ASUS Tinker Board is a Raspberry Pi 3 Alternative based on Rockchip RK3288 Processor

Regular readers may remember MQMaker MiQi board, a $35 (and up) development board powered by Rockchip RK3288 quad core ARM Cortex A17 processor, based on Raspberry Pi 3 form factor, but much faster according to benchmarks. Sadly, the board’s crowdfunding campaign was not that successful, possibly because of the “its’ a 2-year old processor” syndrome. But now, Minimachines has found that ASUS has designed a very similar board, dubbed Tinker Board, with an extra WiFi and Bluetooth LE module, audio jack, MIPI DSI connector, and a few other modifications.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Asus Tinker Board specifications (bold highlights and strike-through show differences with MiQi board):

  • SoC – Rockchip 3288 quad core ARM Cortex A17 up to 1.8 GHz with Mali-T764 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0, and OpenCL 1.1
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3, dual channel
  • Storage – 8 or 32 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
  • Video output & Display I/F
  • Audio – 1x 3.5mm audio jack; Realtek HD codec with 192KHz/24-bit audio
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port (for power)
  • Expansion Headers
    • 40-pin “somewhat Raspberry Pi compatible” header with up to 28x GPIOs, 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 4x UART, 2x PWM, 1x PCM/I2S, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
    • 2-pin contact point with 1x PWM signal, 1x S/PDIF signal
  • Misc – Button, unpopulated fan header
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 85.6 x 54 cm

The company targets education, maker, and IoT markets for the board, with applications ranging from mini PC to portable game console and RC products like drones. The board supports Debian with Kodi.

asus-tinker-board-vs-raspberry-pi-3ASUS also provided a quick comparison table with Raspberry Pi 3 model B, that mostly shows the advantages over the Tinker board. The table is mostly fine, and I got some Phoronix benchmarks showing RK3288 can be about three times as fast as BCM2837 processor for FLAC audio encoding. The last row with officially supported OS appears to show both boards on the same footings, but Raspberry Pi 3 model B will have a clear advantage here, although I’m not sure why Asus did not list Android OS support for their board. The table does not include any price information either.

The only information I could find was from the Slideshare presentation above, and there does not appear to be any official website or page on Asus website.

[Update: ASUS Tinker board can now be purchased on Amazon or Aliexpress]

Thanks to Freire for the tip.

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hoangdinh86
hoangdinh86
3 years ago

I think why ASUS does not use SOC ARM v8 64bit, Cortex A17 is outdate

nobitakun
nobitakun
3 years ago

Do you aware that A17 cores are close in performance to A57, don’t you?

All v8 64 bits alternatives are too expensive, and that would be more senseless. Of course you can buy a snapdragon 820 board, and soon a 835 board, but paying 200-300 for that? excuse me, I prefer a complete PC much faster.

MiniPC based on arm boards would not have to cost more than 50-60, never.

Arthur Frayn
Arthur Frayn
3 years ago

“Minimachines has found that ASUS has designed” But did they? I do not see where in the article it states that ASUS designed the board. What it does claim is that ASUS is going to manufacture it. The slide presentation was given by Niyazi Saral who is not an employee of ASUS but the founder of Çizgi Elektronik in Istanbul whose main business is now the distribution of ASUS products, and he has an M.Sc, Computer Engineering & Education, along with skills including hardware architecture, PCB design, and manufacturing. So given that he was the first to be out “selling”… Read more »

lvrp16
lvrp16
3 years ago

there’s no ddr placement on the board on the top side so the photo is highly suspect. it is not easy to cram that much stuff in.

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

I am sure kernel 4.4+ up to 4.9rc4 and Debian 9 will run on the Asus Tinker board.
http://www.bitkistl.com/2016/10/debian-9-stretch-on-miqi-device-from.html
https://github.com/Miouyouyou/MyyQi

Developer_x
Developer_x
3 years ago

why not support Android?I know another opensorce board Firefly-RK3288 support Android and ubuntu. It was appear on 2014.

stinkydiver73
stinkydiver73
3 years ago

And how about the opensource? Is Rockchip better than allwinner, amlogic, broadcom… This is the most important question in these days imho. The community spend too much time supporting these piece of…

JotaMG
JotaMG
3 years ago

If this board really enter production, and Acer put it’s name behind, they will be able to sell it on large surface stores, like Best Buy and Media Markt, and the price will not be that important.
I think this could be a great business opportunity, but not sure how the clients will respond?

Regarding the MiQi, today number is “$1,344 USD raised by 15 backers” (3% of $50,000).
I really don’t understand why this was not a successful campaign, because the device is fast and the price is very good??

Benjamin HENRION
3 years ago

“Mainline kernel support of RK3288 is constantly improving, but not stable yet. You may encounter slow refreshness of HDMI display, not perfect support of USB devices, etc.”

http://wiki.t-firefly.com/index.php/Firefly-RK3288/Mainline_Kernel/en

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Benjamin HENRION
This statement is two years old. The link to the github repo shows that there hasn’t improved anything since 2 years ago, those FireFly commits weren’t send upstream so it seems that there is just an orphaned 4.0-rc1 branch with limited support?

