What's the difference? Arduino vs Raspberry Pi

Posted by Nobue S on

What is the difference between Arduino and Raspberry Pi?

If you’re familiar with DIY electronics, you might have heard of Arduino and Raspberry Pi.Since both are used for various and sometimes similar projects, they are often compared and make people question like "Which one is better?".

The question is not accurate because Arduino and Raspberry Pi are quite different and usually used for different purposes. How are they different? There’s a lot of answers to it but to begin with, there’s a simple answer. Raspberry Pi is a fully functional computer, while Arduino is a microcontroller, which is merely a single component of a computer.

The answer got you confused even more and had you almost smashed the screen? Don’t worry, I got you. I’ll walk you through the key features and details of each, the terms you might have a hard time taking a grasp of, and then show the comparisons.


Arduino is an open-source hardware (Arduino board) and software (Arduino IDE) electronics development tool. It’s a microcontroller development board that enables you to interface with and control electrical components such as buttons, LEDs, lights, sensors, motors, wifi, and so on! It’s good for simple repetitive tasks.

The Arduino project began at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII) in Ivrea, Italy.

Hernando Barragán developed the Wiring development platform as a Master's thesis project at IDII in 2003, under the direction of Massimo Banzi and Casey Reas.

Arduino does not have an operating system. It can only run programmes that have been compiled for the Arduino platform. The programs can be coded in Arduino IDE with C/C++. 

It can also be written in Python and the block based languages such as ArduBlockly and mBlock. In contrast to other microcontrollers, program codes can be uploaded using a USB cable. Once you finish coding on the IDE on your computer, connect Arduino with your computer via USB cable, compile the code, select the Arduino model and the port and upload it. Then it’s good to go! Yes it’s that easy. Don't know how to code or where to begin with your project? Arduino has a large community; if you search the internet, you will find someone who can answer your question.

Since it’s open source, the design files as well as the source code for software and libraries are free to download. It is not impossible to construct your own Arduino board using the hardware design files as a starting point.


Arduino Uno Rev3 $27.99

Arduino MKR1000 WiFi $31.99 

Arduino Starter Kit $109.99


Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer which means it is essentially a fully functional computer like the one you use. We can connect monitors, keyboards, mouse and other peripherals that the general computers can be connected with.

The Raspberry Pi project began in the United Kingdom with the goal of promoting the teaching of fundamental computer science in schools and underdeveloped countries.

It has grown in popularity faster than expected because of its inexpensive cost, versatility, and open design. Besides, since it’s originally developed for educational purposes, it’s easy to learn.

As mentioned above, Raspberry Pi is a computer. It comes with Raspberry Pi OS (Raspbian) offered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It’s based on a Linux distributed OS called Debian. You can also download other Linux based OS into a microSD and run it.

Because it is a Linux-based computer, you can create software in a variety of programming languages such as C, C++, Python, Java, HTML, and so on.

In contrast to Arduino, the Raspberry Pi's hardware design files and firmware are not open source.


Raspberry Pi 4 Computer, Model B, 4 GB RAM $79.99

CAROBOT Raspberry Pi 4 B Starter Bundle (4GB RAM with 16GB SD Card) 

Comparison of Raspberry Pi vs Arduino

Arduino Raspberry Pi
Description Arduino is a microcontroller-based development board. Raspberry Pi is a Single Board Computer (SBC)
What they are for Simple repetitive tasks Simultaneous multiple tasks execution
Chips Microcontrollers Microprocessor
OS No operating system is needed Raspberry Pi OS is needed to boot the Raspberry Pi
Components Processor, RAM, ROM, supporting hardware (for power and data) and GPIO Pins Processor, RAM, Storage, Graphic card, Connectors, GPIO Pins, etc.
Costs The cost of original Arduino UNO is $23 The cost of the original Raspberry Pi SBC was $35
The source availability Open source Closed-source
Extendibility Arduino Shields HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) expansion boards
Language for development C/C++ Programming Languages, Python, Block based language like ArduBlockly Python, Scratch, Ruby, C, C++
Power Plug and unplug it as you like After using it or before powering it off, properly shut it down
Internet connection Additional module or shields needed Internet connection can be established easily using Wi-Fi or Ethernet

So… Which one should I get?

The answer is… it really depends on your projects! If your project requires a controller that performs simple repetitive tasks, then you should go for Arduino. If it requires to perform complex procedures like multiple tasks simultaneously then Raspberry Pi would be your choice.

If you’re completely new to both of them and just want to get used to it, then you should get a starter bundle so that you’ll learn what they’re capable of doing.

The good thing is both have huge communities so you’ll always find a way on this journey!


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  • You could mention Raspberry Pico as a new microcontroller. Like Arduino but maybe easier to get up to speed on if already familiar with Raspberry Pi.

    David Price on

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