Orange Pi 3 review: A Raspberry Pi rival that’s a serious disappointment


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Regardless of promising bang to your buck, the software program supplied is so buggy that even fundamental options are hobbled.

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What is the level of an inexpensive laptop if it is largely unusable?

That is the query I used to be left asking after testing the brand new Orange Pi three, a $35 single-board laptop (SBC) that, on paper, guarantees to trump the specs of the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+, with a sooner CPU and GPU, extra reminiscence, and assist for 4K shows.

The issue is that theoretical energy is tough to tease out, with the software program supplied being so buggy that even fundamental options are hobbled and damaged. The expertise threw into sharp reduction the function of the Raspberry Pi in providing a uncommon steady platform in a sea of flaky low-cost, single-board computer systems.

I examined the 2GB model of the Orange Pi board utilizing the model of the Ubuntu 16.04 desktop OS that’s out there for the low-cost laptop.

First impressions of the Orange Pi had been advantageous, with the pc booting virtually instantly and my Wi-Fi community being detected and connecting with out challenge.

It was then the issues began. The primary indication got here when working the default Firefox browser.

Open a contemporary information website within the browser, with the same old host of JavaScript being loaded within the background, and this does not really feel like a sooner laptop than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+.

It wasn’t unusable but it surely was sluggish and laggy when scrolling, reminding me of utilizing the previous Epiphany net browser that used to ship with the Raspberry Pi.

In comparison with the comparatively zippy Chromium browser out there for the Pi right this moment, looking the online on the Orange Pi three was a extra irritating affair.

That lacklustre efficiency was mirrored by artificial checks, with the Octane benchmark that measures how browsers deal with JavaScript returning a rating of 420, a fraction of the virtually three,000 achieved by the supposedly slower Raspberry Pi three B+.

To prime it off, not lengthy after leaving the tab open with the location working within the background the browser crashed.

Sadly the entire working system appears to be on a equally shaky footing when working on the Orange Pi three.

Subsequent I attempted a heading to YouTube, solely to search out the board refused to play any video, as an alternative simply endlessly buffering a clip that by no means loaded.

To not be discouraged I downloaded a 1080p video to play domestically on the machine, the Large Buck Bunny take a look at video, a H.264-encoded mov file. This refused to play on the default Parole Media Participant, throwing up a GStreamer backend error, whereas the opposite bundled media participant VLC simply froze at first, by no means making it previous the video’s black display opening.

That is only a style of the battle I confronted utilizing Ubuntu on the Orange Pi three, as there are sufficient issues to sluggish me right down to a crawl. Varied features simply did not work for me, Bluetooth assist appeared damaged and it would not hook up with a 5GHz Wi-Fi community. Except you are effectively versed in Linux techniques administration, for me most straightforward actions require 30+ minutes looking for solutions to the newest error message that is been thrown up. I could not copy to USB sticks by default, as all USB sticks appeared to mount as read-only, a problem that could not be resolved by altering possession of the drive and file permissions, remounting the drive or by reformatting it. And solely a really small quantity of recordsdata could be copied to the SD card initially, because the default partition is so restricted in dimension as to be virtually unusable, and must be resized utilizing a device like GParted.

As a repair for all these difficulties I attempted upgrading the working techniques software program packages, to see if that may enhance the scenario.

Not solely was the replace course of problematic, the graphical software program installer falsely reporting there was no storage left on the board, to replace, after updating and upgrading by way of the Terminal I discovered the pc would now not boot, necessitating a clear set up.

You count on a stage of polish to be lacking from the rival boards to the Raspberry Pi. Many are produced by comparatively small groups of individuals and guaranteeing the steadiness trendy laptop customers count on is difficult.

However in comparison with the simplicity of utilizing the Raspberry Pi, the Orange Pi three was sorely missing. Even the Rock Pi four, which itself had a couple of issues with crashes and sudden conduct, was much more comfy to make use of as a on a regular basis machine.

I might usually embody a spread of benchmarks for the board however I had a lot hassle working them on the Orange Pi three, only some are price reporting. When linked to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, the Orange Pi three recorded a median connection velocity of 45.7Mbps by way of iPerf, a wonderfully cheap outcome and comparable with the Raspberry Pi three boards and the Rock Pi four. It additionally racked up a rating of 22 on the GLmark 2 GPU benchmark, barely above a reported rating of 18 for the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B on Ubuntu 16.04.

