Should I use a Pi 3 instead of a Pi Zero?

I have a Pi 3 currently dedicated to Octoprint in a headless configuration (Raspbian Light - no X).

I was just wondering if there is any disadvantage to downgrading the hardware to a Pi Zero W. In either case the OS and system are pretty lean.

e.g. Has anyone noticed any issues with print-jobs choking or having issues processing GCode at the same speed on a Pi Zero?


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The Pi Zero W is marginal in processing performance (single core CPU). WiFi uses quite a bit of CPU. A camera is also CPU intensive. If it were just the printer on a wired connection, you'd be fine. Printer and WiFi should also work. Printer, WiFi, and camera is pushing it.

I'd stick with the Pi 3 as you have a 4 core CPU (also clocked faster).

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("See also here" points here)

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What tends to happen—for me anyway—is that I keep thinking of more ways to enjoy my printer. So the first mod was to add a camera and I use that routinely to monitor the print job from another room. Note that the streaming seems to consume one core completely on the Raspi 3, for what it's worth.

And then, I keep thinking of all the great plugins available. These, too, consume processing time. The web interface itself has to fetch and push data from the RAMPS board to the browser.

It's good to have the extra power you need. The price of the Zero W is $10; the Raspi 3 is $35 and well worth it for the value you're receiving in this particular case.

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Thanks everyone for the replies, this is pretty much what I assumed, but I just wanted to confirm. I had a project that needed a Pi 3, but I just ended up ordering one right after posting this question anyway - they're certainly cheap enough. The other nice thing about the Zero is just the small profile of it - would be a much cleaner mount to my ANet case, but the processing power is more important to me (if it keeps the prints speedy and reliable, at least). Thank you!