I want to make a DIY home-theater system with the Raspberry Zero. My question is will the processor and RAM be enough to play a movie with no problems.

(I am planning to use an HDMI cable and an additional USB stick with the movie)

  • 1
    yes, as long as the movie is encoded with a codec the pi can handle Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 11:27
  • I would actually recommend a Pi 2 or 3, as my b+ struggled to handle files like MKVs. In terms of an OS I would go with Kodi, its got lots of great features, like controlling the Pi with an app on your phone, which I find super useful.
    – Darth Vader
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 12:05
  • 2
    @DarthVader Kodi is not an operating system, it is a cross-platform application.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 12:40

1 Answer 1


All Raspberry Pis can play 1080p@30fps provided

  • the video is encoded with a codec the Pi can accelerate (i.e. h.264) - note that filename extension doesn't always indicate the used codec correctly !
  • the video player you use can use hardware acceleration (only Kodi/omxplayer till date)

You might need to buy a MPEG-2 license since the Zero is too weak to software decode such videos. Interestingly software decoding with unlicensed software is legal in France , for example.

  • What is it about MPEG-2 license? Where can I buy one? (Not that I need it, I'm just surprised Pi-zero needs a license to play a format I'd expect to be widely supported) Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 15:32
  • 1
    All Raspberries are extemely price sensitive products. If you buy a 400$ PC somebody will have paid the license indirectly or directly. The MPEG-LA has never sued consumers AFAIK. If you are a business like Raspberry Pi Trading you should expect to pay for HARDWARE decoders at least. raspberrypi.com/mpeg-2-license-key
    – flakeshake
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 7:27
  • Cool, thanks for the link. Now I'm tempted to buy one just to see what I'll get exactly :) Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 7:40
  • Software MPEG-2 decoders are fast enough on the Pi2 and the Pi3. How much more can you overclock a Pi Zero ? I assume no responsibility for broken Pis ;)
    – flakeshake
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 7:59
  • 1
    An activation code which has to be put into config.txt and is non-transferable. If you have multiple Pis and multiple licenses you can seperate the codes with commas and use the same config.txt on all machines.
    – flakeshake
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 8:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.