Introduction: The Raspberry Pi 3, an in Depth Look...

Picture of The Raspberry Pi 3, an in Depth Look...

The Raspberry Pi 3 is here. The latest version of the credit card-sized computer comes a whole year after the launch of its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 2 and four years after the launch of the original Raspberry Pi, has its own set of upgrades. Here’s the highlights: it’s faster, it has the exact same form-factor, and yes, it has wireless on it.


Picture of FORM FACTOR

The Raspberry Pi 3, with four USB 2.0 ports and a 100mb/s ethernet, a 3.5mm audio jack with a composite video output over the same port via a non standard connector, a full size HDMI 1.3a connector, a micro USB type B(5V, 2Amp) connector for power, a micro SDHC card slot, a CSI camera connector, a DSI display connector, 40 GPIO male pins, shares its form factor with its predecessor, so much so, that it perfectly fits in any one of the cases made for the Raspberry Pi 2. The good news though, that it also includes onboard Wireless connectivity.

Step 2: SoC

Picture of SoC

Built specifically for the new Pi 3, the Broadcom BCM2837 system-on-chip (SoC) includes four high-performance ARM Cortex-A53 processing cores running at 1.2GHz implementing the ARMv8-A 64 bit instruction set, with 32kB Level 1 and 512kB Level 2 cache memory, a VideoCore IV graphics processor, and is linked to a 1GB LPDDR2 memory module on the rear of the board.



Due to the soaring temperatures this chip does not support overclocking by default, unlike its predecessor which does, but it can be configured from the terminal by some special commands considering you have fitted a heatsink onto it which is now a necessity(atleast i consider it as one). Reports show that the chip can be overclocked to upto 1.45GHz with proper methods of cooling and a decent voltage offset, also i'll be shortly publishing another instructable about overclocking the Raspberry Pi 3.



Recent comparisons from all over the world show that the CPU performance of the Pi 3 is about twice compared to that of the Pi 2 whereas there's an increment of ten fold when compared to the original Raspberry Pi. The experience is better than ever, thanks to the 64bit microarchitecture being the major change. The GPU is the same as earlier, the Broadcom VideoCore IV even the USB controller is same as before, but don't worry' that's not gonna slow the RPi 3 down. Note that There aren't huge differences in the booting times or application startup times, the 64bit advantage comes into light when we use CPU bound titles like LibreOffice and GIMP.

Step 5: GPIO

Picture of GPIO

The Raspberry Pi 3 features the same 40-pin general-purpose input-output (GPIO) header as all the Pis going back to the Model B+ and Model A+. Any existing GPIO hardware will work without modification; the only change is a switch to which UART is exposed on the GPIO’s pins, but that’s handled internally by the operating system.



The Raspberry Pi 3 shares the same SMSC LAN9514 chip as its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 2, adding 10/100 Ethernet connectivity and four USB channels to the board. As before, the SMSC chip connects to the SoC via a single USB channel, acting as a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor and USB hub.



So small, its markings can only be properly seen through a microscope or magnifying glass, the Broadcom BCM43438 chip provides wireless LAN, Bluetooth, and Bluetooth Classic radio support. Cleverly built directly onto the board to keep costs down, rather than the more common fully qualified module approach, its only unused feature is a disconnected FM radioreceiver.


Picture of ANTENNA

There’s no need to connect an external antenna to the Raspberry Pi 3. Its radios are connected to a chip antenna soldered directly to the board, in order to keep the size of the device to a minimum. Despite its diminutive stature, this antenna should be more than capable of picking up wireless LAN and Bluetooth signals, even through walls.

Step 9: PROS

This thing undoubtedly overdoes its 35$ price tag with all it has to offer, the Pi computer has evolved to such an extent that, one might mistake it for a normal desktop PC.

According to me, this is the BEST THING one can buy at 35$. The irony with this is that, this is a computer where one has to spend more on accessories than the computer itself.

It now supports upto 2.5Amps of 5V DC current which is great considering the 4 USB ports to which it has to supply power.

