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Stop! Don’t buy the Official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit. You can make your own – and in many ways, better kit – for less money. Join me as I talk you through every component, and where to get the best deals.

What’s in the Kit?

The kit comes bundled in a minimalist white box — much like Apple products do. I can understand the psychological need for a nice box if you are spending $1000 or more on a computer, but for a few accessories? Here’s the breakdown of what’s included:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • 8GB microSD Card with NOOBS preinstalled
  • Official case
  • Official 2.5A multi-region power supply
  • 1M HDMI cable
  • Optical mouse
  • Keyboard with “high-quality scissor-switch action”
  • Adventures in Raspberry Pi Foundation Edition book

Were you expecting more? In my opinion, this kit is overpriced ($159/£119). Below, I’ll break down each component, and show you where to buy it for less — including official and unofficial models. Since the Pi is designed and manufactured in the UK, I’ll including links and prices to UK stock as well.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

Raspberry-Pi-3

This is the most critical component! At time of writing (12 September 2016), the Pi has sold more than 10,000,000 (ten million) units. That’s a staggeringly large volume of devices. If you are not sure what to make with the Pi, check out these ten weirdest projects 10 Weirdest Raspberry Pi Projects 10 Weirdest Raspberry Pi Projects There's a mad scientist within each of us, and the Raspberry Pi lets your inner loon come out and play. Sometimes, things get weird. Really weird. Read More . If you are just starting out with the Pi, have a look at these beginner projects Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners These 10 Raspberry Pi projects for beginners are great for getting an introduction to the hardware and software capabilities of the Pi, and will help you get up and running in no time! Read More .

The Pi is the most expensive item in the kit at $35.70 from Amazon.com (£28.99 from Amazon.co.uk, and from CDN$ 58.99 Amazon.ca). It’s well worth the price of admission, and as Broadcom has an exclusive deal with the Raspberry Pi foundation, there are not many identical clones made.

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Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU, 1 GB RAM Buy Now At Amazon $34.00

8GB MicroSD Card

Pi-MicroSD-Cards

You need a microSD card to run the operating system. Whilst it is possible to boot the Pi 3 from USB (learn how here How to Make Raspberry Pi 3 Boot From USB How to Make Raspberry Pi 3 Boot From USB The Raspberry Pi is a versatile piece of kit, capable of a diverse range of tasks. But it has one glaring flaw: the inability to boot from USB. Until now, that is. Read More ), that’s not always desirable. The microSD card stores all of the files needed to run the Pi. It also stores all of your files, and any scripts setup to do cool things.

The card in this kit comes with “New Out Of Box Software” (NOOBS) pre-installed. This saves you a bit of work, although it’s often cheaper to install an operating system yourself. Not sure how to do this? Christian Cawley shows you how How To Install An Operating System To Your Raspberry Pi How To Install An Operating System To Your Raspberry Pi Here's how to get a new OS installed and running on your Pi – and how to clone your perfect setup for quick disaster recovery. Read More .

There are many different types and speeds of microSD card (here’s some things to look out for 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your Next MicroSD Card 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your Next MicroSD Card MicroSD cards seem simple, but there are a few critical mistakes that you must avoid when shopping for one. If you ignore these, you may regret your purchase. Read More ). The Pi is limited to about 20MB/s, so save your money and buy a slower (and cheaper) memory card. The main factor when choosing a card is reliability and capacity. Any card from a major manufacturer will be trustworthy. Be very wary of purchasing cards from abroad, or cards that are extraordinarily cheap — they are likely to be fake, and you may find the capacity is significantly lower than stated.

Amazon.com sell an 8GB microSD (CA) for $8.99, preloaded with NOOBS. They also sell a 16GB for $14.99, or a 32GB (CA) for $21.95, all preloaded with NOOBS. It’s worth buying from a reputable seller to ensure you receive a genuine card. In UK prices are £5.72 for 8GB, £7.11 for 16GB, or 32GB for £9.

Even cheaper: you can buy a Kingston 8GB microSD card (without NOOBS) for $3.99 (CA) (£2.99 from Amazon.co.uk), and install it yourself How NOOBS For Raspberry Pi Can Help First Time Users How NOOBS For Raspberry Pi Can Help First Time Users There is something about the Raspberry Pi that might just put people off: until now, setting it up has not been particularly user friendly. NOOBS aims to change that! Read More .

Some of these cards do not come with microSD to SD adaptors. Again, Amazon sell these for very little (it does not matter how cheap you purchase these for, they are all the same). $4.08 or £1.85.

An Official Case

Pi-Cases

There’s not a lot to say about the case. It’s a box to put the Pi in. The official case costs $7.50 from Amazon.com, or £5.73 from Amazon UK, and CDN$ 14.99 from Amazon CA..

