The Raspberry Pi 1, 2 and 3 compared

The Raspberry Pi 3 has now launched. The 3rd generation has many improvements over its predecessor. Let’s see how it compares to the older models.

Raspberry Pi evolution

Originally, this site was hosted from a Raspberry Pi Model B Rev 1, and surprisingly it was very capable. The only issue was the 256mb RAM which would quickly fill. To overcome this, I changed the boot device to be a high-quality USB flash drive (find out how in this tutorial) where swap took over once the memory was full.

The rev 2 of the Model B saw an increase to 512mb of RAM which made all the difference. The Raspberry Pi 2 launched with a welcomed performance boost with a multicore processor and an increase in memory to 1GB. Raspberry Pi has now launched with another boost in processing power, and the addition of WiFi.

Tech specs dfferences between Raspberry Pi 1, 2 and 3

Above I’ve summarised some of the differences, below are the actual differences between each of the models.

Raspberry Pi Raspberry Pi 2 Raspberry Pi 3
Released February 2012 February 2015 February 2016
CPU ARM1176JZF-S ARM Cortex-A7 ARM Cortex-A53
CPU speed 700MHz
single core
quad core
quad core
256MB Rev 1
GPU Broadcom Videocore IV Broadcom Videocore IV Broadcom Videocore IV
Storage SDHC slot
MicroSDHC Model A+ and B+
MicroSDHC slot MicroSDHC slot
USB Ports 2 on Model B 4 4
WiFi No built-in wifi No built-in wifi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.1

As we can see, the hardware has matured, adding new capabilities and performance boosts. The RRP has remained the same; around the £35 ($30) mark.

Operating Systems

The operating system recommended by Raspberry Pi on the first two generations is their own port of Linux, Raspbian OS, but will run other ports and Risc OS.

Raspberry Pi 3 brings new capabilities, and officially runs Windows 10 IoT core and Ubuntu, a welcomed addition.

Physical differences between Raspberry Pi 1, 2 and 3

The physical dimensions hasn’t changed (much) between models. Instead, the additional capabilities have been added to the credit card-sized PCB. The addition of more IO, USB and bumped up performance has made all the difference.

Pictured, left to right: Raspberry Pi 3, 2 and 1

Pictured, left to right: Raspberry Pi 3, 2 and 1

Pictured left to right: Raspberry Pi 1, 2 and 3

Pictured left to right: Raspberry Pi 1, 2 and 3

What next?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be benchmarking the models and adding a tutorial on how to create a Ubuntu-based web server on Raspberry Pi 3.


Web Developer living in Manchester, working for Studio Skylab ( Views and thoughts are my own.

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8 Responses

  1. Michael Lush says:

    What do you mean the formfactor has not changed? Try fitting a Pi 1 into a Pi 2 case (and what no love for the B+?)

  2. Distrace says:

    Article is still the same btw

  3. El Pingüno says:

    One year after – the article still the same. Common guys, he’s just PHP developer, don’t stress him.

    • Ron HulduNet says:

      Yeah, he should probably update/change the info here, as it shows up on Google search.
      Adding info on the Pi B and B+ would be nice too.

      • Ste says:

        Hi Ron

        Yep I agree with you, I do need to get this page updated, or at least do a new article and link through to it. Leave it with me, thanks for highlighting how out of date the article has become 🙂.

        Thanks again

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