Earlier this month, Raspberry Pi released the 400, a compact keyboard with a modified Raspberry Pi 4 built-in. Designed to be a plug and play personal computer, as well as an ode to past tech like the Commodore 64, this new bit of kit could revolutionise the idea of a home PC.
And let's be honest, it looks pretty snazzy.
There are two versions of the Raspberry Pi 400 kit, one priced at around $70 comes with just the keyboard unit. The second, which I picked up, is priced at around $100 and comes with all of the bits you need to get up and running, including a mouse, micro-HDMI cable, power cable and a micro-SD card preloaded with Raspberry Pi OS.
Previously, we've talked about using Construct on single board computers, like the Raspberry Pi 4 and the ASUS Tinker Board. With both of those running Construct 3 was a breeze, so I'm expecting great things from the Pi 400.
First of all, setting up the 400 was beautifully simple. The kit already comes with an SD card containing the OS and various apps installed, including the Chromium browser, so within minutes of plugging in the keyboard, I was already running Construct 3. And, if you prefer an app, you can use Chromium's 'Install as app' function launch it from the desktop or dedicated Chromium Apps section of the Pi's menu.
Under the hood, or I suppose the keys, in this case, the Pi 400 is running 4GB of RAM and gets 1.8GHz out of its processor. So, it's a little more powerful than the standard Pi 4 which should mean it handles most things Construct can throw at it.
Our four example games run well in preview – even hitting 60fps in a smaller window. The limited bandwidth of the GPU is still present, so things don't run quite so smoothly in full-screen mode, or when you've got a load of effects running, and you won't get any GPU profiling in the debugger. But they run well enough, and you have to remember this is a tiny, single-board computer, not a full-scale dev machine!
Working on the Pi 400 is great too. Construct runs smoothly, and so far, I've not experienced any lag in the editor, even on larger projects of mine. The beauty of the 400's design is that it feels just like working on my main machine – just smaller, and less Windows-y. Its minute size does mean I can run the two in parallel for this test! And as an aside, Construct 3's cloud save is making accessing my test files and swapping between the two computers as easy as… Well, Pi.
Everything works as expected, so there's no reason you couldn't use this as a full-time development environment. And, although I'm not a mobile developer, something tells me this little computer would be great for testing out capabilities for mobile games. Your game not running brilliantly on the Pi? Maybe scale it back slightly – lower-end mobile devices might struggle too.
This Pi is a fantastic little machine that you can use to build games in Construct. And through doing this test, and writing this blog, it's been really cool seeing how single-board PCs have come along in recent years.
The fact that it's plug-and-play right out of the box makes it a perfectly viable option for a bit of tinkering or longer game dev sessions. In my opinion, the Pi 400 and Construct would be a great pairing for education users too.
So, if you're looking for a small, low-priced computer that has great support for Construct and its games, we can highly recommend the Raspberry Pi 400!