The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is ideal for DIY projects
Rating: 8/10 | Price: £13/$15 at Raspberry Pi
Surprising power at very little cost; ideal for emulation and automation projects; it’s less than £15
Solder your own header pins if you need GPIO
The smallest Raspberry Pi computer is going 64-bit.
The new Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W costs just $15/£13, but is equipped with a Broadcom BCM2710A1 SOC which gives you a 1GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and 512MB RAM. The W indicates that it has Wi-Fi 4 and Bluetooth 4.2 with BLE support.
The Zero 2 W has the same form factor as the original Raspberry Pi Zero, but is equipped with three more cores and twice as much RAM, for what the Raspberry Pi Foundation estimates to be a 40 per cent performance improvement. Our benchmark results indicate this to be a very conservative estimate of the remarkable performance increase. The Pi Zero 2’s form factor is also fully backwards compatible with the old hardware, so you can use it as a drop-in replacement.
We loved the Raspberry Pi 4 (£34 – £54 depending on spec) and the home micro-computer throwback Raspberry Pi 400 (£70), both of which punch well above their price when it comes to processor power.
The same applies here, but the Pi Zero 2’s obviously not intended to be as capable as its bigger, more expensive and more power-hungry siblings. By comparison, the Raspberry Pi 400 has a quad-core Cortex-A72 running at 1.8GB and 4GB RAM, while version 1.2 of the Raspberry Pi Zero had a 1GHz single-core CPU with 512GB RAM.
The Zero 2 is blisteringly fast compared to the original Zero and the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, but still doesn’t hold a candle to the prowess of the – significantly more expensive – Pi 400.
View our benchmark table here
On the desktop and in your projects
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 works surprisingly well as a desktop PC. Review units shipped with a 32-bit version of Raspberry Pi OS, a Linux distribution descended from Debian, which we used to run our benchmarks. As with all Pis, your hard disk is a microSD slot.
Desktop performance gets a little sluggish if you run multiple demanding processes at once, such as installing software, copying files and opening a browser. The cursor lags and windows judder as you move them.
We also tried out a few games. Don’t get too ambitious here – for a start, modern games are mostly designed for an x86 architecture, rather than the Pi’s ARM processor – but there’s plenty of older content to catch up with. Retro adventure game classics, including the relatively demanding Quest for Glory IV, run well via ScummVM. You can play Doom (1993) on it smoothly via Chocolate Doom. We similarly had no trouble with DVD-quality videos, although some formats may require the installation of additional codecs.
Raspberry Pi OS now has official Widevine streaming video DRM support – just install the widevinecdm0 package. This meant we were able to immediately stream content from Netflix without having to install any adapted browser from unusual sources, although we lost audio sync in fullscreen mode if we interacted with any.
Published at Thu, 28 Oct 2021 06:00:00 +0000