What is the difference in Raspberry Pi Models?

You may be looking at getting your first Raspberry Pi and thinking what is the difference in raspberry pi models.

This post will break down the biggest differences in the different models of Raspberry Pis.

Raspberry Pi Model A

The first Raspberry Pi released was the Model A. Looking back it was a great first step for the Raspberry Pi product line.

The biggest use for the Model A was an educational tool for young developers. At $25 dollars it was highly attractive for schools who wanted to teach kids about computer chips, networking, and applications.

The biggest drawbacks were how slow it, the video and audio quality were lacking, and it only has one USB port with no Ethernet port.

Raspberry Pi Model B

The model B Raspberry Pi was much more powerful and suited for hackers, DIY, and enthusiasts. The Model B came in at a slightly higher price point, but was still very affordable for what was being offered. For $35, the model B came with two USB ports, and an Ethernet port. The Ethernet port uses a 100mb connection which is somewhat limiting for certain projects, but still very workable for a home networking or embedded device.

The Model B has 512 MB of RAM which allows for more video quality.

The model B has been used in some pretty awesome projects.

Here is a list of some of the most common projects, someone tries with a Raspberry Pi Model B or better

  1. Network Attached Storage
  2. Security Camera
  3. XMBC Media Center
  4. Minecraft Server
  5. NES Emulation Game Console
  6. Web Server
  7. Automated Tasks Like Garage Door Openers

 Raspberry Pi Model B+

After the Model A and B were released, Raspberry Pi quietly pushed out the B+ a couple months ago. The Model B+ has quite a few upgrades to make it more powerful. Here is a list of improvements over the model B

  • 4 USB ports – This is huge, because for most people they will use a keyboard, a mouse, a wifi dongle, and a usb hard drive. With the Model B it meant you needed to use a usb hub, and possible an external power supply for the hard drive depending on capacity. The ability to connect all 4 into the device was a big improvement for users who were using the Raspberry Pi as a mobile computer.
  • The Raspberry Pi Model B+ also allows you to directly insert a USB wifi dongle while the Pi is on and not have to hard reboot it to install driver support.
  • A new Ethernet port, that light up when in use. This is essential when troubleshooting a network issue. The lights can help you figure out if the cord is bad, the board is bad, or the config is bad.
  • The USB and Ethernet ports are now all in a straight line, rather than in the B’s staggered arrangement.
  • The composite video input is gone and now it has one 3.5mm jack that handles both audio and video. Of course, HDMI is still on the board and better for audio and video.
  • The HDMI port, the CSI (camera) and DSI (display) ports were rearranged on the board to make it easier to connect everything, and embed the device.
  • The micro USB power socket has moved. The biggest reason for this is to put all of the inputs on the same side of the Pi – so cable management is much easier and cleaner with the model B+.
  • The B+ sports a 40-pin GPIO header (compared to the B’s 26) and no longer has a P5 and P3 header.
  • The Raspberry Pi Model B+ has rounded corners and 4 holes in the corners to allow them to be stacked or embedded into a device.
  • On the underside of the model B+, the new board uses a micro-sd card, unlike the full size on the model B raspberry pi. It also uses push technology to insert and push to lock the sd card in place. It does not stick out as much as the model B raspberry Pi.
  • Much clearer labeling on the device. This is handy for new comers to computer chips as not everything in apparent, and not all tutorials explain connecting the device before starting.
  • Lower power requirements – Raspberry Pi Foundation claims it will use between 0.5 watts and 1 watt which is less than the model B.
  • Much better audio output thanks to a dedicated power supply.
  • The CPU and GPU is still the same.
  • The price remains the same as the model B at $35.

The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

This is the newest Raspberry Pi model offering, and was recently released (Feb 2015). This latest release in the Raspberry Pi model product line has some big time improvements.

For starters it uses an ARMv7 processor which can run a wide variety of ARM GNU/Linux distros, including Snappy Ubuntu Core, as well as Windows 10.

Windows 10 is not out yet for the Pi but the advance in OS and distributions for the Pi is big as the community of developers and enthusiasts grows.

One nice thing about the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is it utilizes the same form factor as it’s previous model which means it can be replaced in projects with little re-configuring of cables, and size.

The 1GB of RAM isn’t too shabby either.

The combination of growing support, and hardware improvements means you can’t go wrong with the latest Raspberry Pi Model.

So there you have it. The biggest differences in the Raspberry Pi models.