As with any computer, on the Raspberry Pi; you’ll need a way to enter data and a way to see the interface; which usually means getting a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor. However, you can opt for a headless Raspberry Pi install; which allows you to remote control the Pi from your PC. In that case, the minimum requirements are:
- microSD card of at least 8GB, but the best Raspberry Pi microSD cards have 32GB or more. When you first set up a Raspberry Pi; you need to “burn” the OS onto it by using a PC; another Raspberry Pi or even a phone with microSD card reader.
- Power supply: For the Raspberry Pi 4, you need a USB-C power source that provides at least 3 amps / 5 volts; but for other Raspberry Pis; you need a micro USB connection that offers at least 2.5 amps and the same 5 volts. Your power supply provides power to both the Pi and any attached HATs and USB devices; so always look for supplies that can provide a higher amperage at 5 volts.
In addition, there are a number of accessory and add-on types that protect your Pi; add new features and make everything a lot more useful and fun. These include:
- Cases; The best Raspberry Pi cases give you style, functionality and durability.
- HATs (aka add-on boards); The best Raspberry Pi HATs let you do everything from adding motors to creating LED light shows.
- Breakout Boards; To breakout the GPIO for easier access or to use via a breadboard. Essential for the new Raspberry Pi 400.
- Camera Modules; The Raspberry Pi has its own special camera port and there’s a whole ecosystem of compatible camera modules for it.
- Cooling: Raspberry Pi 4 models in particular can get hot so fans and heatsinks help.
- Electronic parts; You can make great projects and have a lot of fun with motors, sensors, transistors and other bits and bobs. Just don’t forget your breadboard!
- USB Drives; The Raspberry Pi 4 can boot from a USB hard drive / SSD giving us a speed boost; and a cheap means to add additional storage.
Overall, these are the best Raspberry Pi accessories. No matter what your needs or project, you’ll definitely need some of these.
Some Minor adjustments were made to accommodate the SA market
Click on the images to purchase
The Best Raspberry Pi Accessories You Can Buy Today
Argon Neo Case
The top overall choice on our round-up of the best Raspberry Pi Cases; the Argon Neo combines great looks with plenty of flexibility and competent passive cooling. This mostly-aluminum (bottom is plastic) case for the Raspberry Pi 4; features a magnetic cover that slides off to provide access to the GPIO pins with enough clearance to attach a HAT; along with the ability to connect cables to the camera and display ports. The microSD card slot, USB and micro HDMI out ports are easy to access at all times.
With the cover on or off; the Argon Neo provides solid passive cooling capability as an included thermal pad connects the Raspberry Pi 4’s CPU to an aluminum plate to dissipate heat. You can also attach an optional fan HAT for active cooling
Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera
It doesn’t come cheap; but the official Raspberry Pi High Quality camera offers the best image quality of any Pi camera by far; along with the ability to mount it on a tripod. The 12-MP camera doesn’t come with a lens; but supports any C or CS lens, which means you can choose from an entire ecosystem of lenses; with prices ranging from $16 up to $50 or more and a variety of focal lengths and F-stop settings. We tested the High Quality camera with two lenses; one designed for close up shots, the other for more distant; the image quality was a massive improvement over the standard Raspberry Pi camera.
The Raspberry Pi High Quality camera plugs into the same CSI port on the Raspberry Pi as any other Pi camera module; but unlike the others; this one has a ¼ inch screw hole that allows you to attach it to any standard tripod or camera mount. If you care about image quality, the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera is a must-have.
Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2
If you need a Raspberry Pi camera, but don’t want to spend more than $50 on the high quality module and then have to bring your own lens; the official Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 is the one to get. This 8-MP camera uses a Sony IMX219 sensor that gives it really solid image quality; records video at up 1080p, 30 fps and is a big improvement over the 5-MP OmniVision OV5647 that was in the V1 camera.
Raspberry Pi 4 Official Power Supply
If you’re going to use a Raspberry Pi 4; you need a USB-C power supply that offers at least 3 amps of juice with a 5-volt output. We’ve found that the best USB-C laptop chargers are capable of delivering this kind of power (albeit often with 4.8 – 4.9 volts, which still works); but if you don’t have a powerful charger handy or need one just for your Pi, the official Raspberry Pi power supply is your best choice.
Rated for 5.1 volts at 3 amps; the official Raspberry Pi 4 power supply has good build quality and a nice design. Available in black or white, it’s a small rectangle; emblazoned with the Raspberry Pi logo and a strong, built-in Type-C cable that’s 59 inches (1.5m) long. Unlike some third-party competitors; it doesn’t come with an on / off switch; but it is compatible with cheap on / off adapters you can attach to the end. You may find competitors for a few dollars less; but the official Raspberry Pi 4 power supply is a sure thing.
