Best Single-Board Computers Under $200


#1

Best Single-Board Computers Under $200


Single-board computers (SBCs) are quickly becoming a staple in the maker world as the go-to development board. Professional engineers may use SBCs for prototyping as well as hobby tinkering. So exactly what is an SBC and why do so many makers use it in their projects?

A single-board computer is just that — a complete computer built on a single board. They can be fairly large like Nvidia’s Jetson TKI or incredibly small like the iMX233-OLinuXino-Nano and are popular development tools that for the most part, are incredibly cheap.

Makers and engineers often use SBCs as an affordable alternative over notebooks and desktops to design everything from home automation to robotics or just about anything that can be imagined. In this slideshow, we’ll take a look at some of the SBCs for under $200 that have been suggested by EE Times’ readers of this Top 10 Single-Board Computers Under $200.


The MicroZed ZedBoard is based on the Xilinx Zynq-7020, which packs two ARM Cortex-A9 cores, 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 128MB of QSPI flash storage along with a microSD card interface. The board also features 100 user I/O headers, which are inactive in stand-alone mode but, when plugged into a carrier card, automatically conforms to what the card’s programming. ZedBoard’s MicroZed SBC is one of the more higher priced boards topping out at $199 but its rich in features.


Intel’s MinnowBoard Max

Intel’s MinnowBoard Max features the company’s Atom processor in single or dual core flavors.

This board is actually a collaboration between Intel and CircuitCo (manufacturer) and comes in two flavors — a single core for $99 and a dual core for $199. The higher priced version features Intel’s Atom E3825 (clocked @ 1.33GHz) APU. While the board is designed for anything from hobbyist projects to embedded applications (due in part to the many ports), it can also be used for file servers and network applications as the board comes with a PCI-E port, Gigabyte Ethernet and SATA support.


Intel’s D2500HN Atom D2500 mini-ITX

Intel’s D2500HN Atom D2500 mini-ITX features just about everything a full-size desktop would have, only in a much smaller package.

This board has it all — an Intel Atom dual-core processor (clocked @ a modest 1.8GHz), two SO-DIMM slots for up to 4 GB of DDR3 memory and a mini PCI-E slot. It’s also packed with an array of connection options that include 8 USB 2.0 ports (4 internal/external), VGA port and a PS2 port for a keyboard or mouse. Like most desktop motherboards, it also features connections for external speakers or headphones powered by Intel’s HD audio. The cost for Intel’s D2500HN hovers around $90, which isn’t bad for this feature-packed SBC.


EMAC’s iPac-9X25

It isn’t pretty but EMAC’s iPac-9X25 is certainly no slouch as it packs Atmel’s AT91SAM9X25 processor along with a massive amount of GPIO connectors.

While it may not look ‘flashy’ like some of the others mentioned in this list, EMAC’s iPac-9X25 has a massive amount of headers for digital applications. Suggested by rossi007, EMAC’s SBC features Atmel’s AT91SAM9X25 microcontroller (clocked @ 400MHz), 16Mb of serial flash, 128Mb of DDR2 memory and 4 GB eMMC.

What sets this board apart from the other is its massive amount of digital I/O headers- 20 GPIO SAM9X25, 16 SPI Expander Based Digital I/O lines, and 8 x High Drive Digital Outputs. It also sports 2 10/100 BaseT Ethernet with RJ45 ports along with 1 USB 2.0 High-Speed (Host Port), 1 USB 2.0 Full-Speed (Host Port) and 1x USB 2.0 High-Speed (Device Port). While this board is a great development platform, it’s one of the higher priced SBCs running around $199.


The BeagleBoard-xM

The BeagleBoard-xM is powered by ARM’s AM37x 1GHz processor but has no NAND storage, so the OS has to be stored separately on a microSD card.

BeagleBoard makes some of the more popular SBCs on the market and even their older boards are still standing strong in the maker community. Suggested by Sanjib.A, the BeagleBoard-xM is actually a modified version of the original SBC and features a faster ARM Cortex-A8 CPU (clocked @ 1GHz), 512Mb of LPDDR memory and a 4 GB microSD card pre-loaded with The Angstrom Distribution for embedded devices.

It comes packed with a host of ports, including 4 USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, stereo in/out jacks and S-video. While every feature makes this a decent SBC, it truly shines with its ability to pump out an HD resolution of 1400 X 1050 using the onboard DVI-D port. It can also run many Linux flavors, including Android, Fedora and Ubuntu along with a host of others. Not bad for a board that costs around $150.


Intel’s NUC Kit DN2820FYKH

Intel’s NUC Kit DN2820FYKH is essentially a small desktop powered by the company’s Celeron N2820 dual-core processor.

