First unveiled in February 2019, Banana Pi BPI-M4 is a single board computer based on Realtek RTD1395 quad-core Cortex-A53 4K media processor and following Raspberry Pi 3B+ form factor pretty closely.
BPI-M4 officially launched in June 2019 for just $38 with 1GB DDR4 RAM, but despite the 2GB RAM option being listed in the specification, the 2GB version of the board was not available, at least on Aliexpress. The good news is that Banana Pi BPI-M4 with 2GB RAM has just started selling for $43 plus shipping on Aliexpress, or in Taobao if you based in China.
- SoC – Realtek RTD1395 quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor with Mali-470 MP4 GPU
- System Memory – 2GB DDR4 RAM
- Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, micro SD slot up to 256GB, M.2 NVMe SSD
- Video Output – HDMI 2.0b port up to 4K @ 60 Hz, HDR support
- Decode – 4K2K 60fps H.265 and VP9, 4K2K 30 fps H.264, 1080p (Full HD) of MPEG1/2/4/H.264 MVC, AVC/VC-1, VP8, VP9, AVS, AVS Plus, HD JPEG, etc.
- Encode – 1080p (Full HD) H.264
- Audio – Via HDMI port, 3.5mm audio jack
- Connectivity – 10/100 Mbps Ethernet and 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi 5 + Bluetooth 4.2 (RTL8821 module) with u.FL antenna connector
- USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 2.0 type C port
- M.2 Key E slot with PCIe 2.0 and USB 2.0
- 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO header with up to 28 GPIO, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM and power signals (5V, 3.3V, GND)
- Misc – Boot selection switch; power and activity LEDs; Power, Reset, Uboot and Install push buttons
- Debugging – 3-pin debug UART header for serial console access
- Power Supply – 5V/2A via USB type-C port or PoE using the official Raspberry Pi PoE HAT.
- Dimensions – 92x60mm (Raspberry Pi 3B+ measures 85 x 56 mm, but SinoVoIP appears to have included the connectors in the measurements)
- Weight – 48 grams
Banana Pi BPI-M4 can run Android 8.1 with Linux 4.9.119, as well as various Linux distributions including Ubuntu Mate 18.04, Ubuntu Server 16.04, Debian 10 Buster 32-bit, Debian Buster Lite 32-/64-bit, Raspbian, and Aarch Arm Linux all of which you can find on the Wiki. Note that most of those images have been released in June 2019, and haven’t got any updates since then. The most recent is Centos 7 uploaded in December 2019. There are a few Banana Pi boards are supported by Armbian, but BPI-M4 is NOT one of those.
Banana Pi BPI-M4 does have some advantages over Raspberry Pi 3/4 including built-in eMMC flash storage removing the need for a dedicated MicroSD card, and an M.2 socket so you don’t need a HAT to add the functionality. 4K video playback and quality are pretty good on Realtek RTD1xxx processors, especially for 24 fps videos, but those processors are not made to play most 4K 60fps videos. Note the hardware in the aforementioned link uses DDR3 memory, and with DDR4 memory more 4K videos with higher frame rates should play smoothly, and software/firmware may have been further optimized since 2016…
Considering the pain you would likely have to inflict upon yourself while running Linux on this board, I’d probably only consider this board with Android for people interested in superior 4K media playback.