Home > AllWinner A1X, Android, Hardware, Linux > MK802 II Mini PC Now Costs as Much as Raspberry Pi Model B. Let’s Compare Them!

MK802 II Mini PC Now Costs as Much as Raspberry Pi Model B. Let’s Compare Them!

December 26th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

MK802 mini PC quickly went viral as it launched in May 2012 for $74 US, and since then many Chinese manufacturers have jumped into the market bringing both new faster devices, and the price down. AllWinner A10s, a low cost version of AllWinner A10 used in MK802, was also launched specifically for this market to bring costs even lower. Today, I’ve been informed an HDMI TV dongle based on AllWinner A10s that sells for $36.55 on Tinydeal.com which is a very good price, but decided to check on Aliexpress to look for comparable deals, and found one shop selling MK802 II for $34.91 including shipping via China Post, which makes it cheaper than the Raspberry Pi model B selling for $35 excluding shipping.

Raspberry Pi vs MK802 II
NB: Devices are not shown at the same scale.

Both products target 2 different markets, as MK802 is oriented to the consumer market, and Raspberry Pi targets the educational market, but in practice, it appears people may use the device for similar purpose, for example as a media player or a platform for tinkering with Linux.

Since both products have the same price, and software support & availability have improved since their launch, I’ve just created a side-by-side comparison below.

MK802 II Raspberry Pi Model B
SoC AllWinner A10
CPU: Cortex A8 @ 1.5GHz
GPU: Mali-400
Broadcom BCM2835
CPU: ARM11 @ 700MHz (OC: 1 GHz)
GPU: Videocore IV
RAM 1 GB 512 MB
Storage 4GB NAND Flash + microSD slot SD card slot
USB 1x USB 2.0 Host + 2x USB OTG
(One USB OTG is reserved for power)
2x USB 2.0 Host ports
Ethernet N/A (via USB dongle only) 10/100 Mbit
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n N/A (via USB dongle only)
Video Output HDMI HDMI and Composite
Audio Output HDMI HDMI and 3.5mm stereo out jack
Expansion Headers N/A Yes. Provide access to GPIO, I2C, SPI, etc…
DSI (for LCD display) and CSI-2 (for camera) interfaces are also available
Size 9.7 x 2.8 x 1.2cm 8.56 x 5.6 x 2.1cm (Board only)
Casing Yes No (Cases can be ordered separately)
Included Accessories HDMI Cable
USB Cable
OTG Cable
User Manual
N/A
Video Codecs (HW) H.264, MPEG 1/2/4, VC-1, VP8, and AVS H.264 only.
MPEG-2 and VC1 can be added by purchasing corresponding licenses
Linux Support Good.
Stable bootloader and kernel, with SD images provided by the community, but no official distro support
Very good.
Several distributions are available for the platform,  and Debian is officially supported (Raspbian)
Android Support Very good.
Android 4.0 ICS
Poor (for now)
Android 2.3 without GPU acceleration
Android 4.0 in progress
Community Support No official community support, but several (seller) sites provides forums for MK802 such as miniand, and sunxi-linux.org community works on AllWinner Linux development in the open. Very large community via Raspberry Pi Forums.

If you just look at the hardware specs, there’s no comparison, and MK802 II provides much better value than the Raspberry Pi with a much faster CPU, more RAM, internal storage and more. Only the GPU processing power may be subject to debate, but I don’t really have data to make a proper comparison. So if you just want to run the device as a media player for example, I’d just go with MK802 II since you’ll get a smoother experience and more video codecs are supported. The only caveat is that you’ll have to use Android (and see the status bar during video playback), as although Linux video support is available, it’s not ready for prime time, and never will.

However, the Raspberry Pi is still a better solution for several use cases:

  • Hardware “hacking” – You need to make use of the “GPIO” headers to control external devices.
  • Connection to old TV – The Raspberry Pi has a composite video output which allows it to be connected to older TV lacking HDMI
  • Beginners – If you’re not familiar with Linux, using AllWinner A10 devices may prove challenging, and it’s much easier with the Raspberry Pi thanks to official Linux distributions, and the Raspberry Pi community.
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  1. onebir
    December 26th, 2012 at 18:38 | #1

    There’s currently a 6% off voucher for Tinydeal: christmasgifts6off (valid till January 10th, 2013). I think it applies to everything, making this stick $34.36ish.

