Even though the tiny computer is only $35, Raspberry Pi fans may want to delay their purchase of its latest iteration. Co-creator Eben Upton has admitted that the Pi 4 has a non-compliant USB-C charging port, which means only certain cables can power it.
The Pi 4 doesn’t receive power when used with electronically marked or e-marked USB-C cables, the type used by Apple MacBooks and other laptops.
“A smart charger with an e-marked cable will incorrectly identify the Raspberry Pi 4 as an audio adapter accessory, and refuse to provide power,” says Upton.
Upton has no clue how his team missed this, but they’ll be offering a revision with a compliant USB-C port. Current owners will have to use a non e-marked USB-C cable with a power supply that can deliver 5.1V/3A. “Older chargers with A-C cables or micro B to C adaptors will also work if they provide enough power.”
Whether your USB-C charger works with the Pi 4 has to do with whether it uses an “e-marked” cable. E-marked cables are fully featured USB-C cables with chips inside that negotiate power management, accessory modes, data rates, and other communication specs. Since the Pi 4 USB-C port is wired incorrectly, these smart cables will detect the Pi 4 as an “Audio Adaptor Accessory” and refuse to charge them. Usually, e-marked cables are more expensive and come with larger, higher-powered items, like a USB-C laptop.