The Raspberry PI has become much more powerful than just a tool for retro-gaming or for using as a media server. The latest version is now powerful enough to be used as a fully fledged desktop computer.
In this guide I will show you all the components that you will need in order to use the Raspberry PI 4 as your main computer, replacing that old desktop computer and laptop.
The Raspberry PI 4 Model B
(£34 for 2 gb RAM, £54 for 4 gb RAM, £74 for 8gb RAM)
I recommend using the Raspberry PI 4 model B with 4 gigabytes RAM as it is the latest version of the Raspberry PI. I recommend the 4 gb over the 8 gb version as I also recommend using a 32-bit operating system at this moment in time due to software compatibility.
The cost of the Raspberry PI 4 model B with 4 gigabytes RAM is £54. If money is tight then you can go for the cheaper option with 2 gigabytes RAM but this will affect user experience.
A Raspberry PI Power Supply (£8)
The official Raspberry PI 4 power supply costs £8.
Other power adapters are available on Amazon. You need a USB-C connector and it needs to provide 5V and 3 amps.
Keyboard and Mouse (£22)
In order to be able to interact with the Raspberry PI you will need a keyboard and a mouse. The official Raspberry PI keyboard and mouse is £22.
You can use any keyboard and mouse as long as they have a USB connector. There are keyboards and mice available in Tesco for around £10 to £15. You can also use a wireless mouse and keyboard with a bluetooth dongle.
Micro HDMI cable (£5)
In order to connect the Raspberry PI to a display you will need a micro HDMI cable. The official Raspberry PI 4 cable costs £5.
The cost of the screen depends on your budget. The Raspberry PI can use full HDMI 1080p resolution over 2 screens or for one screen it can display 4k.
You can therefore spend as little or as much as you wish on a monitor. The monitor you buy or acquire must be HDMI compatible.
Monitors are usually quite cheap second hand if you are on a budget and you should scour your local Facebook market place, freebie sites or Ebay.
SD-Card (with or without operating system installed)
(£7 for 16gb, £9 for 32gb, £18 for 64gb)
The SD card is where the operating system is installed and is essential for using the Raspberry PI as a desktop computer.
You can buy a blank SD card from a supermarker or from Amazon. You will need to make sure that it is class 10 or above in order to get the best durability and performance.
If you don’t have another computer available to you then you will need to buy an SD card with an operating system pre-installed or with NOOBS installed.
The Raspberry PI User site will provide guides for creating SD cards with NOOBS installed as well as guides for creating SD cards with the operating installed direct to the cards without NOOBS.
To get up and running quickly you can visit https://thepihut.com/products/noobs-preinstalled-sd-card?variant=31604721287230 to get an SD card with NOOBS pre-installed to it.
A Case (Optional – £5)
Whilst a case is optional, I heartily recommend that you buy one.
The case will help to keep the Raspberry PI clean and it is also aesthetically more appealing than a circuit board.
It is assumed that you have an internet connection. Having any kind of computer nowadays really relies on an internet connection and the usage of a Raspberry PI is going to be severely limited without one.
Total Cost Without A Monitor
The total cost of all the official equipment without a display is around £100.
You can get tablet computers cheaper and they come with a display but the likelihood is a Raspberry PI is going to be much more powerful than any tablet computer coming in for less than £100.
In addition all of the components are interchangeable. When a tablet’s battery begins to die you lose the entire device. If the Raspberry PI mouse stops working you can just buy another mouse for £5, if the screen stops working you can use a different screen and the replacement of the Raspberry PI itself is just £54.
The Raspberry PI really is the best value for money when it comes to desktop computing. You will not find a laptop or desktop computer that comes anywhere close to as powerful for the same price.