Raspberry Pi is the most recognizable name in the single board computer niche. Raspberry Pi boards are the most popular, having the largest following and the most active community. There is more software and project guides available for Raspberry Pi than for all the other SBCs combined. This makes it a great choice for practically anyone, but especially for people who want to set up a project as a hobby and for first-timers.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro The largest and most active community
Raspberry Pi has the largest following of any single-board computer. The amount of guides, tutorials and software available for the Raspberry Pi is unmatched by any other competitor. A regular user has close to no chance to run into a problem that hasn’t been covered already. If a web search doesn’t yield any results, the users on the official forums are very responsive and will usually reply within a day.
Pro Built-in wifi
The Raspberry Pi model 3 has an onboard 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi which works out of the box as long as the latest version of the default operating system is installed.
The Raspberry Pi is very affordable.
Pro Easy setup
Setting up a Raspberry Pi is easy enough even for people who have not installed an OS before. The official documentation is very detailed in explaining how to install the official Raspberry Pi OS, called Raspbian and even a beginner can follow it without a problem.
Pro The default OS is great for learning to develop software
Raspbian's main goal is to be used as a teaching tool for schools in CS classes. As such, it has multiple development tools pre-installed. It comes with a Python installation, Wolfram Mathematica and Java IDEs.
Pro Great legacy gaming support
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B can be also be used as a console emulator using an OS image called RetroPie. Setting up RetroPie the first time will only take about 30 minutes on average for someone who has never done it before, and even less for experienced users. You can emulate various platforms ranging from early ‘80s legacy consoles like the NES, to more recent ones like the Wii and PlayStation Portable.
Pro Can be turned into a fully-functional multimedia center
You can easily turn any Raspberry Pi into a fully functional home media streaming station with its ability to stream 60Hz Full HD videos. You just have to hook the Model B up to a Full HD monitor (through an HDMI cable), decent speakers (the Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity will allow the use of the wireless ones). Then download applications (Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, and Kodi for example are all supported out of the box) and your home multimedia station is ready. Once built, you can even control the media station using an Android or iOS app.
Pro Large number of operating systems available
There's a massive number of Raspberry Pi OSes available. Most of them are some kind of Linux flavor and general-purpose and some other OSes are available for specific purposes like media streaming or gaming and emulation.
Pro Good GPIO functionality
The Raspberry Pi 3 model B offers 28 GPIO pins plus 12 power and ground pins to be used within their projects. This is a very reasonable number of pins for most projects that will need them. The special communication protocols officially supported are the following: IIC (Inter-Integrated Circuit), SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) and UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter). The GPIO functionality explained above allows the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to be connected with various peripheral devices and, as a result expands the functionality of the board. For example, IIC and SPI buses can be used for attaching multiple analog to digital converters which can be used to “read” analog channels like thermal sensors, humidity sensors, CO2 sensors, etc. Meanwhile UART can be used for communication between multiple Raspberry Pi’s.
Pro Can handle basic day-to-day operations a PC can without a problem
While older versions of the Pi have had some annoying performance issues, the latest version has had a 50%-60% performance increase from the Raspberry Pi 2. This makes it a pretty decent choice for an everyday PC and it can perform basic tasks like opening and editing documents or browsing the web without a problem.
Pro Hundreds of apps available through the official store
Raspberry Pi also has an available "Pi Store" which houses hundreds and hundreds of apps ready to download and use on a Pi.
Pro New free Pixel version has a good Chromium browser
The new free Pixel version of Raspbian (a variety of Debian Jessie) has a good Chromium web browser with Flash and Pdf handling included. Can live with little RAM: 1 GB is ok, more is super.
Pro Native Bluetooth capabilities
The model 3 B has built-in Bluetooth support. This is very helpful when connecting multiple peripherals and when the number of USB ports on the Pi is not enough.
Pro Can be used as an everyday PC
Pro Lightweight and fast booting Raspbian Pixel now also runs on PCs and Mac with i386 processors and little RAM
It is now also available for free ( USB booted) on PC or Mac based on i386 processors. Works well and boots fast.
The minimum USB key size needed is 2 GB. Pi promotors are working on a HDD bootable version too.
Pro Very good documentation
Extensive documentation available for beginners and experts. All sorts of projects covered.
Pro Good wired connectivity
This SBC's wired connectivity is pretty complete. Users will get four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, a 3.5mm audio jack, CSI (camera interface), and DSI (display interface).
Pro Storage can be upgraded
Uses a separate micro SD card, so the storage can be upgraded or even taken out to read from / install a new OS.
Pro Many debian (aptitude) packages available in ARM
Many aptitude packages are available for this device. Helping installs go quickly.
Pro Can play 1080p videos at 60fps
The Pi 3 can play 1080p videos at 60fps, which is a significant upgrade from the previous Pi 2 which ran at 30 fps. However, the built-in browser has problem with running YouTube videos at 60fps but by using another browser such as Firefox which is installed separately there should not be any problems with running videos at 60 fps.
Pro Bluetooth 4.1LE
Good for lots of connectivity in projects. connects to keyboards and mice.
Pro Downloadable magazine
Has it's own magazine, also available in print with very helpful articles and project ideas.
Pro Does not require much power to run
Runs off a 5V smartphone charger and can also be powered using a battery pack.
Pro Can easily switch OSes and profiles by a simple switch of the MicroSD card
It's super-convenient to have multiple MicroSD cards with different images and switch them on demand. Much better than re-installing and re-configuring an OS every time.
Pro Plenty of third-party accessories available
Cases, cameras, etc.
Con Combined USB and NIC controller
The NIC is run through USB so they share bandwidth.
Con Closed-source bootloader and GPU
Con Slow WiFi
The WiFi adapter cannot support more than 2.5MB/s under perfect conditions; not enough to stream Blu-ray.
Con Doesn't have built-in storage
A micro SD card is required for Raspberry Pi to function.
Con Limited onboard NIC capabilities
Because the Pi's ethernet port is powered by the USB bus, it is not ideal for high performance routing and switching. While some network monitoring programs may work, using this device as a content firewall or gateway is not ideal.
Con Not as powerful as some other SBCs
While still a very powerful single-board computer, it’s not as powerful as some other SBCs. For example, it has some problems with streaming 4K videos; and even at Full HD, it has problems with YouTube. It is also unable to run newer games even if they are not very demanding such as Team Fortress 2 or DotA.
Con No on-board Microphone
Con GPIO voltage too low for some projects
Compared to the 5v of Arduino boards the 3.3v of the GPIO on the Rasberry Pi 3 is much lower and affects project components needed. Although, some add-ons will work with both voltages.
Con No ADC (analog to digital converter)
This means you need to add an ADC module or use a capacitor charge timing hack to read analog sensors.
Con Cannot easily boot from USB
There is not an easy way to boot from USB if you don't want to burn through SD cards.
Con Power hungry
The Raspberry Pi 3 is a pretty power hungry single board computer. It needs a power supply of 2.5A to function which may not be already available to users and needs to be bought separately.
Con Lags while browsing and on day-to-day tasks
Keeping in mind Raspberry were designed keeping teaching and education in mind, asking it to replace our daily PC needs would be unfair. However there are many other SBCs that can serve this task easily.
Con Lacks mainlined Linux
Con ARM processor
Some programs are incompatible with the ARM-based hardware.