Connectivity and speed at the core of latest Odroid maker board
Though many alternatives are available, the Raspberry Pi computer boards are probably the most well known and widely used in the maker community. But they don't suit every project, and Hardkernel recognizes that there's a strong market for more powerful, more capable and more expensive boards. And the Odroid N2 ticks all of those boxes.
Hardkernel has a history of making the Raspberry Pi look like a bit of a performance slouch – with 2016's C2 for example, and last year's H2. Now the N2 follows that theme with more processing power, more system memory and, well, just more.
The N2's two processor setup sees a quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 1.8 GHz chip working with a dual-core Cortex-A53 CPU, while a Mali-G52 GPU takes care of the visuals. And it can be had with either 2 or 4 GB of DDR4 RAM.
Connectivity shapes up nicely with a 40-pin GPIO expansion header, four USB 3.0 ports, one micro-USB 2.0 OTG port, one full-size HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet and a UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) connector.
There's a module socket for eMMC storage, and a microSD slot for the operating system, though the board can boot from its 8 MB of onboard SPI memory. The N2 does lack integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth found in competitor boards though.
Elsewhere, it features an IR receiver and has a built-in 384 kHz/32-bit DAC feeding its stereo line output jack.
Idle power draw is reported to be in the 1.6-1.8 watt range, with heavy loads bumping that up to a max of 5.3 W during use. And a large metal heatsink helps with heat dissipation, making for fanless computing. Hardkernel's published benchmarks show that the N2 outperforms the Raspberry Pi 3 by a considerable margin, as well as other Odroid boards.
The Odroid N2 is due for release at the end of March/beginning of April. The 2 GB RAM model is priced at US$63, while the 4 GB flavor comes in at $79.