The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released the Raspberry Pi 3B+, an updated version of the RPi 3B. Its predecessor, the 3B, has now been available on the market for around two years and everyone has been waiting patiently for an updated version.
The 3B+ is the same size as its predecessor. This means that the existing cases and most other accessories can continue to be used without any problems. Much else remains the same and the differences are easily manageable. Most of the changes were in the technical specification.
|Release date||February 2016||March 2018|
|Size||85.6 × 56mm||85.6 × 56mm|
|CPU clock speed||4 x 1200 MHz||4 x 1400 MHz|
|USB||4 x USB 2.0||4 x USB 2.0|
|Network||10/100 MBit||10/100/1000 MBit|
|WLAN||2,4 GHz WLAN b/g/n||2,4/5 GHz WLAN ac|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 4.1||Bluetooth 4.2|
|Maximum power input||4.4w||7w|
|Power source||5V Micro USB|
|5V Micro USB|
What’s new in the Raspberry Pi 3B+?
In order of importance (in our opinion):
Faster Network Speeds
In the new LAN7515 chip, Gigabit Ethernet is finally supported. However, you cannot expect the full gigabit data. The reason for this is due to the fact that the gigabit ethernet chip hangs internally on a USB 2.0 controller, so 315 Mbit/s is the maximum. In its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 3B, the speed was only 95 Mbps. Still a very nice improvement.
Higher CPU Clock Speed
The four ARM cores have also been improved. Now, the clock is set at 1.4 GHz by default, instead of 1.2 GHz and is therefore around 17% faster. A metal lid now serves as a heat spreader to better dissipate the heat produced by the increased clock frequency. There is also a similar metal sheet lid on the GPU. A slight drawback is that the higher clock speed also results in higher power consumption.
The Broadcom BCM43455 is a new WLAN controller that supports dual-band ac WLAN for 5 GHz wireless, however, only one antenna is installed. For this reason, throughput is only increased moderately.
There are now 4 pins for PoE on the board. A PoE HAT for the Raspberry Pi, which can supply the Raspi with up to 12.95 watts (IEEE 802.af). The PoE Hat is now available to purchase here.
Power Consumption & Temperature
Power consumption and running temperatures of the new upgraded model has been the biggest topics, so we decided to run some tests and record our findings.
- Raspberry Pi 3B & 3B+ without case
- Network via cable to GBit switch
- OS: Raspbian Stretch Lite
- Two measurements: Idle and under full load using (“sysbench –test=cpu –cpu-max-prime=25000 –num-threads=8 run“)
- Room temperature: approx. 21°C
|Watt, Full Load||3.7w||5.4w|
The RPi 3B+ has a significantly higher power consumption when idling, approximately 80% higher than the 3B. At full load, it is approximately 45% higher than the 3B. However surprisingly, thanks to the new metal heat spreaders, the RPi 3B+ is around 10°C cooler than its previous model. Since the Raspberry Pi throttles the clock rate if the temperature of 85°C is reached, the lower temperature of the 3B+ is a huge positive. This means that the extra power can really be called up without it getting into throttling or requiring noisy and space consuming cooling devices.
The Golden Question – Is it worth upgrading?
Yes and no. It really depends on what the Raspberry Pi in question is being used for. If the focus of the project is on CPU performance, for example a media centre, the 3B+ will perform significantly better. The same applies to high network requirements. If however the project is focused on energy saving and requires only light performance, stick with the 3B.
That being said, if you need a new Pi or are looking to get one for the first time, the sale price of both models are the same, so grab the 3B+!