Official Raspberry Pi 3 Case - Red/White Official Raspberry Pi 3 Case - Red/White Official case for the Raspberry Pi from the Raspberry Pi Foundation Buy Now At Amazon $7.67

Here’s where it gets interesting. There are plenty of cases available for much less than the official case. Amazon.com has one for $4.99 or Ebay.com (from China) for $2.89. Etsy also sells 3d printed versions.

Amazon.co.uk sells an unofficial case for £3.99, or Ebay.co.uk for £3.15.

Thingiverse has plenty of designs if you would like to 3D print your own.

Official 2.5A Power Supply

The power supply is another area you do not want to cut corners on. At best, it may not deliver enough current to the Pi. At worst, it may be dangerous. Fortunately, the Pi uses a Micro USB connector, meaning chargers for most phones and tablets will work, providing they can supply enough current.

Here’s one from Amazon.com for $8.99. Amazon.co.uk has one for £6.25, while Amazon.ca charges CDN$ 13.95.

If you want to save some money here, you could use your existing mobile phone charger (providing it can supply enough current), or run the Pi from your computer USB port.

Alternatively, Here are three ways of powering your Pi Pi to Go? 3 Ways of Powering a Raspberry Pi for Portable Projects Pi to Go? 3 Ways of Powering a Raspberry Pi for Portable Projects Want to get your Raspberry Pi out of the house and involved in some mobile projects? You'll need a battery of some sort – but there are several options available. Read More on the go.

1m HDMI Cable

The HDMI cable is another area to save money. You may not need to buy one — if you have one already, or you are planning on accessing the Pi remotely, you can skip this step (here’s how you setup the Pi for “headless” access Setting Up Your Raspberry Pi For Headless Use With SSH Setting Up Your Raspberry Pi For Headless Use With SSH The Raspberry Pi can accept SSH commands when connected to a local network (either by Ethernet or Wi-Fi), enabling you to easily set it up. The benefits of SSH go beyond upsetting the daily screening... Read More ).

There’s a lot of myths and snake-oil around HDMI cables. Dave Parrack explains Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable To get the best out of your HD equipment, be it a nice widescreen television, a Blu-ray player, a PS3, or an HD streaming set-top box, you need at least one HDMI cable. Or more... Read More why you should never spend more than $10 — more expensive is not always better!

A 1 meter HDMI cable costs just $4.48 from Amazon.com (CA) but can be had for as little as $0.99 from China (via Ebay.com). They cost £1.65 from Amazon.co.uk.

Optical Mouse and Keyboard

Logitech sell a keyboard and mouse set for $14.95 (Amazon.com, .CA). If you would like an all-in-one keyboard and touchpad, these can be had for $14.99 (Amazon.com, .CA). Finally, AliExpress sell a wireless keyboard and mouse set for $11.88.

UK buyers have several options. This wired set costs £8.62, this gaming set for £11.39, or even this Dell wireless combo can be had for £24 — it’s a bit expensive, but still cheaper than buying the whole bundle from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Adventures in Raspberry Pi Book

Adventures-In-Pi-Book

Now this is quite a nice book. It contains “9 Awesome Projects written especially for young people”. It’s not possible to buy this book any cheaper than the retail price ($19.94/£10.16,CDN$23.30), although it is cheaper if you purchase the kindle edition ($11.13/£8.39,CDN$14.99).

Adventures in Raspberry Pi Adventures in Raspberry Pi Buy Now At Amazon $19.54

I personally own this book. The foundation thought it really was worth the money, so they gave it away for free at The Bett Show (formerly the British Educational Training and Technology Show — try saying that when you have had a few).

If you want to save some money here, the Raspberry Pi Website has a free PDF with several projects in. Alternatively, why not check out some of the Pi Projects featured here, such as these beginner projects Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners These 10 Raspberry Pi projects for beginners are great for getting an introduction to the hardware and software capabilities of the Pi, and will help you get up and running in no time! Read More .

The Total

The grand total comes to $79.06 — This is just under half the price. This includes a kindle edition of the book, and a keyboard and mouse from Aliexpress. The UK total is £60.04 — a little over half the cost of the official kit.

It is possible to put a kit together for even less if you re-use parts you already have, and especially if you abandon the book (besides, we have plenty of projects to keep you busy). You could use the money you save to buy some nice cases to put your starter kit in (US/UK), or invest in a touchscreen (US/UK). You could buy both of these items and still have money left over when compared to the official starter kit.

Whatever you end up buying, let me know in the comments, I’d love to see your setup.

  1. Joe
    September 16, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Sure. Don't give those horrible people at the raspberry pi foundation any money.. they're such jerks for trying to make some money so that it can pay the talented people that work there and provide the hobbyists with an amazing little computer thats super affordable. You can save a few $$! /s

    • Fik of Borg
      September 16, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      ... or allow people who can afford the kit to get on the Rpi bandwagon, and maybe make some money on it so they can be paying customers later on.

    • Fik of Borg
      September 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      * can't

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