In previous articles, I have introduced both Arduino and ESP boards. I explained about them individually both even though work similarly, have very different features. In this article, I will explain the similarities and Arduino vs ESP, differences between these microcontrollers and which will be suitable for your project.

Arduino:

Arduino

Arduino is an opensource hardware company that produces development boards under the same name. There are different types of boards by Arduino in a variety of form factors and use different Microcontrollers. The most popular being Arduino UNO. These boards are very easy to use and due to their huge popularity, there is plenty of support from the maker community.

Some of the Popular boards from Arduino are:

  • Diecimila, Duemilanove, UNO, Nano, Mini based on Atmel 328p.
  • Mega and Mega 2560 R3 version based on Atmel 2560.
  • Due based on Arm Cortex M3 (32-bit)
  • Zero based on Arm Cortex M0+ core (32-bit)

Here is a Wikipedia page containing information about all the development boards released by Arduino.

The first category is most popular one. With smaller form factor and less power requirement Atmel 328p based boards are perfect for most projects. I personally love Arduino UNO and have shared multiple projects related to it. But Nano and Mini are not very different. With smaller more compact design these boards work with same sketch.

Arduino Mega boards are like UNO on steroids. These boards have a lot of I/O pins for larger projects. Mega is most suitable for bigger projects which need multiple sensors and output devices.

Duo and Zero are 32-bit versions of arduino specifically designed for heavier tasks. If you are a beginner then these boards are not for you.

ESP Boards:

ESP NodeMCU

ESP are microcontrollers with built-in WiFi. There are two popular microcontrollers by ESP 8266 and 32.

ESP8266:

ESP8266 pinout configuration
Esp8266

ESP8266 is cheaper yet offers more features than an Arduino.
Here are some features of ESP8266:

  • MCU: Xtensa single-core 32-bit L106
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi: HT20
  • Freq: 80MHz
  • GPIO: 17
  • PWM: 8ch
  • ADC: 10-bit
  • Working Temp: -40°C to 125°C

ESP32 Module:

ESP32 pin confuration
ESP32

ESP32 is a successor of popular ESP8266. Along with WiFi this board also have bluetooth support. Let’s see some features:

  • MCU: Xtensa dual-core 32-bit LX6
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi: HT40
  • Bluetooth 4.2 and BLE
  • Freq: 160MHz
  • GPIO: 36
  • PWM: 16ch
  • ADC: 12-bit
  • Working Temp: -40°C to 125°C

ESP boards are best for wireless projects like robotics, home automation etc.

Which One IS Better?

Now the question you might have is, which one is better. The answer is both, it depends on your project. If you are looking for something local and simple, arduino is best option. Also for beginners Arduino is a better option for getting started.

ESP, on the other hand, is more suitable for remote applications. In projects where you require Wi-Fi connectivity. Mostly ESP is useful for IoT related projects.

Here is an ebook about making a simple robot called “Mini WiFi Robot“. It is based on ESP8266 dev board. Programmed entirely using Arduino IDE and it can be controlled over the Internet using a webpage and in a local area using WiFi.

I hope now you can choose the perfect microcontroller for your project. I will be sharing projects based on both and Raspberry Pi in future articles. So stay tuned for more.