$40 NanoPi K2 Board Powered by Amlogic S905 Processor Competes with ODROID-C2, Raspberry Pi 3

Hardkernel ODROID-C2 board is getting some direct competition with FriendlyELEC’s NanoPi K2 development board powered with Amlogic S905 processor with 2GB RAM, a very similar form factor, and many of the same features, which together with Khadas Vim (Pro) brings the number of low cost Amlogic based development boards to three.

NanoPi K2 board specifications with differences compared to ODROID-C2 highlighted in bold or stricken-through:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905 quad core cortex-A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz with penta core Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – eMMC module socket, micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8211F), 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6212 module) with chip antenna + IPX connector
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports (GL825G USB hub) + micro USB OTG port for power and adata
  • Expansion Header
    • 40-pin header with GPIO, I2C, UART, ADC, PWM, SPDIF, and CVBS
    • 7-pin I2S interface
  • Debugging – 4-pin Serial console port (3.3V)
  • Misc – Status & power LEDs, IR receiver, boot selector, power jumper, power key (populated)
  • Power Supply –  5V/2A DC input via 4.0×1.7mm power barrel, or micro USB port (selectable via jumper)
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56mm
Click to Enlarge

The main difference with ODROID-C2 is then the presence of a Wireless module. NanoPi K2 form factor also matches Raspberry Pi 3, so many – but not all – accessories designed for Raspberry Pi boards should work on the board. An Android 5.1 image is provided for the board, and later an Ubuntu image will be released too. More hardware and software details. including instructions to build from source (U-boot, Linux 3.14…) can be found in the Wiki. So Hardkernel has clearly an edge here, with Ubuntu 16.04 with GPU and VPU support, Android Marshmallow image, and several community supported images. Since the boards are so similar, I’d expect the software gap to narrow over time.

The board sells for $39.99 + shipping on FriendARM website, compared to $46 + shipping for ODROID-C2 board. FriendlyELEC will ship from China, but Hardkernel has a distribution network, so the final price with shipping and taxes will depend on your country of residence. The company has also designed a heatsink + fan kit for the board as pictured above, which adds $5.99 to the price. Since Hardkernel’s eMMC modules can be fairly expensive, I was interested in finding out the price for those offered by FriendlyELEC. The only problem is that there aren’t any yet…

Share this:
FacebookTwitterHacker NewsSlashdotRedditLinkedInPinterestFlipboardMeWeLineEmailShare

Support CNX Software! Donate via cryptocurrencies, become a Patron on Patreon, or purchase goods on Amazon or Aliexpress

ROCK 5 ITX RK3588 mini-ITX motherboard

40 Replies to “$40 NanoPi K2 Board Powered by Amlogic S905 Processor Competes with ODROID-C2, Raspberry Pi 3”

  1. Very cool! the S905 has a lot of potential
    Can’t wait for mainline graphics support in the next kernel release

    However the Khadas comes with eMMC and a very sexy case, so I see it as a better deal. I got one 2 weeks ago and am very excited to work with it (You kinda should get a heatsink though)

  2. i see they have a slightly different gpio pin layout than the C2, which is also slightly different than the rpi… so it’s gonna generate a lot of confusion for those using the gpios on multiple SoCs ….

  3. bit the bullet, can’t resist these pi..bie’s at fun sized prices…but not paying twice/thrice the price of the rpi3 like some! 50 dollars all in….win win 🙂

    1. Knowing Xunlung, they already have five in development, with minor differences, and are planning to relwase them one week apart from each other

  4. A few more details about eMMC modules:
    1. They are coming soon.
    2. The board will boot from eMMC flash by default, if there’s no eMMC module, then it falls back to micro SD boot
    3. The modules are not compatible with hardkernel ones, but based on the pictures it looks pretty obvious.

  5. Re ‘distribution network’: at least in Europe ALLNET is FriendlyELEC’s importer/distributor and the average retail price including VAT/customs is approximately twice the number (€ instead of $).

  6. Theguyuk :

    ‘Review’ as in ‘excercise in stupidity’? Everything is already known since this is just another S905 device. You can take any available OS image for S905, exchange DT for different GPIO pinout and added Wi-Fi/BT nodes, add the available drivers for well known AP6212 (1T1R, 2.4Ghz –> crappy ‘performance’ in crowded areas) and you’re done. People are doing this all the time for all the available S905 TV boxes out there so why shouldn’t this work with ‘yet another S905 thingie’?

    There’s only one real difference to ODROID-C2: the annoying fan on the heatsink.

  7. Any info on the price of the eMMC modules?, there are way over priced with the C2.

    also pitty they did not use the S905X as it has HDR.

  8. Jeroen :
    did not use the S905X as it has HDR.

    So you want to use a dev board as TV box? Why not using a TV box as TV box instead? Linux and *ELEC runs on all of those S905/S905X/S912 devices: http://www.cnx-software.com/2017/02/26/libreelec-v8-0-0-released-with-kodi-17-0-krypton/

    BTW: Those Hardkernel eMMC modules for ODROID-C2 are insanely fast so if FriendlyELEC comes up with eMMC modules that are way cheaper the first thing I would test is eMMC performance (especially random IO).

