Best Raspberry Pi kits: 11 options for beginners and experienced makers

No matter what kind of RPi enthusiast you are, there's a kit for you.

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The Raspberry Pi is an incredibly flexible little computer. These days even more so thanks to the introduction of the Raspberry Pi 4 with its multiple RAM options. You can use this miniature PC for a wide range of projects, from the pragmatic to the innovative to the nostalgic—the same hardware can power a retro gaming setup as readily as an ad-blocking server. But if you’ve never handled a circuit board in your life, getting started with a Raspberry Pi may seem intimidating.

Fear not: There are special kits out there that make it easy to get started. The basic ones bundle together a Raspberry Pi board and necessary components (minus the keyboard, mouse, and monitor). More advanced options come without a Raspberry Pi board and instead focus on the specialized hardware needed for a particular project.

We’ve sifted through the options to find the best Raspberry Pi kits on the market. Our top picks include something for everyone, whether you want to build a simple secondary PC or dive right into advanced maker-style projects.

Update 3/14/2020: We’ve updated this story for the Raspberry Pi 4. 

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 Starter Max Kit

Retailer: Amazon
Price: $115
Board included: Yes

startermaxrpi4 CanaKit

If you want to create a sweet little desktop PC in your first foray with the Raspberry Pi take a look at the Starter Max bundle from CanaKit. This kit has a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB of RAM, a USB-C power supply, a high gloss white Pi 4 case, three aluminum heat sinks, a cooling fan, two micro HDMI to HDMI cables for dual-display support, a 64GB microSD card pre-loaded with the NOOBS operating system installer, the PiSwitch to turn the RPi on and off at the touch of a button, and a quick-start guide. 

CanaKit Basic

Retailer: Amazon
Price: $75 (Pi 4 with 2GB RAM) / $63 (Pi 3)
Board included: Yes

rpi4basicstarterkit CanaKit

Raspberry Pi kit maker CanaKit offers a more basic kit with only the essentials included. It comes with either a Raspberry Pi 4 or Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ board. The Pi 4 version includes the official Raspberry Pi 4 power supply, three heat sinks, an HDMI cable, official Pi 4 case, and the PiSwitch.

The Pi 3 bundle has a charger, case, PiSwitch, and two heat sinks. 

To get up and running, you’ll need to add a microSD card, keyboard, and mouse.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi Complete Starter Kit

Retailer: Amazon
Price: $90 (Pi 4 with 2GB RAM) / $75 (Pi 3)
Board included: Yes

pi4completestarterkit CanaKit

CanaKit’s Complete Starter Kit is a healthy step up from the basic starter pack, but a downgrade from the Max kit we listed above. The Pi 4 version has the Raspbery Pi 4 with 2GB of RAM, a 32GB microSD with NOOBS, a case, power adapter, three heat sinks, PiSwitch, and HDMI cable. The Pi 3 version has a Pi 3 Model B, and the rest of the bundle is the same as the Pi 4 version minus one heat sink.

Retro Gaming Kit

Retailer: The Pi Hut
Price: £88.00 ($114 USD)
Board included: Yes

pihutretrogaming The Pi Hut

One of our favorite uses for the Raspberry Pi is as a classic gaming console. If you don’t want to scour Amazon and other retailers for the materials you need, this gaming kit from Pi Hut puts it all together for you in one place.

In addition to the Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB of RAM and accompanying case, you get two Super NES-like game pads, a blank microSD card, power supply, and a micro HDMI to HDMI cable.

The retailer can’t supply the operating system or video game ROMs, so you’ll have to download all of that stuff on your own. If you aren’t sure how to get started, we’ve got a handy tutorial on how to build your own Pi-based retro gaming console.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi Kit for Dummies

Retailer: CanaKit
Price: $90
Board included: Yes

rpikitdummies CanaKit

The Raspberry Pi Kit for Dummies is great for anyone who wants to get into the hardware hacking craze. It includes a Raspberry Pi for Dummies booklet, which serves as a primer for working with the Raspberry Pi and starting your own projects.

