Radxa Rock and ODROID-U3 Quad Core Development Boards Comparison

If you want a quad core development board for less than $100, you only have two choices right now: Radxa Rock powered by Rockchip RK3188, and Hardkernel ODROID-U3 powered by Samsung Exynos 4412 prime. There are also a few Freescale i.MX 6Q boards such as Wandboard Quad and UDOO Quad for around $130 which you could consider because of potentially better software support and features like SATA, but in this post, I’ll compare Radxa Rock and ODROID-U3 to help you decide which one may be right for your application or project.

Radxa_Rock_ODROID-U3Let’s get right to the subject, with a side-by-side comparison table.

Radxa Rock Hardkernel ODROID-U3 Comments
Processor Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 quad core @ 1.6Ghz Samsung Exynos 4412 Prime quad core Cortex A9 @ 1.7 Ghz Slight advantage for ODROID-U3, but it’s basically a draw.
GPU ARM Mali-400 MP4 GPU ARM Mali-400MP4 GPU @ 440MHz Same GPU, that’s a draw.
System Memory 2GB DDR3 @ 800Mhz 2GB LP-DDR2 @ 880MHz Same amount of RAM, but clocked slightly higher on ODROID-U3. Almost a draw.
Storage 8GB Nand Flash, micro-SD SDXC up to 128GB microSD slot, eMMC module socket Radxa comes with internal flash, you’ll have to pay $25 extra to get an 8GB eMMC module with ODROID-U3, unless you use a microSD for booting. eMMC performance should be better than standard NAND flash.
Video Output HDMI 1.4, AV Out micro HDMI
Audio I/O HDMI, optical S/PDIF, built-in microphone micro HDMI, 3.5mm audio out jack
Connectivity 10/100M Ethernet
WIFI 150Mbps 802.11b/g/n with external antenna
Bluetooth 4.0
10/100Mbps Ethernet WiFi and Bt 4.0 can also be added to ODROID-U3 via USB. Any dongle would do, but they cost $8 each on hardkernel website.
USB 2x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG 3x USB 2.0 Host ports, 1x USB 2.0 device for ADB/mass storage
Debugging UART connector for serial console (3.3V) UART connector for serial console (1.8V)
Expansion headers 2x 40-pin headers with GPIO, I2C, SPI, Line in, USB 2.0, PWM, ADC, LCD,… etc 8-pin I/O header Much more I/O pin available in Radxa Rock,. You can connect a U3-IO shield board ($20) to get more I/O pins and Arduino compatibility on ODROID-U3
Misc IR sensor, power key, recovery key, reset key, 3 LEDs, RTC Power switch, power and heartbeat LEDs, connector for RTC back-up battery connector
Dimensions 100×80 mm 83×48 mm
Heatsink No Yes
Power 5V/2A recommended 5V/2A recommended
Enclosure Transparent plastic case shipped with board Optional plastic case available for $4
Android Support Android 4.2.2 Android 4.1.2 Both board should support Android pretty well, although I’m not sure about good I/O control are.
Linux Support Linaro 13.11 Server, and Desktop (Lubuntu) Xubuntu 13.10 with XBMC ODROID-U3 is probably the winner here, not because of the distribution supported, but because of GPU and VPU acceleration, and not all I/O may currently be programmable on Radxa Rock.
Community Radxa is very new, so there are not that many people in the community. There’s a form @ https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/radxa, and IRC chat #radxa on freenode Hardkernel ODROID boards have been around for a while and there’s a relatively active community http://forum.odroid.com, and they even have a magazine http://magazine.odroid.com/
Documentation There’s a wiki in construction at http://wiki.radxa.com/Rock, tools and OS images are available for download @ http://radxa.com/download/, and source code is available in private git.Schematics are available in PDF format. Most documentation appears to be in a section of the forums http://forum.odroid.com/viewforum.php?f=50, but there’s also an older, and possibly outdated, wiki @ http://dev.odroid.com/projects/odroid-xq/, as well as Linux and bootloader source code in github.Schematics are available in PDF format. ODROID-U3 benefits from the work done on ODROID-U2 and appears to currently have more documentation than on Radxa Rock, although it’s not that easy to find…
Price $99 + about $15 to $20 for shipping on Miniand and Aliexpress $59 (Community edition) or $65 (no limit on order qty) + about $25 shipping No winner here as there’s more than meets the eye.

When it comes to raw processing power including CPU, GPU, and RAM, both development boards are equivalent, although ODROID-U3 has a tiny edge, it won’t be noticeable. Radxa Rock comes with 8GB internal flash, whereas ODROID-U3 has none. You can either boot with a microSD card, or purchase an 8GB eMMC module ($25) for optimal I/O performance.

Radxa Rock has more built-in features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optical S/PDIF, a microphone, and composite output, so if you need any of these, the Rockchip board may be better for you, although you could had external hardware to provide most of these to the ODROID-U3 board.

ODROID-U3 has only 8 I/O accessible via one expansion, although you can augment that with U3-IO Arduino compatible expansion board. Radxa Rock has a clear edge here with two 40-pin headers giving access to a wide range of I/O. Having said that I’m not sure they are all accessible at this stage due to driver issues. GPIO and I2C is working, but I’ve read there may be issues with SPI for example.

