Rock Pi 4: An alternative to Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a famous Single board computer. Affordable and easy to use for beginners, it made SBCs accessible to students and tinkerers. Its latest iteration, the Raspberry Pi 4, was released in June 2019, with a relatively powerful CPU and plenty of RAM (upto 4Gb). In this post I want to share why I did not go for the Raspberry Pi 4, and the alternative I chose.

Raspberry Pi 4 Pros:

  • Affordable and easily available.
  • Wide software compatibility and community support.

Raspberry Pi 4 Cons:

I wanted something a little more versatile, which use less power when idle but has more horsepower when needed. After lots of searching and reading, I came across the Rock Pi 4.

Rock Pi 4 advantages:

  • RK3399 Hexa core CPU with 4 small (low power) Cortex A53 cores and 2 big Cortex A72 cores (big cores go upto 1.8 Ghz normal and 2 Ghz if overclocked).
  • Versatile I/O with support for eMMC, NVMe and SD card.
  • ARM Mali T860 GPU with 4K and light gaming support.
  • Relatively affordable. The version with onboard wifi and 4 Gb RAM costs 75$ as compared to 55$ for the Raspberry Pi 4.

Rock Pi 4 disadvantages:

  • Software support is not as easy as the Raspberry Pi. Certain features like hardware video decoding are only available on the Legacy (4.4) kernel. With time Linux mainline support has improved, so no major complaints.

After some consideration, I decided to give it a go! Barring initial hiccups, was able to get the board up and running. Tested various distributions like Armbian, Manjaro ARM and Slarm64 (my daily driver). Appreciate the support from community members as well as Radxa (board manufacturer).

Overall I am satisfied with my decision and learnt loads while trying it out. Fell free to reach out if there are any questions. 🙂

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