We covered the Khadas VIM4 when it was announced, basking in the glory of its eight-core Arm processor and 8GB of RAM, and calling it a Raspberry Pi competitor. The board is now available to buy, with video reviews starting to appear, and we’d like to make it clear now that it does not exactly compete with the Raspberry Pi 4. It comfortably cruises past it.
ETA Prime has a first-look video up, touching on console emulation but more interestingly running the Sysbench scriptable multi-threaded benchmark tool. The test took 10 seconds to run, with ETA Prime noting that the best score achieved with an overclocked Raspberry Pi was 36 seconds. The average run time displayed on the Sysbench website is 41 seconds at the time of writing.
A particular area where the Khadas board shines is in Vulkan performance. A video by British YouTuber leepspvideo takes the board through its paces, using PSP emulator PPSSPP to squeeze 60FPS out of God of War: Ghost of Sparta at 2x resolution. OpenGL performance, by contrast, was unplayable. The same is true of all-time favorite OutRun 2: Coast to Coast.
There's more to the board than the emulation of obscure handheld consoles, however. After taking it through a suite of console emulators, Leepspvideo reports snappy performance from the VIM4 in both Ubuntu and Android, showing HD video streaming from YouTube at 30fps without dropping frames. It’s worth noting that emulation and app choice are limited at the moment due to the 32-bit version of Linux that’s being installed. Once a 64-bit version is available, the full capabilities of the board, including the 8GB of RAM, will be able to be exploited.
There is a 40 pin GPIO, and according to the specifications this breaks out all of the usual suspects (I2C, SPI, UART, I2S, PWM) and there appears to be an ADC (analog to digital converter) on the board which means that we could be able to read analog electronics. Right now we have no idea if this 40 pin GPIO is Raspberry Pi compliant. We will know more once we get the board on our test bench.
On the strength of Lee’s video, and multiple other video reviewers’ dives into its abilities, the VIM4 looks like a potential daily driver for users of office apps and photo editing software. A fan and heatsink combination is an optional extra to keep that octa-core SoC cool, and the mix of high-power Cortex-A73 cores and efficient Cortex-A53 cores mirrors the Raspberry Pi 4 but doubles the number of each core type present. Up to 8GB of LPDDR4 can be fitted, running at 2,016MHz, while Wi-Fi 6 keeps your networking up to the latest standard. There's an Ethernet socket as well if you prefer to keep things wired.
A Mali G52 MP8(8EE) GPU handles the pixel pumping. Meanwhile, storage comes via onboard flash, M.2 SSD, Micro SD, or USB. Bluetooth 5.1 allows the connection of wireless peripherals. It uses the Oowow embedded system to install an OS, and features an HDMI input for recording and passthrough.
With the current price of Raspberry Pi 4 8GB being ramped up by scalpers, there isn't much much difference in price. The VIM4 is available now from the Khadas store for $199.90 as a bare board, or $219.90 with the cooling kit. Both these prices are, as we write, $20 under the RRP. A 3D-printable case is currently in development but cases for the older VIM 2 and 3 should fit.
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Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.
I mean, to be fair, Raspberry Pi isn't trying to build a powerhouse. They're trying to get an affordable computer that you can easily use to teach programming in the hands of people who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity. That being said, this SBC looks amazing. I'm having a hard time not pulling the trigger on one after reading this.Reply