FriendlyElec NanoPi NEO2, a better sub-$20 Linux computer

NanoPi NEO2 by FriendlyElec is a new sub-$20  Linux microcomputer, built on Allwinner H5 SoC, providing a Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 interface. Also additional interfaces are possible via expansion headers (needs some soldering work). The board is equipped with 512MB DDR3 RAM.

It is highly recommended to buy the heatsink alongside with the board. The CPU is heating up quite significantly, and it needs cooling. With “stress -c 4” CPU load test, “armbianmonitor -m” shows the core temperature rising up to 75C. The board sustains long-term load under such conditions. But with a fan, the core temperature drops below 40C, and the power consumption drops significantly too.

The plastic 3D-printed enclosure is of little use. First, it’s quite easy to break when you insert the board. Also it does not fixate the heatsink properly.

So, I ended up in using the original cardboard packaging as a base for the board, just to avoid extra touching of electronic circuits, and to fixate the USB power cable:

IMG_20170416_155513436

Armbian nightly image booted without problems. Up to now, I noticed the following minor problems with it:

  1. it does not come up after reboot;
  2. “cpufreq-info” complains about unknown driver.

Network traffic tests with tcpkali (debs, deb build scripts) demonstrated that the CPU is able to saturate the Gigabit Ethernet port with TCP traffic, reaching above 900Mbps throughput.

All in all, this board looks much more reliable than Orange Pi Zero: it can work for long hours with an  USB Wifi dongle, whereas OPI0 was hanging up after few minutes of work (using the same USB power cable and power source and the dongle). UPD: the board doesn’t actually hang up, but the WiFi interface stops transmitting packets for some reason. Needs further investigation.

UPD: I tried to flip the board with the hope for better heat dissipation (below), but it appeared to be much worse, and the peak temperature reached 85C:

IMG_20170417_180933194[1]

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  1. #1 by Nobody of Import on April 17, 2017 - 1:36 pm

    Would the hangs with the OPi0 be due to inadequate thermal management? Seems like they managed to pack a LOT, including thermal management, into a VERY small space with this one.

    • #2 by txlab on April 17, 2017 - 6:49 pm

      It hung up only with the WiFi dongle attached. Without USB devices, it worked fine. So I guess it’s the voltage drop that causes the freeze.

    • #3 by txlab on April 17, 2017 - 7:09 pm

      I’ll do some more tests with opi0, as I have 3 of them, and it would be cool to have them working reliably.

    • #4 by txlab on April 18, 2017 - 1:15 am

      see the update in bold. It’s not related to power.

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