NanoPi NEO3: A Pocket Sized Server For $20

NanoPi NEO 3
(Image credit: friendlyarm.com)

Raspberry Pi alternative FRIENDLYELEC have released their latest board, the NanoPi NEO3 which provides a cost effective device for use in networked storage via USB 3. From just $20 we have Raspberry Pi 3 (opens in new tab) levels of performance in a board smaller than a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

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NanoPi NEO3 Specifications
SoC:RockChip RK3328, Quad-core 64-bit high-performance Cortex A53
RAM:1GB/2GB DDR4
LAN:Gigabit Ethernet with unique MAC
USB:1x USB3.0 Type A and 2x USB2.0 on 2.54mm pin header
MicroSD Slot:MicroSD x 1 for system boot and storage
Fan:2Pin JST ZH 1.5mm Connector for 5V Fan
GPIO:2.54mm pitch 26 pin-header, include I2C, UART, SPI, I2S, GPIO
Power:5V/1A, via Type-C or GPIO
Dimensions:48 x 48mm (1.89 inch x 1.89 inch)


According to CNX Software (opens in new tab) the $20 model comes with 1GB of DDR4 RAM, and for an additional $5 a 2GB model is available. They both share the same RockChip RK3328 System on Chip (SoC) featuring an ARM Cortex A53 CPU and MAli-450MP2 GPU.

Storage is available via a microSD card slot, or via the single USB 3 port. A USB C port for power and a Gigabit Ethernet port are the only other ports on this tiny board. It is clear that this board is made for networked storage, it just would’ve been great to have an onboard storage media option. That said by providing USB there is ample opportunity for expansion.

The FriendlyElec Wiki (opens in new tab) provides extra information on operating system support, currently only Ubuntu Core 18.04 and OpenWRT, but it won’t be long until more operating systems are supported.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".