Which Raspberry Pi Zero Should I Buy?

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Would you like to buy a Raspberry Pi Zero, but aren't sure which version you should get? This article will help you decide.

When buying a Pi Zero you should ask yourself the following questions that I will cover below:

  • Will it need Ethernet?
  • Will it need WiFi?
  • Will it need a camera?
  • Will it need connections to the GPIO pins?

Will it need Ethernet?

Unlike the regular Raspberry Pi, no current model of the Zero has a built in ethernet port. You will need an adapter like this one. Though to be honest, if you are going to spend the extra money for the adapter, you may want to just get a regular Pi. Or consider using WiFi.

Will it need WiFi?

The original version of the Pi Zero and version 1.3 do not have built-in WiFi. You could spend the money on a USB WiFi adapter and a dongle to adapt it. Or you could just buy any Pi Zero with a "W" in the name, such as the Pi Zero W or Pi Zero WH.

Will it need a camera?

Before the Pi Zero had built-in WiFi it started supporting the Pi Camera. Starting with 1.3 and all the subsequent W versions, the Pi Zero now supports the Pi Camera. The only caveat is that the connector is smaller on the Pi Zero, so you will need to make sure that you have the proper ribbon cable. Some kits supply the special sized ribbon cable that is needed.

Will it need connections to the GPIO pins?

All versions of the Pi have GPIO connections on the board. But only the Pi Zero WH (the H is for "header") comes with a pre-soldered header. If you plan to do anything like attach LEDs or switches to the board, you may want to start with the WH.

If you are comfortable with a soldering iron then you can get one of the other models and add your own header.


Versions

Below is a list of Raspberry Pi Zero versions that you can find online.

Pi Zero WH

  • supports the Pi Camera with special ribbon cable
  • built in WiFi
  • header already soldered in place

Where to buy a Pi Zero WH

Pi Zero W

  • supports the Pi Camera with special ribbon cable
  • built in WiFi
  • you will have to solder your own header in place

Where to buy a Pi Zero W

Pi Zero 1.3

  • supports the Pi Camera with special ribbon cable
  • for WiFi you will need a USB adapter and dongle
  • you will have to solder your own header in place

Where to buy a Pi Zero 1.3

Pi Zero 1.2 and below

  • no connector for the camera
  • for WiFi you will need a USB adapter and dongle
  • you will have to solder your own header in place

Where to buy a Pi Zero 1.2 and below

The lower versions are hard to find on ecommerce sites. You can try used sites, like eBay.


Kits

If you are just starting out, I would recommend getting one of these kits:

Ethernet Adapter

If you want to connect your Pi Zero directly to your Ethernet network, I would recommend getting this adapter:



About the Author

Mitch Allen works for a robotics company in New England.