RPi Hardware Basic Setup

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RaspPi.png Back to the Hub

Getting Started:

Buying Guide - for advice on buying the Raspberry Pi.

SD Card Setup - for information on how to prepare the SD Card used to boot your Raspberry Pi.

Basic Setup - for help with buying / selecting other hardware and setting it up.

Beginners Guide - you are up and running, now what can you do?

Advanced Setup - for more extensive information on setting up.

Trouble Shooting - some things to check if things don't work as expected.

Typical Hardware You Will Need

While the RPi can be used without any additional hardware (except perhaps a power supply of some kind), it won't be much use as a general computer. As with any normal PC, it is likely you will need some additional hardware.

IMPORTANT For USB devices other than a mouse and a simple wired keyboard (for USB devices drawing more than 100mA) a powered USB hub is strongly recommended. A technical discussion as to why can be found here. Specifically the RPI's built in USB hub is designed only for "Single current unit" USB devices.

The following are more or less essential:

Highly suggested extras include:

Prepared Operating System SD Card

As the RPi has no internal storage or built-in operating system it requires an SD-Card that is set up to boot the RPi.

NOTE: An RPi SD card can only be used to boot an RPi. A normal PC will refuse to boot from an RPi SD card.

This guide will assume you have a preloaded SD card.

To check your SD card is compatible with Linux, see RPi VerifiedPeripherals#SD_cards.

Keyboard & Mouse

Most standard USB keyboards and mice will work with the RPi. Wireless keyboard/mice should also function, and only require a single USB port for an RF dongle. In order to use a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse you would need to use a Bluetooth dongle, which again uses a single port.

Remember that the Model A has a single USB port and the Model B only has two (typically a keyboard and mouse will use a USB port each) - see USB Hub below.

To check your mouse and keyboard are compatible with Linux, see RPi Verified Peripherals.


There are two main connection options for the RPi display, HDMI (high definition) and Composite (low definition).

  • HD TVs and most LCD Monitors can be connected using a full-size 'male' HDMI cable, and with an inexpensive adaptor if DVI is used. HDMI versions 1.3 and 1.4 are supported, and a version 1.4 cable is recommended. The RPi outputs audio and video via HMDI, but does not support HDMI input.
  • Most older TVs can be connected using Composite (a yellow-to-yellow cable). PAL and NTSC TVs are supported. When using composite video, audio is available from a 3.5mm (1/8 inch) socket, and can be sent to your TV, to headphones, or to an amplifier. To send audio your TV, you will need a cable which adapts from 3.5mm to double (red and white) RCA connectors.

Note: There is no VGA output available, so older VGA monitors will require an expensive adaptor.

Using an HDMI to DVI-D (digital) adaptor plus a DVI to VGA adaptor will not work. HDMI does not supply the DVI-A (analogue) needed to convert to VGA - converting an HDMI or DVI-D source to VGA (or component) needs an active converter. (It can work out cheaper to buy a new monitor.) The lack of VGA has been acknowledged as a priority issue. In a Q/A with Slashdot Eben said that they plan to look into providing some form of add-on.

For detailed information see Rpi Screens.

Power Supply

The unit uses a Micro USB connection to power itself (only the power pins are connected - so it will not transfer data over this connection). A standard modern phone charger with a micro-USB connector will do, but needs to produce at least 700mA at 5 volts. Check your power supply's ratings carefully, and beware cheap knock-offs!. Suitable mains adaptors will be available from the RPi Shop and are recommended if you are unsure what to use.

You can use a range of other power sources (assuming they are able to provide enough current ~700mA):

  • Computer USB Port or powered USB hub (will depend on power output)
  • Special wall warts with USB ports
  • Mobile Phone Backup Battery (will depend on power output) (in theory - needs confirmation)
  • Modern TV with built-in USB (for example, it has been shown to work with the Sony KDL-40HX723 and KDL-55NX813)
  • Internet Routers with USB Ports (the BT Home Hub 3 seems to run the Pi nicely)

To use the above, you'll need a USB A 'male' to USB micro 'male' cable - these are often shipped as data cables with mobile phones.

For detailed information about power requirements see RPi Hardware - Power.


You will probably need a number of cables in order to connect your RPi up.