  2. joker
    December 26th, 2012 at 19:50 | #2

    at least we have choice ! so cool ! thx for review ! :)

  3. Gabe
    December 26th, 2012 at 20:41 | #3

    There is a cheap( 46$ ) allwinner a10 box alternative with ethernet port & remote:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/251203791817

  4. Albert
  5. December 26th, 2012 at 22:15 | #5

    @Albert
    That’s impressive. $20 + $8 shipping, it must be the cheapest offer anywhere for a new A10 stick.

  6. Albert
  7. Albert
    December 26th, 2012 at 22:20 | #7

    @cnxsoft
    But is it worth for a MK802?

  8. December 26th, 2012 at 22:20 | #8

    @Albert
    I’m usually wary when I read “No feedback received for this supplier over the past 6 months”, especially when the price looks too good to be true.

  9. Ian Tester
    December 26th, 2012 at 23:16 | #9

    Now add Mele a1000/a2000 and Cubieboard to that table. The former has more audio/video output options and the latter has lots of GPIO. Both have Ethernet and SATA. The prices aren’t that much more than an MK802, especially for the Cubieboard.

  10. monopole
    December 27th, 2012 at 02:10 | #10

    I’d add that the pi is surprisingly better on XBMC and much easier to develop for in Linux especially if you are working in python

  11. s7mx1
    December 27th, 2012 at 05:53 | #11

    You have just missed THE singe deciding factor as a media player platform: XBMC. None of the player on the android platform can provide the same level of user experience let alone the functionality.

    Raspberry pi was the first arm device officially supported by xbmc team. Xbmc runs well on raspberry pi. Limited codec is really none issue since nowadays new contents are delivered almost exclusively using h264. mpeg2 and vc1 should cover the rest for most users unless you live in certain area of the globe where “real media” is dieing hard.

    Excellent Linux support means peripherals are more likely to be supported, which is the case for any USB mce remote/cec tv remote/wifi dongles etc. You can even attach a tsop ir receiver to free up the USB port for remote support.

    Moreover raspberry pi is more popular and has a large pool of dedicated developers and contributors constant working on it. This means bugs can be fixed more quick and you should see fair amount improvements over time.

    Even thought the CPU is a bit weak on raspberry pi but media playback experience as a whole is far far better than a10 platform can offer.

  12. December 27th, 2012 at 11:05 | #12

    @monopole
    I haven’t tried Python programming. But I doubt there’s much difference between the two platforms.

    @s7mx1
    I agree with both of you that XBMC is better in the Raspberry Pi, as it is hardly usable in AllWinner A10 devices. As for codecs, I still get many Xvid videos, and those won’t play with the Raspberry Pi. XBMC is probably the best media center, but that’s not the only software you can use to playback videos.

    Having said that, I haven’t tried RaspBMC / OpenElec on the Raspberry Pi. Maybe I should try, and it may change my mind.

  13. Dmity
    December 27th, 2012 at 15:32 | #13

    I don’t want to be a bore, but for me comparison of MK802 & Pi looks as strange as comparison of Android and Debian. It’s hard to use Debian on smartphone, and it’s funny to use Android on servers. While both have Linux kernel, they have very small intersection of application.
    I think same is true for MK802 & Pi.
    MK802 in Linux is mostly limited by software (It’s not a joy to use GUI Linux without GPU acceleration on Allwinner [A10] & Rockchip [RK3066]), while it is possible to expand IO a bit:
    - get analogue video and audio output from HDMI via converter (like this expensive one: http://tinyurl.com/dx3jxgg )
    - get wired Ethernet via usb adapter (less than $5 including shipping).
    - get some GPIO via FTDI bitbang mode. FT232R (FT232RL) based USB-UARD adapters (also sold as Arduino Breakout) cost about $7.5 with shipping. http://hackaday.com/2009/09/22/introduction-to-ftdi-bitbang-mode/
    - get more USB ports via USB hub

    Pi is mostly limited by extremely slow CPU. It’s more than an order of magnitude slower than modern ARM chips due to old architecture (ARM11 vs Cortex-A9, Cortex-A15), low frequence (0.7-1GHz vs 1.7 GHz) and single core (vs 2-4 multicore).

