Why Is Raspberry Pi So Expensive: Causes and Alternative Single-Board Computers

If you visit online marketplaces for a single-board computer, you will probably ask- Why is Raspberry Pi so expensive?

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is an industry leader in the SBC market.

Users loved its products due to pocket-friendly prices.

However, most RPi versions are quite costly, especially since mid-2020.

Raspberry Pi boards are now pricey for several reasons. So, let’s dive more into some of them.

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Why Is Raspberry Pi So Expensive? 5 Main Reasons

Raspberry Pi increased the price of its products by a notable margin. Still, the costs will likely shock you if you search for their products online.

Some web stores are selling RPis at almost thrice the original price! So what issues have led to this rapid price increase?

Increased Demand

The popularity of Raspberry Pi has grown quite a lot since 2012. Initially, these devices were for kids.

The manufacturer created them so that school children could learn basic computer skills.

Raspberry Pi is now a standard device in many homes. Some people use them at home for gaming and coding.

 Companies are also buying these minicomputers for many projects. Such are:

  • Controlling ventilation systems
  • Monitoring equipment
  • Edge control

Demand spikes as more people know how they can use an RPi.

Hence, many resellers are finding it hard to supply the needed units. The temptation to make a lot of money ultimately leads to higher prices.

Demand and supply concept

Demand and supply concept

Supply Chain Issues

The world is experiencing some issues that negatively impact businesses.

The pandemic is a major one since it severely disrupted production. It also affected the supply of materials.

Such supply chain issues make it hard for Raspberry to meet the growing demand. With the shortage of semiconductors components, prices will likely remain high for some time.

Business logistics concept

Business logistics concept

Raspberry Pi Foundation Increased Prices

Raspberry announced its first price spike in October 2021.

First, Raspberry Pi 4 prices rose from $35 to $45. The company cited that this change was temporary.

Still, most retailers don’t have this model in stock. Hence, you will likely pay more despite the price recently getting back to $35.

Despite some supply chain progress in the tech world, things are yet to improve. Raspberry Pi announced the availability of 100,000 units in December 2022.

However, these were only for single-unit sales. Raspberry also had some bad news.

The cost of Raspberry Pi Zero and Zero W increased by $5. While these models are now available for bulk purchases, the cost difference is still notable.

Raspberry Pi 4

Raspberry Pi 4

Panic Buying

As explained above, there has been a shortage of board components. In return, material shortage affects production.

So, what do many do when they know about such issues?

Well, most rush to stores to buy their favorite products before they run out. Others go to the extent of hoarding large volumes they don’t even need.

Panic buying indeed answers- Why is Raspberry Pi so expensive?

Some users bought high volumes at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now selling them at high prices to exploit the shortage.

Empty shelves after panic buying

Empty shelves after panic buying

High Shipping Costs

Most Raspberry Pi units come from Wales, UK. Also, China and Japan make some units.

If you are in other parts of the world and order an RPi, it will most likely come from these three countries.

Hence, resellers increase the price to cover the shipping costs.

A user ordering from the US will probably pay more than someone in the UK.

Single-board computers are delicate, especially when they aren’t in a case. Due to this, sellers must use unique materials during transportation.

Furthermore, they need special handling measures to avoid damage. These factors ultimately contribute to high Raspberry Pi prices.

A cargo ship in motion

A cargo ship in motion

When Can We Expect the Prices of Raspberry Pis to Fall?

We have answered-, ‘Why is Raspberry Pi so expensive?’ but you may wonder if it will be cheaper.

Well, some changes may occur depending on several factors. Sadly, there isn’t a specific day or time we can give you.

If the cost of the components used to make the Pi board reduces, the prices will follow suit. Still, this will only occur when the RPi supply matches the current demand.

Two main factors contributed to the chip shortage. These are the COVID-19 pandemic and the scarcity of containers.

Since most nations consider the pandemic over, production will increase gradually. 

As a result, RPi prices might fall within a year or so. Many companies are also investing in the chip and container sectors.

Thus, the shortage issue will likely be over sooner than expected.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is giving consumers some hope. In a recent blog post, the CEO said the company expects to recover from the shortage.

Notably, it wants the supply to return to where it was before the pandemic.

Boards during manufacturing

Boards during manufacturing

Raspberry expects that things will be better by the second quarter of 2023.

This doesn’t mean that RPis will be cheaper by this time.

However, it implies that the supply may match the demand. This change might eventually lead to a price reduction.

The foundation may even sell some models like RPi Zero at their original price.

Alternatives to Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi beats some of its competitors, especially on performance. Still, if your project doesn’t necessarily demand you use an RPis, you can consider other single-board computers.

We have compiled a list of some affordable options.

1. Arduino Uno R3

This popular microcontroller is a good choice if you don’t want to spend much on a Raspberry pi. It’s perfect for projects that don’t need wireless connections.

Likewise, you can rely on it for simple tasks requiring less processing power.

Arduino Uno R3 goes for about $27. This price is relatively low if you compare it against advanced Raspberry models. Often, these retail from $45 if you buy from authorized resellers.

2. PocketBeagle

PocketBeagle is relatively smaller than most RPis. But it comes with a 72-pin header.

Hence, you can connect it to many more devices than a Raspberry Pi. Here are some tasks you can do with a PocketBeagle:

  • Creating robots
  • Gaming projects
  • Making remote control devices
Kids making a robot

Kids making a robot

3. Rock Pi

Rock Pi is a worthy competitor to the Raspberry Pi. First, its board has a similar layout. Also, it’s available in three kinds.

We recommend Rock Pi version C if your project requires a high-performance board. It has a reliable CPU and supports multiple connections.

While it’s costlier than a Raspberry Pi, it’s worth it.

4. BBC Microbit

If you want to buy an RPi for learning, you can switch to a BBC Microbit. This device is perfect for basic coding and programming.

Besides, it comes with some accessories. Examples are an accelerometer and temperature sensors.

These allow you to explore many projects without spending more money. Other features you can enjoy on this single-board computer are:

  • A USB port
  • GPIO pins
  • Radio and Bluetooth antenna
  • Reset Buttons
Hands holding Microbit

Hands holding Microbit


We believe we’ve answered many wondering–’Why is Raspberry Pi so expensive?’ While there isn’t a definite date when the prices will lower, this situation is likely temporary.

Hence, we recommend waiting for more news from the foundation. Meanwhile, you can purchase Raspberry alternatives provided they meet your needs.

Browse our blog for more information on single-board computers.