NanoPi NEO4 review: A powerful Raspberry Pi rival but with drawbacks

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Whether or not the shortcomings of the board overshadow its stable efficiency will depend on what you need to do with the $50 NanoPi NEO4.

Raspberry Pi: The within story of the $35 pc
The co-creators of the credit-card-sized board inform the within story of how the breakthrough pc was born.

The NanoPi NEO4 is a curious machine, a single-board pc that is each higher and worse than the Raspberry Pi’s flagship three B+.

In what’s an all too frequent downside with machines pitched in competitors to the $35 Pi within the low-cost computing market, it is a board that must be sooner and extra succesful however whose shiny specs do not inform the total story.

Whether or not these shortcomings overshadow some stable efficiency will depend on what you need to do with the $50 NanoPi NEO4, which like different single-board computer systems is geared toward builders constructing software program and .

The difficulty with the NanoPi NEO4 is its contradictions. It is actually not simply highly effective on paper, with its superior specs paying off in artificial benchmarks, as you’ll be able to see within the graphs beneath, with the NEO4’s six-core CPU beating all different boards in some assessments, together with the Pi and the succesful Rock Pi Four.

SEE: Extra Raspberry Pi protection (TechRepublic Flipboard journal)

The issue is the NanoPi’s edge over its opponents was typically troublesome to discern in follow or hampered by different damaged options.

Utilizing the board’s official FriendlyDesktop working system, a customized model of Linux-based Ubuntu 18.04 OS, was a haphazard expertise. It wasn’t irredeemably compromised, however at each flip one thing did not work as anticipated.

The Wi-Fi linked, however solely to the slower 2.4GHz community and never the sooner 5GHz networks, which weren’t even acknowledged.

The USB three.zero port labored, however slower than anticipated, transferring knowledge to and from the pc’s SD card storage solely barely sooner than the USB 2.zero ports on the Pi three A+.

The default Chromium browser initially loaded all of the websites thrown at it, however promptly froze after opening Gmail, Google Docs and a few JavaScript-heavy information websites. Which will sound like quite a bit to pile onto the NanoPi, nevertheless it was solely 4 tabs, one thing each the Raspberry Pi three B+ and the Rock Pi Four had been ready to deal with, regardless of the Pi three additionally being restricted by solely having 1GB of RAM.

When it got here to putting in and upgrading software program, the command-line Apt bundle installer threw up all types of errors, initially a ‘useful resource quickly unavailable’ message, which was mounted by a reboot, after which getting caught whereas “processing triggers for man-db”.

Individually, not one of the issues above could matter, as it isn’t as if the majority of customers decide up these boards to run them as an on a regular basis PCs, and for a lot of customers the additional CPU pace alone could also be definitely worth the worth, notably when given the NanoPi’s respectable efficiency within the Phoronix Take a look at Suite’s language benchmarks.

Nevertheless it’s price declaring that the efficiency benefit demonstrated within the artificial benchmark does not give the total image.

SEE: Contained in the Raspberry Pi: The story of the $35 pc that modified the world (cowl story PDF) (TechRepublic)

One space the place I encountered the fewest issues was utilizing the NanoPi NEO4 as a media participant, a comparatively frequent use for single-board computer systems.

Playback of native video, saved on the machine slightly than streamed over the web, was just about flawless. The default video participant was in a position to play a x264-encoded 1080p and a 4K/30FPS video easily and with no hitch. On-line video playback was extra spotty, with good efficiency when enjoying 1080p/30FPS and 720/60FPS movies on YouTube however 1080p/60FPS video saved stopping and beginning.

Evaluating 3D efficiency with different single-board computer systems was tough, as a result of lack of an acceptable benchmark. I used to be unable to compile Quake three to run the benchmark on the NanoPi NEO4, whereas the glmark2 3D benchmark does not appear to work correctly on the Pi (it ran however the graphics had been corrupted).

Mainly the NanoPi NEO4, as with different Pi rivals I’ve examined to this point, is lacking the identical key ingredient that made the Pi the success it’s right this moment.

Sure the Pi is an awfully low-cost pc, sure it’s sufficiently small to slide into your pocket, and sure you need to use it to construct your individual do-it-yourself devices.

However a big a part of what made the Pi profitable is its stability, that it provides all of these issues in a bundle that just about simply works, eradicating the uncertainty that comes with shopping for a $35 pc.