    Looks like Pi is better for Debian (Raspbian) and MK802 is better for Android.

    BTW: Does anyone have a list with current progress in Linux GPU support for popular SoCs?
    ARM Mali: AllWinner A1x, AmLogic 8726, Rockchip RK30xx, Samsung Exynos 4, 5, ..
    PowerVR: TI OMAP 4
    ULP GeForce: Tegra
    Adreno: Snapdragon
    Vivante: i.MX 6
    ..
    Looks like odroid may get support soon: http://odroid.foros-phpbb.com/t1273-ubuntu-mali-400mp-drivers#10871

  14. December 27th, 2012 at 16:10 | #14

    @Dmity
    Linux on A10 does have X11 GPU accel, but it’s not providing that much of a boost.
    I don’t think Raspbian supports X11 GPU acceleration yet. (I could not find details about that).

    GPU support on Linux seems to be a real pain, even Linaro supported boards always seem to have broken GPU / Video accel support.

  15. Dmity
    December 27th, 2012 at 17:39 | #15

    cnxsoft :
    @Dmity
    Linux on A10 does have X11 GPU accel, but it’s not providing that much of a boost.

    It’s nice to hear that. I did not think that this link has obsolete information: http://rhombus-tech.net/allwinner_a10/Compile_X11_driver_for_A10/
    “Currently there is no X11 acceleration of mali on A10″

    cnxsoft :
    @Dmity
    I don’t think Raspbian supports X11 GPU acceleration yet. (I could not find details about that).

    http://elinux.org/RPi_Xorg_rpi_Driver
    http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=4649

  16. December 27th, 2012 at 18:38 | #16

    @Dmity
    This page is more up-to-date: http://linux-sunxi.org/Mali400
    Now most of the documentation is written on linux-sunxi.org, I’m not sure Rhombus Tech A10 tech details are updated anymore.
    So the driver is there, but it’s just not very good.

    Thanks for the links for the Raspberry Pi. So if I understand correctly, it looks like X11 accel is not in the downloadable images yet (e.g. Raspbian), but an experimental port is available, and good progress has been done. Maybe a release next month then?

  17. Gili
    December 27th, 2012 at 23:57 | #17

    Technical support by Raspberry Pi versus Chinese company. Hmm, let’s see.

    I think people will be a substantial royalty in return for better support. Chinese companies offer terrible (nonexistent) support!

  18. Ari
    December 28th, 2012 at 00:14 | #18

    I chose a MK802ii for my needs, and am really pleased. The MK802iii has now been released with a dual core setup, which should be very nice.

    I was pleasantly surprised at how decent Android turned out to be on my TV, and after adding a better file explorer from the Google Play store so that I could go to my NAS drive then I can play videos without problems. All in all a good buy.

    I WILL buy a MK802iii AND a Raspberry Pi, but then again I just like this class of hardware and want to do a few different things. I want a nice and simple “just works” computer for my TV, and a tinkering computer for some extra monitors I have lying around.

    One important comment about the MK802iii is that it does NOT work with many computer monitors. It only supports an output of 720 or 1080 (or a few TV resolutions, basically), so monitors with other aspect ratios will not work even if a HDMI to DVI adapter is used. Audio is also only through the HDMI connector.
    I have two older Samsung LCD monitors, and the MK802ii did not work with those (and I tried everything I could think of). The Raspberry Pi is thus a better and safer buy if you want to use it with a computer monitor, but the HDMI out on the MK802ii makes it perfect for a TV, and it is nice and crisp at 1080 (even though I think it uses some sort of trickery in the output. there is still a clear difference between the 720 and 1080 settings).

