6 Ways to Identify Which Raspberry Pi You Have


Figuring out which Raspberry Pi you’re looking at can be confusing. At least that’s how I felt when I was in the shop examining the board I was given to see if it was the Raspberry Pi I was looking for. I put together this list to help anyone in the same situation – or who may not have access to the board itself – to figure out which Raspberry Pi they are working with.

Each Raspberry Pi can be identified by its family (1-4, 400, Zero, Pico) and its model name (A, B, A+, B+). Model names indicate whether the board has Ethernet (A means no Ethernet), and if the board is an improvement on a previous one (adding a + indicates an improved version of the same model). Each model can also have different amounts of memory.

This guide looks at how to figure out the Raspberry Pi family and model number using the terminal, by identifying the processor model, by counting the number of peripherals, or by measuring the size of the board itself.

1. Display model name from terminal

The terminal can display which model of Raspberry Pi is currently in use, including the name of the family and the version.

To have the terminal display the model of Raspberry Pi:

  1. Open the terminal
  2. Enter the command: cat /sys/firmware/devicetree/base/model
  3. Read the Raspberry Pi model number
Terminal command to display Raspberry Pi model

Quick hint from my lessons learnt: Press the tab key to autocomplete a word after typing a few letters. If there is more than one option, try typing another letter then tab again, or keep pressing tab to cycle through the options.

What this command is doing is reading from a special file that the operating system keeps about the hardware that it’s running on. The cat command reads this file and displays it in the terminal.

An alternative command which also prints the Raspberry Pi version is (also entered into terminal):

cat /proc/cpuinfo
Terminal command to display CPU details, including model of Raspberry Pi

This command lists out details about the CPU, which on Raspberry Pi boards includes the model of the Raspberry Pi.

I tested these commands on the Raspberry Pi OS, but they should work on other Linux versions that give you access to the terminal (particularly the /proc/cpuinfo one).

2. Read the processor label on board

At the heart of every Raspberry Pi is the microprocessor responsible for running the all the programs and apps. Each family of Raspberry Pi uses a different processor.

The processor model, printed on top of the chip, can be a quick way to identify the family of Raspberry Pi. Each model of processor can be identified by reading the first set of letters and numbers after the Broadcom mark (see photo and table below – your Raspberry Pi might also have BCM as part of the prefix to the label).

Processor label, which can be used to identify Raspberry Pi model

A list of Raspberry Pi processor labels is in the table below:

Raspberry Pi FamilyProcessor Label
RPi 4 and 4002711
RPi 32837
RPi 22836 or 2837
RPi (1)2835
RPi Zero2835
RPi PicoRaspberry Pi logo
Processor labels for each Raspberry Pi family

Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi 400 should be able to be differentiated by the presence of the keyboard for the 400. On the inside, the Raspberry Pi 400 is pretty much a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB of memory (and one less USB port).

3. Count the connectors on the board

Different Raspberry Pi models have a different number of connectors (USB, HDMI etc.).

A few easy ways to tell models apart by connector type:

  • Ethernet is only present on Raspberry Pi “B” models, “A” models do not come with Ethernet
  • HDMI is used for Raspberry Pi families 1-3, while HDMI micro is used for Raspberry Pi 4 and 400, and HDMI mini is used for the Raspberry Pi Zero. The Raspberry Pi Pico does not have HDMI.
  • USB connectors are available on most Raspberry Pi boards, typically there are 1, 2, or 4 connectors (see table below)

The below table lists out the number of USB connectors for each model of Raspberry Pi:

ModelUSB Connectors
RPi 4 Model B4 (+1 USB-C for power only)
RPi 4003 (+1 USB-C for power only)
RPi 3 Model B+4
RPi 3 Model A+1
RPi 3 Model B4
RPi 2 Model B4
RPi 1 Model B+4
RPi 1 Model A+1
RPi 1 Model B2
RPi 1 Model A1
RPi Pico0
RPi Zero1 (micro USB)
Number of USB connectors for each Raspberry Pi model

A Raspberry Pi 4 board will have 4 USB connector plus an additional USB-C connector. The USB-C connector is only for power though, it does not work with any USB-C device (I’ve tried keyboards, mouse, a USB-C hub, and even a screen – nothing will work in this USB-C connector).

I ensured this list was complete using the official Raspberry Pi tech specs: RPi 4 Model B; RPi 400; RPi 3 Model B+; RPi 3 Model A+; RPi 3 Model B; RPi 1 Model B+; RPi 1 Model A+; RPi Zero;

4. Read model name from board

Every Raspberry Pi I’ve seen has the family and model name printed on the board itself. The name will typically be printed on the front of the board.

Raspberry Pi model name printed on the board

Note that the copyright year doesn’t reflect the board year; the board in the picture was manufactured after 2019 (the shop I bought it from even marked the purchase date – see the sticker on top of the Ethernet connector).

5. Check the dimensions of the board

Raspberry Pi are typically about 5.6cm (2.2inch) wide and 6.5-8.5cm (2.5-3.4inch) long. This corresponds to roughly 2.2 inches wide and 2.5-3.4 inches long. The smallest Raspberry Pi is the Pico which is about 5cm by 2cm.

The length and width of Raspberry Pi boards is listed in the table below:

ModelLengthWidth
RPi 4 Model B8.5cm / 3.4in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 40028.6cm / 11.2in11.3cm / 4.4in
RPi 3 Model B+8.5cm / 3.4in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 3 Model A+6.5cm / 2.5in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 3 Model B8.5cm / 3.4in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 2 Model B8.5cm / 3.4in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 1 Model B+8.5cm / 3.4in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 1 Model A+6.5cm / 2.5in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 1 Model B8.5cm / 3.4in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi 1 Model A8.5cm / 3.4in5.6cm / 2.2in
RPi Pico5.1cm / 2in2.1cm / 0.8in
RPi Zero6.5cm / 2.6in3.0cm / 1.2in
Approximate size of Raspberry Pi models

I found Raspberry Pi fairly consistent at keeping to the same board footprint throughout the various models.

6. Look at the chip configuration

Some Raspberry Pi models within the same family can have a different layout of chips on the front of the board.

For example, the difference between the Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB) and the Raspberry Pi 4 (8GB) is the presence of this VLI chip (see photo below). On the 8gb model, this chip was removed.

Chris is fascinated by the amount of power that can be found in such a compact package. Even though he has many years of experience working with embedded electronics and tiny computers, he still faced some challenges (such as identifying which board he was buying!) when he first started out with Raspberry Pi

Chris

Engineer and electronics enthusiast. Enjoys solving problems with electronics and programming.

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