The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little computer that is super inexpensive and has tremendous power and utility. Currently in its forth iteration, the Raspberry Pi has been around for almost 10 years and it continues to disrupt the education market. The Raspberry Pi has been super interesting since its inception because for 35 dollars, you get a lot computing power. Sure, you have to provide your own power supply, keyboard, mouse, storage, and monitor, but the raw processing power can be had for 35 dollars. The latest Raspberry Pi, #4 pushes the envelope even further but it shares much of the same DNA from the original Pi. Now, there’s a new Raspberry Pi, the Pi 400 and this form factor is different than previous iterations. I’m going to compare both devices and give you my recommendation if you are in the market to get one. If you aren’t currently in the market, hopefully after reading this article, you’ll be inclined to make bring a Raspberry Pi into your life.
Let’s start by introducing each device. This will be a high level overview of each device. For more detailed information, visit https://raspberrypi.org
Raspberry Pi 4
The Raspberry Pi is a bare metal computing device which requires you to bring a lot of extra peripherals to make it work. The device doesn’t come with anything unless you buy a kit that comes with all the components. By adding these extra components, the price of the Raspberry Pi quickly goes up. Also, new for the latest Pi 4, you can now also purchase different models that each contain different amounts of RAM. If you already have a keyboard, a mouse, monitor, USB-C power supply, and a Micro SD card with a Raspberry Pi compatible OS, then you are okay with just purchasing the most basic Raspberry Pi. Otherwise, if you don’t have these handy, I would recommend you purchase a kit so that you can get started right away from day one. Let’s take a look at the Raspberry Pi 400
Raspberry Pi 400
This device recently launched and they physical appearance is much different than the Raspberry Pi’s before it. The Pi 400 is unique because the entire computing unit is contained within a keyboard chassis all for 70 dollars. If you opt for the 100 dollar model, you get everything you need to get started. This price is a bit more steeper when compared to the Raspberry Pi 4, but you get a complete solution that is neatly packaged. Let’s get into some use cases and see which Pi is better.
A lot of folks use a Raspberry Pi to run an arcade and play video games. If this is your intent, then I would highly recommend that you get the Raspberry Pi 4. This is going to fit in a variety of different cases that you can utilize to best match your overall look and feel of the arcade vibe you are going for. Additionally, the device is super small and you just need to plug in your monitor and power supply. Keyboards are optional with an arcade and it’s easier to just plug in your USB devices to interact with your system.
If you are hoping to do some coding or perhaps have your students/children learn how to code, I would highly recommend you give the new Raspberry Pi 400 a chance. This device is perfect for coding because you literally have a keyboard with you and are ready to start writing code anywhere you are as long as you have access to power and a monitor. The package is elegant and travels very easily. Also, depending on the Operating System you install on your Raspberry Pi, multiple coding editors are built in. You can also code with the Pi 4, but you have to provide your own keyboard.
Both the Pi 4 and the Pi 400 provide you with a 40 pin General Purpose Input/Output access. This is great if you are looking to interact with some other electronics or build some sort of automation system that controls other devices. In this case, I would probably prefer to have a Pi 4 because of the significantly smaller form factor. Additionally, there are many add on components designed to expand the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi and the Pi 4 is designed to take advantage of these components. If you are looking to pick a Pi mainly for this functionality, I highly recommend you pick up a Pi 4.
General Purpose Computer
If you are just looking for a super cheap general purpose computer, I would recommend the Pi 4. Even with adding some of the additional components missing from the base model, you still have a super small, extremely powerful computer that you can set up just about anywhere. It uses very low power and gives you the full desktop experience. The Pi 400 is great as well, but the price and size mean that you can’t just store it anywhere. the Pi 400 is perfect if you want a clean desktop experience since you just need to attach power and monitor. A wireless mouse can eliminate visible wiring.
If you are looking to connect multiple Pi’s to form a more powerful computer, I would recommend you get a Pi 4 once again. The Pi 4 form factor allows you to stack these devices and connect them together to multiply their computing power. There are special cases that are also designed just for this use cases.
Internally, the Pi 4 and Pi 400 are essentially the exact same devices. Their form factors are different, but from a computing perspective, they are both almost identical. For me personally, I would go with the Pi 400. The device is sleek and portable and the price is very close when you consider that the Pi 4 is basically useless unless you have the extra components. The extra components will usually run you — 15 dollar for the SD card with OS, keyboard/Mouse combo — 30 dollars, power supply 7 dollars, case 7 dollars. The Pi 400 has the 4GB 55 dollar version so using that as a baseline, you are looking at basically the same price when you factor in all the other things you need to add to the Pi 4.
Whichever route you take, I would recommend you give the Raspberry Pi a shot. There are an infinite number of projects you can create with a Raspberry Pi. The device is great for kids learning how to program, controlling things around your house, and it’s a really inexpensive device.
If you pick one up, let me know. My wife and I are going to be creating project videos and tutorials utilizing the Raspberry Pi. Make sure you check out our channel Apetech Tutorials for more resources. Thanks for reading!