  19. Frank
    December 28th, 2012 at 01:08 | #19

    As the article author states: “If you just look at the hardware specs, there’s no comparison,” but misses the fact that it’s all about that 10/100 ethernet adapter on the Raspberry to those of us looking at the Raspberry for an embedded standalone solution to something. Yes, there’s no comparison, and while I’d love to be able to use the MK802, it’s not even a contender.

  20. AlpheraZ
    December 28th, 2012 at 01:49 | #20

    Personale home controllo computer……

  21. December 28th, 2012 at 02:36 | #21

    We did a video hands on review and price comparison back in September and came out less than impressed with the Pi. http://www.redferret.net/?p=33474. The community is awesome though!

    We also found 6 pretty interesting alternatives to the Pi, apart from the Android TV box – http://www.redferret.net/?p=33596

  22. Felix
    December 28th, 2012 at 02:39 | #22

    I want full scale Linux environment, not a crippled “Linux” like Android which is missing a lot of important stuff. So Raspberry is the winner.

  23. December 28th, 2012 at 03:56 | #23

    @s7mx1

    Not everyone’s interested in using either as a home-media-player platform. If that’s a compelling use-case for you, great. I know plenty of people with small-android and Raspberry Pi devices and none of them are using them for that.

  24. Nick Palmer
    December 28th, 2012 at 09:14 | #24

    XBMC is on Android is coming, but already largely works: http://xbmc.org/theuni/2012/07/13/xbmc-for-android/

  25. December 28th, 2012 at 10:03 | #25

    @Felix
    MK802 II does not only run Android, it also runs Linux. Otherwise the comparison would be like comparing apples and oranges.

    @Nick Palmer
    Yes, you’re right to say XBMC on Android is coming, but support differs on different hardware platform, as hardware video decoding is not currently supported on all targets.

  26. Chris
    December 28th, 2012 at 11:06 | #26

    for those of you who want something comparable to the mk802 ii or iii but want onboard Ethernet . Do a google search for the minix neo x5. Its based on the same specs as the mk802 iii but is in a set-top box format and has built in Ethernet and wireless. No Bluetooth though. About $100

  27. December 28th, 2012 at 11:14 | #27

    @Chris
    minix neo x5 is based on Rockcip RK3066, so it’s mainly for Android, although there’s a Ubuntu Alpha port.
    For those who want an AllWinner A10 platform with Ethernet, there are the Mele A1000 or A2000 STBs (Around $90), and Cubieboard development board ($49 to $59)

  28. zuber5
    December 29th, 2012 at 14:49 | #28

    What a silly comparison. Most people who want a media player buy one, not a board designed for hackers. The lack of io pins on these media players makes them pretty useless for serious hardware interfacing.

  29. Tobias Topyla
    December 30th, 2012 at 04:43 | #29

    Cheap Android Dongles seems to be also a very good base for self-made home NAS. I’m just wondering if the coupled USB storage interface is quick enough to act as streaming device for example for FLAC files.

  30. December 30th, 2012 at 08:47 | #30

    @Tobias Topyla
    You should be able to play back videos from a USB storage interface, so FLAC files should be no problem, although it obviously depends on the number of clients connected to your device.

  31. January 10th, 2013 at 11:06 | #31

    Great review!
    I used some of your data and added it to my own review.
    Hope you enjoy!
    Raspberry Pi vs. Netduino vs. MK802ii
    http://blog.brothersmorrison.com/?p=323

  32. David
    February 20th, 2013 at 11:17 | #33

    We should look at this, little device, pcduino!

    pcDuino is a high performance, cost effective mini PC platform that runs PC like OS such as Ubuntu and Android ICS. It outputs its screen to HDMI enabled TV or monitor via the built in HDMI interface. It is specially targeted for the fast growing demands from the open source community, that is, a platform could runs full blown PC like OS with easy to use tool chain and compatible with the popular Arduino ecosystem such as Arduino Shields with a bridge shield and open source projects etc.

    http://www.pcduino.com

  33. Kilgore
    December 25th, 2013 at 20:20 | #34

    interesting article. I already have a Raspberry Pi that I’ve been toying around with. I’ll have to keep an eye on the Android Mini-PCs in the future

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