Radxa Zero 3W SBC – Rockchip RK3566 SoC, 8GB RAM, WiFi 6 in Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W form factor

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, plus WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.4 connectivity, which makes it one of the most powerful Arm Linux SBCs in the compact Raspberry Pi Zero 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, a MIPI CSI camera connector, and of course, the usual 40-pin Raspberry Pi GPIO header.

RADXA Zero 3W

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
  • Storage
    • Optional 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB eMMC 5.1 flash
    • MicroSD card slot (SDR104 capable)
  • 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 6 (802.11 b/g/n/ac/ax) and Bluetooth 5.4 with onboard antenna and uFL connector (antenna option configured by software) via “Radxa Wireless Module D8”.
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 Type-C host port, 1x USB 2.0 Type-C OTG port
  • Expansion – Optional 40-pin color-coded 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/2A (recommended) via USB-C OTG port
  • Dimensions – 65 x 30mm
Raspberry Pi Zero 2W board with Rockchip RK3566 SoC
Note: The WiFi 4 module shown above as been replaced by a WiFi 6 module

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, a 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.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2W vs Raxa Zero 3W
Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W (left) vs Radxa Zero 3W (right)

Performance-wise, while we don’t have benchmarks for the Radxa Zero 3W SBC per se, the Rockchip RK3566 and RK3568 processors have now been around for several years and we have plenty of benchmark results in Android and Linux, and for instance, it is should be close to 50 around 33 percent faster than the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W in 7-zip multi-core benchmark. [Update: Now we do have sbc-bench.sh results.]

The Radxa Zero 3W is now available for as low as $14.90 with 1GB RAM, WiFi 6, no eMMC flash, and no GPIO headers on Arace (in stock) or  AllNet China (no stock for now) and the price goes up to $66 with 8GB RAM, 64GB eMMC flash, and female GPIO headers soldered to the board.

As a side note, Radxa is also working on the Radxa Zero 3E replacing WiFi 6 with a Gigabit Ethernet port, and 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 those in more detail once they become available.

Radxa Zero 3E
Upcoming Radxa Zero 3E

Thanks to Bing for the tip.

Updated: This post was initially published on October 30, 2023, and updated following the launch of the Radxa Zero 3W and the upgrade to WiFi 6 from WiFi 4.

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25 Comments
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Anonymous
Anonymous
4 months ago

Is this not a downgrade from the Radxa Zero 2 w/ Amlogic A311D?

Radxa is also working on a slightly wider Zero 2 Pro board

I’d say making it wider defeats the purpose, but I’m not sure it works with (all) Pi Zero cases anyway.

Stuart Naylor
4 months ago

It never got sold, I think the GPU or memory caused perf to be less than maybe what you would expect from the label. I think also price wise with RK3588(s) models it wasn’t too actractive. The Radxa Zero 3W is listed on AllNet China starting at $15 for the model with 1GB RAM… We know the benches as they have been out before and if its a downgrade I am buying one. Really efficient SoC (A55) near Pi4 perf likely it will replace the PiZero2 as my pref buy for little gadget & edge utils. I think now most… Read more »

Upgrade pi-top [3]
Upgrade pi-top [3]
2 months ago

“I would be really interested if they did a ‘Zero’ RK3568 type on a similar pricing structure with a M.2 on the back. Guess it would need to be extended which would give room for a Nic maybe topside.
Fingers crossed”

That would be really neat. Also, another variant could be what you describe but as a RPi CM3/CM4S (i.e. DDR2-SODIMM) carrier board as an HDMI dongle.

Will
2 months ago

I got two Radxa Zero 2’s during an apparently very brief window during which they were available on the allnet website. I absolutely love them. Super fast. It came with a huge heatsink that covered the entire top of the board with an integrated fan. I had to cut a hole in the heatsink so it didn’t cover the wifi module, but otherwise worked perfect out of the box running armbian.

I hope more become available it’s without a doubt my favorite sbc I’ve ever owned.

Stuart Naylor
2 months ago

Likely it’s a far more mainline compat board heavily biased at vid apps but ambernic have made many submissions as yeah GPU is a downgrade but Vs PiZero2 it kills it

urostor
urostor
4 months ago

Not out did they run the benchmark on android (which isn’t the os of choice but, to be fair, has out of the box support for hardware acceleration) but they ran Geekbench 4, which is ancient. Radxa never fails to surprise.

Indeed these boards seem to be made primarily with Android in mind. They can run normal linux of course, but a lot of hardware still doesn’t work.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 months ago

>  They can run normal linux of course, but a lot of hardware still doesn’t work.

