Allwinner H3 Boards Comparison Tables with Orange Pi, Banana Pi M2+, NanoPi P1, and H3-OlinuXino-NANO Boards

Allwinner H3 SoC has now found its way into many low cost development boards, including several Orange Pi Boards, Banana Pi M2+, NanoPi M1, and Olimex H3-OlinuXino-NANO, and it might be difficult to choose among the list of boards available, so tkaiser has written a buyer’s guide for boards supported by Armbian, with some of the key differentiating factors, and on my side, I thought it might be a good idea to draw a comparison table between the boards.

Allwinner_H3_Development_Boards

Since a table with 10 boards would be hard to read, I made two tables: one with boards with 512 MB RAM + Orange Pi PC / PC Plus, and a second table with higher end boards with 1 to 2 GB RAM, and more features. But first let’s talk about Allwinner H3 SoC since it’s common to all boards. It’s a quad core Cortex A7 processor clocked at up to 1.2 GHz (plus if overclocking but this may lead to overheating), with a Mali-400 MP2 GPU, and support for H.264 and H.265 videos up to 4K @ 30 Hz.

With this mind, the first table takes care of the ultra-low cost boards that sell for less than $20, except the Olimex board which has not been released yet, and could  cost a little more.

Orange Pi OneOrange Pi LiteNano Pi M1Orange Pi PC / Orange Pi PC PlusH3-Olinuxino-NANO
RAM512 MB512MB or 1GB1GB512 MB
Storagemicro SD card slotmicro SD card slot
PC Plus adds: 8GB eMMC
micro SD card slot
Ethernet10/100MNo10/100M
Wireless ConnectivityNoWiFi 802.11 b/g/nNoPC Plus only: WiFi 802.11 b/g/nNo
USB1x USB Host port
1x micro USB OTG port
2x USB 2.0 host ports
1x micro USB OTG port
3x USB 2.0 host ports
1x micro USB OTG port
2x USB 2.0 host ports
1x micro USB OTG port
VideoHDMIHDMI, 3.5mm AV jackHDMI
AudioHDMIHDMI, on-board microphoneHDMI, AV, on-board microphoneHDMI
I/Os and other peripherals40-pin Raspberry Pi connector
CSI interface for camera
40-pin Raspberry Pi connector
CSI interface for camera
IR receiver
40-pin Raspberry Pi connector
DVP interface for camera
IR receiver
40-pin Raspberry Pi connector
CSI interface for camera
IR receiver
2x 40-pin headers
Power5V via power barrel
5V via header
5V via micro USB port, or 4.7 ~ 5.6 V via VDD pin5V via power barrel
5V via header
5V via micro USB port
Dimensions69×48 mm64×50 mm85×55 mm50×50 mm
Listed Price$9.99$12$11Pi PC: $15
Pi PC+: $19.99
N/A
Shipping$3.39$3.39$10$3.43N/A
Total$13.38$15.39$21Pi PC: $18.43
Pi PC+: $23.42
N/A

Followed by a second table with boards with more memory, fast storage, Gigabit Ethernet, and so on.

Orange Pi 2 / Orange Pi mini 2Orange Pi PlusBanana Pi M2+Orange Pi Plus 2EOrange Pi Plus 2
RAM1GB2GB
Storagemicro SD card slot8GB eMMC flash
Micro SD slot
SATA (via USB to SATA bridge)
micro SD card slot
8GB eMMC flash
16GB eMMC Flash
Micro SD slot
8GB eMMC flash
Micro SD slot
SATA (via USB to SATA bridge)
Ethernet10/100MGigabit Ethernet
Wireless Connectivity802.11 b/g/n WiFi (except in mini 2)WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
USB4x USB 2.0 host ports
1x micro USB OTG port
2x USB 2.0 host ports
1x micro USB OTG port
3x USB 2.0 host ports
1x micro USB OTG port
4x USB 2.0 host ports
1x micro USB OTG port
VideoHDMI and AVHDMIHDMI and AV
AudioHDMI, AV, on-board microphoneHDMI, AV, on-board microphoneHDMIHDMI, AV, on-board microphone
I/Os and other peripherals40-pin Raspberry Pi connector
CSI interface for camera
IR receiver
Power5V via power barrel
5V via header
5V via power barrel
5V via micro USB port
5V via power barrel
5V via header
Dimensions93×60 mm112 x 60 mm65×65 mm108×67 mm
Listed PricePi 2 – $30
Pi mini 2 – $25
$39.00$39.90$35.00$49.00
ShippingN/A$3.75$0$3.57$3.26
TotalNot for sale anymore$42.75$39.90$38.57$52.26

