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I'm considering purchasing a Pi 3 at a local store rather than importing it from Adafruit. However, a lot of local retailers are, how can I say, significantly questionable.

I've heard that are some Chinese clones that pretend to be the original Pi.

How can I know if a Pi is counterfeit? Which signs should I look for? Is there anything I should keep in mind while buying one in-person from a local retailer?

  • If you're concerned about your local store why not order online via one of the official sellers, most of them are based in the UK, certainly the big ones like pimoroni, pihut and modmypi. Have a look on the raspberry pi website they list them all. EDIT: Apologies if you're not based in the UK obviously the above only applies if you are. Some of them I think RS components do have international stores also. – rohtua Feb 8 at 12:40
  • @rohtua: for a variety of reasons, a non-insignificant one being imported goods can take 6 months or more to arrive - it has happened to me before. – That Brazilian Guy Feb 8 at 12:45
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    There's the special Brazilian Blue Raspberries. raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-brazil – Dougie Feb 8 at 13:14
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There is no such thing as a counterfeit Raspberry Pi. There are things like Odroids, Banana Pi and Orange Pi that have some matching hardware characteristics but are not counterfeits.

Regular Raspberries are made in more than one factory. Most are made in Wales, UK but some are made in a Chinese fabrication plant.

Raspberry Pi Forum thread about fakes

  • Seems strong to assert the non-existence of any counterfeits anywhere in the world, especially taking into account that "counterfeit" electronics often includes second-hand, reworked products, depending on whose definition you use. It true that it doesn't seem to be a big problem at the moment. – Brick Feb 21 at 19:27
  • How can you make a counterfeit when Broadcom own the IP for the SOC and won't sell it to anyone other than the Raspberry Pi Foundation / Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd. So it's a 100% fair assertion. – Dougie Feb 22 at 6:53
  • A counterfeit, pretty much by definition, means that it's done without permission. Even without IP, assembling "new" Pis from scavenged parts of dead Pis would constitute a counterfeit, even if all of the components were originally genuine. Counterfeiting techniques in electronics covers a broad class of actions, including unauthorized "repairs". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfeit_electronic_components – Brick Feb 22 at 14:13
  • If you can't get the main ARM silicon you can't make a counterfeit. If you think otherwise feel free but you're being illogical. – Dougie Feb 22 at 21:11
  • You're using a more limited definition of counterfeit. You can have a counterfeit Pi with an authentic processor. From the page that I linked above: "According to a January 2010 study by the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, the number of counterfeit incidents reported grew from 3,868 in 2005 to 9,356 in 2008. Respondents to the survey cited the two most common types of counterfeit components were blatant fakes and used product re-marked as higher grade." [Emph added] Substituting used parts around an authentic processor would be easy enough and be a counterfeit Pi. – Brick Feb 22 at 21:36
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Based on the comments to the answer by Dougie, it seems that there may be some confusion / linguistic issues with what's meant by "counterfeit" and therefore disagreement about even basic things like whether or not any exist.

So let's break things down into a few cases:

  • If you're concerned that someone is making clone processors, that's probably not happening for the reasons that Dougie indicated.
  • If you're concerned that someone is making boards that look like Raspberry Pi but have a different processor, that is probably also not happening. Likely there'd be news about that that people here would have seen.
  • If you're concerned that someone is selling boards with authentic Raspberry Pi parts that have been used or mishandled in some way, it seems likely that has happened somewhere in the world, although I'm not aware it's a big problem. (Someone, somewhere, has almost surely soldered something to directly to a Pi, decided to undo it, and stuck the now-used Pi back in the box to be distributed as new. Just as one possible example.)
  • If you're concerned that someone is selling boards with some fake parts and some authentic parts, I think that's probably also happening, but, again, I've not heard of it happening on a large scale.

Seems like Dougie is only including the first and maybe the second above as "counterfeit", whereas it's more common (at least in US-based industry - maybe other countries have different standards or different words in use for the various cases) to call any of the above "counterfeit". If any part on the device has been changed or modified after it left the OEM, then the whole Pi is "counterfeit" if sold as new even though some components in the Pi - like the processor - may be authentic. (In the latter two cases, if you mark that same used / reworked Pi as used / reworked, it's no longer counterfeit. It's just used / reworked.)

(I was going to provide a link to the US Commerce Report "Defense Industrial Base Assessment: Counterfeit Electronics" as a reference, but it seems to be gone from the web. If that comes back later and you really want to see it, you'll have to search.)

Getting to your question of what to look for:

  • The processor and various critical components should have markings similar to those shown on the raspberrypi.org webpage for the product that you bought. ("Blacktopping" - where markings are faked - is possible, but unlikely for the main components ala the first two cases above.)
  • The board itself should also be marked pretty consistently with the images on the webpage. No spelling errors.
  • The board and components should look factory-new. By that I mean there shouldn't be signs of stray solder, scratches on the green solder mask, etc. that suggest that parts have been moved or replaced.

Once running, you should also be able to use all of the supported software, e.g. Raspian, directly.

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