What is a Raspberry Pi? This is probably the very question you are asking yourself right now and why you are reading this article. Or you are simply looking for the best product on the market and are undecided on which one to choose. Either way, know that this is the article for you!
If you’ve never heard of this device, don’t worry. You are not alone. In this guide, which we have prepared with particular care and attention to detail, you will learn everything there is to know about the Raspberry Pi and all the advantages it offers users. You will also find some of the best products and our recommendations.
The Raspberry Pi is a kind of low-cost computer. It’s so small – like a credit card – it can fit in the palm of your hand. Either way, it has all the connection possibilities for your TV, keyboard, and other peripheral devices, so you can pretty much use it as if it were a computer.
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This device consists of only one part: the baseboard. There are no built-in (manufacturing) peripherals. It was born in the UK for educational purposes, became more popular than had been hoped for and today it has become a super versatile machine that opens the doors to learning and computer experimentation.
Most manufacturers sell the Raspberry Pi in packages with other components or peripherals, to make it easy for the user to start experimenting. To choose the right model well, it is necessary to consider the radio frequency, RAM, connection ports, and network possibilities of the device.
The best Raspberry Pi on the market: our selection
Maybe you are new to the Raspberry Pi theme and are interested in experimenting with the various possibilities you have. Or you already know something and would like to deepen new forms of interaction or connection. Either way, you need to know the market well. For this, we have compiled this selection with the best offers available.
- Pi 3 Model B +
- Raspberry Pi 4
- Pi 3 Model B + ABOX Starter Kit
- Pi Zero W Starter Kit Melopero
- Pi 3 Model B
Pi 3 Model B +
The Pi 3 B + is the same size as models 2 and 3 but is equipped with a quad-core 64-bit Cortex A53 1.4 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and an 802.11.b / g / n / dual-band wireless network card. B.C. It has a standard HDMI port, 4 USB 2.0, a Gigabit LAN, a 40-pin GPIO header, and stereo output. Requires a 5V 2.5A power supply.
Support for Wi-Fi networks on the 5 GHz band is arguably the most popular novelty among buyers, although even the higher clocked CPU does not mind at all. The amount of RAM is not high, but it remains more than enough for the most common uses of the Raspberry. The price is very advantageous not being included in microSD or power supply.
Raspberry Pi 4
The new Raspberry Pi 4 involves significant improvements over its predecessors, both in terms of interfaces and computing power. The processor is a 1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex A-72 with 4 GB of RAM. It has numerous ports including 2 micro-HDMI, 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, and a Gigabit Ethernet. Finally, it supports Dual-Band Wi-Fi and low consumption Bluetooth 5.0.
Positive reviews number in the hundreds and buyers say the new processor combined with 4GB of memory is a big leap over the older models.
Pi 3 Model B + ABOX Starter Kit
In addition to the Pi 3 B + with 1.4 GHz quad-core CPU and 1 GB of RAM, the starter kit proposed by ABOX also includes two CPU heatsinks, a 3 A power supply with the power button, 32 GB SanDisk microSD card Class 10 with USB-A / C player, HDMI cable and case.
Buyers are thrilled with the kit, which provides everything needed to make the included Pi 3 B + work. The heatsinks are great and allow you to use the case even without installing a fan. The microSD includes NOOBS. The only drawback of the offer concerns the power supply, which for some is less performing than necessary.
Pi Zero W Starter Kit Melopero
Melopero’s starter kit offers a Pi Zero W, 40-pin header, Mini HDMI to HDMI adapter, micro-USB to USB cable, heatsink, and case with three lids. The Pi Zero W has a 1 GHz single-core, 512 MB of RAM, and supports 802.11 b / g / n Wi-Fi connections and Bluetooth 4.1.
The kit has everything you need to run the Pi Zero W, except a power supply and a microSD card. HDMI and USB adapters are appreciated, although it is advisable to have a USB hub as there is only one port on the device.
Pi 3 Model B
The Pi 3 B has 1 GB of RAM and is equipped with a quad-core 64-bit Cortex A53 1.2 GHz processor. It has a Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 4.1. It has Ethernet, HDMI, and 4 USB 2.0 ports, with 3.5mm audio output and CSI and DSI interfaces. Requires a 5V power supply of at least 2.1A.
For those who do not feel the need to connect to 5 GHz networks or to take advantage of the more powerful processor of the B +, the old Pi 3 B allows you to wisely save on the price without affecting the usability. It is used without problems as a media center, retrogaming console, NAS, and much more.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about the Raspberry Pi
If you are considering buying your first Raspberry Pi, you are probably wondering which model or version to choose. If you are already a regular user, however, perhaps you would like to deepen the potential of the basic card. Whatever your case, in this section you will find the most frequently asked questions about this device.