  9. How it is possible that I bough a NEXBOX X95 for 30 USD 8 Gb ROM 2 Gb RAM and for less than 50 is available the 16Gb ROM model with this SoC?

    Why NEXBOX (an others) can provide not only the board, but a complete working box for less price?

  10. @Miguel Mayol i Tur

    STB boxes are designed for mass production where they ship it to the consumer and then never talk to that consumer again. Development boards usually have all of the peripherals exposed, come with schematics, source code, and some level of support. Many come with support for multiple operating systems. Sales volume of development boards is also lower than STBs.

    So there is nothing stopping you from taking boards out of STBs — except that you’ll get no support and no extra exposed peripherals, no schematics, no source code, etc….

    1. @Jon Smirl

      Miguel has a point 🙂

      Btw, what support are those xPi and other board vendors known for in the same price range?

      I thought lack of support is the whole point of cnxsoft and other discussions?

      You can get a very hackable S905/X or RK 3299 5.1 Android Box for $25 today, well tested, with all the accessories included, and free shipping. E.g., V88 model on AliExpress.

      You want source code, schematics, peripherals- why not from the same sources as for Linux SBCs? Those Android Box chipsets are well supported, or there would be no mass market.

      Honestly these products offer much better tech and support than those Linux SBC vendors. And way better price/performance nowadays, compared with just a year ago.

      IMHO, ARM board vendors need to up their game as these Android Boxes have gained major market share. I think of them as media players AND hacker boards, just as that Dlink WGR router started the OpenWrt hacker movement.

  11. @Jon Smirl

    I think Miguel has a strong point!!
    Maybe if dev boards don’t sell in so large numbers, is because they are ridiculous EXPENSIVE ?
    And don’t forget that most of the support for dev boards is from the community, i.e. free of costs for the boards manufacturers.
    I wish I I’m wrong on this one….

  12. @JotaMG

    Na! TV boxes have more a mass market job. If there were no TV boxes just dev boards, then what Miguel said would be true, but once there was only PCs and DVD/Divx Players, when Divx Dev Boards were still flaming expensive as they say “What comes around goes around!”

  13. TV box with spi or uart available will be awsome but mass distribution don’t think like that…i don’t know why!

  14. Dev boards used to be $10,000 and were hard to get a hold of. In the last ten years there has been a major change in the market with this new generation of $20-50 dev boards. So I wouldn’t complain too much, just remember that dev boards used to be $10,000.

    My personal opinion is that $20-50 boards are the far smarter strategy for chip vendors. The old scheme was to sell the boards for $10,000 to a few customers and give those customers a very high level of support. In the new scheme the idea is to maximize the number of people being exposed to your silicon. This new scheme does not preclude the old one, the chip company is still free to identify prospects on the $50 boards and give them a high level of support.

    It used to make me mad looking at the $250,000 pile of dev boards we had from chips that we did not end up using. Now I don’t care about the price of the dev boards and look at ten times as many chips.

  15. @Jon Smirl
    The Khadas Vim , NanoPi K2 and NanoPi M1 Pus can be game changers, put need the software and educational books, programs developing. Especially for easy GPIO use in Android, so beginners can experiment and innovate IMHO.

  16. FriendlyELEC decided to re-invent the wheel: Here’s their DT for K2 Plus: github.com/friendlyarm/linux/blob/nanopi-k2-3.14.y/arch/arm64/boot/dts/amlogic/nanopi-k2.dts

    @Jon Smirl
    Do you really think people are talking about dev boards here? And not Kodi boards in reality?

  17. @tkaiser

    I think it is both. If your needs are pure Kodi, just buy a finished Kodi box. There are dirt cheap ones that work reasonably well.

    Other people want dual purpose — they may want to build their own Kodi boxes and learn while doing it. Or they want to build systems for other uses. These people are being served by the expanded dev board market. But these are still dev boards with some pretty rough edges, it you want painless education get a RaspPi.

    And finally there are people like me that build our own production boards. We used to have to buy the $10,000 dev board in order to gain access to the chips. Now we can avoid doing that which lets us experiment with a lot more chips. This approach was pioneered by TI. BTW – I used to work for the dev tools group at Intel. Then Intel was in the $40,000 for a dev board camp but now that has changed.

    Broadcom is a weird one. Broadcom is still in the $10,000 dev board camp with strong NDA. But then they got this unexpected hit of the RaspPi. This combination is being wasted by Broadcom since they won’t sell the bare chips in less than truck load volume. Sure they get sales from the RaspPi but they could be getting a lot more.

  18. A lot of this chip vendor NDA secrecy is caused by patent litigation. CSR was hit with a $100M+ patent infringement judgement and their own datasheet was used as the main piece of evidence. Now you have to sign a 20 page NDA to get a CSR data sheet which includes 10 pages of restrictions on what the datasheet can be used for.

    I truly wish that 90% of all patents would just disappear. The majority of patents do not “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” instead they harm it.

