So, you believe programming skills and Computer Science knowledge are becoming essential as the world develops AI, big data, and robotics, and your next goal is to introduce these skills into your life, or the life of your child or pupil. You’ve considered various microcontroller options for education out there, and the Raspberry Pi has come up trumps.
We’ve compiled this comprehensive list of all the best Raspberry Pi starter kits on the market so that you can make an informed decision on which Raspberry Pi Starter Kit is best for you. Our crowned overall winner is the CanaKit Starter Kit, which provides all the accessories you need at good quality and a reasonable price.
We’ve also included some starter kits which don’t come with a Raspberry Pi. These can be used to upgrade any of the suggested Pi inclusive kits, or maybe you have an unused Raspberry Pi at home that’s waiting for a project (cough, REMOTE CONTROL CAR, cough…)!
- Raspberry Pi Inclusive Starter Kits
- Starter Kits Without Raspberry Pi Included
- What to Consider When Buying a Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
- Frequently Asked Questions
Related Post: Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi Inclusive Starter Kits
Below is a comparison table of our top 3 recommended Pi-inclusive starter kits:
What better way to start off the list than with the official Raspberry Pi 4 starter set? This Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Starter Kit contains the basics necessary for building your own PC, including the official Raspberry Pi keyboard, official hub, and a mouse which is, you guessed it, Raspberry Pi official. In fact, in this kit, all the components are officially selected by Raspberry Pi, giving this kit the seal of approval by the makers themselves. Another benefit of this is that the beginner’s guide is written by Raspberry Pi themselves.
The MicroSD card in the kit comes preinstalled with Raspbian OS and NOOBS, allowing you to get right to the essence of your projects without having to wait through the software installation time.
We would suggest thinking about buying heat sinks with this product, as although the provided case comes in a really aesthetically pleasing white and red design, it doesn’t feature air vents or a fan.
While not an “official kit” like the last item, CanaKit is a RaspberryPi-approved reseller so this kit isn’t far from one. It features a variety of carefully-chosen accessories, such as a case with an integrated fan mount, a low noise bearing system fan, and a set of heat sinks to ensure your Raspberry Pi doesn’t overheat while in use. The power supply of the CanaKit Starter Kit features a noise filter, and the USB-C cable includes an on-off power switch perfect for turning off your Raspberry Pi without unplugging or dismantling your project. The Canakit quick-start guide will help you with assembly.
If you’re tempted by the previous kit but foresee your project will use up a lot of memory, this one’s for you. CanaKit MAX Edition is the same as the one above but features a handy 64GB MicroSD so you won’t have to worry about running out of space. The only drawback is that this kit comes at a slightly higher price.
The Kano Computer Kit provides all the essentials for children to create and program a computer they can be proud of, and produce games such as Snake, Pong, and Minecraft as well as creating music. Kids will love the snazzy orange color scheme and rainbow LED set, which is useful for showing them the direct outcome of the programming they do. The building of the kit promotes technical skills, making this a good all-rounder for educational purposes. The relatively low price makes it suitable for mass purchases – for example, in classrooms or after-school coding clubs. We liked the Kano Computer Kit so much that it features in our Ultimate Guide to STEM Toys!
At the highest price of all the featured kits in this article, the Elecrow Advanced Kit is worth every penny as it is specially designed to enhance the educational ability of the Raspberry Pi, providing literally everything you need for a wide range of hands-on programming and electronics projects.
This fantastically versatile kit comes with a multitude of different accessories, including a touch pen, 9g mini servo, IR remote controller and receiver, game controller, wireless keyboard and mouse kit, and a 5V stepper motor, as well as various sensors and LED feedback devices. The kit also comes with a power adapter, cooling fan and heatsinks to ensure your Raspberry Pi is being treated well. All these components are stored in a handy briefcase for easy storage and transport, with the Raspberry Pi 4 coming pre-assembled with camera and touchscreen, which is located on the inside of the briefcase, giving it the feel of a laptop.
If you want to build a really aesthetically pleasing, fully functional PC featuring a touchscreen and mini keyboard, then this is the kit for you. The NEEGO Ultimate with Touchscreen is designed with the goal of letting the Raspberry Pi’s dual-band wireless LAN, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and PoE capability truly shine. The touchscreen monitor comes with 10-finger detection, making it perfect for gamers and artists. This kit is ideal perfect for a user who is less focused on electronics and robotics projects, and more interested in getting straight to the programming side of things.
