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Adam Crockett
Adam Crockett

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🍓Choosing the right headless Raspberry Pi

Headless is a blanket term for anything without a GUI.

In that sense you intend to not use a monitor, mouse and keyboard and just have an SSH server running. I'm not going to go into that specially - but I will talk a little about hardware.

If you are here you probably like JavaScript so I'm gonna assume that you want to do a little nodejs on your pi? How about saving some money too?

There are a few options I personally think that fit the above criteria pi 3rd generation is great choice. Not as pokey as the gen 4 but still great. 512mb ram and quad core ARM something something - it will run nice and quickly. But it's still quite pricey if you get the default model B plus so here's the money saving tip.

The model A plus is actually pretty much the same as the model B plus but with less stuff. Less USB (use a hub), no ethernet (use a hat) it's also smaller in a nice square foot print which will make you laugh every time you look at it, "that's a computer! No way..." And although that's true for the model B plus it's even more so for the model A plus.
The best bit, the model A plus is a fraction of the price.
It might struggle to run a desktop but you can always use raspberry pi OS lite which fixes that because it's shell only.

Lastly for my application I will be sticking a battery onto it and running a TCP server to run an RC car with pi onboard, the a plus's size is what sold it to me but I have to say this is a brilliant little computer worth your time.

Regards, there is no raspberry emoji 🍓

Discussion (2)

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sintomaticonegativo profile image
Gianluca Tuscano

I think that the best pi for headless developing is the zero:

  • Good WiFi connection
  • Also has USB gadget-mode for local development
  • Low power requirements
  • 512mb RAM (and it's enough)

The only cons is the CPU, not for the single core but for the arm version that is not enough for some usage e.g. code-server/ssh with VS Code

I really hope to see a RPi 4A with the latest cpu and at least 4GB of RAM and USB-C with gadget-mode support

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett Author

It's a really close one I agree that the zero is probably even better but I don't know much of the zero so I may have to pick one up, they look really cool!