Video : All my SBCs - Specs, why I got them, what the're good/bad for. What's the best for your goal. +30SBCs


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Hi all.
I've just finished a long video special where I talk about all my SBCs. In the order how I got them.
I show the specs of all of them. Say what I like, what's bad about them. What I use them for. What SBC is best for your goal.
Here's my video, I hope you enjoy it.


Greetings, NicoD.
 

 

P.S. : Pictures of anyone else their collection? Mine are not all on this pic, no room for them all. 

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Thank you for sharing that because it is hard to choose a SBC and disastrous to make the wrong choice. 

 

I buy SBC for projects. Projects require a limited number of feature for the SBC but good hardware and software for the purpose, and are time consuming : it implies not only the SBC itself but housing, electronic, cooling, powering, backups, storage, network, documentation, installation, wiring, maintenance, (useful and remote) logging, access, scalability and of course software stability.

 

This is why software and hardware stability is crucial : the project can simply not reach an end without stability and other projects must wait. Making a bad choice implies a lot of work done for nothing.

 

The most difficult for me was finding a solution for my desktop machine : I have just replaced my Banana PI M1 with a RPI4 ! Because :

- video driver now allow youtube video to run smoothly !

- video drivers allow using vlc and mplayer with acceleration quite "out of the box".

- it offers 2 hdmi output !

- USB3 allow to use a cheap SSD and nor rely on ?!*§@¤ SD Card or limited offer on eMMC solutions ! (but I couldn't use UASP with a JMicron controler)

- it is scalable with 2, 4, 8G RAM versions

- you can find cheap and efficient passive cooling housing !

- RPI is supported by my toolchains for espressif micro controllers (esp-idf, nodemcu, arduino).

(I still run on 32 bit because stability is more important than performance).

 

So my project really started when I could check all those requirements were fulfilled  reorganize my workspace, servers, audio and TV setup, backups, archiving, project tools and management ...

 

Other vendors seems to me to lay behind for desktop : at least offering cheap multihead solution and memory for hungry browsers ?

 

So my other needs are - at present - much more easy : I use *old* SBC. BPI M1 for storage because (disastrous SATA performance is not a problem (yet) for my usage) and they are stable and power efficient for file/archive servers - just using an out-of-date armbian disto with 3.1.110 kernel. RPI zero for CAMs and TV tuner (need to be upgraded for stability and SDcard elimination). My Network Firewall / Gateway / proxy / MQTT server is a tiny nanopi (need to be replaced but I want something as power efficient that can also handle TVhat tuner.

 

My wifi gateway is a Gl-inet / openwrt device. My GPIO servers (IoT) are migrating to esp32 one after the other.

I wish I could have installed a mesh network. But I never could make Bluetooth work reliably on linux ! So I use wifi and reconnect handlers - because it rarely work smoothly out-of-the-box. (And all my SBC also need power and remote access control). When we loose count of network nodes, there is always something out of service somewhere.

So ?

 

It implies a lot of work - for armbian developers and maintainers as well for end users - to handle *useful* projects. SBC providers cannot simply assemble the last components for TV box or smartphone and "rely on community". For my use cases, Hardware power and functionality is nothing without software, and hardware and software is nothing until it has been integrated in a box with other components, wiring, and security (backup, documentation, spare parts, network ...).

 

Perhaps I am not a typical user ?

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1 hour ago, arox said:

I buy SBC for projects.

 

This is how it supposet to be, but its probably not - since people buy Raspberies one after another and then try to use them just for everything (RPi as NAS or some small service is totally stupid, but they use it) ... and IMHO this also means you are not a typical user. :D

 

1 hour ago, arox said:

I have just replaced my Banana PI M1 with a RPI4


Thats quite a big jump :P ... jump of generations.

... but I do agree that desktop / video capabilities of Rpi4 are decent. Nevertheles its a propriatery video player by design, but usually limitations are defining our choices. If relatively low memory and low IO speed combined with USB storage quirks doesn't bother you, why not. Compared to 1st version of Banana, this is a huge diff in all ways. If you would want 1.4Gbps SSD drive, you should go for some RK3399 :) 

When its about workstation / desktop, I am staying with (high-end) x86. For ARM based worstation, which is in some plan - Honeycomb at minimum which mean Rpi doesn't qualify. NvME storage over PCI (v4 is desired) and fast RAM is expected. CPU power as well. Video output as well. I ran one large monitor, so three are not used ...