If you’re searching for a really durable and robust case that will protect your Pi from physical damage, dust and overheating, then look no further. This case is specially designed to cool the Raspberry Pi using fans, allowing easy overclocking so you can maximize the ability of the already incredibly powerful Raspberry Pi 4. The Vilros Complete Kit can take the place of your computer, although you’re better off going for this if you already have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, as they are not contained in the kit.
Starter Kits Without Raspberry Pi Included
The table below shows products that DON’T come with the Raspberry Pi included.
The Freenove Ultimate Starter Kit boasts an extraordinary array of projects and tutorials, ranging from simple “Hello World” style tutorials to more complex projects. This is definitely the kit that’s designed to be the easiest to learn from, as it is based around tutorials and projects that will help you learn languages such as C, Python, and Java, as well as skills like electronics, robotics, and game emulation.
You’ll start with programming a blinking LED, matrix keypad and calculator, working your way up to creating an oscilloscope and ultimately creating your own Tetris game in a satisfying journey from novice to intermediate programmer.
The kit boasts 434 pages of detailed tutorials, 57 guided projects, and 223 individual items, as well as providing a seemingly inexhaustible list of possible projects that can be done with the many components. The solderless breadboard eliminates any need for a soldering iron, making it usable anywhere, and a support team for technical issues is always available, meaning you can learn at any time.
This SunFounder Starter Kit features 26 basic lessons and 4 practical examples to gently ease you in, and a 331-page detailed manual, complete with basic electronics information. Again, you can start with the basic “Hello World” blinking LED tutorial, before moving on to more difficult projects, working with components such as photoresistors, thermistors, and an accelerometer – the perfect kit for anyone interested in practical physics experiments and projects, while gaining programming skills as you go.
A well-rounded learning experience is provided by the physical assembly process of the car itself, which is useful for learning about construction and mechanics. Programming using the Freenove Smart Car Kit involves learning about automation and robotics. This is an amazing all-round STEM toy with a variety of features such as line tracking, face tracking, and obstacle avoidance. It’s really versatile as it can either be programmed or manually controlled.
You’ll end up building a remote control car of your own to play with. (We want one!)
What to Consider When Buying a Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
If you’re torn by wanting to learn the Raspberry Pi but also think the Arduino might be more up your street, our article on the differences between Arduino and Raspberry Pi might be able to provide you with the info you need to make the decision.
If you’re not enticed by any of these options, whack your telescope out and have a look at our list of Raspberry Pi Astronomy Projects.
Generally, the more accessories the start kit includes, the more projects you’ll be able to do with it. Most projects require an SD/MicroSD card, power supply/lead, and HDMI cable. The CanaKit Starter Kit and CanaKit MAX Edition are great basic starter kits providing all the essentials to build any project off.
The Ability of the User
Another factor you’ll want to consider is whether the starter kit will suit the needs and abilities of whoever you’re ultimately buying it for. The Kano Computer Kit is specifically designed for beginners and can be used as an educational tool, whereas the Vilros Complete Kit is suited to a more experienced programmer.
Your Choice of Project
The project you decide to take on will define the choice of starter kit – for example, if you want to build a fully functional PC without having to purchase any other components, your best choice would be the NEEGO Ultimate with Touchscreen, as it contains all the necessary components. Alternatively, if your project is more based on electronics then you’d be wise to opt for the Elecrow Advanced Kit with its extensive range of components and educational tools.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Raspberry Pi?
The Raspberry Pi is a microcomputer whose primary purpose is to provide an educational tool for computer science.
I keep seeing “NOOBS” in the description for a product. What does this mean?
NOOBS stands for New Out Of Box Software, which is an operating system installer. Featured OSs include Raspbian, Pidora, Arch Linux, and several more.
Is the Raspberry Pi a toy or a learning tool?
It can be both, depending on what you want to do with it!
What accessories do I need for a Raspberry Pi?
The bare minimum accessories you need to buy for a Raspberry Pi, if you don’t have them already, are an SD Card and a power supply. Other components that are handy are: a case, an HDMI cable, keyboard, mouse. The good news is that there are lots of starter kits that include all these components, and more!
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Last update on 2020-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API