Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi 400: Which Should You Buy?

If you’re in the market for a new single-board computer, you might have wondered about the differences between the Raspberry Pi 4 and the Raspberry Pi 400.

The Raspberry Pi 400 is a much newer device, released in November 2020. However, the Raspberry Pi Model 4 B was launched in June 2019, more than a year earlier.

However, the release date should not be the only factor in your choice. This is because both SBCs are designed for different purposes and uses, as we will discuss later in this post.

Similarities Between the Raspberry Pi 4 and 400

Both computers are designed and produced by the Raspberry Pi foundation. Both circuit boards use the same Broadcom processor, the BCM2711 with the ARM Cortex-A72 CPU and the same graphic card.

They also generally share the same hardware for wireless and wired connectivity and run the same Debian-based operating system out of the box.

Selecting an appropriate Raspberry model for your project can be challenging with the numerous options available. Our guide on choosing the right Raspberry Pi can help with this.

The main differences between the Raspberry Pi 4 and the Raspberry Pi 400 will be key to choosing which model to buy.

Form Factor

The Raspberry Pi 400 is essentially a custom Raspberry Pi 4 board housed in a keyboard case. This casing provides cooling and convenience, but it restricts its use since you can’t remove the board from it to use in your projects.

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, however, has no such constraints and can easily be integrated into your embedded projects.

The Raspberry Pi 400 harkens back to the keyboard computers of the late 70s and throughout most of the 80s. People who had a ZX Spectrum or a Commodore 64 as their first computer will find themselves attracted to this model. Fun Fact: The Raspberry Pi 400 was initially referred to as “Project Commodore 64” in internal communications.

The form factor of the Pi 400 isn’t necessarily a disadvantage, as it means you can use it in projects such as a cyberdeck blaster or as a standard, less powerful personal computer.

Hardware Specifications

The Raspberry Pi 4 has a 64-bit quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM. Compared to other models, the Pi 4 runs much more efficiently than its predecessors and has 4K video support. It’s also the first Raspberry Pi to have Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.0, and Gigabit Ethernet.

The Pi 400 has similar specs to the Pi 4. However, it lacks a 3.5mm audio jack and the 40-pin GPIO is located at the rear of the computer. It also features an inbuilt heat sink and fewer USB ports than the Pi 4.

The table below compares the hardware specifications for the Raspberry Pi 400 and the Raspberry Pi 4B.

Raspberry Pi 400 Raspberry Pi 4B
Processor Broadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.8GHz Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz
Memory 4-GB LPDDR4-3200 1GB, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM
Connectivity Gigabit Ethernet, 2.4 GHz, and 5.0 GHz IEEE 802.11ac wireless Same
Ports 2 × USB 3.0 and 1 × USB 2.0 ports, 2 × micro-HDMI ports (supports up to 4K video) 2 × USB 3.0 and 2 × USB 2.0 ports, 2 × micro-HDMI ports (supports up to 4k video)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0, BLE Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
Power Supply 5V DC via USB connector 5V DC via GPIO header and USB connector
SD Card Slot Yes Yes
GPIO header Horizontal Standard (backwards-compatible)
Power over Ethernet No Enabled (requires PoE HAT)

Raspberry Pi Price Comparison

At an official retail price of $70, the Raspberry Pi 400 appears to be more expensive than the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B at first glance ($55 for the 4GB RAM model). But, it is worth noting that you’re getting a keyboard, a complete case, an inbuilt heat sink, and a single-board computer for that price. Also, due to shortages, you are most likely going to pay at least twice the official listed price of these devices to get them from third-party resellers on eBay and Amazon.

The complete Raspberry Pi 400 kit offers even more value. For $100, you get a mouse, power supply, micro HDMI to HDMI cable, and an SD card preloaded with Raspberry Pi OS.

Raspberry Pi Performance

The Raspberry Pi 400 includes a cooling system that allows it to be as much as 20% faster than the Pi 4 at a clock speed of 1.8Ghz. There is a large metal plate attached to the integrated circuit which serves as a heatsink, and the keyboard housing has vents for air circulation.

In a stress test conducted by Cytron, the Raspberry Pi 400 consistently offered better thermal performance compared to the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, even with a cooling fan, at room temperature.

However, the Raspberry Pi 400 is capped at 4GB of RAM whereas you can get up to 8GB with the Raspberry Pi 4B.

Target Users

The Raspberry Pi 4 was created for the tinkerers, makers, and hobbyists that the Raspberry Pi Foundation has always catered for. It is usable for almost every kind of project you can think of and provides numerous improvements over the Pi 3.

The Raspberry Pi 400 is also designed to appeal to these same users, but to a much lesser extent. It is suited to cater to anyone who just wants a computer that works out of the box, i.e, less technically-inclined users who are in the market for a cheap, working computer. This means that certain functionality is not available on the Pi 400, such as the capability to use the Raspberry Pi Camera Modules.

Other Differences

The Raspberry Pi 400 features an on/off button, the very first of its kind in the Raspberry Pi series. You can use the Fn+F10 keys to turn the Raspberry Pi 400 on and off.

Since last year, the Raspberry Pi 4 has been hard to buy from approved retailers and that situation still persists till today. You may find yourself having to pay quite a premium to get a Raspberry Pi 4 from third-party resellers. The Raspberry Pi 400 is, however, in considerably less demand, so you are more likely to find this model in stock from official retailers.

Which One Should You Choose?

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is a better choice for hardware hackers due to its credit card-sized form factor and higher memory capacity. While both offer GPIO access, the Raspberry Pi 400 offers performance improvements over the Pi 4B and a simplified out-of-the-box experience without requiring extra peripherals, making it better suited for people who value ease of use over customization.

Due to its lesser demand and better availability, the Raspberry Pi 400 also appears to be a more attractive option. If you simply want a Raspberry Pi, and you’re not willing to pay the inflated prices associated with the Pi 4, you should definitely go for a Raspberry Pi 400.

In summary, the Raspberry Pi 400 is faster, cheaper, and easier to obtain, but it is also less flexible than the Raspberry Pi Model 4 B.

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