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24.10.2020 в 17:35, arox сказал:

- USB3 allow to use a cheap SSD and nor rely on ?!*§@¤ SD Card or limited offer on eMMC solutions ! (but I couldn't use UASP with a JMicron controler)

You may not have tried full NVMe media. After that, you won't want to use USB for a working system. Or you will use USB 3, only for fast transfer of a large data array if there is no network. Either to create backups or clone the system.

 

3 минуты назад, Werner сказал:

Maybe they use something like PAE?

PAE = slow and incomplete excessive complexity of use (due to restrictions on program usage).

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7 hours ago, Bozza said:

My favourite sbc is the raspberry pi zero w

It was a nice board... when it was new :) Hope that's not your daily driver.
As long as you state it as an opinion I'm ok with it. Don't try to convince anyone it's a fact. Already enough fake news around.

On 10/24/2020 at 2:35 PM, arox said:

The most difficult for me was finding a solution for my desktop machine : I have just replaced my Banana PI M1 with a RPI4 ! Because :

For some tasks an RPi4 can be good. I love it for gaming. But I wouldn't want to use it for desktop use. I much rather use 2 good SBCs with each a display than to use a RPi4 for that.
I can also share keyboard and mouse with Barrier to make it look and feel like I'm dual screening. But I'm also no typical user.
I do believe coming from ancient M1, the RPi4 must feel like a monster. Compared to RK3399 it's still a baby.

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I must add that I mostly use the rpi zero headless without a display.

 

It is too weak to use as a desktop replacement.

 

It is great when used together with a USB battery since the rpi zero has so little power draw.

 

If you're after raw power there are many different better options. 

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2 hours ago, JMCC said:

You really hate the Tinkerboard, haha. It was my first SBC, and my unit works quite well (stable at 2 GHz). So I kind of like it.

It's the only board that ever died on me. While I never treated it rough as my C2 or others. That's been with me over thousands of km's of bad roads and about 100 of moistly nights.
Bought a 2nd TB and it was buggy as hell. Back then I didn't know about Armbian that well. It is the board that made me aware of Armbian tho. TinkerOS was awful. C2 didn't need it.
The C2 was power efficient, didn't overheat, clocks stable to 1.75Ghz and was arm64.
The Tinker was dated when it was released.
 

2 hours ago, JMCC said:

BTW@NicoD can you send me some link about that small screen you show on the video?

This one. Not really 1080p. Downscaled to 480p. But has good image quality. Great for gaming. Works with every board/OS without any modification since it's detected as normal 1080p HDMI display. Has audio out and even a display menu.
Powered either by gpio or micro-USB.
Way better than the GPIO displays. Got a few of them. Just don't drop them, display break easily.
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32895230356.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.22cc4421MEXDPn&algo_pvid=11597cd4-63fa-4345-877a-bdd2b058b720&algo_expid=11597cd4-63fa-4345-877a-bdd2b058b720-4&btsid=0bb0623416037575402236811e8299&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

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14 hours ago, NicoD said:

It was a nice board... when it was new :) Hope that's not your daily driver.
As long as you state it as an opinion I'm ok with it. Don't try to convince anyone it's a fact. Already enough fake news around.

For some tasks an RPi4 can be good. I love it for gaming. But I wouldn't want to use it for desktop use. I much rather use 2 good SBCs with each a display than to use a RPi4 for that.
I can also share keyboard and mouse with Barrier to make it look and feel like I'm dual screening. But I'm also no typical user.
I do believe coming from ancient M1, the RPi4 must feel like a monster. Compared to RK3399 it's still a baby.

My rational is that my "desktop machine" is *just* a (32 bits/4GB) Vivaldi-Browser-node in a network of arm (and now xtensa) fanless nodes. And with multi-head and support of usable multimedia tools I can simplify and improve my organization. (I was using 3 hosts, 3 screens with 1 kbd/mouse before).

 

I was able to use a BPI M1 for so long because it's just a node (and thanks to Igor's work).

 

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