While it may look like an HTPC or a streaming device like the Roku, it’s actually Intel’s NUC Kit DN2820FYKH. This one is suggested by me (Cabe) and actually houses the company’s Haswell-based SBC, which features a Celeron 2820 dual-core processor, 1 GB DDR3L RAM and support for a 2.5-inch SSD or HDD. It also sports 1 USB 3.0 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI 1.4a port.

While it is true that the NUC can be used as an HTPC, Cloud storage device or even a desktop PC as it runs Windows 8.1, however there are hacks that allow users to run Fedora for software or app development. Intel’s NUC Kit costs in the neighborhood of $130, which isn’t bad considering it’s a stand-alone PC and an app-developing platform.


WandBoard’s WBQUAD

WandBoard’s WBQUAD may not look like much but it packs a Freescale i.MX6 quad-core processor.

Another SBC I would like to suggest is WandBoard’s WBQUAD (or WandBoard Quad), which may be small in stature but it packs some serious hardware, including Freescale’s i.MX6 quad-core CPU (ARM Cortex-A9 clocked @ 1GHz). Besides the slick processor, the board also features an integrated Vivante GC2000 GPU, 2 GB of DDR3 RAM and 2 microSD slots. It also has a SATA connector, HDMI and USB ports in much the same fashion as other popular boards.

If that wasn’t enough, there is also optical S/PDIF, a camera interface as well as an expansion header and Gigabyte LAN. Users also have the option of running their favorite Linux-based flavors, including Android, Ubuntu and Fedora. For $129, what’s not to like?


Odroid-XU3

Odroid’s Odroid-XU3 is based on Samsung’s Exynos5422, which packs four Cortex-A15 and four Cortex-A7 CPUs.

The last three entries on this list haven’t been suggested but deserve to be in it anyway, with the first being the Odroid-XU3, which is based on Samsung’s Exynos5422. The interesting thing about the SoC is that it features four Cortex-A15 cores along with four Cortex-A7 cores. Only one quad-core set is engaged depending on the app requirements and thereby helps to reduce energy requirements.

The board goes all out with the visual technology as well thanks to the onboard Mali-T628 MP6 GPU, which astonishingly enough is capable of pumping out 4K UHD (Ultra-High Definition) resolutions! The XU3 also sports a USB 3.0 and 4 USB 2.0 ports along with HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.1 ports. Obviously, this is one of the more expensive SBCs (@ $179) but you do get what you pay for.


Raspberry Pi 2

The raspberry graphic gives this board away but the new Raspberry Pi 2 is better in every way over the original and costs about as much as well.

What list would be complete without the Raspberry Pi? The RPi Foundation recently released the Raspberry Pi 2, which is superior to the original in just about every way but costs the same ($35). The upgraded SBC features an ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core CPU (clocked @ 900MHz), which provides about 6-times more performance over the original as well as the B+.

It also has twice the amount of RAM as the original, with 1 GB of LPDDR2 RAM. What’s truly different from the other boards is that it can run the typical Linux flavored OSes such as Ubuntu but it can also run a modified version of Windows 10! However, the best part is that Microsoft’s newest operating system will be free to Raspberry Pi makers!


Intel’s Edison

Intel’s Edison may be small but it packs hardware that’s nothing to sneeze at, including two Atom Silvermont cores and one Quark core.

The final entry on this list comes from Intel with their second revision of the Edison. The SoC for the Edison contains two Atom Silvermont cores (clocked @ 500MHz) along with a single Quark core (clocked @ 100MHz), which is basically used to run the Linux-based Viper OS. The SBC also features 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of eMMC flash for storage along with a 70-pin dense connector for USB, GPIO and UARTs.

Intel designed the board for use with wearable devices but what makes this board interesting is that it’s compatible with the Arduino Breakout Kit, which means it can take advantage of the company’s many shields. Not bad for a board that costs a mere $50.


GizmoSphere’s Gizmo 2

GizmoSphere’s Gizmo 2 has enough horsepower to run high-end applications and even graphic-intensive

As an extra-added bonus for the list of sub $200 SBCs, take a look at GizmoSphere’s Gizmo 2, which features enough power to run high-end applications, including mainstream videogames. By all intents and purposes, this board is a development kit- meaning it has a wide range of interfaces for connecting add-on devices, including GPIO, ADC/DAC and SPI connections.

It’s clear that the inclusion of a heatsink with a fan means it’s packing some power, which it is as the Gizmo 2 is powered by an AMD GX-21OHA dual-core SoC (clocked @ 1GHz), which also sports AMD’s Radeon HD 8210E GPU and 1Gb of DDR3 RAM. The 4-inch X 4-inch board is also equipped with two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, mSATA, microSD slot and HDMI port. The $199 price tag for the Gizmo 2 is justifiable given the amount of technology that’s packed on the SBC.



