Cool Pi 4 Model B – A much faster alternative to Raspberry Pi 4 SBC

Cool Pi 4 Model B is a powerful alternative to Raspberry Pi 4 SBC with mostly the same form factor and interfaces but equipped with a Rockchip RK3588S octa-core Cortex-A76/A55 processor that will run circles around the Broadcom BCM2711 SoC found in the Raspberry Pi board.

We’ve already reviewed Rockchip RK3588/RK3588S single board computers and mini PC such as Rock 5B, Khadas Edge2 Pro, and Mekotronics R58, and we were impressed by the performance, but if you prefer to have such a board in Raspberry Pi 4 form factor, then the Cool Pi 4 Model B might be for you.

Cool Pi 4 Model B

Cool Pi 4 Model B specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3588S octa-core processor with 4x Cortex-A76 cores @ up to 2.4 GHz, 4x Cortex-A55 cores, an Arm Mali-G610 GPU with OpenGL ES 3.2,  OpenCL 2.2, and Vulkan 1.1 support, 8Kp60 video decoder for H.265/AVS2/VP9/H.264/AV1 codecs, 8Kp30 video encoder, and a 6 TOPS NPU
  • System Memory – 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB eMMC flash module, MicroSD card socket
  • Video Output
    • Micro HDMI 2.1 port up to 8Kp60
    • miniDP 1.4 up to 4Kp60
    • MIPI DSI connector
  • Camera I/F – MIPI CSI connector
  • Audio – 3.5mm earphone jack
  • Networking
    • Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 with optional PoE support
    • Dual-band WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 module (AIC8800) with ceramic antenna
  • USB – 2x US 3.0 Type-A ports, 2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO header with GPIO, I2C, SPI, UART, CAN bus, etc…
  • Power Supply – USB Type-C port
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56mm (close to Raspberry Pi 4 form factor)

Raspberry Pi 4 Rockchip RK3588S

Cool Pi 4 eMMC flash MicroSD cardNote the specifications above are for version V11, and there was a V10 with AP6256 wireless module no onboard antenna, and a different eMMC flash module connector (GB042 vs BM20B). Cool Pi provides Debian 11 Desktop and Ubuntu 22.04 Desktop images for either microSD card or eMMC flash storage. The board is supposed to support Android 12 too, but I did not find the image in the forums (Note: the website is really slow and requires email registration to even just browse the forums). The source code for the U-boot bootloader and the Linux kernel can be found on Gitee.

As far as I can tell, the Cool Pi 4 supports all hardware features of the Raspberry Pi 4, but replaces one of the micro HDMI ports by a mini DisplayPort connector. Extra features include support for eMMC flash modules, 8K video playback and output, WiFi 6, and a built-in 6 TOPS AI accelerator. Performance-wise, the Rockchip RK3588S will be in a class of its own, as we’ve found it to be three times faster with 7-zip and four times faster for web browsing (Speedometer) in Linux when compared to Raspberry Pi 4, as well as having a GPU that delivers four times the 3D graphics performance of the Amlogic S922 SoC found in the ODROID-N2+ SBC. The GPU is also 12 times faster than the Raspberry Pi 4 using 3DMark results but I’m not sure how optimized Android is for the Pi board.

SBC Bench Khadas Edge2 Raspberry Pi 4 Rock 5B
SBC Bench results. Khadas Edge2 and Rock 5B (Rockchip RK3588(S)), Raspberry Pi 4 (Broadcom BCM2711), Khadas VIM4 (Amlogic A311D2), and ODROID-N2+ (Amlogic S922X)

The main question will be software support as we still had some issues during reviews, but whether this impacts you or not will depend on your use case and/or skills set. Pricing will also play a major role since the price of the Cool Pi 4 Model B is quite higher, currently starting at $142 including shipping on Aliexpress for the model with 4GB RAM, and no eMMC flash module. The company is also working on the Cool Pi 5 system-on-module based on Rockchip RK3588S, but no details are available just yet.

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