Pimoroni Explorer HAT Pro
The Raspberry Pi’s 40 GPIO pins are arguably its most important feature. Using these pins (see our GPIO pinout), you can attach an entire universe of electronics, including motors, sensors and lights. There’s a huge ecosystem of add-on boards; appropriately called HATs (hardware attached on top) that plug directly into the GPIO pins; and matching the same layout as the Pi. These add on boards give you all kinds of added functionality; from LED light matrixes to touch screens and motor controllers for robotics projects.
Sitting at the very top of our list of Best Raspberry Pi HATs, each of which has a different purpose; the Pimoroni Explorer HAT Pro provides a smorgasbord of features that you can use in a wide variety of projects. While the Raspberry Pi doesn’t come with an analog to digital converter like Arduino does (see Raspberry Pi vs Arduino); the Explorer HAT Pro provides four ADCs you can use with joysticks or potentiometers. It also packs two motor controllers; four colorful LED lights, four touch pads and four crocodile clips for attaching other electronics. Oh and it comes with a small breadboard you can stick on top and use for mounting and wiring electronics. Every serious Raspberry Pi fan should have one of these on hand.
Pimoroni Fan Shim
If you’re using a Raspberry Pi 4, you definitely need some kind of cooling; whether it’s a heat sink, an aluminum with passive cooling built in or, best of all, a fan. The Pimoroni Fan Shim is powerful, easy-to-install and unobtrusive. You just push it down onto the left most side of your GPIO pin header and it does a fantastic job of cooling your Pi. You can even use a Pimoroni Fan Shim on a Raspberry Pi 4 that’s been overclocked all the way to 2.1 GHz; without seeing any throttling.
Just let the Fan Shim run all the time or you can download Pimoroni’s software; which allows you to set temperature thresholds for it.
GPIO Reference Board
Each of the Raspberry Pi’s 40 GPIO pins has a different function so it’s hard to keep track of which does what. For example, some of the pins provide I2C communication while others offer power and others are just for grounding. You can look at a GPIO pinout guide such as ours, but sometimes it’s just easier to put the list of functions right on top of the pins.
GPIO reference boards are tiny, non-electronic headers that you place on top of the pins to show you which one has which name. There are many different brands and models for sale and all do pretty much the same thing so there’s no need to be picky about which one you buy. Most have small holes on top that you can use to hang them on a keychain and take them wherever you go.
micro HDMI to HDMI Adapters
While most of the earlier Raspberry Pi models have a single, full-size HDMI port, the Raspberry Pi 4 has dual micro HDMI ports that can each output to a monitor at up to 4K resolution. While there’s a good chance you already have one or more HDMI cables lying around the house, most of us don’t have micro HDMI cables, because it’s a rarely used connector.
To connect the Raspberry Pi 4 to a screen, you’ll either need a micro HDMI to HDMI cable or a micro HDMI to HDMI adapter you can connect an existing cable to. Cable Matters, a well-known and reputable brand, sells a pair of such adapters for just $10. That’s much cheaper than a single micro HDMI to HDMI cable, which goes for $8 to 10 for just one. I’ve been using these Cable Matters adapters for more than a year now and they’ve worked really well.
Electronics Kit with Breadboard, Wires
You can use your Raspberry Pi as a game emulator, a server or a desktop PC, but the real fun begins when you start connecting electronics to its GPIO pins. Of course, to even get started playing with GPIO connectors, you need some interesting things to connect to them such as lights, sensors and resistors.
The market is filled with electronics kits that come with a slew of LED lights, resistors, jumper cables, buttons and other bits and bobs you need to get started. Most importantly, all of these kits come with at least one breadboard, a white plastic surface filled with holes you can use to route and test circuits, no soldering required. We’re not huge fans of the Official Raspberry Pi 4 case, because it covers the GPIO pins and camera slots.
USB 3 microSD Card Reader
In order to write Raspberry Pi OS (or a different OS) to a microSD card, you’ll need some kind of microSD card reader that you can attach to your PC. Just about any make or model will do as long as it reads SDHC and SDXC cards and, preferably, connects via USB 3.0. I’ve been using the Jahovans X USB 3.0 card reader, which currently goes for $5.99, for almost a year now and it has worked really well.
You can also attach a microSD card reader to your Pi and use it to create a disk image backup of your Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi Zero Official Case
We’re not huge fans of the Official Raspberry Pi 4 case, because it covers the GPIO pins and camera slots. However, the Official Raspberry Pi Zero case is a completely different as it comes with three different covers: one which has a camera hole (so you can make a Raspberry Pi body camera), another which exposes the GPIO pins and a third which covers the whole thing. The official Raspberry Pi Zero case also has the official burgundy and white colors of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.