The hardware in the kit is what you’d expect: a Raspberry Pi 3 model B, microSD card with the NOOBS operating system installed, power supply, Raspberry Pi 3 case, six-foot HDMI cable, and two heat sinks. You also get a breadboard, jumper wires (M/M and M/F), LEDs, push-button switches, Ohm resistors, and a GPIO quick reference card.

Pi Desktop

Retailer: Element 14
Price: $55.09
Board included: No

pidesktop angle e14 Element 14

Similar to Intel’s Windows-based NUC kits, the Pi Desktop is a big square box that comes with an add-on board that connects to the Raspberry Pi via its GPIO pins. There’s also a variety of PC-like innards including an mSATA interface, power controller, system clock, and heat sink.

All you need to bring is a Raspberry Pi 3 board (it doesn’t work with the Raspberry Pi 4), an SSD up to 1TB capacity, and a DIY can-do attitude. In no time you’ll be up and running with your own snazzy-looking Raspberry Pi desktop PC. 

PiTop Kit v2

Retailer: Adafruit
Price: $300
Board included: No

pi top Adafruit

If you find yourself wishing your Raspberry Pi 3 could be a laptop, this kit from Adafruit is for you. You’ll have to bring your own Raspberry Pi board, but it has everything else you’ll need: a 14-inch 1080p screen, easy access to the Pi as well as any other cables or USB devices, an 8GB SD card with Pi-Top OS, various cables and screws, and charger. This second-generation PiTop Kit is compatible with multiple Raspberry Pi boards such as the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

Google AIY Vision Kit v1.1

Retailer: Adafruit
Price: $100
Board included: Yes

googleaiykit Adafruit

Get into the world of artificial intelligence with Google’s AIY Vision Kit. It comes with an included Raspberry Pi Zero WH board and pre-loaded SD card. This kit helps DIYers create an intelligent camera that can “recognize objects, detect faces, and emotions.”

The other key components are the Raspberry Pi Camera Board, Vision Bonnet Board, push button, button harness, privacy LED, and buzzer. 

Freenove RFID Starter Kit

Retailer: Amazon
Price: $40
Board included: No

rpiirkit Freenove

Some Raspberry Pi kits include the board and everything you need to get started. Others, like the Freenove RFID Starter Kit, don’t bundle in the actual Raspberry Pi but instead give you a whole lot of tools for hardware hackery.

This kit focuses on projects that include radio frequency identification (RFID) with components such as a keypad, breadboard, stepping motor, and (of course) an RFID module. Freenove offers 53 projects with the kit that involve three programming languages: C, Python, and Java.

Freenove Ultimate Starter Kit

Retailer: Amazon
Price: $50
Board included: No

freenoveultimate Freenove

This particular Freenove kit comes with practically everything you need to start hardware projects: the Ultimate Starter Kit includes more than 200 trimmings for 57 projects. The only thing missing is the Raspberry Pi itself.

This package includes a breadboard, stepping motor, keypad, joystick cap, switches, LED lights, wires, and resistors. The included tutorials and projects use three programming languages: C, Python, and Java.

PiAware Aircraft Tracking Kit

Retailer: ModMyPi
Price: £85.00 ($110.02 USD)
Board included: No

flightawarekit ModMyPi

Now this is an interesting project kit for air travel fans. It lets you transform your Raspberry Pi 4 or Pi 3 into an ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) ground station—you’ll receive real-time data from airplanes within range of the included FlightAware antenna.

Currently, the Pi Hut is sold out of this kit, but we’re hopeful it will be back in stock soon. The kit includes a Raspberry Pi case, microSD card with PiAware software installed, power supply, video cable, ethernet cable, heat sink, FlightAware Pro Stick or Pro Stick Plus, USB cable, 1090MHz antenna, and a 1090MHz band-pass SMA filter.

This kit is customizable, so make sure you go through the various choices ModMyPi offers before paying.

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