Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino are the two most dependable hardware for an IoT project. Both these hardwares can even be integrated with other electronic components to form a powerful AI. Both, Adruino and Raspberry Pi Pico are more or less the same but there is a bit of variance between the functionality of these microcontrollers. Not sure which one to choose?  Remember that your choice must depend on your project’s requirements. In this article, we are going to compare these two boards in detail and help you in making the correct choice. 

To get more information regarding the specifications of Raspberry Pi Pico Click Here.

And to check the specifications of Arduino Uno R3 Click Here.

Comparison between Raspberry Pi Pico and Arduino based on some basic points like functionality, ease of use, coding and power consumption is given below:

1. Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino on Functionality and GPIO

Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino

Raspberry Pi Pico has got a new 40 pin dual in-line package (DIP) type PCB, which wasn’t included in the previous Raspberry models. A DIP style package is an electronic unit that allows surfaces mount electronics.  The pins in Raspberry Pi Pico are cleverly spread across the perimeter of the board making it easy for the user to carry any type of soldering on the board. 

Arduino being a microcontroller, has got a DIP style. Its style is more convenient when compared to Arduino Uno layout and other Raspberry Pi layouts. There are many inputs available for Raspberry Pi Pico GPIO like

  • digital IO,
  • multiple 12C, SPI, UART connections
  • and also three analogue inputs.
  • Even many programmable IO pins can be constructed to imitate other protocols and interfaces like WS2812 Neopixels for instance.
  • This $4 board can also be used to carry out high-level tasks in the background, making it perfect for software applications. 

2. Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino on SoC

Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino

The current Arduino boards use Arm CPUs which are preferably better than Atmel chips like ATMega 328P which were used in the previous models. The Arm chips are much more powerful and reliable for projects than an ATMega 328P. 

Due to a powerful package being offered, electronic hardware companies like Adafruit, Seed and SparkFun use Arm chips in their boards and gradually is becoming the most prominent chip for micro-controllers. Though, multiple cores and faster speed offered doesn’t mean that your micro-controller will be applicable because they are generally integrated into a single part of the projects.

Whereas Raspberry Pi Pico has got the RP2040 which is slightly better in performance than most of the average micro-controllers.

RP2040 has got

  • A dual-core Arm Cortex M0+ which runs at 133Mhz .
  • Which is indeed faster than 16Mhz 328P found in UNO.
  • Pico’s flash storage is 2MB which much more than that of UNO which is just 32KB.
  • It also has 256KB SRAM which greatly higher than the 2KB SRAM found in UNO.

Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino Portenta H7(Arduino’s Best)

If we compare Portenta H7 the Arduino’s best chip with Raspberry Pico’s RP2040, it will undoubtedly win over since it has got features like WiFi, Bluetooth, camera interface and GPU. But the price of the Portenta H7 is $110, which is almost equivalent to 25 times the value of Raspberry Pi Pico therefore there these two chipsets cannot be compared.

3. Coding in Raspberry Pi Pico compared to Arduino

Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino

Arduino uses Arduino IDE which has developed a lot in the past years and bought many improvements like multiple board management and provision for search and installing libraries of packages. There are many alternatives to Arduino IDE like Platform IO and Arduino Create. 

Arduino Create is the same as Arduino IDE but a cloud version of it which is suitable for IoT projects.

In contrast to that, Raspberry Pi Pico supports two programming languages which are C/C++ and MicroPyhton. C/C++ is used by advanced programmers whereas beginners prefer using MicroPython due to its simplicity. 

The easiest way to code in MicroPython is through Thonny IDE which of version 3.3.0 or above or it can be directly written into the Python shell Read, Eval, Print, Loop (RELP). Programmes can be transferred from your computer directly on Raspberry Pi Pico through the use of a USB cable. 

Pico users who use C programming language can use Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code along with some extensions to build the code for Pico. They can also use any editor like Vi/Vim or nano etc. to build the code using command line tools.

