It’s not easy to choose between Arduino vs Raspberry Pi.
In fact, it can be confusing.
If you’re new to do-it-yourself electronics, you can have more questions than answers.
Is Arduino like Raspberry Pi? Or Can a Raspberry Pi do everything an Arduino can?
Of course, all are hardware platforms but they serve different purposes.
For instance, an Arduino is a microcontroller whereas the Raspberry Pi is a fully operational computer.
To help you understand the two platforms better so you can make an informed decision, Custom Papers has created this in-depth Arduino vs Raspberry Pi comparison guide for you.
So without further ado, let’s get rolling.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Overview
Even though you might not have interacted with or used Arduino and Raspberry Pi, you might have read or heard of them.
Well, don’t worry though, if you’re just learning about the two today, we’re going to talk about each one of them and also outline several areas where the two differ.
As stated above, an Arduino is a microcontroller while Raspberry Pi is a functional computer.
If you have a project to accomplish, there is a ton of options that can give you some electronic control.
The most popular options are the Raspberry Pi and Arduino.
Knowing the difference between the two is what can make you scratch your head several times.
They are both electronic platforms but serve different purposes.
We decided to put together this Arduino vs Raspberry Pi comparison guide to help you know which one to purchase for your project.
Before we get into what sets Arduino vs Raspberry Pi apart, let’s understand the two platforms better.
About Arduino Devices
Unlike Raspberry Pi, an Arduino is a microcontroller.
An Arduino board doesn’t execute an entire operating system but it runs written codes that are interpreted by its firmware.
That means that you don’t get to use operating system tools but running a simply written code is easy to manage and helps to save you operating system overhead.
Generally, the Arduino board acts as an interface for sensors and devices.
The good thing about Arduino boards is that they provide better device management.
You can interface it with other things without incurring the costs of a full operating system.
You can find great examples of Arduino projects here.
About Raspberry Pi Boards
The Raspberry Pi is a complete operational computer. That means that it has a memory, a dedicated processor, and a graphics driver for display.
Unlike an Arduino that runs simply written code, the Raspberry Pi runs an entire operating system known as Raspbian.
The good thing about the OS is that it’s easy to install and transforms the Raspberry Pi into a video game emulator without a hassle.
Not that the Raspberry Pi doesn’t come with native storage, so you will need to insert a microSD card to install the best operating system of your choice- Ubuntu Mate, Linux operating system, or Windows 10.
Another good thing about the Raspberry Pi is that it allows you to install different operating systems on separate microSD cards. Besides, the cards are Wi-Fi and Ethernet-enabled so you can transfer files using FTP.
Arguably, there are six Raspberry Pi versions out there. However, they come in either miniature or full-size.
It’s worth noting that Raspberry Pi devices are the core elements of your projects.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Advantages
The Raspberry Pi is much better because of the operating system.
As stated earlier, you can install the operating system of your choice on the Raspberry Pi.
For instance, if you’re designing a security camera, you can install the motionEyeOS operating system.
You can also execute multiple tasks concurrently on the Raspberry Pi.
For instance, you can browse the internet while storing values in the SQL database in the background sensor.
The Arduino, on the other hand, is better used to read the data sensor or control a motor as it is hardware-oriented.
If you’re getting started with these devices, we would recommend you start with the Arduino as there are a ton of tutorials once you download the Arduino IDE.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Disadvantages
The Raspberry Pi is costly than the Arduino. You can get a good Arduino micro-controller for $5.
On the other hand, Raspberry Pi devices are available at around $20-$40.
Also, if you intend to design an in-house weather station, the Raspberry Pi is huge. And given that building an indoor weather station doesn’t require too much computation power, purchasing the Raspberry Pi for such a project is a waste of money.
If you’re looking to accomplish tasks that require light computation, go for an Arduino. For heavy computation tasks, you would not go wrong with the Raspberry Pi.
Now that you know what the two platforms are, let’s take a look at what sets them apart.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: System
When it comes to Arduino vs Raspberry Pi, the two have a different system.
Technically, the Raspberry Pi is a fully functional computer with a single computer board. The Raspberry Pi is a real desktop computer or laptop much like the one you normally use.
However, an Arduino is a micro-controller.
The difference between the two is the fact that the Raspberry Pi comes with an in-built microprocessor, a single CPU.
The RAM and secondary storage come externally.
On the other hand, the Arduino’s microcontroller comes with a native chip with ROM, CPU, I/O, RAM, and timers.
With the Arduino micro-controller, you do not need external parts to use the chip.
Raspberry Pi vs Arduino: Operating System
The Raspberry Pi uses a Linux operating system known as Raspbian. You can also install an operating system of your choice. Some of the Raspberry Pi supported operating systems include Ubuntu, Windows 10 IoT, etc.
