The Raspberry Pi is a tiny credit card-sized computer costing just $35. Just like your normal computer, it features an HDMI and USB ports for connecting a monitor and other peripherals.
While it can be connected to a monitor and keyboard and used as a general-purpose computer (similar to your laptop or desktop), most people use it for more specialized purposes. This is largely due to the fact that the Raspberry Pi features relatively low specs.
Below are some of the most common things the Raspberry Pi is used for:
Home automation, controlling LEDs, etc.
By design, the Raspberry Pi is super hackable. Its 40-pin GPIO header allows you to connect and control numerous inputs and outputs for use in custom and open-source software.
Video game emulation
The most popular use for the Raspberry Pi is by far for retro video game emulation using RetroPie. RetroPie is a free library that takes just minutes to set up and allows you to play a variety of vintage video game consoles such as the NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Boy, Atari, and more.
Many people install Kodi on their Raspberry Pi to make their own Home Theater. The Pi is then connected to your TV or monitor, becoming a smart entertainment center that allows you to access shows, movies, music, and more.
Media and streaming server
Similar to Kodi, Plex is a media and streaming server, allowing you to share and access your audio and video files from just about anywhere and stream them to multiple devices.
NAS (Network-Attached Storage)
If you want to be able to share files on your home network for easy accessing by yourself, your family, or your roommates, you normally need to purchase an expensive network appliance. Or, you can build a Raspberry Pi NAS for less money.
Block ads at the network level
Forgot browser-based ad blockers; install Pi-Hole on your Raspberry Pi, connect it to your router, and prevent ads from even making it onto your network!
More Raspberry Pi projects
Check out our Raspberry Pi projects list for dozens of specific Raspberry Pi projects with step-by-step guides for each!
How to setup Raspberry Pi
Already have your Pi? Visit our Raspberry Pi setup guide to get started.