Overclocking a Raspberry Pi and Banana Pi

December 2014 UPDATE: This example uses a single-threaded Python script. I did this test again using a multi-threaded C++ program and documented those results too.

You can see that newer, C++ blog post here:

One of the things I wanted to get a better understanding of, is how slow the Raspberry Pi is, compared to a Banana Pi, compared to something I know – like a PC.

As discussed, a Raspberry PI is a single-core ARM-based processor which has 500MB of RAM and runs at 700MHz, but can be “safely” overclocked to 1GHz. However, from what I’ve read – if you have it in a case, and without a heatsink and fan, there is a decent chance you will cook it. So, just like the warnings tell you, be very cautious about overclocking a Raspberry Pi above 900MHz.



The Banana Pi is a dual-core ARM-based processor which has 1GB of RAM and runs at 800MHz, but can be overclocked, supposedly to 1.2GHz. The BanaPi is the same size, but has a different port layout as the RasPi. It also runs a slightly-different version of Debian Linux, in addition to some other operating systems. Basically, the Banana Pi is the same concept, except with better specs and a slightly higher price ($10-20 more)


As of this writing, the Raspberry Pi B+ are $38 at Amazon, and the Banana Pi’s are around $49 if you can find a place to buy them.

The Test:
So, I cobbled together and also stole some crude code to calculate prime numbers, in Python:

I ran this testing 10,000 through 30,000 prime numbers, skipping 5,000 in between. Then, I overclocked the Pi, then rebooted, and then ran then again. I also ran these 3 times each and took the average run time from all of the runs. Below is the data in the form of a heat map:


and if you prefer colorful graphs:


Overclocking the Raspberry PI:
Overclocking the Raspberry Pi (via Debian Linux, the “wheezy” version for Pi) – you simply run:

sudo raspi-config

and then navigate the menus:




What this does is simply modify the following file – which you can also do yourself:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

When you reboot, the overclocking takes affect.

Overclocking the Banana Pi:
Although that same “raspi-config” exists like above, it doesn’t seem to do anything. It did not modify the /boot/config.txt. When I modified the config.txt, that also seemed to do nothing. I would re-run the prime calculator program and get the same results.

When I researched this a little bit, it turns out that there are some manual commands you need to run – but I found TONS of posts about people either cooking their board, having the system freeze or overheat – for anything over 1GHz. It supposedly comes overclocked at 1GHz – so I was not able to successfully overclock the Banana Pi.

In the end, this isn’t particularly helpful. This only tested one core, and it only tested CPU – and not disk I/O. However, it does give you a general sense of how the Pi’s overclocked compare, and how that compares to a regular PC.

Posted in Computers and Internet, General, Infrastructure, Linux, New Technology, Raspberry Pi, Uncategorized
9 comments on “Overclocking a Raspberry Pi and Banana Pi
  1. Lars Klein says:

    This really surprises me. I expected the Banana Pi to be faster, probably about twice as fast.

    On a first glance that’s exactly the result of your benchmark. But python only uses one core. Your benchmark essentially shows that the banana pi is more than twice as fast, even if only one core is used.

    Right now, I’m unsure which SOC to buy. The hardware acceleration of the RPi for things like XMBC is nice. But this blows my mind.

    Is there any way, you could run a test with C++ ? With true multithreading ?

    I could send you some code and would be really grateful if you could bench it.


  2. Lars Klein says:

    Thank you very much.
    This code uses openmp, g++ should come with it preinstalled.


  3. […] Lars Klein on Overclocking a Raspberry Pi and Banana Pi […]


  4. […] some benchmarks for the 2nd generation Pi’s (the Model B’s) – using two different methods, here and here. Well, using the better C++ version, I saw results like this from that […]


  5. bes says:

    1-st of all by default bananapi runs on less than 1 GHz
    2-nd you can oc while chaning the values: cd /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/
    3 my is on 1.1 no additional radiator/fan .. stable as rock


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