Building the Raspberry Pi Server

Choosing the right Pi for the job

Disclosure: The links below are my Amazon Associates links. I will receive a commission on products you purchase using these links but they in no way influence my decision to promote the products. I only recommend products that I have used and liked, and I will only link the product from Amazon if I believe it’s a fair price. For example, I bought my Raspberry Pi Zero W for $13 CAD from CanaKit.com. I will not provide a link for the Zero W as it is currently $42 on Amazon. Now, I will also not link the Zero W from Canakit because I paid $12.95 for shipping on a $100 order on a Friday morning, and did not receive the package until the following Thursday. The kicker is that Canakit ships from 4 KM away from my home. The products were all good, and Mike, who responded to my email inquiry about my order was polite. You make your own decision on whether you want to Google them, or find another source.

As you can see from the specs, the Pi’s performance can definitely rival current entry-level desktops and laptops. You don’t need to go for the top model for most of the applications.

For example, if you do not need to run Kodi, you might not even need the Pi 4 as you won’t need the 4K HDMI output. But on the other hand, the Pi 4 has significantly more RAM than the other models, which is very important for performance.

2 GB for a Pi 4 is quite balanced, meaning there is no real bottleneck issue. If you need more than 2 GB of RAM, you are working with processes and applications that probably will benefit from a faster and more capable processor as well. 4 GB of RAM is quite safe if you run multiple processes at the same time – for example Pi-Hole, PiVPN, and a web server.

For Kodi, as another consideration, it is recommended to allocate 320 MB of memory to the GPU.

I had everything in this tutorial running on my Pi 4 with ease, but because I needed a more stable Internet connection at home, I cannot experiment too much while it serves as my DNS and DHCP so I got a Pi Zero W, which now runs the Pi-Hole, Homebridge, and PiVPN. The CPU load is between 9% and 19%, and 190 of the total 420 MB memory is free.

The Pi 4 is currently hosting this website, and also serves as my media server for my TV. While Kodi is streaming, the CPU load is between 6% and 13%, and more than 3 GB of memory is free.