Which Raspberry Pi should you buy?

Raspberry Pi B+

Who's it for?

People wanting to use the Pi as a desktop computer or media centre.

What is it?

If you're looking to turn the Pi into a media centre the $35 B+ is probably the right choice. With double the memory of its smaller sibling, you can be confident the B+ will be capable of running future releases of the RaspBMC or OpenElec media streamers. Unlike the A+, the board also includes an Ethernet port. As well as providing another channel to deliver audio and video to the device, Ethernet is also prone to fewer potential network hiccups than wifi.

The B+ may also be the better choice for people wanting to use the Pi as a Linux desktop machine and learn about computers and coding. With four USB ports compared to the A+'s one, it is relatively simple to plug in a keyboard and mouse and start using the B+, without the additional hassle of setting up a USB hub. The B+ 's ports can also power more energy hungry peripherals, such as external hard disk drives and wifi dongles. As with media centre users, having the Ethernet port also makes network connectivity simpler.

Both the A+ and B+ use a "low-noise" power supply that provides a dedicated supply rail for audio and has a dedicated output driver.

The specs

Chip: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC

Core architecture: ARM11

CPU: 700 MHz Low Power ARM1176JZFS Applications Processor

GPU: Dual Core VideoCore IV® Multimedia Co-Processor. Provides Open GL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, and 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode. Capable of 1Gpixel/s, 1.5Gtexel/s or 24GFLOPs with texture filtering and DMA infrastructure.

Memory: 512MB SDRAM

Operating System: Boots from Micro SD card, running a version of the Linux operating system. A range of Linux-based OSes are available to download, including NOOBS, Raspbian, Pidora, OpenELEC, RaspBMC. Also available is Risc OS, a non-Linux distro.

Dimensions: 85 x 56 x 17mm

Power: Micro USB socket 5V, 2A

Ethernet: 10/100 BaseT Ethernet socket

Video Output: HDMI (rev 1.3 & 1.4), Composite RCA (PAL and NTSC)

Audio Output: 3.5mm jack, HDMI

USB: 4 x USB 2.0 Connector. Default allowed USB current across 4 ports is 600mA, but can be increased to 1.2A via a config.txt parameter if a good quality 2A PSU (power supply unit) is used.

GPIO: Connector 40-pin 2.54 mm (100 mil) expansion header: 2x20 strip. Providing 27 GPIO pins as well as +3.3 V, +5 V and GND supply lines

Camera: Connector 15-pin MIPI Camera Serial Interface (CSI-2)

JTAG: Not populated

Display Connector: Display Serial Interface (DSI) 15 way flat flex cable connector with two data lanes and a clock lane

Memory Card Slot: SDIO

Raspberry Pi Foundation

By Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.