Raspberry Pi 3 vs Arduino Uno: Which board will work best for your project?

The Arduino Uno and the Raspberry Pi 3 are popular choices when it comes to DIY, IoT, or just fun engineering projects. They can be used for prototyping and real-world engineering solutions (ie. Into the Blue using Arduino & Raspberry Pi boards for an underwater camera). If you are having difficulty finding which one to use for your project, let’s look at the Raspberry Pi 3 vs Arduino Uno to see what each board offers.

Arduino Uno vs Raspberry Pi boards

Both boards look similar, but they are each in their own category.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a Single Board Computer (SBC). This means that the board is a fully functional computer with its own dedicated processor, memory, and can run an operating system (runs on Linux). The Raspberry Pi 3 includes its own USB ports, audio output, and has a graphic driver for HDMI output, showing how it can run multiple programs. You can even install other operating systems that include Android, Windows 10, or Firefox OS.

The Arduino Uno Rev 3 is a microcontroller. Microcontrollers are not as powerful as SBCs, but they can be great for quick setups. Microcontrollers excel when controlling small devices (like LEDs, motors, several different types of sensors) but cannot run a full operating system. The Arduino Uno runs one program at a time.

Connectivity abilities

The Raspberry Pi 3 can connect to Bluetooth devices and the Internet right out of the box using Ethernet or by connecting to Wi-Fi. The Arduino Uno cannot do that without a Shield that adds Internet or Bluetooth connectivity. HATS and Shields help with this.

HATs (Hardware Attached on Top) and Shields have essentially the same goal, adding an extra, or simplifying functionality. The HATs can be used on the Raspberry Pi 3, where some HATs include the Pi to control an RBG Matrix, add a touchscreen, or even create an arcade system.

The Shields that can be used on the Arduino Uno include a Relay Shield, a Touchscreen Shield, or a Bluetooth Shield. There are hundreds of Shields and HATs that provide the functionality that you regularly use.

The Raspberry Pi 3 also has an HDMI port, audio port, 4 USB ports, camera port, and LCD port, making it ideal for media applications. The Arduino Uno does not have any of these ports in the board (though some of can be added through Shields).

Raspberry Pi 3 and Arduino Uno applications

Let’s first look at the Raspberry Pi 3 and its strengths. Since it is a mini-computer, it can multitask several programs with its Broadcom BCM2837 SoC, meaning that building a complex project that needs multiple actions at a time are easily handled.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is also a lot faster than the Arduino (1.2 GHz compared to 16 MHz), which gives it the ability to complete every day tasks that computers do – playing videos, surfing the web, listening to music, etc. This makes the Raspberry Pi 3 an easy choice if you want to use it for media-centered applications.

Arduino Uno’s more simplistic approach may be more attractive when it comes to making a project. The Arduino Uno has an easier time interfacing with analog sensors, motor, or other components, while the Raspberry Pi 3 has a more complicated path to get sensor readings (like installing libraries, software, and connecting to a monitor/keyboard/mouse).

The Arduino also can just be plugged in and will start executing its code right away, so no need to set up. This makes the Arduino Uno a great choice if you want to start prototyping right away and only need to read a set of data and do one action based on that data.

How to decide between Raspberry Pi 3 vs. Arduino Uno

Here is a short table to show each of the boards advantages and disadvantages:

Arduino Uno Rev3 vs Raspberry Pi 3 Comparison Table

In conclusion, if you have a project that involves several functionalities at the same time, need easy access to the Internet, and need media accessibilities, the Raspberry Pi 3 will be your go-to board.

If you have a project that needs easy reads from sensors, only has to do a few outputs based on the sensor data, communicates easily with other machine parts, and want a quick start-up with almost no other installation, then the Arduino Uno if the one for you.

Check out our other comparison articles to choose the right board for you!

PocketBeagle vs. Raspberry Pi Zero

Arduino Uno vs. Mega vs. Micro

Raspberry Pi 3 vs Raspberry Pi Zero

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Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

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A000066 | Arduino Uno Rev3

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A000073 | Arduino Uno Rev3 SMD

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