It's Thanksgiving 2015 - the turkey's brining, the potatos not-yet-mashed...and from Pi Towers the call goes out A NEW PI IS BORN! LONG LIVE THE PI!

The Pi Zero - the smallest, thinnest, most-affordable Pi ever. So much so, it comes free with every issue of MagPi #40.

Want to get your own? Pick up a Raspberry Pi Zero starter kit, basic kit or just the bare computer board at the adafruit shop.

What's new? What's different?

Wow a new Pi - so exciting! The Pi Zero is the smallest, most affordable Pi ever. Wonder what's new & different? Let's check it out!


First up, the Pi Zero is small and thin 

65mm long x 30mm wide x 5mm thick

(31mm if you include the little sticky-out bits of the microUSB jacks)

Way smaller than the Pi 2 or B+ and even smaller than the A+, its 60% the size of the A+: same length, and about half the width:

And about 40% the size of the Pi 2 or B+

Processor and Speed

To keep the Pi Zero low cost, the processor and RAM are kept pretty basic. Instead of the Pi 2's zippy quad core ARM v7, we're back to a single-core 1GHz ARM (same processor in the Pi Model B+ and A+). We also have 512 MB of RAM with a 'package-on-package' setup. The chip shown here:

Is the RAM that is sitting on top of the main processor.

For maker and hacker projects, this isn't a big deal. You're essentially going to get the same performance as the Pi A+ or B+. If you're looking for something that can do some more serious processing, check out the Pi 2

Micro SD Card Holder

Not much has changed here, we're still going with MicroSD for size and ease of use (they're the most common card size these days!) This time the card holder is up top and is push-pull style not push-push. Honestly, I prefer it this way since you wont accidentally 'push-pop' the card out

Video Out

HDMI Video is still available, you'll want to use a Mini to Standard HDMI adapter to connect an HDMI cable. There's no 3.5mm jack with composite out, however you can get PAL or NTSC out via two 0.1" pads. We've got a bigger write-up here about Pi Zero video outputs.

Audio out

No analog audio out, but if you connect HDMI to a monitor with speakers you will get HDMI digital audio. It's also possible to hack analog audio out with a few passive components, see our more detailed look at Pi Zero audio output options.

USB Port

Like the Pi Model A+, the Pi Zero does not have a USB Hub built in which means you get one USB port! Moreover that USB port is not a standard type A port, instead it is a 'USB On-The-Go' port

In order to connect a USB device (mouse, keyboard, WiFi) etc you'll need a USB OTG micro B to A cable:

If you need to connect multiple USB devices, a simple USB hub will do what you need. A powered hub is even better, and will let you power high-current USB devices like WiFi adapters and even external USB hard-drives.

As a bonus you can power the Pi Zero from the hub (the power cable does not pass any data) - just plug the power micro USB cable into one of the ports.

GPIO Header

 To keep the Zero as simple and small as possible, the 'normal' GPIO header spot has been left blank! Normally, a 2x20 male header is soldered in there. While you could grab one of those and solder them in, the empty spot has a lot of potential. For example, you can solder in right-angle socket header, and turn the Pi Zero it a sort of 'daughter card'

This guide was first published on Nov 26, 2015. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (A Tour of the Pi Zero) was last updated on Nov 25, 2015.

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