The Best Raspberry Pi Kits for Your First Project

Christian Cawley 24-02-2017

Planning on a Raspberry Pi-based project? You’ll need more than just the low-cost computer, but what else? To help you out, various companies have put together Raspberry Pi kits, each suitable for particular tasks and projects.


Let’s take a look at what’s available, and which kits will suit you project.

Why Buy a Raspberry Pi Kit?

Raspberry Pi kits are a massive time saver. Back when this mini computer was first released, it came on its own. You needed to source your own peripherals, which could be hit-and-miss.

Keeping costs low Save Money by Making Your Own Raspberry Pi Starter Kit Stop! Don't buy the Official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit. You can make your own for much less money. Read More could easily result in poorly-made cases, and unsuitable, corruption-prone SD cards 5 Mistakes Raspberry Pi Beginners Should Avoid There are several ways that you can misuse a Raspberry Pi. If you're new to the device, or considering buying one, make sure you don't make these beginner mistakes. Read More . Unless you already had good quality peripherals to hand (a perennial tinkerer might but Joe Average might not), then a low-cost $35 Raspberry Pi computer could turn out to be closer to $70.

And that’s before you start considering display options…

Things You Might Find in a Raspberry Pi Kit

Raspberry Pi kits come in two forms: those with the Pi included, and those without. We’re looking exclusively at the former here. After all, what use is a kit if the main component is missing?


The Best Raspberry Pi Kits for Your First Project muo diy rpi3 pcb

In one of these kits, then, you should expect to find:

  • A Raspberry Pi computer (2, 3, or later)
  • HDMI cable
  • Heatsinks
  • A MicroSD card of at least 8 GB (if it’s smaller, look elsewhere)
  • Ethernet cable
  • USB wireless dongle and USB Bluetooth dongle (not required with a Raspberry Pi 3)
  • AC adapter
  • Case

Alongside these items, you’ll also find specialized items and expansion boards (these are known as HATs Five Great Raspberry Pi Expansions That Make It Even More Useful Your Raspberry Pi is versatile and at times amazing, but are you harnessing the full power of that little box? Power-up your Pi with these 5 expansions! Read More ) that make the kit you choose ideal for the purpose you’re planning. For instance, you wouldn’t need a battery pack in a Raspberry Pi kit intended for creating music (although it’s possible to make your own).

Three kits in particular are worth taking a look at, which we’ve listed here for your convenience.


CanaKit Raspberry Pi Kit for Dummies ($90)

If you’re starting completely from scratch with hobbyist computing and have never even so much as opened up a tower PC to change memory modules or fit a new HDD, then this is the Raspberry Pi kit for you.

Packaged with the familiar “Dummies” logo and colors, this $90 pack includes a Raspberry Pi 3 How to Upgrade to a Raspberry Pi 3 Upgrading from an older Pi to the new Pi 3 is almost as simple as swapping out the microSD card. Almost - but not quite. Here's what you'll need to do first. Read More and all the extras you need to get started. You’ll also find a few additional electronics, such as resistors, LEDs, jumpers and a breadboard. This is a weekend gift, really, perfect for keeping any tech enthusiast/hobbyist happy for hours on end.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi Kit for Dummies (Pi 3 Included) CanaKit Raspberry Pi Kit for Dummies (Pi 3 Included) Buy Now On Amazon $89.99

A pre-loaded operating system is included on the microSD card, and there is also a Raspberry Pi for Dummies booklet included (the full volume is $15) to help you get started. You should be able to cover the vast majority of basic projects with this, such as those featured in our list of Raspberry Pi projects The 11 Best Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners These Raspberry Pi projects for beginners are great for getting started with the capabilities of any Raspberry Pi model. Read More .


Educational Kit: The Kano ($150)

One of the original aims of the Raspberry Pi was as a device to teach children basic software development. The basic Kano computer kit features all of the components a child needs to get started with a Raspberry Pi, along with a very clear instruction booklet.

The Best Raspberry Pi Kits for Your First Project muo diy review kano in the box

Cables with striking colors match the Pi’s easy-to-construct case, which comes with its own speaker.

