More Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W lookalikes are coming to market, as after the Allwinner H618-based Orange Pi Zero 2W, the Radxa Zero 3W has now been introduced with a 1.6 GHz Rockchip RK3566 processor and up to 8GB RAM, which makes it one of the most powerful Arm Linux SBCs in the compact Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W form factor.
The board also comes with an optional eMMC flash with up to 64GB capacity, a microSD card, a micro HDMI port, two USB Type-C ports, WiFi 4 and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity, a MIPI CSI camera connector, and of course, the usual 40-pin Raspberry Pi GPIO header.
Radxa Zero 3W specifications:
- SoC – Rockchip RK3566
- CPU – Quad-core Arm Cortex-A55 processor @ 1.6 GHz (Note the RK3566 is usually clocked at up to 1.8 GHz but may have been underclocked here due to heat issues at the higher frequency as the tiny PCB makes it hard to cool the CPU).
- GPU – Arm Mali G52-2EE GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.2, Vulkan 1.1, OpenCL 2.0
- NPU – 0.8 TOPS AI accelerator
- VPU – 4Kp60 H.265/H.264/VP9 video decoding, 1080p100f H.265/H.264 video encoding
- System Memory – 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB LPDDR4
- Optional 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB eMMC 5.1 flash
- MicroSD card slot
- Video Output – Micro HDMI port up to 1080p60 (Not sure why 4Kp60 is not listed since the processor supports it)
- Camera – MIPI CSI connector with support for Raspberry Pi Camera V1.3 (OV5647) and Raspberry Pi Camera V2 (IMX219). It’s unclear whether more recent Raspberry Pi camera modules can also work.
- Wireless – WiFi 4 (802.11 b/g/n) and Bluetooth 5.0 with onboard antenna and uFL connector (antenna option configured by software). Update: the final version may ship with a WiFi 6 module
- USB – 1x USB 3.0 Type-C host port, 1x USB 2.0 Type-C OTG port
- Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with up to 28x GPIO, 5x UART, 1x SPI, 2x I2C, PCM/I2S, 6x PWM, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
- Misc- MaskROM button
- Power Supply – 5V/1A (minimum) via USB-C OTG port
- Dimensions – 65 x 30mm
The company provides Debian and Ubuntu OS images (XFCE or Server variants) as well as hardware access/control library for Linux. You’ll find instructions to get started on the documentation website. Note that you’ll also need a 5V power supply (5V/2A recommended) and a microSD card, and unless you’re going for a headless system, you’ll also want an HDMI monitor or TV, Micro HDMI to HDMI cable, a USB keyboard and mouse (connected via a USB Type-C dock or hub), and potentially a USB to serial debug board and a MIPI CSI camera.
While the Radxa Zero 3W has a form factor similar to the Raspberry Pi Zero 2W, some of the connectors are different, for instance, micro HDMI vs mini HDMI, and the placement of the MIPI CSI connector and microSD card slot is different as can be seen in the photo below.
Performance-wiser Radxa ran Android and Geekbench 4 multi-core & single-core benchmarks in Android on both boards and found the Rockchip RK3566 board to be significantly faster, as should be expected. I’m not quite sure why Android was selected here since it’s not the OS of choice on either board… [Update: I’ve just been told the Zero 3W is not finalized yet, and they’ve removed the benchmarks below from the website. The Zero 3E board with gigabit Ethernet instead of WiFi is also in the works].
The Radxa Zero 3W is listed on AllNet China starting at $15 for the model with 1GB RAM, no eMMC flash, and no GPIO headers and the price goes up to $66 with 8GB RAM, 64GB eMMC flash, and female GPIO headers soldered to the board. There’s just one tiny problem: all variants are shown as “sold out” at the time of writing, and it’s unclear when there will be stock.
As a side note, Radxa is also working on a slightly wider Zero 2 Pro board with a 2.2 GHz Amlogic A311D hexa-core Cortex-A73/A53 processor that will deliver even more performance and require a proper cooling solution with a heatsink covering the board and a small fan. We’ll write about it in more detail once it becomes available.
Thanks to Bing for the tip.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.