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

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 IIRaspberry Pi Model B
SoCAllWinner A10
CPU: Cortex A8 @ 1.5GHz
GPU: Mali-400
Broadcom BCM2835
CPU: ARM11 @ 700MHz (OC: 1 GHz)
GPU: Videocore IV
RAM1 GB512 MB
Storage4GB NAND Flash + microSD slotSD card slot
USB1x USB 2.0 Host + 2x USB OTG
(One USB OTG is reserved for power)
2x USB 2.0 Host ports
EthernetN/A (via USB dongle only)10/100 Mbit
Wi-Fi802.11 b/g/nN/A (via USB dongle only)
Video OutputHDMIHDMI and Composite
Audio OutputHDMIHDMI and 3.5mm stereo out jack
Expansion HeadersN/AYes. Provide access to GPIO, I2C, SPI, etc…
DSI (for LCD display) and CSI-2 (for camera) interfaces are also available
Size9.7 x 2.8 x 1.2cm8.56 x 5.6 x 2.1cm (Board only)
CasingYesNo (Cases can be ordered separately)
Included AccessoriesHDMI Cable
USB Cable
OTG Cable
User Manual
N/A
Video Codecs (HW)H.264, MPEG 1/2/4, VC-1, VP8, and AVSH.264 only.
MPEG-2 and VC1 can be added by purchasing corresponding licenses
Linux SupportGood.
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 SupportVery good.
Android 4.0 ICS
Poor (for now)
Android 2.3 without GPU acceleration
Android 4.0 in progress
Community SupportNo 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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38 Comments
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onebir
onebir
8 years ago

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.

joker
joker
8 years ago

at least we have choice ! so cool ! thx for review ! 🙂

Gabe
Gabe
8 years ago

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

Albert
Albert
8 years ago


But is it worth for a MK802?

Ian Tester
8 years ago

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.

monopole
monopole
8 years ago

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

s7mx1
s7mx1
8 years ago

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… Read more »

Dmity
Dmity
8 years ago

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… Read more »

Dmity
Dmity
8 years ago

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

Gili
Gili
8 years ago

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!

Ari
Ari
8 years ago

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… Read more »

Frank
Frank
8 years ago

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.

AlpheraZ
AlpheraZ
8 years ago

Personale home controllo computer……

Nigel Powell
8 years ago

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

Felix
Felix
8 years ago

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.

Pat Gunn
8 years ago

@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.

Nick Palmer
Nick Palmer
8 years ago

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

Chris
Chris
8 years ago

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

zuber5
zuber5
8 years ago

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.

Tobias Topyla
Tobias Topyla
8 years ago

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.

mimic
mimic
8 years ago

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

David
David
8 years ago

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

Kilgore
Kilgore
7 years ago

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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