What exactly is a Raspberry Pi?
Raspberry Pi is the brand name of a small board computer, also called a single board computer or single-board computer (SBC). It is characterized by a size and a reduced price. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, more than five million models were sold as of February 2015, making it the best-selling British computer.
When did the Raspberry Pi appear?
The history of these single-board computers dates back to 2009 when the Raspberry Pi Foundation set out to encourage children to study programming and computer science at school. Instead of distributing traditional computers, laptops, and tablets, they chose basic cards to stimulate experimentation and take advantage of their versatility.
When the first model came out in 2012, the Raspberry Pi A, the foundation noticed how the project went beyond the educational realm and became increasingly popular with families and in different countries. The uses for which the card was used began to multiply, and the growing demand gave rise to the creation of new models, with better performance and more possibilities of connection.
After the launch of the Raspberry Pi 1 B, the foundation created Raspberry Pi Trading, with Eben Upton as CEO, to develop the third model, the Raspberry Pi 1 B +. Raspberry Pi Trading is responsible for the development of the technology, while the foundation is an educational organization to promote the teaching of computer science in developing countries.
How does a Raspberry Pi work?
Being a simple computer board, the Raspberry Pi consists of an SoC (system in a chip), CPU, RAM, audio and video input and output ports, network connectivity, SD card for storage, clock, isolator for the power supply, and connection of peripherals. That is to say, everything we see in the back of a computer.
To start the card we need to connect input and output peripherals. Mouse, keyboard, and screen are not included in the purchase of a Raspberry Pi, even if you buy kits or complete packages. Once you have made the connections of the corresponding peripherals, you just need to connect the board to the power and it will be ready for use.
Does the Raspberry Pi have free hardware and software?
Although it is not expressly indicated whether the hardware is free or with trademark rights, the official website of the Pi Foundation explains that they have distribution and sales agreements with various companies. At the same time, however, anyone can become a reseller or distributor of the Raspberry Pi boards, which suggests that it is a proprietary product.
The software, on the other hand, is certainly open source: the official operating system is an adapted version of Debian, nicknamed Raspbian, but it allows you to use other operating systems, including Linux and a version of Windows 10. The foundation supports the download of many systems and it especially promotes learning of the Python programming language.
What does the baseboard of a Raspberry Pi include?
In all its versions, the Raspberry Pi includes a Broadcom processor, RAM, GPU, USB ports, HDMI, Ethernet (absent in the first model), 40-pin GPIO (starting with the Raspberry Pi 2), and a connector for cameras. Neither version includes a memory; in the first version, the memory was an SD card and in later editions a MicroSD card.
What uses can a Raspberry Pi have?
As we have explained, the popularity of the Raspberry Pi has grown over the years thanks to the new uses that have been attributed to it. A basic card can reasonably be used for almost anything. Rightly so, this was the idea of the Pi Foundation: to create a space for experimentation. We can mention the following uses:
- As a media center, i.e. to convert a television into a smart TV, with LIBRELEC or OSMC software.
- To build a vintage video console that allows us to play with the great classics that are no longer available in the new formats.
- Like a computer with a Linux operating system, through distributions such as Ubuntu, Raspbian, or Pidora.
- With a home automation purpose, for example through Windows 10 IoT Core. In this way, our homes become “smarter” and it is possible to create intelligent projects such as weather stations or smart hubs.
- For robotics projects: from drones to wireless constrictors, 3D printers up to a homemade Roomba. Raspberry Pi boards, programmed with software like Arduino, can give surprising results.
What do the GPIO pins in a Raspberry Pi mean?
The abbreviations GPIO refer, in English, to General Purpose Input Output. This indicates a general-purpose input and output system, i.e. a system consisting of a series of pins or connections that can be used as inputs or outputs for various uses. These pins are included with all Raspberry Pi models, albeit with some differences.
It must be considered that, depending on the Raspberry Pi model, we find some different pins. In version 1 of Raspberry Pi, there are 26 GPIO pins, while starting from version 2 the number increases to 40. However, compatibility is total, since the first 26 pins keep their original function.
GPIO pins have specific functions (although some have common ones) and can be grouped as follows:
- Yellow (2): 3.3-watt power supply.
- Red (2): 5-watt power supply.
- Orange (26): Income and expenses for general use. They can be configured as inputs or outputs.
- Gray (2): Reserved.
- Black (8): Connection to GND or ground.
- Light blue (2): Communication through the I2C protocol to communicate with peripherals that follow this protocol.
- Green (2): Intended for UART connection for a conventional serial port.
- Purple (5): Communication through the SPI protocol to communicate with devices following this protocol.