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When should I use a Raspberry Pi versus an Arduino?

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I am thinking of doing a new maker project. When shoul dI use a Raspberry Pi? 
asked July, 15, 2021
Marcus Schappi

1 Answer

 It depends on the maker project! Generally, if you are getting started with single-board computing, the clear choice is the Raspberry Pi.

That's because, firstly, unlike the Pi, the Arduino is based on a microcontroller and not a single-board computer (SBC). Except the Raspberry Pi Pico, which isn't a single-board computer but a microcontroller by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Why all this talk about single-board computers versus microcontrollers?

Well ... Fundamentally, SBCs are similar on some level to your personal computer. But they lack the processor capability, RAM, storage, or graphics capability. However, they are computers nonetheless complete with an Operating System (OS). Hello NOOBS SD Card! That's exactly where the OS is installed on and why you need an SD card to run the Pi.  
Anyway, with an SBC, that means you have the power of an operating system environment at a very affordable price. 

Besides browsing the internet, writing a word document, or watching a video, you may be looking to learn programming. That aside, want to build a web server? A robot? Weather station? Machine learning? All-in-one retro-gaming machine? The Raspberry Pi is flexible and can be used for all those applications. Furthermore, its flexibility also lies in choice of programming languages (Python, MicroPython, Scratch, etc) and access to a plethora of add-on modules and HATs. 

On the other hand, there are indeed, maker projects where an Arduino board makes more sense! Because it costs a fraction of the price, it is more affordable especially if you are just getting started with electronics. Also, it is ideal for embedded/low-power projects. It also can perform a single task right away at boot, without the overhead of a full Linux operating system. Most electronics enthusiasts, whether hobbyist or professional, have both Arduino boards and Raspberry Pi boards in their toolkit. By the way, you can also use Arduino together with a Raspberry Pi for plenty of applications.

answered July, 22, 2021

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