Some remarks

  1. There’s no difference between boards with regards to the 40-pin Raspberry Pi connectors, and only H3-Olinuxino-NANO will have a different pinout, as well as more I/Os. It will also be the only open source hardware board of the list.
  2. SATA implementation are using a USB 2.0  to SATA bridge since Allwinner H3 does not come with either SATA. PCIe, or USB 3.0 interface, and performance is not different, and in some case lower, than simply connecting a USB hard drive to the board.
  3. Boards with 4 USB ports + micro USB OTG will share the bandwidth through a USB hub controller, so performance may be impacted, and boards such as Orange Pi Plus 2E with 3 USB ports that do not use a USB hub controller should have better USB throughput.
  4. Voltage regulator
    • SY8106A used on most Orange Pi boards allows for finer tuning of the CPU voltage, and a better control of CPU throttling and heat management
    • The GPIO driven voltage regulator on NanoPi M1 and Orange Pi One/Lite only allows for 1.1V and 1.3V voltage selection
    • Banana Pi M2+ is set to work at 1.3V only.
  5. Boards with eMMC flash should provide a significantly better user experience thanks to much faster random I/O compared to most (micro) SD cards
  6. Memory type matters. It has been found that boards with DDR3 memory tend to overheat much more than boards with DDR3L memory. At the time of writing, Xunlong Orange Pi boards are all based on DDR3L memory, but Banana Pi M2+ and NanoPi M1 boards are fitted with DDR3 memory instead. [Update: It has be discovered that Orange Pi One/Lite are actually using DDR3 memory, and do not overheat, so more investigation is needed to find out what the problem may be]

Please let me know if I should add anything to the table, or corrections need to be made.

Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.

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47 Comments
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zoobab
4 years ago

The H3 ethernet was published some days ago for a mainline kernel, don’t know if it is finally usable. Last time I tried it was crashy.

Byron
Byron
4 years ago

The Orange PI One has terrible software support. Tried every Android version (including official + modified ones). Plus all the Linux versions. Ubuntu Mate was the best so far, but the 512MB of memory holds it back. But then for $10 …

Lalith
Lalith
4 years ago

Thank you for taking time to summarise out favourite boards’ details.

The kernel source for BPi M2+, from Sinovoip is quite good. Only sunxi_gmac needs adding to get Orange pI working completely

https://github.com/BPI-SINOVOIP/BPI-M2P-bsp

Aaa
Aaa
4 years ago

And again someone missed software side in comparison. Shame on you.

Sayan
4 years ago

Please include the PCduino H3 boards including the PCduino 8 UNO

A Low
A Low
1 year ago

Pcduino4 nano is an H3 board and also a NanoPi m1 variant. Pretty much same board but color of pcb

onebir
onebir
4 years ago

“Boards with 4 USB ports will share the bandwidth through a USB hub controller, so performance may be impacted, and boards such as Orange Pi Plus 2E with 3 USB ports that do not use a USB hub controller should have better USB throughput.”

Possibly confusing because the Plus 2E has 3 USB + micro USB OTG; maybe better to identify which boards use USB hub in the table?

Eric D.
Eric D.
4 years ago

It is not clear to me if these boards have an I2S interface for connecting a DAC board. I’ve read the H3 has the I/O logic.

Charlie
4 years ago

FriendlyARM has talked about NanoPi M1 to be Open Hardware like other parts of the NanoPi line.

But really, buy the quad core A57 NanoPC-T3 with eMMC https://andahammer.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=61_81&product_id=131

Or the NanoPi M2 or M3 with SD. Debian runs well on these. I will have to try the armbian if I can get an M1.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Lalith
Sorry, the kernel source from SinoVoip is just loboris’ old kernel source for Orange Pis. That’s quite the opposite of ‘good’ in the meantime. A second article below the Buyer’s guide (just click on the link above) lists all BSP kernel variants currently available with explanations. IMO worth a read too.

