Any Experience with Using a Pi as a Desktop OS?

So my mom got her Macbook Pro which she mainly uses by herself and my dad (who also does not like Apple OS that much) has always been stuck with his very small Windows laptop from work and given he is sitting in front of a PC at work all day anyway sitting in front of a small Laptop screen at home is a pity to watch and a strain on his eyes. He is however the type of man who does not want to invest our money into things he likes (so e.g. buying a PC / Laptop for him). It’s not like we have very often proposed he’d buy his own setup. Now his birthday is approaching (in a few months so I have time to plan a bit) but I thought what he mainly is missing would be a laptop/pc to surf the web and a larger screen while not spending a lot of money. That’s why I thought why not get him a Pi along with a big (used) screen? Which brings me to the question which Desktop OS for the Pi you can recommend?
I’ve been using my Pi as a server mainly so not very experienced in terms of using it as a Desktop OS.
Sure, Raspbian is the standard, but then there’s also FlintOS (Chromium based) and others. Any specific recommendations? Shouldn’t be too complicated to use (yes, he works as a sysadmin sorta but doesn’t have a lot to do with Linux Servers or anything, he does work with SAP) and mainly just for browsing the Web, viewing movies/images…

Last but not least: If anyone has a good site to recommend (aside from Ebay) to get (used) screens/monitors for cheap let me know please :slight_smile:

Appreciate all feedback/help I can get.

In my trials, doing anything GUI-related on a pi isn’t worth it. It’ll be laggy, slow, and irritating.

Perhaps a chromebook or something like that would be a better fit if he’s just using it for browsing the web and consuming media. Would keep costs low and the chromebook would handle web browsing and other tasks much better than the pi would.


A fair enough! Thanks for the feedback :slight_smile: What about a lil Windows HTPC/Intel Nuc instead? Might also be cheap-ish and even comes with Windows.

NUC is probably better.

I’ve given and upgraded 2 NUCs at my parents’ house over a decade now. All they do is web browsing but, due to their poor eye sights, they want a big 1080p monitor w/ interior speakers. NUC is better for this kind of set up. Set it behind monitors and they will love how neat it is.

In my own experience, as long as CPU passmark score is above 2,000, web browsing will be breeze.


There’s a lot of capable SFF machines on eBay for fairly cheap, you can get a fairly recent used i3/i5 machine including Windows for under 150€.
If you search for older machines (Sandy Bridge i3/i5/i7/Pentium), you can get these for under 50€.

Some keywords: Optiplex 7020 SFF, Optiplex 3020 SFF, HP Elite 800 G1, HP Elite 6200, Lenovo M73 Tiny…


Yeah that’s what I thought. Will check some of these NUCs out :smiley:

@FHR Thanks for pointing me towards these. Will see what I can find^^

With older NUC, I had to get i3 for smooth Windows experience.

But with 8th gen and higher, higher end celeron class will do the job the same. Fairly cheap also.

1 Like

Oh, yeah, this guy is dedicated to NUC.

Nice! Will read into that too :wink:

BOXNUC6CAYH is actually the one I have my eyes on for next upgrade for NUCs. CPU, J3455, has a passmark score is 2,100 which is more than enough for smooth browsing. 121 USD with power draw of 15w at max /5w idle.

1 Like

Seems pretty nice tbh :smiley:

I have also found the following offers for used PCs with Windows pre-installed. Doesn’t look too shabby either and are all rather small-ish like HTPC/mini pc:


Intel Pentium G630 2,7 GHz / 4 GB / 320 GB / [Windows 10] Home 64 Bit / PC
USB 2.0
For 90€

HP PRO 6005
AMD Athlon™ II X2 B24
ATI Radeon 4200
USB 2.0

HP COMPAQ 8300 ELITE SFF Desktop Intel Pentium G2020 2x 2,90 GHz, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD for 121€, USB 3.0

I use a Raspberry Pi 3 at my work, constantly on. Right now I am using it and I am posting from it, using Raspbian desktop and Chromium browser. Could not be happier of performance.


What about YouTube/Flix? Works good?

That’s interesting. What pi model are you using? Perhaps when I tried it was on one of the earlier models (v1 or v2).

1 Like

That’s definitely not worth 113€.

Something like this would provide much better value (though obviously depends on the shipping costs):

1 Like

If you tried it years ago then yeah the performance can be much improved at this point. @Ympker don’t forgot non-Pi SBCs, the jump from Pi to a NUC/MiniPC might be overkill. You can get some really powerful (relatively speaking) SBCs nowadays. Not necessarily the best example in terms of “safe compatibility and ease of use” but for example check the RockPro64 just to get an idea of how powerful they can be.


Thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, I’ve also been looking at Asus Tinker Board for example? :slight_smile:

I don’t have any experience with it but going from specs it looks very similar to the RockPro64 but with a little less power. However at this performance level it mostly comes down to support, and given it’s Asus I would expect it to have much better support. For example yeah technically the RockPro/64 can handle 4K@60FPS but if they don’t support it at software level then it’s really difficult. It mentions for example on the Asus board that 4K30FPS is only available with their media player.

I have a RockPro and I had to do a lot of hacking and build my own kernel to get the functionality I desired out of it. Sure it comes with an advertised OTG port, but even year(s) after launch that was never properly implemented, so compiling your own kernel and lots of experimentation was required.

1 Like

Fair enough. Guess I’ll go for either a brand new SBC or a used Lenovo/HP . Tbh I never bought used HW so far as I’m always a bit hesitant as to how far one can trust that thing to still be working but this time around I might try it.

Another small Windows machine I’ve found on YT that would be the Beelink BT3 Pro Mini PC - EU Plug Windows 4GB RAM + 64GB eMMc at 106€

Not much room for upgrade there though I guess.