This isn’t a machine for the typical person. The one individual I can see being completely satisfied utilizing this machine is somebody with comparatively deep technical information of working Linux on Arm-based techniques and who would really feel comfy rewriting the system fundamentals. Both that or any individual who has a really restricted use case in thoughts, who would possibly be capable to work across the limitations of the software program and simply make the most of a couple of particular options, just like the quick USB information switch. The collection of supported working techniques additionally contains Debian Desktop Jessie and Android, so perhaps a kind of will work higher.

Perhaps the state of the Orange Pi three’s software program assist will enhance over time, it’s a comparatively new board. In an announcement, the workforce behind the Orange Pi three mentioned the take a look at pictures for Ubuntu labored “nice” after they examined them on the board, so I assume there’s an opportunity I used to be simply very unfortunate, but it surely’s additionally true that it is not the primary time Orange Pi boards have been criticized for buggy and unstable software program.

To nearly all of folks contemplating shopping for this board, nonetheless, I might say purchase a Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+ as an alternative, and revel in a single-board laptop that does not require battling infinite technical points.

A 1GB model of the Orange Pi three can be out there for $30, and 2GB model for $35. Each the 1GB and 2GB boards are additionally out there with 8GB eMMC Flash storage for $35 and $40 respectively.


Picture: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

Specs comparability: Orange Pi three vs Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

Please notice, this part solely compares the listed specs of every board, and shouldn’t be taken as a indication of superior efficiency in observe — notably given the issues I encountered in testing.

The Orange Pi three has a sooner processor than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The Allwinner H6 system-on-a-chip (SoC) utilized by the Orange Pi three depends on a quad-core, Arm Cortex A53-based 1.8GHz CPU.

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

The Orange Pi three has comparable wi-fi connectivity to the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The Orange Pi three presents the identical 802.11ac Wi-Fi however has Bluetooth, in comparison with Bluetooth four.2 on the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+.

The Orange Pi three has sooner reminiscence and as much as 2x as a lot because the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The Orange Pi three is on the market with 1/2GB of DDR3 reminiscence, in comparison with 1GB of DDR2 reminiscence within the Raspberry Pi three B+.

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

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

The Orange Pi three has sooner USB ports than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The Orange Pi three has 4 USB ports and one USB host, in comparison with the 4 USB ports on the Raspberry Pi three B+.

The Orange PI three is on the market sooner storage than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

Alongside microSD card storage, the Orange Pi three is on the market with as much as 8GB eMMC storage to the board.

The Orange Pi three is barely larger than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The Orange Pi three is 93.5mm × 60mm, in comparison with the Raspberry Pi B+’s 85.6mm × 56.5mm.

The Orange Pi three has fewer choices for attaching add-ons than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The Orange Pi three solely has a 26-pin header for hooking up the machine to different boards, sensors and motors, in comparison with the 40-pin header on the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+.

The Orange Pi three runs fewer working techniques than the Raspberry Pi three Mannequin B+

The Orange Pi three helps far fewer open-source working techniques than the Raspberry Pi, itemizing Android, Ubuntu 16.04 Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Debian Server Jessie, and Debian Desktop Jessie as being supported.

Orange Pi three specs

CPU H6 Quad-core 64-bit 1.8GHZ ARM Cortex-A53
GPU • Excessive-performance multi-core GPU Mali T720• OpenGL ES3.1/• Microsoft DirectX 11 FL9_3• ASTC(Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression)• Floating level operation higher than 70 GFLOPS
Reminiscence+Onboard Storage 4 Varieties:1GB LPDDR3 (shared with GPU)+EMMC(Default Empty)2GB LPDDR3(shared with GPU)+EMMC(Default Empty)1GB LPDDR3 (shared with GPU)+8GB EMMC Flash2GB LPDDR3(shared with GPU)+8GB EMMC Flash
WIFI+BT AP6256, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac,
Onboard Community 10/100M/1000M , ethernet RJ45
Community Chip RTL8211
Audio Enter MIC
Audio Output HDMI 2.0a and three.5 mm AV Jack
Video Output HDMI 2.0a and CVBS
Video Decoding • H265/HEVC Important/Important10 [email protected] Excessive-tier ;[email protected], as much as [email protected]• H264/AVC BP/MP/[email protected], MVC, [email protected]• VP9,Profile zero/2, [email protected]• AVS+/AVS JIZHUN [email protected], [email protected]
PCIE • Helps RC mode• Helps x1 Gen2(5.0Gbps) lane•Complies with PCI Specific Base Specification
Energy Supply DC enter,MicroUSB (OTG)
USB Ports 1*USB Host, 1*USB OTG
USB Ports four*USB Host
Low-level peripherals 26 Pin
GPIO(1×3) pin UART, floor.
LED Energy LED、Standing LED and LED
Key Energy(SW4)
Supported OS, Ubuntu, Debian

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