I haven’t really tested Android, nor Linux distributions on either device, but Android support should be decent on both devices, simply because both SoC are quite mature. Radxa Rock has a slight edge here because it supports Android 4.2.2 instead of Android 4.1.2 on ODROID-U3, which may really be important if you absolutely need support for some new features introduced in 4.2. You should be able to run all sort of Linux distributions on both board, but ODROID-U3 should probably be better here because of GPU and VPU acceleration support. Of course, if you’re going to use the board as a server, it won’t matter. The Linux kernel is quite old for RK3188 (3.0.x) whereas ODROID-U3 uses a more recent 3.8.x kernel.  Support is likely to be better for ODROID-U3, at least for now, simply because Hardkernel ODROID-U(2)((3) boards have been around a longer time, and more people are using them so the community is larger, whereas Radxa Rock is newer, and issues may be more difficult to fix at first.

The total shipped price for Radxa Rock is about $115, whereas ODROID-U3 “community edition” costs $84, so with a $30 price different, ODROID-U3 appears to be the clear winner here. It’s not as simple as that, as you really have to look at your project, and depending on the required features, cost may add-up quite a bit with ODROID-U3. For example, adding the enclosure, 8GB eMMC flash, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi brings the total price to $129 which costs more than Radxa Rock.

Both Radxa Rock and ODROID-U3 have their own strengths and limitations, and as always, you have to select the board that matches your application or project best.

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24 Replies to “Radxa Rock and ODROID-U3 Quad Core Development Boards Comparison”

  1. Can anyone recommend a good USB dongle that goes into Master mode? I just checked a few for a friend, and NONE worked:
    Bus 002 Device 016: ID 148f:5370 Ralink Technology, Corp. *RT5370* Wireless Adapter
    Bus 002 Device 021: ID 148f:3070 Ralink Technology, Corp. **RT2870/RT3070** Wireless Adapter
    Bus 002 Device 019: ID 7392:7811 Edimax Technology Co., Ltd EW-7811Un 802.11n Wireless Adapter [Realtek ***RTL8188CUS***]

  2. I would add “UART connector for serial console (3.3V)” as an advantage to Radxa as well – 3.3V usb-to-serial converters are far more common.

  3. @cnxsoft

    odroid u3 has GPU h/w acceleration on linux, xbmc is using hardware decoding, and has CEC working. things might be a bit buggy (e.g. HDMI CEC works only if connected to HDMI-1 port), but working.

  4. @cnxsoft

    The reason why I am asking about Radxa webcam in linux support is because linux implementations on various chinese devices do not support webcams as one would have wished. I have experience with minix neo x7 device, where I tried to set up an opencv project but failed due to webcam support issues. Unfortunately this was a hobby project so I didnt have much time to go into details of resolving those issues, but from my brief look into it I didnt find a kernel version solving them…

    Does Radxa board offer linux kernel with working drivers/modules?

    According to the Odroid’s forums, the Odroid-U3 has those issues sorted.

    So if I drop my “webcam in linux” focus and spread the question wider… Reading the Odroids forums one gets the impression that the board has Linux and Android support. From experience on RK3188 devices they support Android fully and Linux only to the level where you can say “its running Linux”. Has the Radxa board moved beyond that?

  5. @Jack
    I’m expecting Linux to run better on ODROID-U3 than on Radxa Rock.
    The source code is there, including the Linux kernel, but this may require some efforts, and things like GPU and VPU drivers won’t work (because there aren’t any for Linux).

  6. @Jack My 720p USB Webcam is running well on the ODROID-U2 Ubuntu 13.10.
    So it must be working with U3. But your USB webcam must be compatible with UVC standard.
    I could connect 2 cameras and display 2 previews in parallel.

  7. I found the dealbreaker on the U3 to be shipping cost and taxes, they won’t declare lower parcel value whereas Radxa will, at least they did for my cubieboard2 iirc.

  8. @Armer

    Thnx for the input! Did you by any chance check the framerate? Does it achieve 30fps (at an “opencv usable resolution”) or are there USB bandwidth limitations present like on the beaglebone for example?

    I am really thinking about buying one to finally build my opencv project proof of concept 🙂

  9. Hi, I’m thinking of buying the Radxa Rock board but not sure about how to control the GIPO which is must for my project. Can anyone help please?

  10. The radXa is crap compared to the ODROID U3 which eats it with better performance and proper software support.

    The software support for the RadXa is pathetic with no usb cdc-acm module support making it a waste of time.

    The latest site RadXa Ubuntu image is a joke.

    Wait a year and see if they pick up on software support.

    Get a U3 at half the price and many times the performance and software support.

  11. I package images for arm devices and the U3 has significant noticable performance in
    cpu and graphical desktop resolution with smoother gradients than the RadXa,
    both compared with KDE desktops.

    Saying it has a tiny edge is a joke, The ODROID U3 is on a another level. I don’t consider
    above a proper review, rather just guesses on the specs.

    Also the RadXa software support is shocking. I produced the only image with cdc-acm support for it so far.
    Its a no brainer which one to keep once testing them both.


  12. The new ODROID XU4, at $74 USD is the way to go.
    Everyone I know using a RadXa for a hotspot, gave ap and sold it soon after.
    The device does not reboot properly, and has to be re-powered to correctly reboot.

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