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Types of Arduino Boards: A Comprehensive Guide

About Types of Arduino, Arduino is a great affordable alternative to Raspberry Pi. However, what makes them such a worthy substitute isn’t just how much they cost; it’s also their variety.

Engineers, companies, and electronics enthusiasts have a wide range of Arduino boards to choose from. They all serve different functions which may suit different projects.

 Nevertheless, in this guide, we’ll explore all the various types of Arduino boards. Additionally, we’ll also compare them and discuss how you can select the best one for your project. 

What is an Arduino Board?

Arduino metal robot

Arduino metal robot

Arduino is a software and technology company. Its history is a bit of a complicated one. Nevertheless, Its origins span back to 2003 where a group of students established it. The initial purpose of Arduino boards was educational. Since then, the purpose has evolved to technology that helps facilitate the internet of things (IoT), embedded technology, and 3D printing. 

However, Arduino boards are still accessible to beginner electronics enthusiasts. One of the biggest advantages of using Arduino products for your project is the thriving community.

Since the technology is open-source, it’s a perfect breeding ground for modding and collective advancement. You have a wealth of knowledge from some of the best software developers, designers, engineers, and other professionals when you go with Arduino.

You can use them to produce simple daily objects or scientific instruments for mathematical operations and testing. They can run operating systems from Microsoft, Linux, and Windows. Furthermore, you can program the boards using the Arduino IDE and Arduino Language, which is a derivative of C/C++. You can then load the program code using one of Arduino’s I/O ports. 

In the rest of this guide, we’ll cover all the various Arduino’s official boards you have at your disposal and how you can use them. 

Key Attributes of Arduino Boards

With all the types of Arduino boards available on the market, it can be difficult to select the best for you. What should you look out for when shopping for an Arduino board? A good Arduino board should have the following features: 

  • Microcontroller: Contains the central processing unit (CPU), memory and input/output (I/O) pin access. Not only should you ensure that your Arduino board contains a microcontroller but that it also features ample clock speed and memory capacity. The higher the clock speed, the better the performance. The amount of memory will determine how well your Arduino board can run complex tasks simultaneously. 
  • Power Supply Source: You need to consider how the Arduino receives and uses power. Does it use an AC or DC adapter? Can you power it through a battery or using a USB cable? Does it have multiple external power source options? These are questions you should answer before you make your selection. 
  • Digital and Analog I/O Pins: These will determine how far you can extend your Arduino board and what projects you can undertake. Digital and analog, I/O pins receive and send signals from external boards, and sensors such as thermostats and buttons. 
  • USB Interface: Most Arduino boards use the universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (UART) serial communication protocol over a mini/micro USB port. In addition to allowing the transfer of data between the Arduino board and computing devices, it can also power the board.

Types of Arduino Boards

Arduino Uno

Arduino Uno board with LEDs

Arduino Uno board with LEDs

The Arduino Uno is one of Arduino’s most well-known microcontrollers. As with their other technology, it is completely open-source. The board has gone through three different revisions.  Arduino Uno Rev 3 features ATmega328P architecture. 

Arduino Uno cycle

Arduino Uno cycle

In total, it has 14 digital I/O pins. Six of them facilitate pulse width modulation(PWM). Additionally, it has six analog input pins, a reset button, a power jack, a USB-B port, and 32 kilobytes of flash memory. 

Thousands of projects are achievable with the Arduino Uno. Some projects worth pursuing include motor control, a card reader, a handheld game console, and a digital compass. 

Arduino Leonardo

Arduino released the Arduino Leonardo microcontroller board back in 2012. The latest iteration of the board features headers and uses ATmega32u4 architecture. However, if you’re looking for a headerless version, Arduino still produces them. 

Compared to the Arduino Uno board, the Arduino Leonardo board features twenty digital I/O pins with seven PWM channels and 12-analog input pins. It features a clock speed of 16 Mhz and 32 KB of flash memory. You can use the Arduino Leonardo to create security systems, remote-controlled cars, and drones, as well as handheld video game consoles. 

Arduino Mega 2560

Arduino Mega in a white background

Arduino Mega in a white background

The Arduino Mega 2560 is another one of Arduino LLC’s older microcontrollers. The company released it in 2010, and since then, it’s gone through three different revisions. As the name implies, the latest revision still uses the Atmega2560 architecture.

