#Guide: which Orange Pi model to choose. Comparison of low-cost mini-PCs with Raspberry Pi 3

Orange Pi is a low-cost of the Raspberry Pi competitor. It is developed by the Chinese Shenzhen Xunlong CO Software company based in Shenzhen in the Guangdong province. Just like the Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi is an Open Source project. Unlike the Raspberry Foundation, which for made the choice to offer two models (if you don’t count the annual changes), Orange Pi offers a wide range of card. This is a big advantage because you can choose the card best suited to its application. Not always easy however if find in denominations. Here are a few comparison charts to help you find the card that fits your needs from a Raspberry Pi 3.

Comparison of Orange Pi by CPU power and RAM

The vast majority of the Orange IP cards work with a H3 (Cortex – A7) microprocessor clocked at 1.2 or 1.6 GHz. The Pi Zero entry uses an H2 clocked at 1, 2 GHz. It’s really a little card to all do (Ethernet, WiFi, GPIO) ideal for small objects. It is also the only model of the range to offer feeding cable Ethernet (POE). Only regret, Orange Pi Zero for no connector camera (CSI format), so it will fall back on cameras (or webcam) USB.

another strong point of the range Orange Pi, several cards systems 8-16 GB of flash memory which allows to install the system directly on the map or use of additional storage space.

vue du dessus top view orange pi plus2

Orange Pi Plus2 (top view)

Finally the cards most Pro are equipped with a SATA connector that will connect an external hard drive (or a SSD) and push the storage capacity to 2T maximum. It is a very good choice if you have applications with a lot of write operations for SD cards of good have a limited number of cycles.

Board Photo CPU GPU DDR3 RAM Flash memory integrated (3)
Pi Zero orange-pi-zero-raspberry H2@1.2GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 256/512
Pi One orange pi one H3@1.2GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 512 MB
Pi Lite orange pi lite h3 computer board H3@1.2GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 512 MB
Pi PC orange pi pc H3@1.6GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 1 GB
Pi PC2 orange pi pc2 H5 – A53 (1) Mali450 (2) 1 GB
Pi PC Plus orange pi pc plus H3@1.6GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 1 GB 8 GB EMMC
Pi PC Plus 2E orange-pi-pc-plus-2e-plus2e H3@1.6GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 2 GB 16 GB EMMC
Pi Plus orange pi plus H3@1.6GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 1 GB 8 GB EMMC
Pi Plus 2 orange pi plus2 H3@1.6GHz Mali400MP2@600MHz 2 GB 16 GB EMMC
Pi Win A64 64bits Mali400MP2@600MHz 1GB
Pi Win Plus   A64 64bits Mali400MP2@600MHz 2GB Connector
Pi Prime   H5 Mali450 1GB Connector
Raspberry Pi 3 raspberry pi3 BCM2837@1.2GHz(1) 1 GB

(1) 64-bit processor

(2) 2.7GPixel/s, EGL, OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1/1.0, OpenVG 1.1

Comparison of Orange Pi by connectivity

Orange Pi most models and older2 are the high-end models. They integrate a WiFi Realtek RTL8189ETV chip and a connector SATA to connect a hard drive or external SSD up to 2T. A 5V connector is also available for the external drive.

Since 2017, some models offer bluetooth connectivity 4.2 (LE). You can always add a USB dongle to other models.

Board Ethernet Ethernet POE WiFi Bluetooth SATA connector (1) 5V SATA
OPi Zero 10/100 M  X X
OPi One 10/100 M
OPi Lite X
OPi PC 10/100 M
OPi PC 2 100/1000 M
OPi PC Plus 10/100 M
OPi PC 2 100/1000 M Realtek RTL8189ETV
OPi Plus 100/1000 M Realtek RTL8189ETV  X X
OPi Plus 2 100/1000 M Realtek RTL8189ETV  X X
OPI Win 100/1000 M  AP6212 4.2
OPI Win Plus 100/1000 M AP6212 4.2
OPI Prime 100/1000 M AP6212 4.2
Raspberry Pi 3 10/100 M X X

(1) SATA connector to use an external hard drive or an SSD up to 2 T

Comparison of Orange Pi by I/O

No Orange Pi does have a connector DSI the touch screen TFT supported as on the Raspberry Pi.

