The Arduino and Raspberry Pi may look very similar — they’re both cute little circuit boards with some chips and pins on them — but they’re actually very different devices.

Are you looking for a small computer, perhaps to power a home network security camera — this is a general solution needed for many fun projects. Have you heard the good news about the Raspberry Pi? and Arduino but can’t decide which is right for you. What will be most useful after you take apart the security camera thanks to that neighbor incident? What movies can you play? Don’t worry, we’re here to explain everything!

If you are more of a visual learner (like me), this article is available as a video here:

Who cares?

Arduino is a microcontroller, not a mini computer. A microcontroller is only a small part of what makes up a whole computer. The Arduino provides only part of the functionality of the Raspberry Pi.

While the Arduino can be programmed with small applications written in C++, it cannot run a full-featured «operating system» and certainly won’t replace your media center anytime soon. The Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is a complete computer . If you’re reading this site, I’m assuming you know what that means.

Advantages and disadvantages

So the Arduino is useless? Unlikely — Arduino is perfect for electronics projects . It contains a set of inputs and outputs that can be connected directly to components and sensors, making it incredibly easy to just jump right into building something. This makes it ideal for prototyping or small projects that don’t require the complexity of a Pi.


The Arduino runs on the Arduino firmware, the underlying software that allows it to communicate with the computer via USB and gives it access to all functions. You won’t replace this firmware at all, but it’s possible. Once your code is uploaded, you can simply plug it in anywhere and it will start working right away — no need to reboot, plug in a keyboard, or select an app to launch. It does the job it’s programmed to do, does it well, and does it immediately.

The Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is a fully featured mini computer. It requires an operating system (check out these 10 Linux distributions and it might work) and takes a small amount of time to boot before it starts working. Storage is provided from a micro-SD card, and built-in Ethernet allows networking (you can get networking on the Arduino. Have a firewall. Also, but this requires an additional «shield»).

The Pi is based on the Broadcom Arm-v6 processor; it has memory and a GPU driving the HDMI output. You can plug in a keyboard and monitor, boot up Linux, and the less tech-savvy might have no idea how tiny the machine that runs everything really is. The Pi is an incredibly powerful platform in a very small package, perfect for embedded systems or projects that require more interactivity and processing power.

Raspberry Pi

However, Raspberry is significantly more difficult for simple electronics projects. For example, every first project is derived from turning an LED on and off. On the Arduino, this involves connecting an LED and a resistor to two pins, and then uploading about 8 lines of code. That’s all. On a Raspberry Pi — assuming you already have a fully functional operating system installed and configured, you’ll need to install a few libraries to help you control the GPIO pins (these are the bits you connect components to).

However, there are many libraries to choose from, depending on what language you want to program in, including visual designers like Scratch. WiringPi allows you to write in the same language that Arduino comes from. Finally, you may need to compile your application before running it. The thing is, on the Pi, you can do almost anything that the Arduino can do — it’s just more complicated.

to scratch

Another important point to keep in mind is that Arduino is the most popular platform for electronics projects, so while electronics projects are possible on the Raspberry Pi (10 Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners), you you won’t find as many beginner tutorials to help you. It’s best to consider the Pi as an upgrade when you’re ready to handle larger and more complex projects.

The Raspberry Pi is a mini computer, while the Arduino is not. To understand this point a little more clearly, here is a small selection of operating systems that you can install on your Raspberry Pi:

  • Raspbian (based on Debian Linux, this is the default OS).
  • RiscOS.
  • Plan 9
  • Xbox Media Center .

We have already written about 7 Raspberry Pi operating systems.


And here is a list of operating systems that you can install on the Arduino:

  • Nobody

So, have you decided? Excellent. Start by checking out how to stream to YouTube with the Pi. broadcast streaming broadcast streaming or how to create a cloud lamp-lightning cloud lamp cloud lamp with Arduino? We have an unofficial beginners guide guide guide which you might find useful, and one for the Arduino: too.

WAIT! Why choose at all?

In fact, you can have the best of both worlds; The Pi may be more complicated than the Arduino, and the Arduino can’t handle it in the same way that the Pi can — but have you considered using them together? Project — AlaMode puts an Arduino stackable clone right on top of the Pi, giving you instant access to all the usual Arduino functions.

Pi and Arduino together

Or, if you’re more into Python, just plug your Arduino into your Pi’s USB and talk to it directly.

I hope you now have a better understanding of the differences between Arduino and Raspberry Pi and why one might be better than the other for a particular application. Show us some of your Arduino/Pi projects in the comments below!

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