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Benjamin HENRION
At least something ‘out of tree’ happens over there: https://forum.mqmaker.com/t/mainline-kernel-compilation/572/45

Dr. Azrael Tod
3 years ago

I don’t get it.

I mean there’s all this RPi-Versions and “completely compatible”-Stuff, and while I don’t particularily like these things they are supported with so much software that I can see why one would choose those (and they tend to be reasonable priced)

And then there is always some way to buy faster/better stuff. 2 years ago that meant for me buying a cubitruck.

And now Asus starts to sell something that still can’t hold it’s own against my cubitruck and comes with less support than RPi, which features/perfomance it only matches (not: improves uppon)

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

OMG, just realized that this ASUS board makes the same mistake as MiQi board and other already. Using the most shitty DC-IN connector possible: Micro USB –> no way. This crappy connector is ok-ish for devices that need not more than 100 mA but for everything else a simple ‘never ever buy’ criteria.

Some funny insights: https://forum.mqmaker.com/t/miqi-based-build-farm-finally-up-and-running/605/9

JotaMG
JotaMG
3 years ago

@tkaiser

One thing I don’t understand is why all the boards don’t have at least two holes where to solder pins to connect a power cable, as a option??

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@JotaMG Well, fortunately on most boards DC-IN alternatives are available. Eg. there’s a 4 pin header on all NanoPi boards to reliably power them, you can use the GPIO header on Orange Pi Zero, on the older Banana Pis the ‘SATA power’ connector could be used to power the board, on the crappy Lamobo R1 you could mis-use the battery connector (since charger disabled itself when more than 4.2V were provided), on Pine64 pins on the so called Euler connector can be used and so on… Even on Raspberries you can bypass the crappy connector and power through GPIO header… Read more »

Tired8281
Tired8281
3 years ago

Sounds like somebody didn’t sell as many Chromebits as they thought, and now they need to get rid of some chips.

Comedicles
3 years ago

@nobitakun

8 core A53, $35. You will want the little heat sink with tiny fan. http://www.friendlyarm.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=69&product_id=130

Willy
Willy
3 years ago

@hoangdinh86
Sorry but you’re wrong, the A17 currently is the only processor which is *both* faster and cheaper than x86-based designs. With other models, you’re either significantly slower (A7, A53) or much more expensive (A57, A72). The A17 is very well balanced. It deserves more interest, but its failure comes from being released after most 64-bit chips, so many board designers (and end users) started to disregard it. Even on some recent RK3288 boards you see chips fabricated in late 2014, indicating that they kept a large stock of unsold devices for a long time.

Willy
Willy
3 years ago

@stinkydiver73
Regarding opensource, at least for what I’m doing with my MiQi, I’m now using 100% opensource, both the boot loader, and the kernel (which is simple mainline 4.9 now). In contrast I think allwinner is making progress in that direction but still seems to be late with newer CPUs.

Willy
Willy
3 years ago

The article says “Asus announces a max power consumption of 5 Watts”. That’s definitely not true with an RK3288 at 1.8 GHz, but it’s possible that they’re running with Rockchip’s kernel which cheats and caps at 1.6 while reporting 1.8.

BTW, their 40-pin connector features the 2 +5V pins like on the RPi so it’s possible to power it this way.

Oh, there’s no storage 🙁

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

The mqmaker MiQi board is currently avalable for $65 (with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB eMMC).
https://mqmaker.com/products/
It will be interesting if Asus can offer the Tinker board for a reasonable price. As Willy said the RK3288 SOC will use much more power than 5 Watts when using all 4 CPU cores concurrently @1.8 GHz. Without a large heavy heatsink or fan (requires mounting holes) the SOC will not work reliable at clock speeds larger than 1.5 GHz under load.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Willy
Regarding Allwinner: them being not innovative at all is an advantage here. For example their new H5 SoC currently runs better with mainline kernel (+ some patches that didn’t land upstream yet) than compared to Allwinner’s smelly 3.10.65 Android kernel. That’s due to the fact that this H5 is more or less a H3 where A7 cores have been replaced with A53 ones (and some bits from A64 SoC).

Willy
Willy
3 years ago

@tkaiser
I have to test it. I received an orangepi pc2 equipped with an H5 that I ordered when it was advertised as 2 GHz a few months ago. In the end it’s only 1.0 or 1.2 so I have not even tried to boot it yet, in part because I’m not at all tempted by their crappy kernels. If you think I should try mainline, that’s something I could do eventually, and that’s a good news. Anyway I think we’re starting to get off-topic here 🙂

Björn
3 years ago

Very good pictures of the Asus Tinker Board can be found here:
https://www.verkkokauppa.com/fi/product/54593/hqsmn/Asus-Tinker-Board-yhden-piirilevyn-tietokone
The price is here higher 79,90 incl. Vat.

