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 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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KilgoreAndroid Mini HDMI Sticks: HDMI, Android 4 for $30 – Google ChromeCast Replicas | Nanofunk: Pure Gadget Mayhem!Using ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5) Streamline with MK802II mini PC$59 pcDuino – AllWinner A10 Board with Arduino Compatible HeadersDavid Recent comment authors
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onebir
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onebir

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
Guest
joker

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

Gabe
Guest
Gabe

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

Albert
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Albert

@cnxsoft
But is it worth for a MK802?

Member

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
Guest
monopole

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
Guest
s7mx1

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.

Dmity
Guest
Dmity

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

Dmity
Guest
Dmity

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
Guest
Gili

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
Guest
Ari

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).

Frank
Guest
Frank

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
Guest
AlpheraZ

Personale home controllo computer……

Nigel Powell
Guest

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
Guest
Felix

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
Guest

@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
Guest
Nick Palmer

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

Chris
Guest
Chris

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

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[…] Mk802 x Raspberry PI dez28th2012 13835Deixar um comentáriohttp%3A%2F%2Fpinguinsmoveis.com%2Fmk802-x-raspberry-pi%2FMk802+x+Raspberry+PI2012-12-28+09%3A40%3A20Rodrigo+Reishttp%3A%2F%2Fpinguinsmoveis.com%2F%3Fp%3D13835 Escrito por Rodrigo Reis Pen drive Android já esta mais barato que o Raspberry PI, vale a pena? […]

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[…] cnx Acerca del Autor Manuel López Michelone […]

zuber5
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zuber5

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
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Tobias Topyla

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.

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[…] for the review Even Raspberry Pi also no $fight$ @ MK802 II Mini PC Now Costs as Much as Raspberry Pi Model B. Let’s Compare Them! : 24/7/365 powered by m0n0wall […]

mimic
Guest

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
Guest
David

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

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[…] to David for the […]

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[…] MK802-II is an Android 4.0 mini PC powered by AllWinner A10 (ARM Cortex A8) with 1GB RAM and 4GB flash. Instructions are also available to run Ubuntu, or other Linux distributions. ARM Development Studio 5 (ARM DS-5) is software development tool suite for ARM processors that can be used for both Linux and Android debugging, and available in 2 versions: professional edition and community edition, the latter being free of charge. I’m writing about both today, because Bob Peng, Technical Marking Engineer for ARM China, recently wrote a blog post in Chinese showing how to use MK802-II, preloaded with the required drivers and daemon, with DS-5 Streamline Performance Analyzer with is part of both versions. The community edition may be missing some features of Streamline however. […]

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[…] software compared the MK802 II Mini PC to the raspberrrypi, the cheap android sticks even beat the raspi in price (and features, since the come with 4GB NAND […]

Kilgore
Guest
Kilgore

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