Asus Tinker Board Vs Raspberry Pi | Open Electronics


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Motherboard Manufacturer’s Take On A Raspberry Pi Competitor

    In the almost five years since the launch of the original Raspberry Pi we have seen a huge array of competitors emerge in the inexpensive single board computer market. Many have created their own form factors, but an increasing number have gone straight for the jugular of the fruity board from Cambridge by copying its form factor and interfaces as closely as possible. We’ve seen sterling efforts from the likes of Banana Pi, Odroid, and several others, but none have yet succeeded in toppling it from its pedestal.

    Asus have quietly released their Tinker, board that follows the Pi form factor very closely, and packs a 1.8 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A17 alongside an impressive spec

    At £55 (about $68) where this is being written it’s more expensive than the Pi, but Asus go to great lengths to demonstrate that it is significantly faster.

    Other boards in this arena have boasted impressive hardware, but have fallen down when it comes to the support for their operating systems. When you buy a Raspberry Pi it is not just the hardware you are taking on but the Raspbian operating system and its impressive community support. The Tinker supports Debian

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Review: The Asus Tinker Board (Updated)

    The Tinker Board As A Desktop Computer

    So having probed the recesses of the Asus support system for a Debian image, our Tinker Board was brought to life. After a pretty fast boot-up sequence we were rewarded with an LXDE desktop with a couple of folders containing GPIO and WiringPi software to help get started talking to hardware. Connecting an Ethernet cable and firing up Chromium gave us a respectably quick general-purpose web browsing platform that is noticeably faster than the same experience on either the Raspberry Pi 3, or the Odroid C2.

    With a working keyboard then the Tinker Board makes a very capable desktop machine. When the Raspberry Pi 3 was released last year [Brian Benchoff] hailed it as the moment at which the single board computer line could boast a credible desktop computer rather than a hobbyist’s toy, but while that remains true today a regular Pi 3 desktop user will still often find themselves reminded that they are close to the limit of their device’s capabilities.

    The Tinker Board really shows its extra power on the desktop. While it will never match a high-end PC workstation you can do proper work on it without feeling held back.

    How About Those Pins?

    It’s very nice to have a Linux desktop, but many of us are going to be more interested in the GPIO lines. Opening up the folder containing the Python GPIO library it’s obvious that it is a derivative of the RPi.GPIO library that Raspberry Pi users will be used to. Putting together a quick test script to waggle a GPIO revealed that there was no library of that name though so after a quick run through the install process to make sure that the library was in place the name was found to be ASUS.GPIO. So starting the test script with “import ASUS.GPIO as GPIO” resulted in a script that behaved exactly as you’d expect with its Pi ancestor.

    The README warns that SPI, I2C, One-wire, hardware PWM, and serial functionality is not yet implemented, but suggests that we watch that space.

    The final point from our in-use tests of the Tinker Board comes from our temperature measurements. Our trusty radiation thermometer failed to register anything over 27 Celsius from the SoC no matter how much effort we put it to. This compares very favorably with previous measurements from a Raspberry Pi with no heatsink at 44 degrees, and the Odroid C2 whose heatsink we measured at 37 degrees. Thus the supplied stick-on heatsink feels almost superfluous, and we certainly saw no point in fitting it to our test unit.

    Suffice to say that it’s easy to believe a claim of the Tinker Board being twice as fast as its competitor. Detractors point at the RK3288 being a slightly older SoC than those at the cutting edge of the tablet market, but in this application its 1.8GHz clock speed and 2GB of memory is enough to leave the Pi 3’s 1.2GHz and 1GB behind.

    Reasons To Buy One, And Reasons To Avoid

    So after this extensive description of the Tinker Board experience, what might our verdict be?

    For the hardware, the Tinker Board is certainly an impressive and very well-executed board.

    At first glance it might seem that Asus have done a good job here, after all the Debian distribution does not have the rough edges you’d find in for example the Ubuntu Mate distribution for the Odroid C2. It doesn’t come with some of the desktop software Raspbian has pre-installed, but all of that is only an apt-get away.

    Unfortunately though if you too have had to find and download the distro yourself you’ll understand exactly where Asus have failed with a capital F in cloning the Raspberry Pi. It’s understood that they couldn’t instantly replicate the huge community that surrounds the Pi, but to not even bother with a website for the product beggars belief.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Official Launch Of The Asus Tinker Board

    Earlier this year, a new single board computer was announced, and subsequently made its way onto the market. The Tinker Board was a little different from the rest of the crop of Raspberry Pi lookalikes, it didn’t come from a no-name company or a crowdfunding site, instead it came from a trusted name, Asus. As a result, it is a very high quality piece of hardware, upon which we remarked when we reviewed it.

    This week then, news has come through from Asus that they have now launched the board officially. There is a new OS version based on Debian 9, which features hardware acceleration for both the Chromium web browser and the bundled UHD media player. There is also an upcoming Android release though it is still in beta at time of writing and there is little more information.

    The Tinker Board is one of the best of the current crop of Raspberry Pi-like single board computers, and it easily trounces the Pi itself on most counts.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Return To The Asus Tinker Board: Have Six Months Changed Anything?

    Back in February this year, we ordered a new single board computer, and reviewed it. The board in question was the Asus Tinker Board, a Raspberry Pi 3 competitor from the electronics giant in a very well-executed clone of the Raspberry Pi form factor.

    Our review found its hardware to be one of the best of that crop of boards we had yet seen, but found serious fault with the poor state of its software support at the time. There was no website, the distro had to be downloaded from an obscure Asus download site, and there was no user community or support channel to speak of. We were then contacted by some of the folks from Asus who explained that the board had not yet been officially launched, and that the unit we’d secured had escaped the fold a little early.

    Distro Confusion And Mild Lack Of Polish

    So to bring it up to date for this re-appraisal I went to the Tinker Board website and downloaded the latest version, which was TinkerOS 1.8. It’s important to stress that this is the official version: there are distributions with newer release numbers available from community members, but it is unclear whether or not they are not official TinkerOS releases. It’s not ideal that community members release their own distros while continuing the Asus numbering scheme

    Installation was a straightforward affair: transferring the disk image to an SD card as you’ll be familiar with if you’ve owned a Raspberry Pi. They mention a shell script to do the job, but I did it by hand at the command line in the way I am used to. Booting the Tinker Board from the new distro I was straight away taken to an LXDE desktop over Debian Stretch.

    I hit the first snag immediately. Despite runniing a capable monitor, the Tinker Board desktop had appeared in an SVGA-tastic 800 x 600 pixel resolution. Sadly there was no option to change this in the desktop display settings, but a quick Google search took me to the support forum

    No Longer A Board Only For Linux Savants

    Would we advise you to buy one, now a few months have passed? It’s still a piece of genuinely Raspberry-Pi-3-beating hardware, so our original assessment of a “yes” on the hardware front still stands. But how about on the software and support side? Back in February we suggested it was more of an experts-only board, and castigated Asus for a poor offering. Now they have considerably improved that offering, but we’d probably still advise a little caution if buying one for a complete non-technical newbie. Compared to a Pi, we’d still be fixing a lot of issues if we put a Tinker Board in front of our grandparents, for example. We would change our advice, though, for the middle ground. If you were considering this for someone who has already used a Raspberry Pi and has some Linux exposure, we think it would be within their grasp to figure it out. They would be able to find solutions on the forum and use apt-get to install software where the naive user probably wouldn’t.

    So you no longer need to be a Linux savant to use a Tinker Board, though it may still be a bit tricky for newbies. Which isn’t perfect, but it represents significant progress for six months. We’ll take it.


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