Raspberry Pi challenger Asus Tinker Board hits US: Faster, more memory, $60


sc14363-40.jpgThe Tinker Board is nearly twice the price of the $35 Raspberry Pi 3, but ASUS has focused on higher performance features. Image: CPC

Computer maker Asus' recently launched Tinker Board for hardware enthusiasts is now available for purchase in the US.

In January the Taiwanese tech company took the wraps off the Tinker Board, which has been available in Europe but until now not the US. Just like the Raspberry Pi 3 and other boards, Asus' Tinker Board is a mini computer without a power supply, keyboard, mouse and display.

Available on Amazon for $60, the Tinker Board is nearly double the price of the $35 Raspberry Pi 3. However, ASUS has focused on higher performance features, equipping it with twice as much RAM, and support for 4K playback.

The Tinker Board's core features include a quad-core 1.8GHz ARM processor from Rockchip, with a Mali-T764 GPU, and 2GB of DDR3 memory. That spec contrasts with the Raspberry Pi 3's Broadcom SoC with a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU, and Broadcom Video Core IV GPU.

Interfaces include four USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack with 192K/24bit audio, a CSI port for cameras, a DSI port, HDMI 2.0 port, and MicroSD port. Wireless support includes 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.0.

It also features a 40-pin header for expansions with 28 general-purpose input output (GPIO) pins, allowing the board to control other hardware for modding projects.

As ZDNet sister site TechRepublic previously reported, the Tinker Board outdoes the Raspberry Pi's hardware specs, but it's hard to beat the Rasperry Pi's ecosystem of software and community support.

The Tinker Board has similar dimensions to the Raspberry Pi, which allows developers to use the same cases available for the Pi board.

The only officially supported OS for the ASUS board is the Debian-based TinkerOS. Asus has provided an FAQ for more details about media-player support, video playback, and browser support.

Asus says it is working with media-player software maker KODI to support media playback hardware acceleration.

While Asus says the Tinker Board can be used to stream Netflix, it can only be used to view 4K videos that have been downloaded or created with H.264 or H.265 encoding. As Ars Technica previously reported, only Intel Kaby Lake processors and Windows 10 PCs have the necessary DRM decoding hardware and software to support streaming Netflix in 4K.

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