Ever wondered what is a Raspberry Pi? In this article, we take a look at what this incredibly cool little computer is and also briefly what you can do with one.
We also cover all the current iterations of the Pi currently out there and what you can expect to get out of them. Each version is slightly different and one may better suit your needs over another.
To put it simply, a Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer about the size of a credit-card, the board features a processor, RAM and standard hardware ports you find with most computers. This range of features means you’re able to do most things a desktop computer can do such as document editing, playing HD video, playing games, coding, and much more.
Obviously, the Pi won’t have as much processing power as a desktop PC, but since it is a lot cheaper, they make for great little computers you can play around with. If you happen to break one, they’re not going to cost you a fortune to replace.
The main operating system for the Pi is Raspbian and is based on Debian. It is a distribution of Linux, so you will probably find it a little different if you’re used to a Windows computer.
Even though the main supported operating system is Raspbian, you can install other operating systems such as Ubuntu mare, Ubuntu Core, OSMC, RIS OS, Windows 10 IoT and much more.
If you’re looking for Raspberry Pi projects, then head over to our main page as we have an ever-growing list of fantastic projects.
There are three different models of the Pi that you will currently find, I will go into the features of each and why you might choose a certain model over a different one.
If you want to check out my video explaining what is Raspberry Pi and anything else that you should know if you’re thinking about getting one.
What is a Raspberry Pi a+
The Raspberry Pi A+ is the low spec and cost version the Pi. You will find that this version only has one USB port, lower power consumption, no Ethernet port and only 256mb of ram.
This version of the Pi is better suited for projects that don’t require any a considerable amount of processing power and will benefit from the lighter weight/smaller size.
You can do a ton of things with this board. It includes projects such as robotics, remote control planes, remote control cars and embedded projects. To name a few examples, it would make for a great robot brain, touch screen car dashboard, motion-sensing camera and much more.
Raspberry Pi B+ (B)
Raspberry Pi B+ and B is the previous version of the Pi that has now been replaced by the Pi 2.
The B+ version features a single core CPU, 4 USB ports, microSD card slot and lower power consumption. This model improves on the previous model B that only had two USB ports, higher power consumption, full-sized SD Card slot and a few other things.
You can still find the B+ model on for sale but will be slowly replaced by the newer and better version Pi 2.
If for some reason you will want to buy the B+ model you can find them through the link below. (They are now cheaper than the Pi 2)
What is Raspberry Pi 2
The Raspberry Pi 2 is the 2nd latest version of the Pi and is the fastest version of the Pi at the writing of this article. This and the version B+ is the most popular version you will find around due to the processing power and amount of ports you get on with it.
The Raspberry Pi 2 is the replacement of the B+ and features a 900MHz quad-core CPU and 1GB of ram. The rest of the specs remain the same as what you will find in the previous model.
I have listed the specs below:
- 40 pin extended GPIO
- 4x USB 2.0 ports
- Stereo out and composite video port
- HDMI Port
- CSI (Camera Interface Interface) and DSI (Display Serial Interface) ports
- Micro SD card slot
- Micro USB power source
Raspberry Pi 3
The Raspberry Pi 3 is the latest version of the Pi and beats version 2 in performance and features. This version offers a few extras that make using a Pi so much easier.
This version of the Pi brings with it a new CPU that clocks in at 1.2Ghz and is 64 bit, however, you’re likely to be only installing a 32bit operating system onto the Pi 3. The Pi also has onboard Wi-Fi (802.11n) and Bluetooth 4.1. These new features will enable you to do some pretty cool stuff while freeing up more of your USB ports.
Now the rest of the board remains pretty much the same, but the new features I mentioned above are a great addition to the Pi. To summarise the new features:
- Broadcom BCM2387 chipset
- The 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU
- Integrated 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1
If you’re interested in picking up the Pi 3, you can find it at most major retailers such as Amazon.
Raspberry Pi Zero
The Pi Zero is the smallest and cheapest of all the Pi’s currently available. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly hard to get your hands on one.
This board is priced at $5 USD and features the bare bones of the Pi on a super small board. While this Pi won’t be able to handle massive amounts it is perfect for embedded projects and anything that doesn’t require huge amounts of processing power or RAM much like the Pi A+. You can see below the summary of the features of the Pi zero.
- 1Ghz, Single-core CPU
- 512MB RAM
- Mini HDMI
- Micro USB Port
- Micro USB power
- Micro SD Card Port
- HAT-compatible 40-pin header
- Composite video and reset headers
Unfortunately, I don’t have anywhere to recommend picking up the Pi zero as it seems to be out of stock everywhere I look. I will update this page whenever it becomes widely available again.
If you already own a Pi and haven’t already installed NOOBs (New out of the box software) then check out our guide to installing NOOBS onto the Raspberry Pi.
Also be sure to get a copy of the crash course as it will contain everything you need to know to get started.
I hope this article has helped you be able to understand what is a Raspberry Pi and what you can do with one. Feel free to drop us a comment below if you have a question, feedback, I have missed something or anything else related to this article!