A new board in the Rock Pi 4 family of Raspberry Pi alternatives has appeared - brought to our attention by CNX Software. It's the Model C+, which uses downclocked processor cores in its SoC to undercut its own elder sibling, the Model B+, on price.
There are a few other differences, in that the C+ sports two micro HDMI ports instead of the B+’s full-size one, and doesn’t feature the onboard flash storage that’s a feature of the B+, but otherwise they appear similar.
The SoC is the Rockchip RK3399T, which has six cores. Two of them are Cortex-A72, the kind found in the Raspberry Pi 4, which run by default at 1.5 GHz instead of the 2 GHz of the OP1 in the B+ model. They can, of course, be overclocked, but only to 2 GHz, whereas the OP1 can manage 2.4 GHz. The remaining four cores are Cortex-A53, seen in Amazon Fire tablets and the Nintendo Switch. These run at 1.4 GHz instead of 1.5 GHz. The GPU is the same Mali T860MP4 on both C+ and B+ boards, and the 4GB of RAM is the same LPDDR4 running at 3200Mb/s.
Storage comes via a Micro SD card slot, though there's also an unpopulated eMMC socket that can take up to 128GB, and an M2 socket can accommodate a 2TB SSD with its transfer rate capped by the PCIe 2.0 x4 interface. There's a gigabit Ethernet port, with an optional HAT to add PoE capability, and both Wi-Fi (dual-band AC) and Bluetooth. Expansion comes via two USB 3 and two USB 2 ports, plus a 40-pin GPIO array. And there's even a power button.
Speaking of which, you’ll need to feed the C+ 5V at 5A via the USB-C port if you want to use an SSD, but the board is content with 5V at 3A if you don’t. The board’s dimensions are just 3.3 x 2.1 inch (85 x 54mm), and it will run Debian, Ubuntu, Android (7, 9, or 11) officially, with open-source graphics drivers coming via Panfrost.
The HDMI ports are worth a second look, as they support different resolutions. One can manage 4K at 60Hz, while the other is limited to 2K at the same refresh rate. There's also a MIPI connector for extra screens, and ribbon connectors for a camera too, as long as you’re ok with a maximum resolution of 8MP.
The Rock Pi 4 C+ is on sale at AllNetChina for $59.99 + shipping at the time of writing, with Ameridroid carrying it for $5 more. By contrast, the B+ with 32GB of eMMC is $75 or $87 on the same sites.
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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.
The amount of computing power and features you can have for such an affordable price these days really is kind of amazing.Reply
That's it? I want to know is if the Rock Pi is better at x, y, or z than the Raspberry Pi. I'm hopeful that somewhere there are answers, rather than just a list of specs or ports.Reply