Nevertheless, much like the Arduino Uno, it’s a simple 8-bit board with 16 analog input pins and 54 digital I/O pins. Fifteen of the pins provide PWM output. It’s a slightly larger board, with a length of 101mm and a width of 53.3mm. It weighs just over 37grams. 

While it’s not Arduino’s most powerful board in terms of clock speed (16 MHz), it still has some of the largest flash memory storage (256 KB – 8 KB dedicated to the bootloader). You can use the Arduino Mega to create telescopes, clocks, and embedded door locks.  

Arduino Micro

Led Arduino board

Led Arduino board

The Arduino Micro or Arduino Pro Micro board is an Atmega32U4 microcontroller. It was a result of a collaboration between Adafruit and Arduino. As with the Arduino Leonardo, it features a header and headerless version. 

The Arduino Micro has a 5V operating voltage and features twenty digital I/O pins with seven-channel PWM. This board isn’t particularly powerful, but it isn’t Arduino’s least robust board either. It sports 32KB flash memory with a clock speed of 16 Mhz. 

You can use the Arduino Micro to create USB joysticks, a trackpad, an electric bike, and a water level meter.

Arduino Esplora

The Arduino Esplora is a bit different from the other boards in this list. It’s a microcontroller that is in the shape of a joypad. It features a light sensor, temperature sensor, accelerometer, joystick, and a buzzer. Additionally, it also features four keys and a linear pot. 

While Arduino has discontinued it, some electronics stores may still have it in stock. Alternatively, you can purchase a secondhand version of the board.

You can build a robot arm controller, a handheld game, and a fall detector.

Arduino BT

The Arduino BT is one of Arduino’s few Bluetooth-enabled microcontroller boards. Originally, the board used the ATmega168 microcontroller. However, Arduino has since updated it with ATmeg328P architecture. This is the same microcontroller that the Arduino Uno uses.

Similarly to that board, the Arduino BT sports 14 digital I/O pins and 6-analog input pins. Furthermore, it has 32 KB of flash memory with 2 KB dedicated to the bootloader. 

The Arduino BT’s wireless connection capabilities open you up to a greater world of projects.  For instance, you can create Bluetooth-controlled cars, Bluetooth remote-controlled arm, a Bluetooth-powered home automation system, and a Bluetooth-controlled drone. 

Arduino Pro Mini

Arduino Pro Mini in white background

Arduino Pro Mini in white background

The Arduino Pro Mini is the successor to Arduino Mini, one of Arduino’s oldest microcontroller boards. One of the biggest advantages of this board is its compact size. Its small package makes it easy to embed. It’s a simple 8-bit microcontroller board that uses ATmega328 architecture. 

It has 14 digital I/O pins with six PWM channels. Additionally, it features six analog pins. It has 8 Mhz of clock speed and 32 KK flash memory. You can find it in a 3.3V or 5V model. 

The Arduino Pro is suitable for embedded electronics projects such as wearable projects.

Arduino Diecimila

The Arduino Diecimila is another old board. Arduino LLC originally released it in 2007. It uses the ATmega168 architecture. Unlike the previous boards on this list, it features 16 KB of non-volatile memory and a clock speed of 16 MHz. 

Additionally, the Arduino Diecimila also comes with a reset button, a USB-B jack, a voltage regulator, and a power jack that requires 6-20V input voltage. While it’s a lower-powered board, it’s cheap, and it’s great for practicing programming concepts and project design.

Arduino Ethernet

The Arduino Ethernet is essentially a larger Arduino Pro Mini with Ethernet capabilities. Just like the Arduino Pro Mini, it uses an ATmega328 microcontroller.

To help it detect and produce logic states, it has 14 digital I/O pins with 4 PWM pins. The Arduino Ethernet has six analog input pins, a clock speed of 16 Mhz, and 32 KB of Flash Memory. Furthermore, it also features an embedded ethernet controller, power over ethernet magnetic jack, and a Micro SD card reader. 

You can create projects such as an RFID card reader, a LAN/Ethernet relay switch, an attendance system, and an Ethernet-enabled digital thermostat. 