Care to elaborate? What’s missing when running any RK3566 thing with Linux and Rockchip’s BSP kernel? Or with mainline asides video stuff?

urostor
urostor
4 months ago

^^Not only*

@tkaiser this was a general point about these SBCs, not about RK3566 in particular. The *seem* to be made with Android in mind. Linux *seems* to be an afterthought, a fortunate addition. I don’t have any hard data to back it up.

Stuart Naylor
4 months ago

Dunno if you may of missed the header of the website your posting on CNX SOFTWARE – EMBEDDED SYSTEMS NEWS Reviews, tutorials and the latest news about embedded systems, IoT, open-source hardware, SBC’s, microcontrollers, processors, and more Yeah we see plenty of devices that have capable processors that where aimed as embedded devices from settop boxes and a wide range of embedded devices. Linux probably is for many an after thought from core markets as likely Rockchip aimed the rk3566/rk3568 specifically at Cam/NVR markets of embedded devices. It doesn’t mean when ported to Linux which takes considerable work they are… Read more »

hrr
hrr
4 months ago

Just installed a Nanopi R5C.
The surprise was the DTC for the 6.1-kernel did not include the R5C, but the system still runs standard Debian with a custom-build kernel.
Is there anything more one can ask?
For me this means that RK3566/3568 is supported unless it’s a really exotic variant (including the PCIe wifi card).

Salvador
Salvador
4 months ago

That’s absolutely not true. Rk3566 can run RK Linux with far better features than rp5 hw dec/enc wise. H264,h265,vp9,vp9… on mainline, h264 1080p30 dec only. But it’s something. Also, has very good mesa drivers on both rk linux and mainline. So, get informed.

urostor
urostor
4 months ago

What is not true? I never said it can’t run Linux, but that support for Linux seems to be a lower priority for Rockchip than support for Android. Some of their boards have 3.5 mm jacks that never worked, for example.

Salvador
Salvador
4 months ago

In fact, I run geekbench 6.2 arm64 from linux, and I got a very decent value. In fact, it was too good to be true. Like 70% of rpi4 soc performance at same clock on single core score. Don’t remeber the multiscore but was on the same line. I would admit that it should be like 55 or 60 % of rpi4 soc raw power at same clock.

Salvador
Salvador
4 months ago

I ran fedora EFI on an RK3566 opi 3b on true mainline linux (without any patch on top, fedora kernel) with upstream uboot. Everything worked, except wifi, but that’s wifi chip specific.

Piotr Oniszczuk
2 months ago

well….in my 2 distros (MiniMyth2/MiniArch) i’m using mainline 6.6.4 (+some patches) and I’m getting all peripherals i can test as working on 3566 (including hw.video decode for MPEG2/VP8/H264 in EGL DMAbuf and DRM Planes)…

FergusL
FergusL
3 months ago

20 days have passed, any news on availability?

RazorBurn
3 months ago

According to Radxa the 8GB model is currently in production and will release with WiFi 6 instead of WiFi 4 – hence the delay in shipping/release. No mention of other varients getting better WiFi for now.

News was that the original 10K sold out quickly on day 1 with more stock expected late November so keep checking suppliers to see if they restock as expected to sellout fast.

FergusL
FergusL
3 months ago

Thanks for the replies!
@RazorBurn I hope this doesn’t mean a price increase and a general disinterest for the lower range: I’m personally most interested in the 1GB model, 15$ for an A55 quad-core is currently unmatched as far as I know, and plenty enough for my personal usecase of embedded linux realtime audio.

Also, can you please tell me where you found these infos so I know where to look? 🙂

RazorBurn
3 months ago

@FergusL
The information was shared on the Radxa Discord page under zero-3w-3e with TomCubie confirming the change from WiFi 4 to 6 with no mention of price increase.
The pricing is very appealing when you compare against similar RK3566 boards from Geniatech and LubanCat as covered on this site so hoping we see stock available soon for order.

RazorBurn
3 months ago

@FerusL
Tom has confirmed that we should see the new stock of 3W available in 2 weeks from all the distributors (RS, Allnet, OKdo, etc) with WiFi 6.

Bandwidth is better than AP6256/CM256 and its taken time to upstream the driver

The Blue Rock 3C available from Arace Tech also has the newer WiFi 6 chip as opposed to the older WiFi 4.

FergusL
FergusL
3 months ago

Just noticed your second reply, thanks!
That’s very good to know
In the meantime I joined their discord server but missed this info

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 months ago

> MicroSD card slot

Maybe worth to mention that the slot is SDR104 capable (as such multiple times faster than RPi Zeroes)?

maurer
maurer
2 months ago

arace wants to charge me with 20$ for shipping a 15$ tiny device – way to go !

Khadas VIM4 SBC