Board HDMI Audio USB 2.0 Micro-USB 2.0 (OTG) Camera (3) GPIO microphone IrDA
OPi Zero (1) 1 1 26 (1)
OPi One HDMI 2 1 1080p@30fps] [ 40 (2) X X
OPi Lite X HDMI 2 1 1080p@30fps 40 (2) X X
OPi PC X Jack 3 1 1080p@30fps 40 (2) X X
OPi PC 2 X Jack + HDMI 3 1 1080p@30fps 40 (2) X X
OPi PC Plus X Jack + HDMI 3 1 1080p@30fps 40 (2) X X
OPi PC Plus 2E X Jack + HDMI 3 1 1080p@30fps 40 (2) X X
OPi Plus X Jack + HDMI 4 1 1080p@30fps 40 (2) X X
OPi Plus 2 X Jack + HDMI 4 1 1080p@30fps 40 (2) X X
Raspberry Pi 3 Jack 4 5V power supply CSI 40

(1) Multifunction 13 connector pins : 2x USB 2.0, video output (TV), microphone, IR, output audio (jack).

Expansion Card for Orange Pi Zero and Pi Zero Plus 2

Expansion card integrating audio jack output, 2x USB 2.0, TV out, microphone and infrared receiver

(2) Connector compatible Raspberry Pi B +

(3) Supports 8-bit YUV422, CCIR656 (NTSC or PAL), SM pixel

Other Features

Board Dimensions weight Led (power on, status) GPIO UART (1)
OPi Zero 48 mm × 46mm 26 g X
OPi One 69 mm × 48mm 36g X
OPi Lite 69mm × 48mm 60g X X
OPi PC 85 mm × 55mm 38g X X
OPi PC 2 85 mm × 55mm 70g X X
OPi PC Plus 85mm × 55mm 70 g X X
OPi PC Plus 2 108 mm × 67 mm 83 g X X
OPi Plus 108 mm × 60 mm 50 g X X
OPi PC 2 108 mm × 67 mm 83 g X X
Raspberry Pi 3 86 mm x 56 mm x 21mm

(1) mini connector 3-pin to retrieve messages from debugging from a monitor series.

Which Linux distribution to install?

The development team of Orange Pi card did a huge job of adaptation of the major Linux distributions available. this page, you will find the images available for your model. Impossible to test everything! The list is not necessarily up-to-date with respect to the traded card as you can see. We understand why with the number of distributions and cards to manage!

The easiest is definitely to opt for a very light Armbian distribution. They are built from Debian or Ubuntu supports the technical specifics of ARM processors and peripherals available on the cards (WiFi chip …). I also advise you to opt for this distribution if you are sensitive to safety. Shenzhen Xunlong Software CO works with the Armbian team and is involved in financing the project pending the creation of its own software development team. The distribution is updated very regularly and integrates the evolutions and correction of the Linux kernel. You can also compile your proposed distribution from the source code by following this tutorial.

Distribution Pi Zero Pi One Pi Lite Pi PC Pi PC2 Pi + PC Pi + PC 2 Pi + Pi + 2
Armbian X X X X X X X X
Android X X X X
Debian Server X X
Debian XFCE X
Debian 8 XFCE X X
Ubuntu Server X X X
Ubuntu XFCE
Arch Server X X
Arch XFCE
Lubuntu X X X X
Raspbian X X X X
Fedora 22 X X X
OpenSuse X X X
kali Linux X X

Install Armbian without keyboard or mouse

The HDMI port of all Orange Pi models is configured for display on a television screen. In the best case, the image will be cropped. In the worst case (screen with DVI connector), you will not have any image displayed. The first tip is to plug the Orange Pi on a recent television screen or a video projector in HDMI. The other more elegant solution is to use the 3-pin UART connector on all cards to install Armbian using an SSH connection from another computer. Follow this tutorial to learn more.

armbian ftdi install sans clavier souris

Where to buy your Orange Pi?

Very few shops offer Orange Pi in Europe (at a reasonable price!). The easiest way is to order directly from Shenzhen Xunlong Software’s official AliExpress store. It will add a few euros of postage. Like all direct purchases from China, it takes at least 2 weeks. You will also find all the good deals on the price comparison site. Shenzhen Xunlong also offers the Orange Pi in the form of pack (case, expansion board, 2MP camera, 5V power supply …).

  • Model
  • SoC
  • RAM
  • eMMC storage
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • GPRS
  • FCC/CE certificated
  • Connector (!not compatible with Raspberry Pi)
  • Misc
  • Best prices

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