Years of funding by the Raspberry Pi Basis in bettering the core desktop of the Raspbian OS to spice up its efficiency, reliability, and options has paid off handsomely.

As compared, the NanoPI NEO4 is rougher across the edges. Regardless of its respectable efficiency in benchmarks, it as soon as once more appears to be one other low-cost board saddled with so-so software program help.

If you happen to’re a whizz with regards to the Linux terminal instructions and do not thoughts delving into the nuts and bolts of an OS to tweak efficiency and repair options this can be the single-board pc for you.

For the much less technically inclined, nevertheless, the Raspberry Pi three B+ just isn’t solely $15 cheaper but additionally stays the higher alternative. You won’t get the identical uncooked efficiency, however you will get extra certainty that the board will work as anticipated.

The NanoPi NEO4 is out there right here for $50.

Specs comparability: NanoPi NEO4 vs Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The NanoPi NEO4 has a sooner processor and extra cores than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The RK3399 system-on-a-chip (SoC) utilized by the NanoPi NEO4 depends on two units of CPU cores, a dual-core 2GHz Arm Cortex-A72 paired with a quad-core 1.5GHz Arm Cortex-A53 in a Huge.LITTLE configuration, which swaps duties between cores for better energy effectivity.

The Raspberry Pi three B+ has a quad-core 1.4GHz Arm Cortex-A53 CPU.

The NanoPi NEO4 has barely worse wi-fi connectivity than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The NanoPi NEO4 solely provides 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Four.zero, in comparison with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Four.2 on the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+.

The NanoPi NEO4 has barely sooner reminiscence than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The NanoPi NEO4 is out there with 1GB of DDR3-1866 reminiscence, in comparison with 1GB of DDR2 reminiscence within the Raspberry Pi three B+.

The NanoPi NEO4 has sooner Ethernet than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

Each boards have gigabit Ethernet, however the pace of the Raspberry Pi’s Ethernet is constrained by counting on a USB 2.zero bridge, which limits the utmost throughput to about 300Mbps.

The NanoPi NEO4 has sooner USB ports than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+ however fewer of them

The NanoPi NEO4 has one USB three.zero port and one USB 2.zero port, in comparison with the 4 USB 2.zero ports on the Raspberry Pi three B+. That mentioned, as talked about the USB three.zero port appeared to work at speeds akin to the USB 2.zero ports on the Raspberry Pi three B+.

The NanoPi NEO4 Mannequin B has sooner storage than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

Alongside microSD card storage, the NanoPi NEO4 sports activities an PCIe x2 interface supporting as much as a SSD, and you too can add as much as 32GB eMMC storage to the board by way of a socket.

The Raspberry Pi helps as much as 128GB microSD card storage and when you can add an SSD, it is necessary to attach it by way of USB, limiting its throughput.

The NanoPi NEO4 is roughly half the dimensions of the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The NanoPi NEO4 is 60mm × 45mm, in comparison with the Raspberry Pi B+’s 85.6mm × 56.5mm. That mentioned if you wish to use the you need to use the NEO4 for any severe duties you will most likely need to decide up the $5.99 warmth sink, which provides considerably to the burden and bulk of the board.

The NanoPi NEO4 Mannequin B just isn’t 100% suitable with the Raspberry Pi’s add-ons

There is a 40-pin growth header for connecting to boards, sensors and different , with the primary 26 pins suitable with the Raspberry Pi, which can imply the board works with some present Pi add-ons.

The NanoPi NEO4 can output to 4K shows and is able to easy 4K video playback

The NanoPi NEO4 helps HDMI 2.0a, in a position to output video to [email protected] shows and might playback 40Ok/30FPS x264-encoded video easily, in comparison with the Pi three B+, which is able to easy video playback at resolutions as much as 1080p and has a HDMI 1.three output.

The NanoPi NEO4 runs fewer working programs than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+ however does formally help Android

The NanoPi NEO4 helps fewer open-source working programs than the Raspberry Pi, which runs a variety of Linux-based desktops, media middle programs, in addition to curios like RiscOS and Plan 9.

The NEO4 helps a spread of Linux-based working programs, together with a customized model of Ubuntu 18.04, Lubuntu 16.04 and Android eight.1 (for those who purchase an extra 16GB eMMC module for $12).

The NanoPi NEO4 makes use of a USB Kind-C port for energy

The NanoPi NEO4 makes use of a USB Kind-C port for its energy provide, in comparison with the micro USB energy connector on the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B +.

