Hardware

​Waiting for a cheaper Raspberry Pi 3? The $20 Orange Pi PC 2 might fit the bill

The latest challenger to the credit card-sized computer is broadly similar to the Raspberry Pi 3 but cuts the Wi-Fi to shave $15 off its price.

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The Orange Pi PC 2

Image: Shenzhen Xunlong Software

The Raspberry Pi computer continues to inspire rivals to chase its success, with this month seeing the launch of the Orange Pi PC 2, a Raspberry Pi 3 challenger with more modest specs that sells for $20.

The quad-core, ARM-based Orange Pi PC 2 has broadly similar specs to the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B but has one fewer USB 2.0 port, lacks Wi-Fi and is powered via a 5V/2A barrel jack, rather than a micro-USB.

SEE: Raspberry Pi: The smart person's guide

On the other hand the Chinese-made Allwinner H5 quad-core, ARM Cortex A53-based system-on-a-chip used in the Orange Pi PC 2 is relatively new and was designed for use in 4K TV boxes. The Orange Pi PC 2's memory is also of the faster DDR3 type, compared to the Pi 3's LPDDR2.

The $15 that the Orange Pi PC 2 shaves off the Raspberry Pi 3's asking price might also be enough to tempt those waiting for the Raspberry Pi 3 to be released in its cheaper Model A incarnation.

The company that makes the Orange Pi PC 2 has said the board will be available with images to run Android, Ubuntu, Debian, and the official Raspberry Pi OS Raspbian. However, this isn't the same version of Raspbian that can be downloaded from the Raspberry Pi Foundation's website, but a Raspbian image with the Allwinner H5 Linux kernel and bootloader.

One other note of caution is that an earlier version of Allwinner's custom Linux kernel for its SoC was found to have a backdoor built into it.

Earlier in the year, the firm behind the Orange Pi launched another spin on the Raspberry Pi, the Orange Pi One, a more expensive, slightly higher specced alternative to the Raspberry Pi Zero.

Specs

CPU: Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor

GPU: ARM Mali-450MP GPU

Memory: 1GB DDR3

Storage: micro SD card up to 64GB, 8Mbit SPI NOR flash

Video: HDMI 1.4 with CEC support, AV port

Audio: HDMI, AV port, on-board microphone

Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet

USB: 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port

Camera: MIPI CSI Interface

Expansion: 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header

Debugging: 3-pin UART header for serial console

Misc: IR receiver; Power button; Power and status LEDs

Power Supply: 5V/2A via barrel jack.

Dimensions: 85mm x 55mm

Weight: 38g

Read more about the Raspberry Pi

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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