The Onboard wireless is the best thing about the Pi 3 and now is ready to enter the IoT Prototyping world,the wireless module catches range just like a normal wireless module would do, thanks to the onboard antenna.

The form factor and the size adds up to being a computer that really amazes me and developes a sense of respect in the user's mind for the developers. There are over two dozens of operating systems that can run on this thing, so, the choice is yours.

Step 10: CONS

Overheating was a problem which i encountered while working, both the CPU and RAM get hot enough to disable overclocking it right out of the box.

The Pi still lacks a RTC(Real Time Clock) which we manually have to adjust and in the best cases allow it to get the time from servers while booting or use a RTC breakout board.

The GPIO pins should have been female type rather than male, male pins have a risk of shorting out or bending, one of which bent on the first day of my use.

Though the CPU architecture has gone 64 bit, it executes almost everything in 32 bit mode as the Raspberry Pi Foundation thinks that the 64 bit codes wouldn't give the Raspberry Pi 3 a considerable overhead, however a 64 bit version of raspbian may be rolling out in the days to come. The software does not support Bluetooth currently, the support will come in near future.


USB 3.0 support is likely to be seen on the Raspberry Pi 4.

There might be either more LPDDR2 or faster LPDDR3 RAM on the next board.

The GPU will come with more horsepower than the current VideoCore IV.


vinz3nt (author)2016-03-14

great review! very clear and easy to read. can't wait what people will build with it! I want to make a raspberry pi laptop but first they need to make the bluetooth work as I have a very nice thin keyboard with touchpad that operates with Bluetooth.

TejaswiniK3 (author)vinz3nt2017-05-08

I think there's a Bluetooth facility available on RPi 3. I am just curious to know if u made the lap out of RPi3 and how it works. :)

vishal1502 (author)vinz3nt2016-03-14

Thanks for the compliment! and yeah great idea

Oggar2 (author)2016-04-18

64-Bit processor means more RAM in the future!

Oggar2 (author)2016-04-18


Dwargh (author)2016-04-07

It's a pity that it overheats right out of the box :-/

And it rankles me, that they haven't yet implemented USB 3.0 :-(

WelmoM (author)2016-04-02

Just one thing mate. You talked about the Raspberry Pi 4 and it's GPU that could be a more powerful.
Well, they use the Broadcom VideoCore IV 3D because is the only publicly documented 3D graphics core for ARM-based SoCs. It's a "open" GPU and the Raspberry Pi foundation wants that. They want his hardware to be the more open possible. So unless someone publicly document another GPU, RPi4 will stay with VideoCore.

But the good thing is that they are experimenting OpenGL on Raspbian, they even have a beta driver on raspi-config for Rpi2 and 3. Once is finished, the GPU will be much more utilized and things will improve on Raspberry Pi

vishal1502 (author)WelmoM2016-04-03

I value your opinion, thanks...

AndrewG47 (author)2016-04-03

Thanks mister! I'm all in, and I want to pre order... However, the site doesn't offer pay pal, they want my credit card info input to an unsecure page, and thus I must wait!

AndrewG47 (author)2016-03-16

I'm SOOOO getting this.... Just as soon as a 64 bit OS is developed to take full advantage of the 64 bit processor. Otherwise I'd be getting it for the wireless, and that's just silly.

vishal1502 (author)AndrewG472016-03-17

No, you can still experience the lightning fast speed of the raspberry pi 3

AndrewG47 (author)vishal15022016-03-17

That's like buying a really fast car and wedging something under the accelerator that only lets it go half as fast as it COULD go. I'm sure that just the clock speed does boost performance (my 1st gen Pi wasn't up to the task of running XBMC for me) but for me I want all of my dogs barking.

JCC21 (author)AndrewG472016-04-03

I highly Suggest checking out the Pine 64 that ships out in may. 4k streaming via hdmi and a lot of other nice benifits for about the same price

CarlM21 (author)2016-03-18

I notice there is still no PoE which would be such a help to me building bespoke Pi embedded devices.

vishal1502 (author)CarlM212016-03-18

the power consumption of the board is too high for PoE to supply the required power, i mean 2.5Amps is a lot of juice...