@Aaa
Sorry, didn’t you read that I wrote the buyer’s guide only from the perspective of boards that we (Armbian) support? The various models only differ regarding some features and settings but main features are all the same.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

D.
I2S is available on all the boards (maybe missing on BPi M2+ and/or NanoPi M1 — don’t know). We collected a few tutorials regarding this and that so that no H3 user has to start from scratch: http://forum.armbian.com/index.php/forum/13-allwinner-h3/

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@onebir H3 has 3 dedicated USB2.0 host ports and 1 USB OTG port. The latter is available as Micro USB connector on all boards and we configure it as host port too (performance is slightly lower but an USB disk gets close to 35MB/s here or an Gbit-Ethernet adapter exceeds 350 Mbits/sec). So it’s only about the count of type A receptacles. If these are 4 then an internal USB hub is used, if they’re 3 or less we’re talking about USB host ports that do not have to share bandwidth. BTW: In the buyer’s guide I linked to a… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Charlie
NanoPC-T3 is not Cortex-A57 but A53 instead and comes only with a 32 bit kernel that has been already called awful and “Specifically, this is a Linux-3.4 kernel that looks more like a Linux-2.6.28 platform port that was forward-ported”. Just read the articles about NanoPi M3 and PC-T3 here on CNX. More trustworthy than shop links.

zoobab
4 years ago

The OrangePI naming convention for their boards is a disaster. It would be better if they had used codenames such as “Orangepi Uranus” and avoid “Orangepi Plus 2E”.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago


One small correction: All OPi prevent being powered up through Micro USB so they can only be powered reliably through barrel plug or GPIO pins. BPi M2+ and NanoPi M1 allow to be powered through MicroUSB and BPi M2+ has also a barrel jack while NanoPi M1 allows being powered through GPIO pins and will in this mode even charge a device connected to Micro USB port.

paul
paul
4 years ago

cnxsoft :
@Aaa
All boards have basically the same software support… Images released by the companies are useless, and the recommended distribution is now armbian for all the boards.

Although you may have already covered in your individual reviews, I have 2 suggestions to save referring to them: a) I also wondered if there could be a column listing range of OS support eg OpenWRT, Linino etc. b) The ‘Power’ column could usefully list an idle or typical power drawn by the board.

Aaa
Aaa
4 years ago


Does that mean armbian support for all these boards is *exactly* on the same level / supported features / supported hardware components?

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Aaa
Of course. Everything would be pretty obvious if people would start reading through the somewhat hidden link »buyer’s guide« in the first paragraph.

boobbypi
boobbypi
4 years ago

@zoobab
The eth driver done by montjoie is a great value for the moment : working very well and stable but maybe not ready for production, need to waiting to find new bugs 🙂
If you have a “emac timeout” at startup, plug an eth cable to an router or computer solve this issue on my op pc.

boobbypi
boobbypi
4 years ago

D.
I understand there is an driver for prehistoric 3.4 kernel but none for mainline, need to wait or doing the job I think!

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@paul Regarding software or OS compatibility it’s really simple: The OS images the vendors provide vary much regarding quality and functionality (and settings that massively influence performance — just read through the linked ‘buyer’s guide’ above where everything is explained in detail). And there are 3rd parties like Armbian, jernej’s unofficial OpenELEC fork or OpenWRT. Since all these H3 boards are pretty much the same all these 3 softwares just need minor adoptions to run on another board. Armbian and OpenELEC support all boards equally right now and if an OpenWRT build based on montjoie’s Ethernet driver and a recent… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) Regarding H3 based TV boxes like the Linksprite thingie mentioned above: It’s pretty easy to get them to work with any ‘3rd party OS image’ like Armbian since most probably all that’s needed is extracting the fex file and then tuning it so that the device performs better. This way the popular Beelink X2 found it’s way into our build system (Armbian is not a distro 🙂 ). Again few minor corrections: OPi+ 2E has also CSI, the +2 can not be powered through Micro USB, BPi M2+ at this price has 8GB eMMC (they maybe bring… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

BTW: Since I talked multiple times about optimized H3 thermal/throttling/performance settings in case anyone’s interested here’s an excellent example of how we (the community) is doing this: http://forum.armbian.com/index.php/topic/1322-testers-wanted-testing-dram-reliability-on-bpi-m2-and-nanopi-m1/?view=getlastpost

(it looks like NanoPi M1 is also prone to overheating like BPi M2+ and now we try to develop failsave but still performant settings since ‘default settings’ killing CPU cores and never bringing them back until next reboot cost too much performance)

cbm80
cbm80
4 years ago

Orange Pi PC Plus is currently the best value for money if you need WiFi and as a bonus you have 8GB eMMC included which helps especially for Androids distros.

