Orange Pi Zero, cheapest than the Raspberry Pi Zero, a board for only $7!
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Some time ago we presented several competitors to the Raspberry Pi including the C.H.I.P., the Banana Pi or the Archos Stick. Today we will talk about a new development board, cheapest than the Raspberry Pi, the Orange Pi Zero!
As you can see this Orange Pi is in direct competition with the Raspberry Pi by taking again the term Zero in its name. Nevertheless, the Orange Pi is not only a name, it also has some interesting features that we will try to present to you.
So let’s see if the Orange Pi Zero is a real alternative to our beautiful Raspberry.
Orange Pi Zero, as powerfull and cheapest than the Raspberry Pi
First of all, you should know that Orange Pi is not dated today. Indeed the first board stamped Orange is released early 2015 with the original Orange Pi, very technically close to the Raspberry. Since then, several boards have been produced to improve and perfect the Orange Pi as a true alternative to the Raspberry.
This new version does not deviate from the rule, and brings its batch of novelties.
I think you understand, the Orange Pi Zero targets the same audience as the Raspberry Pi Zero. It therefore responds globally to the same problems, that is to say the home automation and the embarked software. In spite of everything, this development board should also be perfectly effective to mount small development servers and even, why not, serve as an emulator of video games (however the use of a Raspberry Pi 3 will be preferable).
On the price side, Orange Pi Zero is sold around $ 7 here on AliExpress.
However, as with the Raspberry Pi, you will need at least a power supply (which you can find here at Amazon), as well as a MicroSD card (look for memory cards with good performances, like this one on Amazon).
Connection of the Orange Pi
Let’s start with the connectivity of the beast. If the Orange Pi Zero is relatively compact (48x46mm for 26 grams), it nevertheless has a pretty large connectivity, allowing it to adapt to many peripherals for a small footprint, ideal for embedded.
- There are therefore the following ports
- A mini USB port dedicated to power
- A USB 2.0 port (which allows you to connect a hard disk device)
- A 10/100 Ethernet port (which is also PoE power Supply compatible, disabled by default)
- 26 GPIO pins (to be welded, the pattern corresponds to that of Raspberry Pi)
- 13 additional GPIO pins (also to be soldered, useful to add an audio extension)
With this version, the Orange Pi Zero is clearly oriented Iot (Internet of Things), explaining the absence of an HDMI port. The board has however 13 GPIO pins which will allow to add a video support.
Good point, a WiFi module is also present and will allow you to connect the Orange Pi in wireless mode.
The Orange Pi Zero, more powerfull than the Raspberry Pi Zero
On the performance side, the Orange Pi Zero does not have to pale against its competitor the Raspberry Pi Zero, indeed, although the standard version of the orange pi has only 256MB of RAM, there is a Second version (which you will also find here on Aliexpress for $9) with 512MB of RAM, just like the Raspberry Pi Zero.
Regarding the processor, the Orange Pi Zero offers an Allwinner H2 + of four cores clocked at 1200Mhz, a good surprise so, with performances to be expected probably superior to those of its competitor. Interestingly, it seems that this processor allows the Orange Pi Zero support for encoding X265 (or HEC) 1080p. This last detail is particularly interesting for media centers.
The competitor of the Raspberry Pi also has an Ethernet port and a WiFi module giving an advantage to the Orange Pi Zero, as we recall, the Raspberry Pi Zero has no Ethernet port or WiFi card. So, Advantage to the Orange Pi on that point.
Finally, note that the Ethernet port of the Orange Pi remains at only 100MB / s. However, in practice, this should not really be a problem, especially since most of us do not have connections that at least approach these speeds (at least, here in France, were it seeam that, for strange reasons, it is easier to have optical fiber at the end of the campaing in “the Creuse” than in the city center of Bordeaux or Paris …).
The Orange Pi Zero is a good and cheapest alternative to the Raspberry Pi Zero
The orange Pi Zero proves to be an excellent competitor to the Raspberry pi, both compact and powerful.
Finally, it must be said, the biggest advantage of the Orange Pi Zero against its competitor remains its availability. Indeed, where the Raspberry Pi Zero is almost impossible to find at a normal price, Orange Pi Zero is available online at the seller Aliexpress:
- In its 256MB version, here at $ 7
- And in its 512MB version, here at $ 9
Here is the summary table about the Orange Pi Zero
Raspberry Pi Zero
- CPU: BCM2835 ARM(v6)
- Clock: 1000MHz
- RAM : 512MB
- Memory: MicroSD Card
- Network card : None
- USB: 1 (microUSB On The Go)
- Video ports : Mini HDMI + composite video available
- GPIO : 40 Pics
Orange Pi Zero
- CPU: Allwinner H2+ Quad-core Cortex-A7
- Clock: 1200MHz
- RAM : 256MB/512MB
- Stockage : Carte MicroSD
- Network card : Ethernet 10/100 (compatible Carte réseau : port Ethernet 10/100 (compatible PoE) + Wirefless WiFi
- USB: 2 ( 1 micro-USB and 1 USB 2.0)
- Sorties vidéos : aucunes ou via pin
- GPIO : 39 Pics
Finaly, we can note that both, the Orange Pi Zero and the Raspberry Pi Zero are very similar in terms of specifications. However the Orange Pi zero seems better than the Raspberry Pi Zero, whether by internet connectivity or by availability to the sale.
In summary, if you are looking to buy the Pi Zero but you do not find it, do not hesitate, and buy instead an Orange Pi Zero.
As a user who’s tried both, I vastly prefer the Raspberry pi family for one reason: Every model worked out of the box. Yes, I written kernel drivers before, which might let you know that I’m not a beginner. The OEM images for the Orange Pi family are laughable, and even Armbian (god bless them) images have issues.
As for the wireless on the Orange Zero W, if I could get it to work, I might be able to evaluate it. The wifi simply shuts down on bootup, I’m guessing (so far) due to power issues despite having a 60W power supply available. Unless spending hours just trying to get the system to start up, instead of spending hours coding productively thrills you, just say “no” and spend the extra on the genuine article.
Which is a shame, because I wanted to like this. Perhaps I’ll try a Banana Pi next, because I’,m done with the Orange ones.