Raspberry Pi, the real cost

The Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer the size of a credit card, has recently launched to high demand, with pre-orders selling out within the first day.

The unit will retail in SA for around R359.20 from local distributor RS Electronics, and is aimed at markets such as the education field where costs can be a concern.

The R359.20 price tag tells only half of the story though, because while all of the major performance and interface components are built into the board, there are certain things you would need before you can make use of the Raspberry Pi.

Before you get started

There are two more components you need to obtain before you can make use of the Raspberry Pi board.


The first component you will need to run the Pi is a power source. The unit can be powered via microUSB and requires 0.7A at 5 volts. This means that any cellphone charger within these parameters will work (such as those bundled with BlackBerry smartphones).

The alternative is buying a 2 pin socket to USB power wall adapter, which can be had locally for under R50. Coupling this with a USB to microUSB data cable (also under R50) will also be sufficient.


The device also needs storage to load an operating system and files onto. This is handled by an SD card slot, with users being able to load various versions of Linux onto cards that interface with the hardware.

A 4GB SD card is about the minimum you will need for the Pi. These are fairly common and can be had locally for around R50. 8GB options are also available for as little as R80 and are also worth consideration.

Raspberry Pi Layout
Raspberry Pi Layout

Other components to consider

While the above will allow you to actually boot up the Raspberry Pi, there are few more components to consider.

The most obvious is a case to house the Raspberry Pi. There are no dedicated casings for the Raspberry Pi locally, so users will have to go the DIY route.

Input/output devices are also necessary. A USB keyboard and mouse to control the PC are a must, as well as a screen to display output. Finally, one will also need to factor in the cost of an HDMI or RCA cable to connect the Raspberry Pi to the display.

The total cost of running a Raspberry Pi without an interface is close to double the price of the board, coming in at around R500. This excludes the monitor, which will account for the largest portion of the budget, as well as the keyboard and mouse which are necessary for those who want to interact with the device.

Despite all this, the Raspberry Pi is still an attractive low-cost offering, and judging by the current high demand it looks set for sales success.

Raspberry Pi Board
Raspberry Pi Board

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Raspberry Pi, the real cost