The Raspberry Pi is the undisputed king of cheap, small single board computers (SBCs). It has sold over 25 million units since its release in 2012, making it one of the most popular computers of all time.
No wonder so many competitors try to take the top spot with cheaper hardware, more power, or interesting setups. One such competitor is the NanoPi NEO4, a unique contender for the Pi.
What is NanoPi NEO4?
FriendlyELEC’s NanoPi NEO4 is a $50 SBC in a sub-average form factor. Measuring just 60 x 45mm, it’s not much bigger than a Raspberry Pi Zero. Despite its size, it is powered by the Rockchip RK3399 chipset, which combines dual and quad-core Cortex processors.
So it’s more powerful than any Raspberry Pi, smaller than most, and offers the same features. Could it be the Raspberry Pi Killer?
NanoPi NEO4 in numbers
Before diving into NEO4, let’s take a look at the specs.
- CPU : Rockchip RK3399 Dual Core Cortex-A72 & Quad Core Cortex-A53
- RAM : 1GB DDR3-1866
- USB : 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x USB Type-C (supports USB 2.0 OTG and power input), 2 x USB 2.0 (1 Type-A, 1 via 2.54mm jack)
- Connectivity : Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- GPU : Mali-T864 GPU supports OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL, DX11 and AFBC
- Video processing : 4K VP9 and 4K 10bit H265/H264 60fps, Dual VOP decoding.
- Memory : MicroSD up to 128GB, eMMC socket, SSD/HDD via PCIe
- media output : audio / video via HDMI
- Pin connector : 40 x GPIO with SPI / UART / I2C, 2 x PCIe
- Dimensions : 60 x 45 mm
- The weight : 30.25 g
- OS support : Android 7.1.2 and 8.1 (requires eMMC module), Lubuntu 16.04 (32-bit), FriendlyCore 18.04 (64-bit), FriendlyDesktop 18.04 (64-bit), Armbian (3rd)
Buy : NanoPi NEO4 by FriendlyELEC
Why NanoPi NEO4 is better than Raspberry Pi
At first glance, NEO4 blows the Raspberry Pi out of the water. Its processor is much faster and while it doesn’t have more memory, DDR3 RAM is of better quality. The addition of USB 3.0 and the expandability that an eMMC port and PCI Express (PCIe) provide are also missing from the Pi.
While size isn’t necessarily a factor for many, the NEO4’s tiny frame is sure to be a draw for those building the board into their hardware projects. It can support multiple operating systems and seems to fit in anywhere the Raspberry Pi is already running. The extra $15 isn’t worth the big extra features you get.
Benefits of NEO4
The promise of 4K video will make NEO4 an attractive upgrade for people using the Pi as a media server. The small size suits this use case well, and would be even more suitable for mounting to the back of a screen.