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

@tkaiser i was reading your guide and tried to check the following mention : “2D/3D/video HW acceleration is available with legacy kernels” i understand you use the cedrus open driver, but on your armbian images list for my board (opipc) HW acceleration is only listed on your “desktop” image. Am i to understand that the cedrus hw driver is not present in your “server” image ? if that’s the case, would it be simpler to “add” it to your server image somehow or work my way back from your desktop image and remove the desktop packages ? I’m currently investigating… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@mdel At the moment you can’t upgrade ‘server’ Armbian images to ‘desktop’ images since build process is different and we add all the HW acceleration stuff only on the ‘desktop’ builds since currently none of the Armbian core devs has a great interest in GUI stuff and we somehow lack time/skills. We realized that it works thanks to the great linux-sunxi community, added as much as we can back in March but need more devs joining in to improve packaging. So yes, now you would better ‘downgrade’ (remove the DE) from a desktop image. Thanks to Xunlong who allowed us… Read more »

Sayan
4 years ago

and the CNX community

Wondering if the H8 boards are similar to the A83T based ones.
Any suggestions on getting Armbian or Linux 4.x kernels would be really welcome !
Linksprite has posted some images with older kernels but nothing has been released in the last 6 months.http://www.linksprite.com/image-for-pcduino8-uno/

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Sayan H8 is the same as A83T and R58. These SoCs implement different ‘chip IDs’ and Allwinner ships different SDKs for them (preventing Android 5.1 to be running on H8 while it’s ‘allowed’ to run on A83T for example). From the Linux perspective this doesn’t matter as long as you use mainline u-boot (possible since u-boot 2016.05-rc3). Armbian won’t support A83T/H8 boards anytime soon since the SoCs aren’t that well supported by community and all the available boards are somewhat weird. So we would have to stick with this ancient 3.4.x kernel while getting constantly negative user feedback that our… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) H8/A83T and H3 share many IP blocks and that’s why montjoie’s mainline Ethernet driver for example now also works with A83T (H8) and A64 after some minimal adjustments regarding the necessary environment. But the chips are quite different and H8/A83T is more powerful and made in a more efficient 28nm process whereas H3 offers more real USB ports. This A vs. H vs. R thing (H8/A83T/R58 are the same, so H64/A64/R18 are, so A33/R16, A13/R8 and so on are) seems just a matter of different bussiness units at Allwinner. Booting an H3 kernel on H8 is not… Read more »

Sayan
4 years ago

@tkaiser
Really appreciate your detailed response- I will hold on to my H8 based PCduino8 board for now. Once I have weekends free, I will try my hand at replacing the boot0 and rootfs.

In the meanwhile, I may order the Orange Pi Plus 2E
Really appreciate all the great work you guys have done !

@lex
@lex
4 years ago

@Charlie

Can you run NanoPi M2 with 1920x1080P?

I am having issues with 1920×1080, Android and Linux.
I have tried different PSUs, different monitors and can’t find a simple fix for this.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

Bad news: Not just BPi M2+ is prone to overheating, NanoPi M1 also: http://forum.armbian.com/index.php/topic/1322-testers-wanted-testing-dram-reliability-on-bpi-m2-and-nanopi-m1/?view=getlastpost

And the reason according to Olimex’ experimenting with their H3 board prototypes from last year seems to be the DRAM type used: Xunlong uses low power DDR3L (Olimex now too) and their boards do not overheat, SinoVoip and FriendlyARM chose normal DDR3 instead.

Maybe adding DRAM type to the table would be a good idea?

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago


I asked in banana-pi.org forum other users to test/confirm since all current tests happened on Rev 1.0 boards and in the meantime PCB rev v1.1 is used. Please contact/ask the FriendlyARM folks. But it’s Dragon Boat festival and Leechee season in Guangdong now so most probably any reaction delayed until next tuesday 😉

nz
nz
4 years ago

@Byron
You should try armbian

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) The assumption regarding DRAM type as a possible reason for overheating was wrong unfortunately. We tested another overheating H3 device with DDR3 (will be added to the list of officially supported Armbian devices with next minor release): Beelink X2 also overheats like hell. But in the meantime we found out that both OPi One/Lite also use ‘just’ DDR3 (1.5V) and not DDR3L (1.35V) as the larger Oranges but those two do not overheat that much. Some linux-sunxi folks think possible reason might be ‘ground/vcc planes’ added to the PCB helping a lot with heat dissipation (no idea,… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

I thought it would be time for an update (including H2+ and H5 for some reasons): https://forum.armbian.com/index.php?/topic/1351-h3-board-buyers-guide/#comment-28169

KotCzarny
1 year ago

late to the party, but lest not forget about: http://linux-sunxi.org/Table_of_allwinner_based_boards

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