  19. tkaiser:

    that question is a little stupid and somehow irrelevant, because a lot of boards that are initially purchased with video in mind, after a while many times end up doing other things, like home IoT, home servers or even desktops.

    1. @JotaMG


      Those $25 Android boxes with free shipping are very hackable with great support and no reason cannot be used as media players + IoT+ Server VM/container +… That’s why they sell millions units every year or more.

      Their price/performance puts those xPi and other Linux SBCs to shame.

      But don’t say that to folks who are proud of innovating SATA over USB2, but can’t fix OPi0 WiFi after 8-9 months of hyped promises ! They rather have folks subscribe to their forever SD card and power repair tips. But not acknowledge eMMC benefits, or the $9 CHIP that is professionally software supported, and without such hardware worries !

  20. @Jon Smirl
    IMHO it is markets within markets.

    All those consumer products help pay for foundries to make chips and scale drives price. All those Phones, Tablets, TV boxes, TV and Game Consoles create big profits and big markets to sell to.

    I think it is better than the dying PC Intel model IMHO

  21. JotaMG :
    that question is a little stupid and somehow irrelevant

    Interesting. Well, in the meantime Jon’s answer appeared and it should be pretty obvious that there’s two kinds of ‘dev boards’ (the $10,000 thing and those Pi clones people blame for being too expensive compared to ‘sell and forget’ TV boxes).

    Anyway: I posted a link to Armbian’s Amlogic forum the last time that got changed by Jean-Luc for whatever reasons but here forum.armbian.com/index.php?/forum/16-amlogic/ people discuss the whole day long how to get a proper Linux/*ELEC running on any Amlogic TV box out there. So all those people always wanting just ‘as cheap as possible’ don’t need to buy those ‘overly expensive dev boards’ to be used as TV box later since they can also use a TV box instead. Same reason I would never buy this K2 here since I already have an ODROID-C2 and a Beelink Mini MX both running my Linux distro of choice (soon with mainline kernel 🙂 )

    If I would ever buy an Amlogic device again then it has to be S912 since GPU is OpenCL capable.

  22. Jon Smirl :
    Sales volume of development boards is also lower than STBs.

    Make a dev board, put it in a nice case and sell it also as a STB in mass production. Problem solved. A dev board for the price of a STB.

    On the other hand I really wonder how many of the STB’s get another live as a linux box. Do we speak about 1% of the total sale or even not.

  23. Athar :
    But don’t say that to folks who are proud of innovating SATA over USB2, but can’t fix OPi0 WiFi after 8-9 months of hyped promises !

    Can you elaborate on who is making “hyped promises” about Opi0 WiFi?

    I would argue it’s only Xunlong and these tech blogs which scream every time a new board is released.

    But the community working on the board has never made “hyped promises” about the WiFi experience. Just look at other comments from tkaiser and others (e.g. Armbian) about the 1T1R WiFi on the Opi0. Those who actually read the specs know before they even buy it that the performance will be bad regardless of the software situation.

    Or maybe you can explain why you feel it’s the community’s responsibility to fix the vendor’s laziness and shoddy work? Why can’t people be proud to improve the experience, even if they are working on things you are not personally interested in?

    Have you considered that there may not be much left to “fix” on the WiFi? It is bad and will be bad, forever. Because the vendor chose a shit WiFi chip to save the cost.

  24. @Mum
    Don’t feed the troll please (he doesn’t understand you anyway).

    There’s little hope regarding XR819 Wi-Fi since FriendlyELEC decided to use the same chip on their NanoPi NEO Ultra 2 (these names!). The newer code drop we got doesn’t look that promising, same with released ‘documentation’: http://linux-sunxi.org/Wifi#Allwinner

    But maybe they get some help from Allwinner or at least documentation that is worth the name. Currently both hardware and driver are already perfectly usable for IoT projects, maybe those guys who looked into the driver already or Allwinner enginneers waste another hours/days on the driver and resolve the problem with dropped frames and then overall performance will improve a little (and a lot in TX direction). But ‘performance’ never won’t be stellar since 1T1R and 2.4 Ghz only (same with AP6212 on the K2 now) so an USB dongle is needed anyway on all those cheap SBC (here some not so cheap Android TV boxes have an advantage).

  25. and now the good news and the bad news.

    Yes the K2 is mighty fine board, the OS image supplied is Android which to be honest is great and does everything that at 4k s905 based board can do…works sweet with SPMC and no doubt other s905 Kodi apps. Its stays perfectly cool with the Heatsink and is stable as an ox.

    The bad news, according the the Moderator of the FriendlyArm forum, there are no plans for a debian image. Only the supplied Android 5.1 image. 🙁 Meaning its get out the uboot and the compiler and make your own with a bit of USB TTL flashing to boot. Not good. It means that FriendlyArm just want the cash….the rest is hands off. Hopefully our friends at the Armbian forum will be able to get a working debian image but core support from FriendlyArm might be somewhat lacking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Khadas VIM4 SBC
Khadas VIM4 SBC