Arduino Zero

Arduino module

Arduino module

The Arduino Zero is one of Arduino’s newer boards. They initially released it in 2014. Unlike the previous boards on this list, it’s a 32-bit microprocessor board. The Arduino Zero is one of Arduino’s most powerful boards. Is an extension of the Arduino Uno. 

It uses a 32-bit ARM Cortex MO+ microprocessor with an ATSAMD221G18 architecture. It features 20 digital I/O pins. Some of its more unique features include two universal asynchronous receiver transmitters. Furthermore, it features thirteen built-in LEDs. 

It has a clock speed of 48 Mhz and 256 KB of Flash Memory. This makes it the fastest Arduino board – at least at the time of writing this article. Projects achievable with the Arduino Zero include a GPS tracker, IoT thermometer, and an air quality monitor. 

Arduino LilyPad

Arduino Lilypad in white background

Arduino Lilypad in white background

The LilyPad Arduino board is another one of Arduino’s more unique boards. Arduino created it with wearables and sewing projects in mind.

It features 14 digital I/O pins with six PWM channels and six input channels. It has 16 KB of flash memory and a clock speed of 8 MHz. You can use the LilyPad Arduino to create jackets for the visually impaired, digital earrings, Hertzian armor, and a remote-controlled robotic hand. 

Types of Arduino–Arduino Nano

Arduino Nano

Arduino Nano

The Arduino Nano is Arduino’s smallest 8-bit microcontroller. It’s a great alternative to the Arduino Pro Mini. The latest iteration of the Arduino Nano utilizes an ATmega328 microcontroller with AVR architecture. 

Arduino LLC initially released it in 2008, which makes it one of Arduino’s older boards. It features a clock speed of 16 MHz, eight analog input pins, and 22 digital I/O pins with six PWM channels. With the Arduino Nano, you can create a posture control, a weather shield, a digital clock, and an item locator.    

Arduino Due

Hand holding an Arduino Due

Hand holding an Arduino Due

If you’re looking for a microcontroller board with a little more kick to it, then look no further than the Arduino Due. It is a high-powered alternative to the Arduino Zero. 

It uses an ATSAM3X8E microcontroller with a Cortex-M3 microprocessor, which allows it to have a clock speed of 84 Mhz and 512 KB of flash memory. Additionally, the Arduino Due features 12 analog input pins, a whopping 54 digital I/O pins, a micro USB connection, and two analog output pins. 

Arduino initially released this board in 2012. While it’s technically an old board, it can still suit modern electronics projects. For instance, you can create semi-modular synthesizers, an Altair 8800 simulator, a waveform generator, and a VR headset.

Arduino Shields

Arduino microcontroller with shields and modules

The Arduino microcontroller with shields and modules

Arduino also has a slew of official shields that you can use to expand the functionality of their mainboards. As such, you’ll need some of these shields to create some of Arduino’s more complicated projects successfully. Some common shields include:

  • Prototype Shield
  • IO Expansion Shield
  • Multifunction Shield
  • LCD Shield
  • Motor Driver Shield
  • Joystick Shield
  • Relay Shield
  • 4×4 keypad Shield
  • Capacitive Touchpad Shield
  • Servo Motor Shield
  • GSM/GPRS Shield
  • Bluetooth Shield
  • Ethernet Shield
  • Wi-Fi Shield
  • MP3 Player Shield
  • Colour TFT Shield with Joystick
  • TFT Touchscreen LCD Shield
  • MicroSD Shield
  • CAN-Bus Shield
  • Xbee Shield
  • GPS Shield
  • NFC/RFID Shield
  • USB Host Shield
  • MQ2 Smoke Sensor Shield
  • FM Radio Shield
  • RS485 Shield
  • Camera Shield
  • Energy Shield
  • NeoPixel Shield

Arduino Boards Comparison

What follows is a comparison of some of Arduino’s most popular boards. We made it in table form, so it’s easier to read:

