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The Cheapest Raspberry Pi You Can Buy Today

A Raspberry Pi is a foundational component to a wide variety of projects – everything from home servers to media centers or even inexpensive personal computers. The cheapest Pi, the Raspberry Pi Zero, is just $5! But are there any hidden costs? And how much more expensive does it become when you factor these in?

The Real Cost

$5 sounds like a great price for a computer, but the Pi Zero can actually be a little more expensive when you consider all the costs. At a minimum, you’ll need:

So, the real cost is closer to $20. If you’re lucky, maybe you have an old charger or memory card laying around. And $20 still isn’t bad for a computer. But depending what you’re using it for, you might need even more. You’ll probably want a keyboard and mouse, and you’ll need a micro USB hub to plug them in. Or, you could get the official Raspberry Pi keyboard with an integrated hub. The cost is similar either way. And you’ll also need a micro HDMI cable to plug it in to a TV or monitor.

So that’s another $37, for a total of almost $60. Maybe you already have a keyboard and mouse you can use, but you probably don’t have a micro USB OTG hub to plug them in, and you probably also don’t have a micro HDMI cable unless you’ve already bought other Pis in the past. And all of this is assuming you’ll plug it into a monitor or TV that you already own.

Can We Do Better?

At a total of up to $60, the Pi Zero isn’t looking like such a cheap project anymore. It’s not really a $5 computer unless you already have a bunch of spare accessories ready to go. But depending what you want to use it for, it might be possible to eliminate some of these costs. Let’s see how cheap we can go and still be able to get to a usable Linux terminal.

Here’s the plan:

This brings our total cost down to about $25, or possibly as low as $10 if you already have the power cable and SD card! In my next blog post, I’ll show you how to set up a headless Raspberry Pi Zero as I described above, without all the extra accessories.

So how much will it actually cost you to get started with a Raspberry Pi? It could be as much as $60 or more if you need to buy lots of accessories to make it work, but you might be able to spend as little as $10 to get something useful if you can find ways to avoid the need for the extra hardware!

This is part 1 of a 3-part series exploring the Raspberry-Pi Zero.