Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico: Microcontroller Comparative Guide

The Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico debate is common among tinkerers and robotics enthusiasts. However, the Raspberry Pi Pico leveled the microprocessor field only recently. 

The Raspberry Pi Pico vs. Arduino debate picked up in 2021 with the introduction of the Pi Pico. 

In a head-to-head Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico, the Pi Pico performs better in speed functionality and costs less. 

Let’s compare them based on key points and see which you should pick for your next project. 

Table of Contents

What Is Arduino?

Arduino board with connectors

Arduino board with connectors

If you want to build a simple sensor-based system, Arduino would be the perfect platform. 

Arduino is an open-source microchip platform for building electronic projects and prototyping. 

The Arduino has three key components: hardware, software, and code. 

Arduino is synonymous with easy-to-use software on thousands of projects, from complex science instruments to everyday objects.

Almost all control units for this microcontroller’s boards use ATmega MCUs with a simplified C++ version that appeals to beginners.

What Is Raspberry Pi, Pico?

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico:
Raspberry Pi usage showing LCD display

Raspberry Pi usage shows LCD.

Firstly, you shouldn’t confuse Raspberry Pi with Raspberry Pi Pico. Raspberry Pi is more like a computer; it needs an operating system. 

Raspberry Pi Pico is a low-cost microcontroller board that uses its RP2040 microcontroller chip to receive and control input from electrical devices. It’s the first microcontroller board from Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Raspberry Pi Pico would be a great platform for a simple DIY digital clock.

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico

Although they are both microcontrollers, Arduino vs. Rasberry Pi Pico’s differences can influence their application. We’ll contrast them based on build, user experience, SoC, coding language & IDE, and power needs. 

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico Build

Arduino’s build features a removable, replaceable Dual In-line package(DIP). Some Arduino boards have an integrated processor chip.

The package’s removable feature is useful when working on carrier boards, breadboards, or plug-ins. Moreover, it favors the smaller modern designs. 

Larger models of Arduino have built-in connectors to hook up to peripheral devices with jumper wires. Models such as the Arduino Uno have a USB(type B) connector and separate power connector for multiple serial connections. 

Given its size, Pi Pico is a 40-pin DIP structure PCB mountable on carrier plates. The pins on the Pi Pico board’s edge allow you to solder wires with a clean finish.

It also has a Micro-USB connector, making switching between the device and hosts easy. Raspberry Pi Pico has 30 3.3V GPIOs that allow multiple connections, 12-bit resolution, and a 500kHz sampling rate.

The three analog outputs, 12C, 2 UART, and 2 SPI connections, add to the programmable IO pins that allow complex background tasks.

Arduino Vs. Raspberry Pi Pico User Experience

Arduino’s user experience may be better for enthusiasts who’ve gone through the changes with the boards. Experienced users will find it easier to work with Arduino’s different boards.

Additionally, newer Arduino boards come pre-soldered, so you can begin coding as soon as you get them. The alternative would be getting the removable DIP boards. 

Beginners may enjoy a better user experience with the Pi Pico. Pico uses a downloadable image you can upload after coding. You can input code on a text editor like Thonny, PyCharm, or Eclipse IDE.

Basic text editors such as Notepad++ or PSPad will work, too. You must convert the code to a UF2 format image to start coding. 

Pi Pico needs you to have basic soldering skills, though. It comes unsoldered. Still, it’s easier to use on breadboards. 

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico SoC(Software on Chip)

Older Arduino boards have relied on Atmel chips. The chips handle tasks just fine since they process one task simultaneously. Arduino microcontroller comes with only 2Kb or SRAM and 32Kb or flash storage with frequency peaking at only 16 MHz. 

However, Arduino is leaning toward more powerful Arm chips. You can see it in the flagship, Portenta 7. 

Pi Pico shines right out of the gate with its super powerful RD2040 microcontroller. The 32-bit Arm chip is packed with 264KB of SRAM backed by 2MB of flash storage.

The frequency on the Pi Pico tops at 133 MHz. The RD2040 is so powerful that Arduino incorporates it into the Nano Connect. 

Arduino vs. Rasberry Pi Pico Coding Language and IDE

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico:  C++ coding language used in Arduino

C++ coding language used in Arduino

Arduino boards are designed to use C/C++ language. Arduino IDE processes, compile and load the written code onto the board. Other development environments for Arduino are Atmel Studio and PlatformIO. 

While you can still write in C/C++ on the Pi Pico, you can program much faster with Micropython. It comes with a Serial Wire Debug interface for more seasoned coders. 

Still, the Arduino IDE supports Pi Pico if you switch between both boards. Furthermore, Pi Pico supports Adafruit’s CircuitPython. 

Whether new or seasoned, you can use standard text editors to write code in Pi Pico. Alternatively, you can use Thonny, PyCharm, or Eclipse IDE. 

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico Power Consumption

The Arduino operates in the 7-12V range. Arduino Uno, for example, will draw 290mA when connected to a 5.21V power supply and running Adafruits NeoPixels. 

You will see more power drawn from Pi Pico because of its more power-hungry chip. It’ll draw 600mA when connected to the 5.21V supply running Neopixels.

However, it can operate in the 1.8 to 5.5 V range through external outputs. Raspberry Pi Pico will need between 4 and 5 watts to stay powered in an idle state. 

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi Pico In-Built Graphics, Camera, and Display Ports

The Arduino MCU board doesn’t have built-in graphics.  On the other hand, you can create graphical user interfaces on the Raspberry Pi Pico without using a separate module. 

It’s the same case for display and camera ports. Raspberry Pi Pico’s ports allow for connectivity, while there’s a need for modules on Arduino’s board.

Is Pi Pico Better Than Arduino?

For a beginner, Raspberry Pi Pico is better than Arduino. It features a powerful microprocessor with more storage and costs less than Arduino. It also supports more coding languages. However, Arduino has a well-established community and a history of improvements. 

Is Pi Pico Similar To Arduino?

In a broad sense, Pi Pico is similar to Arduino in that they are both microcontroller boards. However, Pi Pico is different and superior in processing power and easy usage. Also, it costs less at only $4. 

Should I Use A Raspberry Pi Or Arduino?

The choice between Raspberry Pi Pico or Arduino comes down to preference. However, Raspberry Pi Pico is a better starter platform if you want to save cost and time.

You should use Arduino if you are better at handling C++ programming and want to benefit from Arduino’s community.


Q: Which Arduino board is the fastest?

A: The flagship Protenta H7 is currently the fastest Arduino board. It is powered by a dual-core 32-bit STM32XX microcontroller, with Cortex M7 and Cortex M4 cores operating at 480MHz and 240MHz, respectively.

Furthermore, it has an on-chip GPU, Chrom-ART Accelerator, and a JPEG encoder and decoder.

Q: What’s the best for robotics, Arduino or Raspberry Pi Pico?

A: The higher processing power of Raspberry Pi Pico MCUs makes them suitable for robotics, but it depends on your requirements. On the other hand, Arduino boards are better for projects where you need direct control of hardware components.

Q: Can You Use Arduino With Raspberry Pi Pico?

A: You can program the Raspberry Pi Pico board with Arduino code directly from the Arduino IDE. You have to install Arduino IDE, then add RP2040 support in the Arduino IDE. 


Raspberry Pi Pico’s entrance into the Microcontroller space has made it easier and faster to create projects. However, both MCUs have vibrant support communities and strong ecosystems.