NanoPi R2C is a cheaper dual GbE mini router with YT8521S Gigabit Ethernet PHY

FriendlyELEC’s NanoPi R2C is an updated version of NanoPi R2S dual GbE mini router that replaces Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet transceiver with a Motorcomm YT8521S chip.

NanoPi R2C mini router still comes with a Rockchip RK3328 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor, 1GB DDR4 memory, and a Realtek RTL8153 USB 3.0 to Ethernet controller for the second Ethernet port.

NanoPi R2CNanoPi R2C specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad-core Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz with Arm Mali-450MP2
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage – MicroSD Slot, SPI flash footprint
  • Connectivity
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet (WAN) up to 941 Mbps (measured) via MotorComm YT8521S Gigabit Ethernet transceiver
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN) up to 941 Mbps (measured) via Realtek RTL8153 USB 3.0 to Ethernet controller
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 Type-A host port, USB Type-C port
  • Debugging – 3-pin 2.54mm pitch header for serial console
  • Expansion – 10-pin GPIO header with GPIOs, I2C, UART, IR_Rx, 5V, 3.3V and GND
  • Misc – 3x LEDs (WAN, LAN, SYS), K1 reset button, fan header
  • Power Supply – 5V/4A DC via USB-C port
  • Dimensions – Router: 60 x 60 x 29.5 mm; SBC: 55.6 x 52mm
  • Weight – About 76 grams with enclosure
  • Temperature Range – -20℃ to 70℃

NanoPi R2C vs NanoPi R2SThe company reports the only difference is the Gigabit Ethernet chip, but when I reviewed NanoPi R2S with Armbian last year, it still had a micro USB port for power, so they may have changed it to USB-C in the most recent revision.

FriendlyELEC still claims the measured performance is the same, e.g. 941 Mbps with iperf with the new chip, but the system runs a little warner albeit still within an acceptable temperature that does not accept the CPU performance.

NanoPi R2S temperature under stressThe chart above was performed in a room with a 24°C ambient temperature, with the system under full load, and the CPU frequency kept at 1.5 GHz the whole time. The results may be different in environments with a significantly higher ambient temperature.

You may wonder why FriendlyELEC made the change… I don’t it boils down to this year’s semiconductors supply and cost issues. Last year, NanoPi R2S sold for $25 with the board, and $32.99 with the metal enclosure, and now the price has gone up to $45.90 for the latter.

RTL8211E availability & price

It’s easy to see why, as checking for RTL8211E availability on LCSC shows the only place with stock sells the chip for about $20 per unit, or $12.7492 per piece for 100 or more units order, which would represent a significant part of the BoM cost. The “normal” price for RTL8211 chip used to be under $1.

Motorcomm is a fairly new (2017) company based in Suzhou, China, and I can not find YT8521S for sale online, but it must be much cheaper and possibly compatible with than RTL8211E, which allows NanoPi R2C to be sold for $39 with the metal case. FriendlyELEC does not offer NanoPi R2C as an SBC only. As usual, you’ll find documentation on the Wiki.

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