  1. Micro-B USB Power Cable (see above) picture. This has to be a high quality one.
  2. HDMI-A picture or Composite cable picture, plus DVI adaptor picture or SCART adaptor picture if required, to connect your RPi to the Display/Monitor/TV of your choice.
  3. Audio cable picture, this is not needed if you use a HDMI TV/monitor.
  4. Ethernet/LAN Cable (see below) picture.

The price you pay for an HDMI cable can very wildly and under most circumstances a low-cost cable from a reputable online or local supplier will be absolutely fine, but the definition of what constitutes 'low cost' can vary wildly - for example, in the UK, a 1m cable can be purchased for anything between £1 and £24.99. If, however, you want to drive a display some distance from the RPi (say greater than the ubiquitous 1.8m/6ft), or you are using a video switch to share a display between several devices, then higher quality cables might be wise - for example, a pair of 1m HDMI cables purchased in a UK 'pound shop' worked fine when directly connected between the RPi and a display, but would not give a stable picture when used via an HDMI switch. Replacing the £1 1m cable with a 1.5m cable bought online for £1.30 fixed the problem. For more insight: Why you don't need to spend more than £2 on an HDMI cable

Additional Peripherals

You may decide you want to use various other devices with your RPi, such as Flash Drives/Portable Hard Drives, Speakers etc.

For detailed information see RPi Verified Peripherals.

Internet Connectivity

This may be an Ethernet/LAN cable (standard RJ45 connector) or a USB WiFi adaptor. The RPi ethernet port is auto-sensing which means that it may be connected to a router or directly to another computer (without the need for a crossover cable[1]).

Support for USB WiFi adaptors will vary - see RPi Verified Peripherals.


In order to connect additional devices to the RPi, you may want to obtain a USB Hub, which will allow multiple devices to be used.

It is nearly a requirement that a powered hub is used - this will provide any additional power to the devices without affecting the RPi itself. The USB ports are fused at about 140ma each without an additional external power source. This not enough to power a hard drive, and you may even have trouble powering wireless adapters and other peripherals. There is enough current out there, however, for mice and most keyboards. (see RPi Hardware - Power section).

USB version 2.0 is recommended. USB version 1.1 is fine for keyboards and mice, but may not be fast enough for other accessories.


Since the RPi is supplied without a case, it will be important to ensure that you do not use it in places where it will come into contact with conductive metal or liquids, unless suitably protected. Some form of case should be considered, and there is a Rpi case thread on the forum.

For detailed information see Rpi Cases.

SD card reader

If you will not use a preloaded SD card to boot from, you will need an SD card reader to prepare an SD card.

Note that the SD card reader will be connected to a traditional PC, not to the RPi. You may use an SD card reader integrated into your PC, or you may use a dedicated USB-connected SD card reader. Note that several peripherals may also be used as an SD card reader, for example cameras, smartphones, camcorders and GPS units.

Expansion & Low Level Peripherals

If you plan on making use of the low level interfaces available on the RPi, then ensure you have suitable header pins for the GPIO (and if required JTAG) suitable for your needs.

Also if you have a particular low-level project in mind, then ensure you design in suitable protection circuits to keep your RPi safe (details will be made available within the RPi Projects, Guides & Tutorials section).

For detailed information see Rpi Low-level Peripherals.

Connecting Together

A diagram denoting the places of the different components on the Rpi, made by Paul Beech. Click to enlarge.

You can use the diagram to connect everything together, or use the following instructions:

  1. Plug the preloaded SD Card into the Pi.
  2. Plug the USB keyboard and mouse into the Pi, perhaps via a USB Hub. Connect the Hub to power, if necessary.
  3. Plug the video cable into the screen (TV) and into the Pi.
  4. Plug your extras into the Pi (USB WiFi, Ethernet cable, hard drive etc.). This is where you may really need a USB Hub.
  5. Ensure that your USB Hub (if any) and screen are working.
  6. Plug the power source into the main socket.
  7. With your screen on, plug the other end of the power source into the Pi.
  8. The Pi should boot up and display messages on the screen.

It is always recommended to connect the MicroUSB Power to the unit last (while most connections can be made live, it is best practice to connect items such as displays and other connections with the power turned off).

The RPi may take a long time to boot when powered-on for the first time, so be patient!

External Links

For a verbose guide aimed at absolute beginners, see Peripherals You'll Need and Getting Started in h2g2's 'Introducing the Raspberry Pi'.


  1. Wikipedia:Auto-MDIX