Arduino BoardOperating VoltageFlash MemoryDigital I/O PinsAnalog InputsClock SpeedSizeInterface of Programming
Arduino Uno R35V32 KB14616 MHz68.6 x 53.4 mmUSB
Arduino Nano5V32 KB22816 MHz18 x 45 mmUSB
Arduino Due 3.3V512 KB541284 MHz101 x 53 mmUSB
Arduino Micro5V32 KB201216 MHz48 x 18 mmUSB
Arduino Mega5V256 KB541616 MHz101 x 53 mmUSB
Arduino Lilypad2.7-5.5V16 KB1468 MHz51 mmFTDI-Compatible Header
Arduino Zero3.3V256 KB20648 MHz68 x 53 mmUSB
Arduino Pro Mini3.3 – 5V32 KB1468 MHz17.8 x 33.0 mmUSB
Arduino Leonardo Board5V32 KB201216 MHz68.6 x 53.3 mmUSB
Arduino Micro7-12V32 KB201216 MHz17.8 x 33 mmFTDI-Compatible Header

Selecting the Right Arduino Board

Building an Arduino project

Building an Arduino project

When building a system or initiating a project, you need to understand the nature of the problem you’re trying to solve.

You will base the requirements for your board on this. For instance, if you’re building a very simple system where you are controlling only one parameter, naturally, you’ll require the smallest and most basic Arduino board. 

Arduino DIY robot connection with laptop

Arduino DIY robot connection with laptop

The Arduino Rev 3 seems to be the most popular board. It has everything you need for most of your projects. However, it may be too powerful for simpler projects.

If affordability and your budget are an issue, you might start with a cheaper board like the Arduino Nano. They are surprisingly powerful and versatile. 

However, if you’re aiming to build more high-end systems, we’d suggest the Arduino Mega or Leonardo. Always remember that even if you purchase a low-power board, you can always upgrade it later by adding a shield or two to it. 

Every board is compatible with the Arduino IDE. When you purchase the board, pay attention to the power supply requirements, especially if you plan to power the board through a battery. 

Advantages of Arduino Boards

Arduino project

Two students working on an Arduino project

Types of Arduino boards are insanely versatile and extensible. They are compatible with thousands of engineering projects.

If you are familiar with C++, you can transplant some of that knowledge into coding with the Arduino Language.


Arduino programming language

But why would you want to choose Types of Arduino over its competitors and alternatives? Arduinos are:

  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to program
  • Feature a thriving community
  • Open-source
  • Cross-platform

Disadvantages of Arduino

Arduino isn’t the only microcontroller and single-board computer producer.

As such, there are a few reasons to use a microcontroller or single-board computer from a rival company instead.

Raspberry PI is one of Arduino’s biggest competitors. Raspberry Pis tend to offer more processing power and more features.

For instance, some have built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Incidentally, many believe that because of a lack of built-in wireless capabilities, Arduino boards aren’t as IoT-friendly as the competition. This is a valid criticism. 

Arduino boards also tend to have limited USB support, and they fail to take advantage of all the on-board microcontroller features.

Most Arduino boards use older, slightly outdated ARM processors. While this makes a few cheaper, many of Arduino’s competitors use processors that yield better performance while consuming less power.  

Projects using Arduino Boards

Some exciting and popular projects you can pair with your Arduino include:

  • Smart home automation
  • LED Blinkies
  • Temperature and humidity measurement systems
  • Robotics
  • Distance measurement system
  • Obstacle detection and avoidance systems
  • Soil moisture measurement system
  • Security systems (motion detection)

Light levels measurement systems (using photoresistors) 

Arduino Alternatives

In addition to the Raspberry PI, some great Arduino alternatives include:

  • BeagleBoards
  • ESP32
  • SparkFun Inventor’s Kits
  • STM32

Applications of Arduino

Arduino boards have many applications in several fields and areas, such as:

  • Space exploration
  • Science experiments
  • Home and industrial automation
  • Education
  • Audio
  • The Internet of Things
  • Wearable technology
  • Assistive technology


In this article, we explored the Types of Arduino and its various microcontroller and microprocessor boards.

Furthermore, we also briefly discussed a few Arduino shield types you can use to expand your projects.

You should now have a clear idea of which Types of Arduino boards you’d like to incorporate into your next project.

Nevertheless, we hope you’ve found this guide to be helpful. As always, thank you for reading. 

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Emma Lu
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