At $35 (or less, depending on which model you buy), the Raspberry Pi is one of the world's least expensive and most versatile computers. But with just 512MB to 1GB of RAM and an SD card for storage, the Pi isn't a great choice for a primary PC.
Instead, people use their Raspberry Pis for a wide variety of helpful projects, from powering homemade robots to serving as home theater PCs. To inspire you, here are 15 great uses for a Raspberry Pi. Unless otherwise stated, all of these projects work best with a Raspberry Pi 3B or 3B+, the latter of which is the latest model from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
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Because it uses very little power, the Pi can stay on 24/7 without requiring a cooling fan or jacking up your electric bill. It's also more than fast enough to serve web pages, either over the internet or just within your local network.
At Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, we use a Raspberry Pi 3B to conduct our laptop battery test. The Pi holds copies of several web pages, which the laptops load over and over again until they run out of juice. Because this server is on a dedicated network, we don't have to worry about internet outages or slowdowns affecting the results.
Believe it or not, you can build a laptop that uses a Raspberry Pi as the brain. Available for $285, the pi-top is a bright-green notebook with a 14-inch, 1080p screen and up to 8 hours of battery life. It uses a Raspberry Pi 3B or 3B+ for all of its processing and comes with pi-topOS, a version of Linux that has lots of educational software built in to help kids learn about programming.
One of our favorite children's gadgets, the Kano Computer Kit, comes with all the materials that kids as young as 6 can use to build their own Raspberry Pi-powered PC. You can get the Kano with or without a screen, but we definitely recommend getting the full kit for $249.
After you spend an hour putting the kit together, you can go through an awesome series of coding tutorials that turn programming into an adventure. Kids can even learn Linux commands from a built-in game called Terminal Quest.
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Why get a Roku box, an Apple TV or a Fire Stick when you can attach a Raspberry Pi 3B to your TV? There are a number of free operating systems that will turn your Pi into a set-top box capable of streaming your favorite content.
If you're having trouble getting a good Wi-Fi signal in some corners of your house, your Raspberry Pi can help by turning into an extender. On top of your Raspberry Pi's built-in Wi-Fi (if you have a model with wireless capability), you'll need a USB Wi-Fi adapter to repeat the signal. This tutorial makes the process easy.
If you're old enough to remember dropping quarters into your favorite arcade game or spending hours in front of your SNES, you'll be able to reproduce all those experiences on your Raspberry Pi. Using the free RetroPie OS on any Pi model (even Zero), you can play old Game Boy, arcade, SNES and Atari games.
Though you can easily build your own retro arcade system, there are a number of great kits that come with controllers and cases that enhance the experience. I particularly like $148 CQRobot DIY Retro Game Arcade Kit, because it has the old-fashioned red buttons and red joystick that I used to play games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. It also comes with a Raspberry Pi 3B.
Several awesome kits let you make a robotic vehicle with a Raspberry Pi as the brain. SunFounder's $119 Raspberry Pi Smart Robot Kit gives you all the parts you need (except the Pi) to build a four-wheel car with distance sensors, light sensors and motors. Available for $109, the smaller GoPiGo3 has three wheels and a distance sensor.
Credit: Dexter Industries