Back in May of this year, FriendlyElec launched their $149 NanoPC-T4 SBC outfitted with Rockchip’s RK3399 SoC, which at the time, was the company’s smallest board to feature the chip. Fast forward three months later, and the company has released the NanoPi M4 — a Raspberry Pi-like SBC that sports nearly the same hardware of the T4, but comes in a smaller package (85 x 56mm vs. 100 x 64mm) and costs less than its older sibling ($65 vs. $109).
The NanoPi M4 has an almost identical layout as the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ but packs more powerful hardware, which includes the RK3399 SoC that’s outfitted with a 64-bit dual-core Cortex-A72 (up to 2GHz), a quad-core Cortex-A53 (up to 1.5GHz), and a Mali-T864 GPU. FriendlyElec also dropped 4Gb (or 2Gb, depending on board version) of dual-channel LPDDR3 RAM on to the board, along with an eMMC socket and MicroSD slot for storage expansion.
For communication, the board is equipped with native Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, and a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo module. Connections are varied with 4X USB 3.0 ports, USB Type C, USB Host, HDMI, and a pair of MIPI-SCI (4-lane) camera interfaces. As for GPIO, the NanoPi M4 offers a 40-pin header (I2C, UART, I2S, etc.) and a 24-pin header (2X PCIe, PWM, PowerKey).
On the software side, the NanoPi M4 is compatible with Android (7.1.2), FriendlyDesktop (18.04), FriendlyCore (18.04), and Lubuntu (16.04). FriendlyElec offers a host of add-ons as well, including power/plug adapters, eMMC modules, camera modules, a heatsink, and more, which will drive that $65 price tag exceptionally higher.
The RK3399 has a tendency to run a little hot while pushing more resource-demanding applications, so it might be a good idea to fork over the $6.99 for the heatsink, otherwise you could probably find cheaper alternatives to the add-ons listed on the company’s website.