still damn near nothing compared to what most people are paying for "primary" desktops and laptops.

Performance is respectable. I have seen problems like the browser freezing for several seconds, especially with YouTube, but that could go away with future updates. I'll likely attach a 128 GB SSD and overclock the CPU to 1.75 GHz at some point.

Raspberry Pi 4B can be a legitimate primary desktop in ways that previous models can't. Raspberry Pi 5 will refine that experience.

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:08 pm

takyon wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:18 pm
Performance is respectable. I have seen problems like the browser freezing for several seconds, especially with YouTube, but that could go away with future updates. I'll likely attach a 128 GB SSD and overclock the CPU to 1.75 GHz at some point.

Raspberry Pi 4B can be a legitimate primary desktop in ways that previous models can't. Raspberry Pi 5 will refine that experience.
I get 10s browser freezes on my i7 laptop running the latest WIndows 10.

As for Pi 5, probably best not to hold your breath.
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takyon
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:39 pm

jamesh wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:08 pm
takyon wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:18 pm
Performance is respectable. I have seen problems like the browser freezing for several seconds, especially with YouTube, but that could go away with future updates. I'll likely attach a 128 GB SSD and overclock the CPU to 1.75 GHz at some point.

Raspberry Pi 4B can be a legitimate primary desktop in ways that previous models can't. Raspberry Pi 5 will refine that experience.
I get 10s browser freezes on my i7 laptop running the latest WIndows 10.

As for Pi 5, probably best not to hold your breath.
I am in no way implying that an RPi5 will be released in the next 5 minutes. My guess is before the end of 2022. My point is that RPi4 is a legitimate "primary desktop computer", and RPi5 will take that a step further by ironing out remaining issues and adding performance. Certain specs on RPi4 could remain the same and it wouldn't matter. For example, the Ethernet is probably as fast as it will ever be, there will be no clamoring for 8K resolution support, etc.

I'm pretty sure that anybody who uses Chromium on RPi4 will eventually notice the freezing I'm talking about, and it will happen with more regularity than on your Intel i7. As for YouTube, sometimes it will just freeze but continue to play audio for several seconds, a behavior I don't see on other systems. Neither is a deal breaker, I'm just relaying my experience relevant to the thread topic.

bjtheone
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:18 pm

I have a fairly decent internet connection and have fairly low bandwidth demand in my house, especially when I tend to be using it, as the kids are asleep. I live in a fairly high tech area, with a decent amount of network bandwidth in the area.

I am a fairly regular user of Youtube, and often watch silly videos with the sound off and Spotify playing to supply a sound track I am more enthused about. I get what I perceive as great performance with multiple tabs open, both Youtube and Spotify streaming, and some other tasks (XChat, Libre Office, Calibre) running. This streaming performance is the same or better to what I get on a tablet (iPad), windows laptop (Lenovo T580 with i5), or phone (Samsung S8) connected to the same WiFi. Given that I don't think it is CPU bound.

I am wondering how much of the laggy video people experience is due to the Pi and how much is due to internet bandwidth between the Pi and YouTube servers?

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clicky
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:17 pm

takyon wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:39 pm
I'm pretty sure that anybody who uses Chromium on RPi4 will eventually notice the freezing I'm talking about, and it will happen with more regularity than on your Intel i7. As for YouTube, sometimes it will just freeze but continue to play audio for several seconds, a behavior I don't see on other systems. Neither is a deal breaker, I'm just relaying my experience relevant to the thread topic.
I can confirm that I regularly see those myself, but, as you said, they are not deal breaker. Nor is when you play youtube, you have video/audio working well, while rest of the page hasn't loaded at all. Nothing to do with speed on connection but, I suspect, they way things work in Pi4...

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