The Raspberry Pi was introduced in 2012 and has since served as the ‘brain’ of many homemade tech projects. It’s been used for making robots, arcade machines, cameras and even what you might call fully-fledged computers – but the versatility of the Pi can depend very much on which model of it is used.
Since 2012, 31 million Raspberry Pi units have been sold, according to Tom’s Hardware – and the site claims that, in that time, over 20 different Pi SKUs have hit the market. So, which of them should you use yourself?
Are you completely new to the Raspberry Pi?
If you indeed are, but remain excited about the prospect of utilising its possibilities, you should go for the best general-purpose Pi model – and that’s arguably the Raspberry Pi 4 B.
The 2GB version should more than suffice for almost any Pi project you could possibly have in mind, including building a computer capable of withstanding light web surfing. Nonetheless, the 4GB version – if you can afford it – would make for a more future-proof choice.
Do you want to build a security camera?
You might be thinking of using a Raspberry Pi to assemble a motion-sensing security camera you would ideally be able to leave running for hours on end without having to replace or recharge its battery.
In this case, you should probably opt for a Raspberry Pi Zero W – not least as its modest size would allow it to be fitted into a security camera that, naturally, you wouldn’t want to be large enough for any burglars in your home to easily notice.
Are you looking to build a robot?
As the word ‘robot’ can have a very broad definition, you should think very carefully about how complex your own robotics project will be – and thus what type of Raspberry Pi it will call for.
While a Pi Zero W with GPIO pins attached could suffice for a simple robotic vehicle that won’t leave your living room, you should choose a Pi 4 B if you intend to add any sensors – like those you could potentially find in The Pi Hut’s Maker Store of Raspberry Pi add-ons.
Would you like to make a Raspberry Pi-powered PC?
If you are considering using Raspberry Pi OS – the Raspberry Pi’s official operating system – to surf the web, write Python software or multitask on a PC of sorts, the 4GB Raspberry Pi 4 B is highly recommended.
While the 2GB model could be enough for you in practice, it can simply be too easy to tax this amount of RAM. Therefore, go for the 4GB or 8GB version just to be on the safe side.
Are you on a particularly tight budget?
If so, Lifewire suggests that you pick up a Pi Zero. This is identical to the previously-mentioned Zero W, except that it lacks Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – and, unsurprisingly as a result, is cheaper. To connect it to the Internet, you could attach an Ethernet or Wi-Fi dongle to it via USB.