Efficiency

Normal efficiency: NanoPi NEO4 vs Raspberry Pi boards

The Dhrystone benchmark measures the final CPU efficiency, specializing in calculations utilizing integers.

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Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

The Whetstone benchmark measures one other side of processor efficiency, this time how the CPU handles floating level calculations.

whetstone-2.pngwhetstone-2.png

Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

Utilized in supercomputer testing, the Linpack benchmark additionally measures how quickly a machine can deal with floating level calculations.

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Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

In all the above CPU assessments, the NanoPi NEO4 considerably outperforms the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+.

Sysbench is one other measure of common CPU efficiency – right here exhibiting single-core and quad-core efficiency of the 2 boards.

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Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

Connectivity: NanoPi NEO4 vs Raspberry Pi boards

This iPerf benchmark measures the pace at which knowledge is transferred between two computer systems, on this case between an Ethernet-wired PC and the single-board computer systems examined. These figures are a information slightly than absolute measures, since community pace might be affected by many elements.

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Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

The NanoPi NEO4 delivered related speeds to the Raspberry Pi three B+ within the 2.4GHz band however did not detect 5GHz networks.

Internet looking: NanoPi NEO4 vs Raspberry Pi boards

The Octane benchmark supplies an thought of how the Chromium browser within the Pi’s default Raspbian OS handles JavaScript, the default scripting language of the online. In case your browser is sluggish at JavaScript, it is sluggish full-stop.

octane-2.pngoctane-2.png

Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

Regardless of its superior specs the NanoPI NEO4 achieved broadly the identical rating because the Raspberry Pi three B+ within the Octane benchmark when operating within the default Chromium browser, and in follow truly felt slower when looking a number of heavier websites.

Knowledge switch: NanoPi NEO4 vs Raspberry Pi boards

Proven is how lengthy it took to switch a 1.3GB Raspbian img file from the Pi’s microSD storage to an hooked up 16GB USB stick.

filetransfer.pngfiletransfer.png

Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

Regardless of sporting a USB three.zero port, this nominally sooner port labored on the identical pace because the USB 2.zero on the Raspberry Pi three A+.

NanoPi NEO4 specs

CPU Mannequin: Rockchip RK3399

Variety of cores: huge.LITTLE, 64-bit Twin Core Cortex-A72 + Quad Core Cortex-A53

Frequency: Arm Cortex-A72(as much as 2.0GHz), Cortex-A53(as much as 1.5GHz)

GPU Mali-T864 GPU, helps OpenGL ES1.1/2.zero/three.zero/three.1, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL, DX11, and AFBC
VPU 4K VP9 and 4K 10bits H265/H264 60fps decoding, Twin VOP
Reminiscence 1GB DDR3-1866
Storage eMMC: no Onboard eMMC, however has a eMMC socket

microSD Slot: microSD*1 for exterior storage as much as 128GB

Connectivity Ethernet: Native Gbps Ethernet

WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth Four.zero combo module

Antenna*1: IPX Connector

Audio Audio output: HDMI
Video Enter One Four-Lane MIPI-CSI, as much as 13-megapixels
Video Output HDMI*1: HDMI 2.0a, helps [email protected], HDCP 1.Four/2.2
USB USB three.zero*1: USB three.zero Kind-A ports

USB Kind-C*1: Helps USB2.zero OTG and energy enter

USB 2.zero*2: USB 2.zero Host, one is Kind-A, the opposite is 2.54mm header

Pin-header GPIO1: 40pin

2 X 3V I2C, 1x 3V UART/SPI, 1 x SPDIF_TX, as much as eight x 3V GPIOs

PCIe x2

PWM x1, PowerKey

GPIO2:

1 x 1.8V 8ch-I2S

GPIO3:

debug uart, 3V degree, 1500000bps

USB 2.zero x1

LED Energy LED(Pink)*1

GPIO Managed LED(Inexperienced)*1

Others RTC Battery: 2 Pin 2.54mm pitch through-hole pad

Working Temperature: -20℃ to 70℃

Energy DC 5V/3A
OS help Android 7.1.2 (eMMC Module required)

Android eight.1 (eMMC Module required)

Lubuntu 16.04 (32-bit)

FriendlyCore 18.04 (64-bit)

FriendlyDesktop 18.04 (64-bit)

Armbian (third)

Kernel model Linux-Four.Four-LTS

U-boot-2014.10

PCB eight Layer
Dimension 60*45mm
Weight 30.25g
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Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

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