This point makes Raspberry Pi Pico less convenient for all types of programmers and coders. But if you are a C programmer then definitely Pico should be perfect for you.

4. Ease of Use of Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino

Most of the Pi boards other than Raspberry Pi Pico are computers that run on an Operating System stored in an SD card. But the case with Raspberry Pi Pico is different. You will need to flash it with an image of whichever programming language you choose to run it. Therefore, this makes  Raspberry Pi different from the other Raspberry Pi boards.

You can build the code and straightway save it to your board. The image formate is needed to be UF2. To do this, you need to press the BOOTSEL button when you plug in the micro USB cable and transfer the UF2 image file to the RPI-R2 drive. After this, you can start building your code.

Some users may not be comfortable to code in C/C++ due to its limited approach while creating a final product. If you are not a C/C++ user, you can write the code in a text editor and then us te extra applications needed. Just remember that your code should be in a UF2 file to be able to transfer it to Pico.

Arduino, in contrast to that, has got a less complex Arduino IDE which has shown tremendous upgrades in the past years. There are fewer options in the IDE for beginners than there are in the app. Whereas advance users work in different boars, libraries and ports. 

If we talk about the physical features of the boards, Raspberry Pi Pico does not comes pre-soldered. You will need to have the knowledge of shuddering pins correctly. Whereas if we look at Arduino, their boards come pre-soldered except for thor DIP boards. The problem with unsoldered boards is that it takes consumes time to complete the project since soldering is also to be done also it requires the user to know how to solder the board. 

5. Power consumption

As mentioned earlier, Raspberry Pi Pico is very different from the standard Raspberry Pi boards and has evolved a lot. It is created for embedded projects and not for the end role. Thus, Pico consumes less power to run as a microcontroller since it lacks other functions which are needed for a computer.

 If we connect Raspberry Pi Pico to a 5.21V power supply, it will draw 600 mA current while running 12 Neopixel LEDs. Hence, 3.1W power is required to power the board and the Neopixels. Whereas the standard Raspberry Pi required around 4-5W without any external connections. This shows that  Raspberry Pi Pico consumes less power than the standard Raspberry Pi.

Arduino has taken this to a next level. Arduino Uno board, when connected to Neopixels, draws just 290mA current at 5.18V and can work at just 1.5W when connected to a 5.21V supply. There is no comparison regarding power consumption as Arduino draws very less power when compared to Raspberry Pi Pico.

SpecificationsRaspberry Pi PicoArduino
Maximum Current Draw100mA40mA
Maximum Speed133MHz16MHz
Operating Power1.8V and 5.5V9 to 12 V

But power consumption increases with a powerful processor. If we were to connect suppose a Portenta H7 there would be a noticeable increase in power consumption since the Arm CPU used is much more powerful than the standard chips of Arduino and Raspberry Pi Pico’s RP2040.

Final verdict: which is better – Arduino or Raspberry Pi Pico?

Both, Raspberry Pi Pico and Arduino are really good boards for an IoT project but with a good deal of controllers along with a price range of $4 and documentation, Raspberry Pi Pico has got a much better deal and would save a lot of your time and energy, helping you complete your project easily. Arduino will surely be going to have an update for its IDE which will support Pico and workflow based on C/C++ will be easier to use. For the time being, the powerful package of Raspberry Pi Pico wins over Arduino.  

SpecificationsRaspberry Pi PicoArduino
Program transfer processUSB mass storage, micro USB BUSB B, Virtual Serial Port
GPIOs26 digital input/output pins (including 4 ADC)20 digital input/output pins (including 6 ADC)
Board power inputs5 VDC via USB micro B5 VDC via USB B
CoreDual-core with 32 bit ARM Cortex-M0+Single-core with 8 bit RISC
Microcontroller (MCU)RP2040 (much powerful)ATmega328P
Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC)12-bits at 500 kSps10-bits at 328 kSps
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