When the first Raspberry Pi computer launched in 2012, it seemed crazy that the folks behind the project were able to sell a fully functional computer for just $35, even if it was a computer with a low-power ARM-based processor designed to run Linux and use an SD card (sold separately for storage).

But since then the Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched several newer models with more powerful hardware and more versatile features while keeping the $35 price tag.

Now the group is launching a truly entry-level model: the Raspberry Pi Zero is a $5 computer.

pi zero_01

The Raspberry Pi Zero is a small single-board computer with a 1 GHz Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 processor, 512MB of RAM, a microSD card slot for storage, a mini HDMI port, and two micro USB ports (one for power, and one for data).

The new model is the smallest Raspberry Pi system to date, measuring just 2.6″ x 1.2″ x 0.2″. While it has a 40-pin GPIO header, it ships unpopulated. That means that while any software that can run on a first-gen Raspberry Pi can run on the new Zero model, you might need something like this $1 break-away 2×20-pin strip to make use of the GPIO headers for HATs or other hardware.

There are also new pHATs, or Pi Zero-sized “proto-HATs” that can be soldered directly to the GPIO headers to add functionality such as sensors, motor drivers, audio hardware, or LED lights.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about the new Raspberry Pi Zero:

  • It has the same processor as the 2012 Raspberry Pi, but it runs at a higher clock speed, so it’s said to be about 40 percent faster… but not as fast as the newer Raspberry Pi 2.
  • You can easily plug in a keyboard, mouse, and 1080p display, thanks to the USB and HDMI ports. But if you want to connect to the internet, you’ll need an Ethernet or WiFi adapter, because there’s no wired or wireless internet hardware built onto the board.

The Raspberry Pi Zero is available in the US from Adafruit and Micro Center. In the UK it’s sold by element14, The Pi Hut, and Pimoroni. And if you happen to be in a place where the MagPi magazine is sold, the December issue is hitting stores in the UK today, and it comes with a free Raspberry Pi Zero.

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26 replies on “Raspberry Pi Zero is a $5 computer that’s faster than the original Raspberry Pi”

  1. Wow, real Mounting Holes!!! That only took YEARS to appear, even with millions of users begging for them. Thanx RPi Peeps. It’s about time…

    1. No more case, cables and interposers… this is going directly on my breadboard. I don’t mind the micro hdmi and lack of usb A. That is a small price for the new freedom and low cost.

    2. Where have you been? The mounting holes came with Raspberry Pi B+ in July 2014.

    3. The earlier Model B v2, released in the fall of 2012 had mounting holes, also. They hadn’t sold millions by then, so it is doubtful that there were millions of users begging for them.

    1. $5 is too low. I suspect that they are selling them “below cost”. Maybe their foundation has other revenue sources other than selling the devices. I am thinking that they want to increase their IOT and media center marketshare. IOT wants the smallest board area, and media wants low cost and good performance.

      1. They will not be able to meet demand. I could see anyone with a TV and internet in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) wanting one of these.

      2. I doubt they are selling below cost. I also doubt they make a lot of money on each one. But they’ve sold over 7,000,000 computers so far.

        1. If availability is poor for the zero in the future, then the effective price becomes much higher than $5. Time will tell. Another side effect of the introduction of the zero @ $5 is that I really don’t want to buy any other models now. Anyone paying more than $5 for a single board computer could feel like they are “over paying”.

          1. Well, it raises expectations, but there’s still plenty of room at higher prices for more powerful and higher spec’ed devices, and these boards are still aimed at hobbyists. Commercial applications, where the real volume is, is a different marketplace altogether.

          1. That Intel 80186 was decades ago (considered ancient already) but at least Intel still list that CPU here https://www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/quickrefyr.htm for products introduced until December 2008. Also can still find some documentations at ftp://download.intel.com/ (for example protected mode addressing of 8086/80186 processor here ftp://download.intel.com/design/intarch/papers/exc_ia.pdf ). However Broadcom’s BCM2835 is hardly a decade old, which was launched in 2012 (based on the only remaining documentation at Rasberry Pi website https://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BCM2835-ARM-Peripherals.pdf ). The funny thing is that Broadcom still often mentions this chip in its press releases up till recently https://www.broadcom.com/blog/broadcom-innovation/model-b-raspberry-pi-ups-its-game-with-new-improvements/#12927 but in that news the link to BCM2835 product page is dead. Also if you search Broadcom’s site, hardly any documentation on BCM2835 at all…

  2. cool! I could probably just stick this on my powered usb hub and be all set…can the pi boot off an external drive?

  3. This is as exciting as the original was. This seems like it would be perfect building block for all kinds of modular projects like a tablet, MameBox, Jukebox…

  4. 5usd… well more like 12usd before tax at element 14. a rip off as always… sad

    1. If you’re close to a MicroCenter, they might have them in stock. They do near me, and it was $5.39 with tax.

      1. cool! I could probably just stick this on my powered usb hub and be all set…can the pi boot off an external drive… please let me know!
        These cheap single-board computers make me want to dig my atrix dock out of storage..

        1. It boots from the microSD card. Some might consider that to be external.

      2. Oh lawd Jeebus it’s a miracle. I just moved relatively close to a Micro Center.

        1. Merry Christmas, now go to their website and do a pickup order for tomorrow.

      1. i know it’s cheap but advertising a product at a price and selling it 100% over the advertised price is a rip off. it actually is an illegal business practice in a lot of countries.

    2. Every time a new Raspberry Pi is introduced, there is a shortage and there are resellers that mark them up. The Foundation can’t control that. But if you can wait a few months to get the new model, you’ll likely find them at $5.

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