What is the best single board computer running Android?
#2

More…

Firefly-RK3288 $129

http://en.t-firefly.com/en/firenow/firefly_rk3288/specifications/

Radxa Rock Lite $59
Radxa Rock pro $99
Rock2 Square $129


http://store.radxa.com/collections/frontpage/products/rock2-square-beta-version?variant=1159615393


#3

Is any of these using a Sata2 or Sata3 port? And would it be worth it to use instead of a board with only a USB2 on it?


#4

I know that Rock2 Square and Banana Pi have sata…


#5

Is any of these using a Sata2 or Sata3 port? And would it be worth it to use instead of a board with only a USB2 on it?

I have the same question. It seems USB 2’s bandwidth may be a big bottleneck?


#6

Why do you think bandwidth to disk is an issue?

Latency perhaps, but bandwidth? Seems unlikely to me.


#7

http://www.black-swift.com/shop/product/view/1/5

Check this one out! It’s a tiny (35mm * 25mm) SBC that runs OpenWRT!

Chipset Qualcomm Atheros AR9331
CPU core 32-bit MIPS 24K
Frequency 400 MHz (nominal)
200 MHz (energy-saving)
ROM 16 MB NOR flash
RAM 64 MB DDR2 SDRAM
Connectors 1×microUSB (USB interface)
1×microUSB (3.4-6 VDC power; UART-USB adapter)
1×PLLD-1,27-30 (signal interfaces and power)
1×PLLD-1,27-20 (signal interfaces and power)
Interfaces Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (1×1, up to 150 Mbps, 2.4 GHz, PCB antenna)
1×USB 2.0 (host/client)
26×GPIO (general purpose input/outputs)
2×Fast Ethernet 10/100 Mbps
1×SPI
1×I²C
1×16550 UART (with integrated UART-USB adapter)
DC power 5 V (with USB support)
3.3 V (without USB support)
3.6-6 В (using onboard voltage regulator and without USB support)
Power consumption 300 mA max (without external load)
60 mA min (200 MHz, Wi-Fi disabled)
Operating system OpenWRT 14.07 Barrier Breaker
Size 25×35×4 mm (1×1.38×0.16 in)
Weight 3 g

And the best part? It’s only $36 USD
Unfortunately, it’s only for preorder - but it’ll be shipping in June! I’ve already pre-pre-ordered mine, thanks to kickstarter :wink:

I’m sure you all can see applications as far as IoT goes (Planning on turning it into a portable cloud, where it syncs a USB flash drive with a folder on google drive - maybe even an internet-capable coffee cup!), but what about MaidSafe? Obviously CPU resources aren’t its strongsuit, but perhaps other things could play to its advantage? Let me know what you guys think! :slight_smile:


#8

https://www.parallella.org/board/

The Raspberry Pi of supercomputers! Gigabit Ethernet, 1 GB Ram, Arm A9 CPU, and a 16-Core processor for $99 USD.


#9

#10

With a lower bandwidth it takes longer for a chunks to transfer from the hdd to the computer. I compared the transfer speed from my external HDD to my C1(USB 2) and to my laptop(USB 3). I don’t have the numbers with me but it took about ten times more time to transfer 1MB to my C1.

So my reasoning is that even if I have a dedicated farm of C1s, anyone with a laptop with USB3/Sata2-3 would have an edge over me.

Though, I still need to compare that speed against my upload speed. Maybe my upload speed(10Mb/s) is so slow that USB2 or USB3 won’t matter much.

Anyway I’m thinking of getting a XU3 Lite for the USB 3 port and make some comparison when testnet3 goes live.


#11

@DavidMtl thanks. That’s a big difference, though maybe not due to the USB.

Anyway I’m thinking of getting a XU3 Lite for the USB 3 port and make some comparison when testnet3 goes live.

I like the look of these too. Maybe time to order!


#12

The 4/32gb v is just under $200. I was wondering if this wouldn’t be the best option, assuming it’s actually available.

http://store.radxa.com/collections/frontpage/products/rock2-square-beta-version?variant=1159615397


#13

I think power consumption is going to be important too.

Odroid-U3 is 5v * 2A = 10w max
Odroid-XU3 Lite 5v * 4A = 20w max

Both plus HDD (say 10w max)

Wild guess is 10w v 15w so a 50% increase in power costs for an XU3. How significant this is will depends on the earning rates and Safecoin values.