Kano Computer Kit (2016 Edition) Kano Computer Kit (2016 Edition) Buy Now On Amazon $144.95


The Pi itself is a Raspberry Pi 3 (earlier kits had blocky Wi-Fi and Bluetooth dongles intended for easy USB slot insertion by small hands), and this award-winning kit also features stickers.

Backed by such luminaries as Apple founding father Steve “Woz” Wozniak 7 Times Steve Wozniak Was Just The Best Woz, as he is popularly known, is a geek's geek. He started off as a white hat hacker, tinkered around with electronics all his life, and has never lost the joy of technology. Read More and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, the version of Raspbian included with the Kano includes 150 hours of creative play activities. More than enough to teach your children computer skills.

Raspberry Pi Media Center Kit ($85)

From Vilros comes this media center kit, complete with all of the basics for a Raspberry Pi 3 computer. Because this is a media center, however, you’ll also find a 2.4GHz wireless keyboard, complete with touchpad!

Vilros Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Complete Starter Kit with Keyboard-Clear Case Edition Vilros Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Complete Starter Kit with Keyboard-Clear Case Edition Buy Now On Amazon

Intended for using your Raspberry Pi primarily as a media center, you’ll find that this is easy to set up thanks to the microSD card. This has been preinstalled with the NOOBs software 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 , which aides in the easy setup of operating systems for the Raspberry Pi. A couple of media center options are available with NOOBs, OSMC and OpenElec Install Kodi to Turn Your Raspberry Pi Into a Home Media Center If you have a Raspberry Pi, you can turn it into a cheap but effective home media center just by installing Kodi. Read More , both of which are based on the popular Kodi media center distribution.

What this means is that once you’ve got everything plugged in, you can boot up your new Pi and start enjoying streamed video content!

If you have no need for the keyboard, a $60 option is available.

Bonus Item: Raspberry Pi Zero Kit ($28)

We’ve looked at standard Raspberry Pi kits so far, and while the Raspberry Pi 3 is an extremely popular device, there is another model that is particularly useful — the Raspberry Pi Zero Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Zero Whether you bought a magazine with one glued to the front, or found a kit online, the chances are you're now the proud owner of a $5 computer: the Raspberry Pi Zero. Read More .

The Best Raspberry Pi Kits for Your First Project muo diy raspizero top

This is a basic kit with an 8 GB microSD card, USB OTG What Is USB OTG? 5 Cool Ways to Use It on Android What is USB OTG and how can you use it on Android? We explain the feature and the many ways to utilize it. Read More cable, Mini HDMI adapter and 1A power supply, compiled by CanaKit.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero Starter Kit CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero Starter Kit Buy Now On Amazon

You wouldn’t use a Raspberry Pi Zero for anything heavy duty — there are no GPIO pins, for instance (although you can add them, or connect directly to the array). However, the Zero is ideal for projects where space is at a premium. This might be squeezing a Pi into a game controller to make a portable console, for instance. Or one of many other Pi Zero-specific projects 10 of the Best Raspberry Pi Zero Projects So Far With a lack of full-size USB or Ethernet ports, Pi Zero projects are both attractive and challenging in equal measure. Here are ten great Raspberry Pi Zero projects to get you started. Read More . The low cost of the Pi Zero should prove a useful step on point for those interested in Raspberry Pi computing.

Do you prefer to buy your Raspberry Pi in kit form, or source your components separately? Is it more convenient to buy a Raspberry Pi Zero kit, and complete your project, or do you prefer the flexibility of a full Pi? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credit: Kano

Related topics: Computer Case, Electronics, Raspberry Pi.

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  1. Chris Knight
    March 1, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Another great way of starting a Raspberry Pi kit is by signing up for a 12-month subscription to MagPi (the official magazine for the Raspberry Pi).

    It includes a Raspberry Pi Zero, camera connector cable and USB + HDMI adapters.
    You then get some great ideas on projects you can use your Raspberry Pi for, as well as a range of various kits and components that can interface with your Raspberry Pi.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 31, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      This is probably the comment to beat them all!