38-pin ESP-32 Microcontroller dev board

Which controller is right for you?

A microcontroller is an integrated circuit that can be programmed to perform tasks independently of other devices. Raspberry Pi Pico and ESP32 are two of the most popular microcontrollers on the market. They are small, low-power microcontrollers based on 32-bit dual-core CPUs that can be used to control electronics projects.


There are some differences between these two devices that might interest you if you are in the market for a new microcontroller panel. Among other things, let’s compare the cost, processing power, hardware and connectivity features of each board.


Overview of the Raspberry Pi Pico

raspberry pico

The Raspberry Pi Pico is the first microcontroller board from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and is Based on the RP2040 . chip. It is not an all-in-one computer like Previous company offers But a microcontroller board is similar to an Arduino.

It comes with a dual-core ARM cortex M0+ processor, 264 on-chip persistent RAM, 26-pin multi-function GPIO, temperature sensor and on-chip clock.

ESP32 Overview

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Designed by Espressif Systems, the ESP32 is the successor to the ESP8266 microcontroller and offers a number of improvements to it. This includes a faster processor, faster Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, more GPIO pins, and many other features.

ESP32 has quickly emerged as a community favourite due to its low cost, low power consumption and wireless connectivity features, making it suitable for Internet of Things (IoT) projects.

Price: Which palette offers the most value?

In general, the Raspberry Pi Pico is not subject to the same supply restrictions as other Raspberry Pis, and you will likely find it in stock from authorized distributors at official prices. So The latest shortage of Raspberry Pi Not really a factor here.

Depending on where you’re buying from, you can generally find both boards on sale for roughly the same price or less. However, the connectivity features included with the ESP32 make it a better deal for the same price. You can opt for the Pico W, but this is at least $2 more expensive than the regular version.

processing power

The ESP32 has a slightly more powerful processor, with a clock speed of 240MHz, compared to the Raspberry Pi Pico’s maximum clock speed of 133MHz. The ESP32 has a faster instruction rate than the RP2040 chip in the Pico.

Both microcontroller boards contain dual-core CPUs and are capable of running more than one process simultaneously. However, tasks running on an ESP32 should be completed faster than on a Raspberry Pi Pico, all other things being equal.

Networking and Communication

The ESP32 includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity that the Raspberry Pi Pico lacks.

If you want to connect your device to other devices wirelessly, ESP32 is a better choice because it allows you to connect with other wireless devices.

Another option is Raspberry Pi Pico W launched in June 2022. It comes with onboard Wi-Fi and an additional price of $2, but it doesn’t include Bluetooth functionality.

Compare hardware features

Raspberry Pi Pico ESP32
Healer Arm Cortex-M0+ Dual Core Tensilica Xtensa LX6 32 Bit Dual Core
RAM 264 KB 520 KB
clock speed 133MHz 80/160/240MHz
Operating voltage 1.8-5.5V DC 2.2-3.6V
Operating temperature -20°C to +85°C From -40°C to +125°C
flash 2 megabytes 4 megabytes
External flash support 16 megabytes 16 megabytes
RTC memory undefined 16 KB
WIFI number 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth number Bluetooth 4.2, BLE
Ethernet number 10/100 Mbps
Other interfaces 2 x UART, 2 x I2C, 2 x SPI, 16 x PWM channel 2 x I2S, 2 x I2C, 3 x UART, 4 x SPI, 16 x PWM channels
sensors temperature Touch, temperature and hall effect
GPIO 26, plus 3 analog pins 34 programmable pins
PIO 8 number
Native USB support USB 1.1 (device or host) number
Dimensions 21 mm x 51 mm

Energy consumption

Both boards have advanced energy-saving technologies that allow them to reduce power consumption. However, the ESP32 has a faster processor and more flash memory which results in a greater power draw.

according to data sheetWhile testing the popcorn (VGA video, SD card, and I2S audio), the Raspberry Pi Pico drew about 91 mA with power saving disabled. The Raspberry Pi Pico also gives you more flexibility in choosing your power supply. It offers two low power modes, sleep mode and sleep mode. Idle mode uses less power but requires an external trigger to wake up.

The ESP32 has six power modes: active, modem sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, hibernate and off. Active mode has all the features that work synchronously and can draw up to 240mA of current at a time. The However, it has been found that hibernate mode consumes less than 5 µ. The ESP32 board can be woken up from any state using the onboard RTC timer.

Due to its low power consumption in active modes, the Raspberry Pi Pico is more suitable for simple, low-power projects that will be powered from a battery pack.

Supported programming languages

There are several development environments available for both microcontrollers, including MicroPython, C, and C++. No matter what language you choose, there is likely to be a Pico or ESP32 interpreter that supports it. There is even a JavaScript interpreter for ESP32.

You can use either MicroPython or C++ for creating small projects on ESP32. For large and complex projects, ESP-IDF (Espressif IoT Development Framework) through Visual Code or Eclipse plugin is recommended. Programming on the Raspberry Pi Pico is as easy as drag and drop since the device appears as mass storage when connected to a computer via USB.

There’s no competition here because both domains have a wide range of languages ​​supported, and you can get just about anything done as long as you’re not afraid to research a bit.

I/O programmable

Programmable I/O or PIO, for short, allows you to add additional communication interfaces and even create new ones. This feature is completely absent in ESP32 and can be a sticking point especially if you are an advanced hardware hacker and need to connect to older hardware. Programmable I/O is an incredibly powerful feature, and you should consider choosing a Raspberry Pi Pico if you need it for your projects.

Which one should you buy?

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a great board for those who have never used one before and are looking to get started with microcontrollers. Also, if you’re already in the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, a Raspberry Pi Pico might be a better option just to fit the idea.

The ESP32 is a powerful device in its own right and might better suit users who need connectivity but don’t want to spend the extra money on the Pico W. There can be a steep learning curve for the ESP32 but nothing too confusing for savvy users.

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