CarlM21 (author)vishal15022016-03-19

Would this not work

MikB (author)vishal15022016-03-19

2.5Amps is the recommended rating of the power supply, NOT the current draw of the PI 3. It is 2.5A to cover all of your USB power guzzlers that are plugged in too, without the power supply sagging!

PoE is something only a small number of people would benefit from. It's unlikley to be included due to cost and space VS benefit to users.

vishal1502 (author)MikB2016-03-19

Thanks for correcting me, i respect your opinion.

Kris Jacobs (author)2016-03-15

Good write up! I disconnected the onboard chip antenna and installed a U.FL connector. Check it out:

vishal1502 (author)Kris Jacobs2016-03-16


dgateley (author)2016-03-15

Thank you for the review. An instructable I'd love to see is how to connect it to power and your LAN, access it from Windows via something like PuTTY and SSH, and then a stepwise procedure to get its GUI working headless via some remote desktop mechanism in a Windows window. I understand that Raspbian Jessie is the distribution to use for this but lack a comprehensive sequence of steps that will "just work." :-)


vishal1502 (author)dgateley2016-03-15

Thanks, i'll think on it...

dgateley (author)vishal15022016-03-15

Great. Here's some food for that thought:

There are gaps in my current level of understanding though. I'm awaiting delivery of my Pi 3 now so I'll be poking around to see if I can make it work. Glad to communicate my results as I get them if you are interested in doing a more coherent article.

kamhagh (author)2016-03-15

Is there anyway to five it wi fi info without keyboards and mouse :? I really dont want to connect my keyboard and mouse :S my desk doesnt have any more space :D

vishal1502 (author)kamhagh2016-03-15

you could add a 10' touch display specially manufactured for the raspberry pi

kamhagh (author)2016-03-15

Hmm it gets hot you said....
sounds like time for some fun with water cooling and thermocouples

Challenge accepted xD

vishal1502 (author)kamhagh2016-03-15

All the stunts should be performed at your own risk. XD

bsheff (author)2016-03-15

prey tell what does "disconnected FM radioreceiver" mean, can we connect it?

Kris Jacobs (author)bsheff2016-03-15

No, the contact for the FM Receiver is underneath that little shiny chip. There are no traces, pads - nada. Nothing that one might be able to use.

This is getting funny.

kamhagh (author)2016-03-15

Is there anyway to five it wi fi info without keyboards and mouse :? I really dont want to connect my keyboard and mouse :S my desk doesnt have any more space :D

jesterod. (author)2016-03-15

so can you connect the fm receiver of the chip?

Kris Jacobs (author)jesterod.2016-03-15

No, the contact for the FM Receiver is underneath that little shiny chip. There are no traces, pads - nada. Nothing that one might be able to use.

NicolasB48 (author)2016-03-15

The main reason why I hesitated to buy it is the 10/100 ethernet port, I would've prefer a gigabit one since all my network is over a gigabit switch, but well, I'll have fun anyway I guess, nice writeup!

WilliamB92 (author)2016-03-15

It could really use 2 GB of RAM, that would make a big difference.

engahmad135 (author)2016-03-15

thanks for this excellent review

can I use it with LCD in my DIY projector

thanks in advance

nancyjohns (author)2016-03-14

Do you think it would be a worthwhile investment to get heatsinks for the Raspberry Pi? I've found aluminum ones on eBay for $0.99 here.

vishal1502 (author)nancyjohns2016-03-14

you should only buy them if you are using the RasPi3 that too, extensively, or overclocking your RasPi2, otherwise it's really not needed

nancyjohns (author)vishal15022016-03-14

Okay. Overclocking would be kinda nice for emulating a Nintendo 64... It always lags when I use the n64 emulator.

makeosaurus (author)2016-03-14

I really want one!!

vishal1502 (author)makeosaurus2016-03-14

I hope you do get one soon.

nerd_at_work (author)2016-03-14

I really appreciate your review on the Raspberry Pi 3, and finnaly wireless connections on board! I need one of these...

vishal1502 (author)nerd_at_work2016-03-14

Thanks for the compliment, i understand your curiosity

About This Instructable




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