This SBC is OP!
I ordered this a few months ago not thinking much of it, but having a look recently and comparing the specs to the Raspberry Pi Zero 2W – which I’ve had a few of and keep dying – it is kind of insane
|Raspberry Pi Zero 2W
|Orange Pi Zero 2W
|1GHz Quad-Core Arm Cortex-A53
|1.5GHz Quad-Core Arm Cortex-A53
|VideoCore IV GPU (OpenGL ES 2.0)
|Mali G31 MP2 GPU (OpenGL ES 3.2)
|2.4GHz Wireless N / Bluetooth 5.2
|Dual Band 2.4/5GHz Wireless AC / Bluetooth 5.0
|2x USB Type-C (2.0)
|16MB SPI Flash
|MIPI CSI 2-Lane
|No MIPI Connectors
|10/100 Ethernet (via 24-Pin Expansion)
|$35.00 AUD Delivered
|$50.00 AUD Delivered
So as you can see, you’re getting a lot for only $15 more! Plus, ideally, it’s more reliable. There is also the Orange Pi Zero 3 out now, as you would expect, however, that is not in this same form factor but has the same processor / SoC, so I’m not hugely interested in it.
One neat thing I found was that the 16MB NOR flash that it has onboard actually ships with a micro Linux on it, just enough to test all functionality. In theory though, this is enough for most basic use cases!
Yep – PCBWay supported this video and my time too! Use this affiliate link to get $5 off your first order and help support my content: https://plati.ma/pcbway 🤍
Graphics & Camera
From what I have found, the Raspberry Pi Zero 2W does 1080p60 HDMI output, but I cannot confirm that. It MIGHT do 4K. Whilst the Orange Pi Zero 2W does not have a MIPI CSI interface, it does support USB video since it runs a full Linux distro.
Speaking of which, as it currently stands the official Linux images, whether Ubuntu, Debian or Orange Pi OS (Arch), the GPU is technically not supported and the Mesa Panfrost driver does not load. With the Android image though, the GPU is supported.
There was this Reddit thread that talked about modifying the device tree (DTB file) to enable graphics, but the new DTBs don’t even have this ‘graphics’ line so it may take some tinkering. Likely grab a device tree from an older image and copy the device section across – enabling it at the same time. When I try this, I’ll likely do another video.
Power & Performance
The power consumption was reasonably great, being rated for 10W – including USB accessories I guess – but only consuming 0.94 W when running the included micro Linux, then 1.12 W idle running Debian 12 with XFCE, and finally maxed out at about 2.4 watts when running
stress-ng --matrix 0.
Running Geekbench 6 it got 155 single / 435 multi and this actually outperforms the Orange Pi CM4 test results that Jeff Geerling recorded in his SBC benchmarks here, even though that’s a quad-core 2GHz Arm Cortext-A55, but that could be due to me having added a heatsink, efficiencies in the 6.1 kernel I was using (vs his test having a 5.10 kernel), or even just Allwinner knocking something out the park with this H618 processor compared to that Rockchip RK3566.
Final Thoughts & Video
This unit is epic, but DOES have some minor flaws;
- The GPU drivers and/or device tree need to be fixed! This has to be intentional, since people report it works perfectly.
- The expansion board really needs MIPI CSI and DSI, at least CSI if nothing else. For this smaller form-factor USB video is not always a feasible option.
- USB 3.0 would have been great, but I fully understand that the H618 just does not support this (or PCIe).
- Lack of eMMC does it some disservice – for something so powerful, being limited to SD card really hurts its overall performance.
- Only being able to buy this product from AliExpress or Amazon may put some people off.
- Something else I thought of, but forgot whilst writing this list and will have to add later!
Link here (opens in new tab), or watch it inline / embedded below!