Orange Pi’s latest flagship board promises superior specs to the Raspberry Pi without breaking its $35 price point.
Like its predecessors, the Orange Pi 3 is a tiny single-board computer loosely inspired by the best-selling Raspberry Pi.
The latest board in the Orange Pi family ramps up the specs to a quad-core 1.8GHz CPU, 2GB DDR3 RAM, four USB 3.0 ports, support for 4K displays via HDMI 2.0a, Gigabit Ethernet, onboard mPCIe 2.0, and Bluetooth 5.0.
All of these specs improve on the most powerful Raspberry Pi, the Model B+, with its quad-core 1.4GHz CPU, 1GB DDR2 RAM, four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI 1.3, and Gigabit Ethernet over USB2.0, which tops out at 300Mbps. The Orange Pi 3 also matches the Pi 3 B+’s support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Like the Raspberry Pi, the makers of the Orange Pi 3 suggest it can be used as a desktop computer, media center or file server.
Unlike the Raspberry Pi, the Orange Pi 3 also lists Android 7.0 as being officially supported on the board, alongside Ubuntu and Debian. That said, none of these OS images are available via the Orange Pi download page as yet, although there are early builds for operating systems designed to run on the Allwinner H6 system-on-a-chip used by the Orange Pi 3.
Historically, Orange Pi board reviews have been critical of poor driver support, missing software, and being stuck with unstable versions of older operating systems.
That throws up the bigger issue when buying rival boards to the Raspberry Pi, which is few competitors offer the same range of stable operating systems and software, and none have such a large online community who can help you if you run into issues.
The Orange Pi 3 also isn’t as suited to being built into homemade hardware and gadgets as the Pi. The Orange Pi 3 only has a 26-pin header for hooking up the machine to other boards, sensors and motors, compared to the 40-pin header on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.
The Orange Pi 3 is also slightly larger than the Raspberry Pi 3 B+, with a different layout, ruling out compatibility with existing Raspberry Pi hardware add-ons and most cases.
A 1GB version of the Orange Pi is also available for $30, and both the 1GB and 2GB boards are also available with 8GB eMMC Flash storage for $35 and $40 respectively.
Like last year’s $20 Orange Pi One Plus, the Orange Pi 3 is built around the Allwinner H6 SoC, but this earlier board lacks USB ports and only is available with 1GB of memory.
As CNX-Software points out, taking advantage of the PCIe interface on the Orange Pi 3 may be difficult, as it’s not possible to create a proper PCIe controller driver for the Allwinner H6 in Linux-based operating systems due to quirks in the H6’s PCIe controller.
|CPU||H6 Quad-core 64-bit 1.8GHZ ARM Cortex-A53|
|GPU|| • High-performance multi-core GPU Mali T720• OpenGL ES3.1/3.0/2.0/1.1
• Microsoft DirectX 11 FL9_3
• ASTC(Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression)
• Floating point operation greater than 70 GFLOPS
|Memory+Onboard Storage|| Four Types:1GB LPDDR3 (shared with GPU)+EMMC(Default Empty)
2GB LPDDR3(shared with GPU)+EMMC(Default Empty)
1GB LPDDR3 (shared with GPU)+8GB EMMC Flash
2GB LPDDR3(shared with GPU)+8GB EMMC Flash
|WIFI+BT||AP6256, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, BT5.0|
|Onboard Network||10/100M/1000M , ethernet RJ45|
|Audio Output||HDMI 2.0a and 3.5 mm AV Jack|
|Video Output||HDMI 2.0a and CVBS|
|Video Decoding|| • H265/HEVC Main/Main10 profile@Level5.2 High-tier ;4K@60fps, up to 6Kx4K@30fps
• H264/AVC BP/MP/HP@level5.1, MVC, 4K@30fps
• VP9，Profile 0/2, 4K@30fps
• AVS+/AVS JIZHUN profile@level 6.0, 1080P@60fps
|PCIE|| • Supports RC mode• Supports x1 Gen2(5.0Gbps) lane
•Complies with PCI Express Base 2.0 Specification
|Power Source||DC input，MicroUSB (OTG)|
|USB 2.0 Ports||1*USB 2.0 Host, 1*USB OTG 2.0|
|USB 3.0 Ports||4*USB 3.0 Host|
|Low-level peripherals||26 Pin|
|GPIO(1×3) pin||UART, ground.|
|LED||Power LED、Status LED and USB3.0 LED|
|Supported OS||Android7.0, Ubuntu, Debian|
Read more about single-board computers
- Rock Pi 4 review: Is this the Raspberry Pi challenger you’ve been looking for?
- Rock Pi 4: A closer look at the new Raspberry Pi challenger
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ review: A $25 computer with a lot of promise
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ review: Hands-on with the new board
- Inside the Raspberry Pi: The story of the $35 computer that changed the world
- How the Raspberry Pi was created: A visual history of the $35 board
- Cheap but powerful Raspberry Pi rival: $45 NanoPi Neo4 is six-core Android board with USB 3.0 and 4K support
- A Raspberry Pi-style computer you can build yourself: Blueberry Pi (ZDNet)
- What are the best Raspberry Pi alternatives? Everything you need to know about Pi rivals(ZDNet)