From memory I think I worked out U3 running cost in UK to be about £1/month (USD 1.5), so maybe £1.50 USD 2.3) for XU3.

My guess is that both would work and neither be that much better than the other overall, but the unknown factor is whether being a bit quicker to serve data will have a big effect in the number of Safecoin earning attempts. If it does, then that would be well worth having, and the possibility means it’s probably worth going for the XU3 just in case, or having both and comparing (my tentative plan).


#14

You guys are aware you can pick up a Haswell Chromebox for $169 and convert it into a standard BIOS PC right?

http://kodi.wiki/view/Chromebox for instructions on how to do the conversion (it’s easy).

Specs for $169:

Intel® Celeron 2955U/2957U (actually a dual core Haswell @ 1.4Ghz)
16GB internal SSD (M.2 SATA, replaceable)
2Gb RAM, expandable
HDMI, Bluetooth, USB3.0, 802.11ac wifi, gigabit ethernet, card reader
Already has a case and power supply and is ready to use

I bought one whilst visiting the US for Christmas as they are like twice the price here in Europe. It’s a beast of a wee machine, very very powerful for the price and runs off about 7 watts of power. As bang for the buck, it blows away any of the boards mentioned earlier in the thread. And all for $169.

Niall


#15

Wow, but Intel. .Corporate suicide or not that stuff about Intel having back doors seems plausible enough. The phones did, the drives did- why not? Think of Intel’s legacy. Cognitive dissonance or not we are in a position where we have to assume all hardware has back doors now. Where does that leave us?


#16

Are you sure about the consumption 7W doesn’t seem feasible, and looking at this slightly higher spec model (4GB RAM) it comes with a 65W adapter! Maybe that’s 7W standby! [kidding]

But for most farming CPU power is not the issue, its as likely to be power consumption, which is the main reason for looking at the SoC systems listed on this thread. They are cheap, more than adequate CPU, and low consumption.

Its an easy assumption to think you need lots of CPU to farm, or that more CPU means more Safecoin, and while we don’t actually know yet, David has from the early days pointed towards low power consumption. Ok, maybe that’s just him wanting to encourage green, small scale farmers, but I wouldn’t bet on that. :slight_smile:

Have to say though I like the look of this fella, thanks for posting.


#17

I’ve replied to that in another thread. In short, I don’t consider Intel chipsets vulnerable, especially as there are many other much easier ways of compromising a computer.

Regarding this specific Chromebox, it’s unusual in that when you convert it from Chrome OS to a BIOS you flash an open source BIOS called SeaBIOS which was developed for the Chromebox by hobbyist enthusiasts. Or, put another way, feel free to browse its BIOS source code at https://github.com/MattDevo/SeaBIOS for yourself. This might make it very significantly less vulnerable than ordinary PC BIOSs which are riddled with bugs and never patched nor updated with fixes.

It’s according to my watt meter and here it’s 230v. And that’s idling. Loading up both CPUs I saw about 12W. I suppose if you loaded both CPU cores and its GPU you could get a lot more again?

Edit: This review confirms my own power consumption figures: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7850/asus-chromebox-review/2

I installed Linux onto my one as Windows driver support for the converted Chromebox is a bit patchy. Mine is a media player, and I have seen some occasional lockups after repeated suspend/resume cycles. There is a suspend-resume bug in its BIOS I think. Also some 4k video can cause it to hang though this is a known Intel video driver bug.

Other than those issues it’s been fault free. And because everything is x86, it “just works” unlike the ARM boards where more fiddling is needed.

Niall


#18

The other thing about the Chromebox is that here in Canada it’s easier to acquire then the Odroid. I don’t need to import it from the US and pay for tax, duties and fees.

I also like the expandable M.2 SSD. These cost a lot though so I would probably just use an USB HDD for now but I like having the option.

I was about to order an XU3 Lite but I’m tempted…


#19

The NSA use case would also be to compromise things at as deep a level as possible. Even better when people think they have secured but still aren’t.

Haven’t we seen the lobby for key lengths that are still low enough for them to scale but not others? I know Sony was must have been getting hit in part from the inside but they had 3 catastrophic failures in a row with time to secure after each. If the open community ever gets really secure open stuff out there it will be the NSA that is having leak after leak on their way to becoming transparent. That will hold even if they break out the type writers.


#20

More…

Toradex Customized Single Board Computer is an off-the-rack platform that comprises of a Computer on Module (COM) and a carrier board. The platform can be effectively scaled up to accommodate future requirements and latest technology by switching to another pin-compatible COM based on latest processors. The platform is likewise adaptable as significant processor, memory, and I/Os can be chosen based on the end-application’s requirements.