The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is the latest in the series of Zero form factor (i.e. smaller) single-board computers from the Raspberry Pi company. It offers several improvements over its predecessor, but it is priced the same.
Here are seven reasons to consider the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, whether you’re buying your first or next Raspberry Pi.
1. It Is Cheap
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is a very inexpensive single-board computer, so much so that it was ranked first in our list of the cheapest SBCs. The official retail price is $15, much less than the cost of the base Raspberry Pi 4B model ($35).
This affordable price makes the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W a better fit for your more experimental, delicate projects. It also works for a minimal Raspberry Pi cluster, which can open up several fun applications.
2. It Is Powerful for Its Size
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W can be described as a compact powerhouse in the lightweight category. The Zero 2 W is up to five times faster than the original Pi Zero in most applications.
The hardware is based on the Raspberry Pi 3A0, a proprietary system-in-a-package from the Raspberry Pi company. It uses a quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 processor running at 1GHz and has 512MB of SDRAM. Given its small size, the performance of this board is quite impressive.
According to benchmark tests run by Gareth Halfacree for Hackster, the Pi Zero 2 W offers comparable performance with the much larger 3A+ board but is easily overshadowed by the Raspberry Pi 3B+.
Although the 512MB RAM is quite low and can be limiting in some applications, compromises had to be made for the compact form factor and price.
3. It Is the Most Power-Efficient Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is the cheapest, smallest, and most power-efficient Raspberry Pi single-board computer you can buy at the moment. Compared to its bigger siblings, the Pi Zero 2 W sips power.
Hackaday ran various tests on different Raspberry Pi models—the Pi 3B+, Pi 4B, Pi Zero, and Pi Zero 2 W—to determine which provided the most performance per watt. The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W came out on top: it has comparable performance with the Pi 3B+ while using only slightly more power than the Pi Zero.
This energy-efficient design not only saves you money on electricity but also makes it an ideal choice for portable and battery-powered projects. The Pi Zero 2 W is therefore well-suited for low-power projects such as a handheld gaming console or a remote sensor node.
4. It Offers Wireless Connectivity
The “W” in Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W stands for “Wireless,” and it lives up to its name. You won’t find an Ethernet port on the Zero 2 W, but it has a Synaptics BCM43436/8 radio module for Wi-Fi (2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN) and Bluetooth (Bluetooth 4.2, BLE).
Unlike the original Pi Zero, there is no version of this board without wireless connectivity. The ability to connect to the internet without dongles or adapters opens up a world of possibilities for the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W in IoT and home automation projects. Be sure to take a look at our list of the best Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W projects.
5. It Is Only Slightly Larger Than a Pico
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W has the same form factor as the Zero W, but is slightly heavier due to the thick internal copper layers used to regulate temperature. While the Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller is the smallest computing product from Raspberry Pi, the Zero 2 W is a close second and is a fully-fledged computer.
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W measures 2.6 × 1.2 × 0.2 inches, roughly the same size as a stick of laptop RAM. It is half the size of the Pi A+ board and several times smaller than the Raspberry Pi 4B.
Despite being as small as a bookmark, the Zero 2 W manages to pack a 40-pin GPIO header (unpopulated with pins by default), a quad-core processor, and wireless connectivity. This small size will come in handy for projects with space constraints, portability needs, or aesthetic considerations. The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is concrete proof that good things do come in small packages.
6. Raspberry Pi Support and Ecosystem
It is well-known that Raspberry Pi offers excellent support for its products compared to the competition. While an alternative single-board computer may be able to compete with a Raspberry Pi on price or even performance, it is often hard to achieve the same level of official and community support that is almost taken for granted with Raspberry Pis.
The Raspberry Pi Zero is no exception to this trend. For just $15, it offers all the official hardware and software support you need to get the most out of your single-board computer. You also get to benefit from Raspberry Pi’s vibrant and supportive community of developers, enthusiasts, and educators.
7. Availability Has Improved
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W was quite a rare Pokémon not too long ago, but availability has improved for this board (and other Raspberry Pi models) recently. This means your chances of buying one without having to deal with scalpers and third-party sellers are much higher at the moment than in the not-too-distant past.
If you’ve always wanted to get a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W but you’ve been stumped by its availability, now is the best time to get one.
The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W: Small Size, Big Possibilities
With just 512MB of RAM and an underclocked processor, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W won’t replace your daily driver anytime soon, but it offers a reasonable compromise for people who don’t want to pay for a Raspberry Pi 4 B but need more functionality than the Raspberry Pi Pico offers.
Whether you’re a seasoned maker or a beginner exploring the world of single-board computing, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W offers several compelling features that can help you bring your ideas to life without breaking the bank.