Raspberry Pi 400 vs ZX Spectrum


The release of the Raspberry Pi 400 personal computer reminded me of a wildly popular home computer that was launched in a similar computer-in-a-keyboard format almost 40 years ago: the Sinclair Research ZX Spectrum. I decided to compare the two, following the steps of an earlier comparison I performed between the 2015 Rapsberry Pi Zero and the 1957 Elliott 405.

The 1982 ZX Spectrum home computer ZX Spectrum picture by Bill Bertram — Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5

Comparison table

ZX Spectrum Raspberry Pi 400
Launch year 1982 2020
Price £125 £ 94
(£440 in 2020 prices)
Processor Z80A BCM2711 Cortex-A72 (ARM v8)
CPU register width 8 bit 64 bit
Clock frequency 3.5MHz 1.8GHz
Number of cores 1 4
Main memory 16 kB 4GB
Networking None Gigabit Ethernet & WiFi
Secondary storage Audio cassette tapes 16GB microSD card
(not included) (included)
Video output TV RF modulator Two micro HDMI ports
Video resolution 256×192 3840×2160
Output colors 16 16 million
Graphics support PLOT, DRAW OpenGL ES 3.0
Video support None H.265 (decode); H.264 (decode, encode)
Keyboard 40 keys 78 keys
Board chips 11 VLSI, 7 SSI 7 VLSI, 3 MSI
Dimensions 233×144×30 mm 286 × 122 × 23 mm

The 2020 Raspberry Pi 400 personal computer Photo Credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation

Summing up

The remarkable hardware improvements apparent in the comparison of the two products, combined with the rise of open source software, allow the Raspberry Pi 400 to come with an industrial-strength operating system offering internet connectivity and free access to around fifty thousand software packages. The Raspberry Pi 400 showcases the amazing progress personal computing technology has made over the past 40 years.

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Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2020 12:37 am

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