NanoPi R2C: Deceptively Small, Yet Powerful Mini-Router

The FriendlyELEC NanoPi R2C
(Image credit: FriendlyELEC)

FriendlyELEC has announced a new version of its dual gigabit ethernet mini-router, the NanoPi R2C, as spotted by CNX Software. This deceptively tiny SBC is much smaller than a Raspberry Pi and houses plenty of power to act as a soft router and as a miniature file server, all be it with only USB2.0 for drives.

The NanoPi R2C from different angles

(Image credit: FriendlyELEC)

Based on the Rockchip RK3328 SOC, and with a USB 2.0 port and GPIO pins for expansion, the NanoPi R2C comes in a metal case measuring just 2.4 x 2.4 x 1.1 inches (60 x 60 x 27.5 mm). Alongside the SOC, which runs a quad-core Cortex-A53 at 1.5 GHz with a Mali-450MP2 GPU and 1GB of DDR4, you get a bootable Micro SD slot, a single USB 2.0 port for expansion, and a USB-C port for power. Ethernet is taken care of by a MotorComm YT8521S Gigabit Ethernet transceiver on the way in (replacing the Realtek RTL8211E from the previous model, the NanoPi R2S), and a Realtek RTL8153 USB 3.0 to Ethernet controller on the way out, giving 941Mbps each way. There’s a footprint for an SPI flash chip too, along with a three-pin serial header for debugging and a ten-pin GPIO that breaks out I2C, UART, IR_Rx, 5V, 3.3V and GND.

The router should work with FriendlyWrt, UbuntuCore, and Armbian, and options for the USB port include 4G modems, webcams, or Wi-Fi modules. It’s available now from FriendlyArm, but unlike prior boards in the series, it’s not available without its metal case. For more details, check out the FriendlyArm wiki. If you prefer your SBC with a Raspberry flavor, there is a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 powered dual gigabit router from Seeed.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

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.

  • maccas69
    I use this as my home router, works a charm with a few flavours of OpenWRT; decent thermals from the aluminium case with very little airflow and only a few services like (AdBlock, OpenVPN, netdata etc) - tops out at around 45c here in a UK garage racked homelab.

    I get maxxed out performance on each port of 920/920 but I never touch the sides of that even with hosted services such as games, media, self-hosted, dev-stuff etc.
  • AtrociKitty
    all be it with only USB2.0 for drives.
    You mean albeit?
  • _William_

    If you are interested in having a faster storage you can have a look to the Nano Pi Neo3, it is almost the same boards. Neo 3 is a bit older, with a plastic body instead of metal and a USB3 connector with has been replaced by a second gigabit connector in R2C. Almost th same boards, different use case :)

    I have several Neo 3 used as compute node and i'm happy with these boards. I juste ordered a R2C to test and build a small network filtering box with gigabit capabilities

    W. (In French)