On the other hand, an Arduino has no micro-processor so there is no operating system needed.
The Arduino devices use simply written codes that are run and interpreted by the firmware.
You cannot make any adjustments when the system is running.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Power Requirements
Another area where the two systems differ is the power requirements. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, for instance, consumes 1.5 watts when not being used or 6.7 watts when in use.
The miniature Raspberry Pi Zero W uses 0.5 watts when not in use and up to 1.75 watts when in use.
On the other hand, Arduino boards start running codes when connected to the power and stops when power is disconnected.
The good thing about Arduino devices is that they aren’t affected by power outages.
That means that even if the power is disconnected, you won’t suffer software errors.
Raspberry Pi vs Arduino: Power Consumption
The Raspberry Pi uses more power than the Arduino. Besides, it’s easier to minimize power consumption for the Arduino controller than it is for Raspberry Pi devices.
For instance, the NodeMCU is an Arduino micro-controller that consumes 50 μA when idle. This makes it a great choice for projects that require the use of a battery.
The Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, cannot run on non-stationary projects.
In a nutshell, the Arduino has a very low power consumption compared to the Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi vs Arduino: Connections
Think of the Raspberry Pi as your PC or laptop.
Technically, the Raspberry Pi has multiple USB ports, an HDMI output, and an Ethernet port.
For camera connection, you can use the CSI camera connector. The available 40 GPIOs are designed for connecting other sensors.
On the other hand, the Arduino comes with 20 GPIOs. It also has a native analog to digital converter (the Raspberry Pi doesn’t have this connection). An Arduino also has multiple analog pins with a power jack and USB plug that’s designed for power supply.
The Raspberry Pi has more connections than the Arduino in that case.
Raspberry Pi vs Arduino: Networking
When it comes to networking, the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with a native Ethernet port and Wi-Fi connectivity so you can connect to a Wi-Fi network with a little configuration.
When connected to a network, you can use the operating system to browse the internet or use the operating system as a print server.
Arduino devices, on the other hand, aren’t network-enabled.
You can still connect an Arduino device to a network, but you’ll need to do some wiring and coding to set up a proper connection which is why it’s better to choose the Raspberry Pi.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Data Transfer
Data transfer is easy with Raspberry Pi devices as they come with multiple USB ports where you can connect secondary storage devices. That means that you can connect an SD card and either copy or transfer data to your SD card.
You just need to connect the SD card directly through the USB ports to copy or transfer data or files.
The good thing about the Raspberry Pi is that it can read data when you plug in your SD card into it.
The Arduino, on the other hand, doesn’t allow the storing of data onto the micro-controller.
Overall, the Raspberry Pi allows the transfer of data hassle-free whereas the Arduino isn’t enabled for this option.
Raspberry Pi vs Arduino: Sensors
Technically, the Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards have multiple interface ports. However, connecting analog sensors on an Arduino board is easier.
Since the micro-controller runs the code you put on it, it can interpret tons of sensor data and this makes it useful when you want to execute a series of multiple commands.
With the Raspberry Pi, you’ll need to install software that makes it unuseful to some projects.
However, you can use an Arduino device as a control board to execute the Raspberry Pi commands executed by the software.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Operating Power
The Raspberry Pi is a fully functional computer so it’s obvious that it has an enormous operating power than the Arduino.
What’s more, the Raspberry Pi runs on 64-bit while the Arduino only runs on 8-bit.
Granted, it’s safe to say that the Raspberry Pi is more powerful than the Arduino.
Raspberry Pi vs Arduino: GPIOs
The latest versions of Raspberry Pi boards come with 40 pins. It doesn’t have an analog pin though.
Even though the Arduino has only 20 GPIOs it still usable given that you’ll not have a project that requires you to use all pins.
And even if you have a project that requires more pins, you can either use the Arduino Mega with 54 digital pins or a multiplexer.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Area of Applications
In most cases, the two boards can be used together.
For instance, you can use the Arduino micro-controller to read sensor data or to control a motor.
Besides, you can use the Arduino to connect to a local network using the NodeMCU where the sensor data are sent from the micro-controller to the Raspberry Pi for processing.
Which Solution Should You Use For Your Projects?
So there you have it; an in-depth Arduino vs Raspberry Pi comparison guide.
When it comes to deciding which platform to purchase, it all boils down to the projects you want to accomplish.
For instance, for heavy computation tasks, you should choose the Raspberry Pi.
The good thing about the Pi is that it makes it easy to execute operations, for instance, you can connect to the internet and read or write data, plug in an external display, or view media without a hassle.
On the other hand, the Arduino is suitable for light computation tasks.
Well, of course, the two devices can complement each other.
For instance, while Arduino handles data gathering, the Raspberry Pi can help with code access and settings.
Of importance, you should choose any of the two devices based on the task at hand.