Raspberry Pi 4 Starter Kit
My recommendation: You absolutely need to buy the basic hardware to get started.
If you can afford it, the Raspberry Pi 4 is the best choice currently. You can use anything you want on it with the maximum performance available.
The 4 Go version is not mandatory, if it’s too expensive for you, you can choose another pack (1 or 2 Go) to save a few dollars.
Strong points: Choosing a kit is the best way to get started, you will avoid many issues trying to find the required accessories, compatible cables, etc. Everything is included, you can start Raspbian 5 minutes after delivery
Alternative: If you just want to give a try and don’t want to spend too much, the Raspberry Pi Zero is probably a good alternative for half the price. I use this kit for example, feel free to check (Vilros).
The absolute minimum
My recommendation: Ok ok, if you just start and don’t want to spend too much money, you can absolutely start with the main board only. You will need at least an SD card and a power cable, but maybe you already have them at home. I still recommend the Raspberry Pi 4B+, with 1 or 2 GB it’s ok, you don’t really need more to learn the basics.
Alternative: Older models are not cheaper than that, so it’s probably a wrong bet to start on a Pi 3 for example. But if you really want something cheap, the Raspberry Pi Zero can be enough to learn (if you don’t ask it too much). Check it here on Vilros, if you want to compare.
A basic SD card
My recommendation: Another thing you may need if you already have your Raspberry Pi is one or more SD cards. Personally, I use the basic SanDisk Ultra all the time, they are cheap and work very well (they have a good score in my benchmark here)
Alternative: They are many alternatives available, but if you just start on Raspberry Pi, you probably don’t need more than that. The best one of my benchmark is available in the Expert category of this resource page, if you want to give a try.
Adapter: If your computer doesn’t have an SD card reader, you can find one to plug on USB. Anyone from Amazon will do the job (check the products here).
Useful Tips to Get Started
My recommendation: Once you have your hardware at home, the next thing you need is a bit of information of what you need to do with it. How to install Raspbian? How to configure the network? Etc.
In this guide, you’ll get everything you need to set up your Raspberry Pi.
Alternative: As reading many posts to answer each new question you have every 5 minutes is not optimal, you can save time by reading my book “Master your Raspberry in 30 days”. It’s available on Amazon, and the idea is to guide you through a step-by-step process, with one new chapter each day.
Raspberry Pi Essentials
My recommendation: If you prefer watching someone else doing it to learn faster, a course is the best option you have. In this course, you start from the basics and build several projects to apply them (GPIO, web server, etc.)
Strong points: Even if this is a course format, it’s pretty cheap, like most courses on Udemy. For a 4-hour course with several projects included, it’s worth it.
Alternative: If you rather save some money to buy new hardware for now, you can check the tutorials on my YouTube channel. I often use it to illustrate blog posts on this website, but you can also watch a playlist separately.
My recommendation: Etcher is a free tool to flash OS images on SD cards that I often recommend in my posts. It’s available on any operating system (Windows, Linux, macOS) and easy to use.
Strong points: It works all the time! Many tools are doing the same thing, but I always had problems with them when using “exotic systems” or unformatted SD cards.
Alternative: Recently, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released a new software to do the same. I don’t really use it because I like Etcher, but it’s probably working well as it was built for this purpose. You’ll find it on the Raspberry Pi OS download page.
Retro games SD card
My recommendation: If you use your Raspberry Pi mainly for retro-gaming, an interesting option to consider is to find a SD card preloaded with many games. There’s a fair difference in the price when comparing to the SD card only, but you’ll save lots of time instead of downloading each game one by one.
Alternative: It’s not really an alternative, but eBay can be an interesting marketplace to consider for this product. Here is a direct link to the products available at the moment.
PDF: Raspbian on a Virtual Machine
My recommendation: if you want to try Raspbian before buying your first Raspberry Pi, you can run it in a virtual machine. In this PDF, you’ll learn 3 ways to do this for free, with an illustrated step-by-step procedure.
Strong points: This cheat sheet is available for free, you just have to download it and try!
HDMI Cables or Screen?
My recommendation: The Raspberry Pi Foundation doesn’t make things easy when you have to choose the accessories you need for each model
All seem to use a different display port. But anyway, finding the corresponding cable is mandatory to learn in good conditions.
Which one to choose? As you just start on Raspberry Pi, you will probably use one of these models:
– Raspberry Pi 4 : micro HDMI to HDMI (Amazon, you need two for the dual screen)
– Raspberry Pi 3 : HDMI to HDMI (Amazon, you may already have one with your TV or console)
– Raspberry Pi Zero : mini HDMI to HDMI (Amazon)
You can also use adapters, but I often have issues with them, so I don’t recommend using them.
Alternative: If you don’t have an available screen, or don’t want to buy a specific cable for each Raspberry Pi, you can also consider this official touchscreen from the Raspberry Pi Foundation (Amazon).
You can attach the Raspberry Pi to the back, and plug it on the DSI port.
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I recommend these products because I use them myself and I know them.
This is simply a list of what I use and love