Björn
3 years ago

Very funny, Minimachines wrote about the Asus Tinker Board at 16 December 2016 – “a little too early for Asus who asked me to remove it”. Published later on 5 January 2017.
I found now an article from 31 October 2016 about the Mini Maker Faire New Taipei with a picture from the board 🙂
http://www.techbang.com/posts/47174-2016-banqiao-maker-faire (in the middle)

Klampth
Klampth
3 years ago

I don’t like the rumours : I can’t find official page. On the ASUS.com isn’t exist any information about this “amazing and innovative” resource. Let me tell you something: I saw the way of many Raspberry PI “eaters”. The one of these was C.H.I.P. (which I like it), but ” We coming with the most cheaper board, we will crash Raspberry PI…”! I have tried to find any information about this board, was funny – 1 year nowhere information. In Ish time Raspberry put in the market Raspberry PI Zero for 15$ (isn’t like an advertisement for 5$) but… 15$… Read more »

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

Here is a small demo with Debian 8, Kodi 16.1,smplayer,webGL on RK3288:
https://youtu.be/DnHJckoxGJU

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

Debian 9 stretch for RK3288 (e.g. MiQi,Asus tinker board)
https://mqmaker.com/news/debian9stretch-available-for-miqi/

Björn
3 years ago

On blog.cavedu.com (chinese website) was an article also from the Asus Tinker Board – here is a picture taken from the back:
comment image

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

Added some more infos here and unboxing video:
http://www.bitkistl.com/2017/01/asus-tinker-board-based-on-rockchip.html
If you want to buy that board I would recommend a power supply rated at 5V/2.5A or more.

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
3 years ago

Someone on another site said the USB ports on this board go through GL820 hub, but another person said the schematic of the RK3288 Soc shows four physical USB ports. Anyone here know the true answer?

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

The Asus getting started manual for the Tinkerboard
http://imgur.com/SthRvRs

Dirk Broer
Dirk Broer
3 years ago

@lvrp16
RAM can also be placed at the underside of a development board

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

Asus Tinkerboard Unboxing video below:
New useres can’t find a downloadable SD card image, both cpc farnell and Asus haven’t yet released a software image ?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMPOJH-okXQ
So you can just wait or build your own SD card image for the tinkerboard aka rk3288-miniarm
Instructions:
http://rockchip.wikidot.com/linux-user-guide

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
3 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) I emailed Asus and their reply shows not much is known about the board, you would get better knowledge from a retailer of the board. Quote “” Currently they have not provided much information to us on this product. It was just recently announced and more information should be available as they release it. ———- Original Message ———- From : Theguyuk ############### Sent : 1/21/2017 5:49:27 PM To : “[email protected]” Subject : General-USA(EN) : “. End Quote Of note there is at least one Android 4.4 handheld games console being sold with RK3288 Soc, so wonder if… Read more »

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

https://www.abelectronics.co.uk/kb/article/1064/asus-tinker-board-introduction
+some peripheral circuits for the Raspberry Pi are usable
I am also collecting some videos (unpacking, introduction) on my blog.

Björn
3 years ago

Asus updated the Tinkerboard FAQ overview -> No HDMI 2.0 no real 4k! (Points 26 & 31)

theguyuk
theguyuk
3 years ago

Well here n UK, Currys.co.uk are stocking it and Asus.com uk has proper tinker board webpage with drivers etc.

theguyuk
theguyuk
3 years ago

Asus.com tinker board page says.

“HD & UHD video playback at 30 fps is currently only possible via the Rockchip video player, which is limited to support under TinkerOS. Currently, third-party video players and applications may not offer hardware acceleration and may likewise offer limited playback performance and/or stability. Please refer to the FAQs for more information.”. But FAQ is blank.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

theguyuk :
Asus.com tinker board page says … third-party video players and applications may not offer hardware acceleration

https://forum.mqmaker.com/t/miqi-debian-8-demo-video-kodi-smplayer-webgl/639 (same SoC, same situation regarding drivers/software — obviously ASUS staff writing this ‘end user documentation’ has not even a remote idea what GPU in context of RK3288 really means)

Peter Bauer
3 years ago

now there are several operating systems available including Chromium OS:
http://www.bitkistl.com/2017/05/fun-with-asus-tinkerboard-part-1.html

hamze60
hamze60
10 months ago

I run the sysbench benchmark (prime number = 20K) on another rival board, Orange Pi prime.
I surprised by the result, as it around 7 times faster than Asus Tinker board.
Has anyone tested this board too?

hamze60
hamze60
10 months ago

I was also thinking about effect of 32 and 64 bit OS. Asus Tinker has 32bit OS on 32bit ARM7, while other has 64bit OS (Armbian) on 64bit ARM8. But does it really make sense to have this much of difference because of OS?.
Although I see many sites use ‘sysbech’ benchmark, but dependability of sysbench seems more logical, as I also read about it in other places.
Do you have any suggestion for a universal and more reliable one?

hamze60
hamze60
10 months ago

thanks! I am trying to work with it, but I need to slightly modify the script to read CPU freq of this board…

Have you heard about this one:
https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=asus-tinker-board&num=5

they used openbenchmark.

hamze60
hamze60
10 months ago

for example, this is a very excellent comparison between Rasp 3, Rasp 4 2G, Rasp 4 4G, and Asus Tinker board (done just yesterday!):
https://openbenchmarking.org/result/1908251-HV-1907127HV03

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