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

top view orange pi plus2
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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.

BoardPhotoCPUGPUDDR3 RAMFlash memory integrated (3)
Pi Zeroorange-pi-zero-raspberryH2@1.2GHzMali400MP2@600MHz256/512
Pi Oneorange pi oneH3@1.2GHzMali400MP2@600MHz512 MB
Pi Liteorange pi lite h3 computer boardH3@1.2GHzMali400MP2@600MHz512 MB
Pi PCorange pi pcH3@1.6GHzMali400MP2@600MHz1 GB
Pi PC2orange pi pc2H5 – A53 (1)Mali450 (2)1 GB
Pi PC Plusorange pi pc plusH3@1.6GHzMali400MP2@600MHz1 GB8 GB EMMC
Pi PC Plus 2Eorange-pi-pc-plus-2e-plus2eH3@1.6GHzMali400MP2@600MHz2 GB16 GB EMMC
Pi Plusorange pi plusH3@1.6GHzMali400MP2@600MHz1 GB8 GB EMMC
Pi Plus 2orange pi plus2H3@1.6GHzMali400MP2@600MHz2 GB16 GB EMMC
Pi WinA64 64bitsMali400MP2@600MHz1GB
Pi Win Plus A64 64bitsMali400MP2@600MHz2GBConnector
Pi Prime H5Mali4501GBConnector
Raspberry Pi 3raspberry pi3BCM2837@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.

BoardEthernetEthernet POEWiFiBluetoothSATA connector (1)5V SATA
OPi Zero10/100 M XX
OPi One10/100 M
OPi LiteX
OPi PC10/100 M
OPi PC 2100/1000 M
OPi PC Plus10/100 M
OPi PC 2100/1000 MRealtek RTL8189ETV
OPi Plus100/1000 MRealtek RTL8189ETV XX
OPi Plus 2100/1000 MRealtek RTL8189ETV XX
OPI Win100/1000 M AP62124.2
OPI Win Plus100/1000 MAP62124.2
OPI Prime100/1000 MAP62124.2
Raspberry Pi 310/100 MXX

(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.

BoardHDMIAudioUSB 2.0Micro-USB 2.0 (OTG)Camera (3)GPIOmicrophoneIrDA
OPi Zero(1)1126(1)
OPi OneHDMI211080p@30fps] [40 (2)XX
OPi LiteXHDMI211080p@30fps40 (2)XX
OPi PCXJack311080p@30fps40 (2)XX
OPi PC 2XJack + HDMI311080p@30fps40 (2)XX
OPi PC PlusXJack + HDMI311080p@30fps40 (2)XX
OPi PC Plus 2EXJack + HDMI311080p@30fps40 (2)XX
OPi PlusXJack + HDMI411080p@30fps40 (2)XX
OPi Plus 2XJack + HDMI411080p@30fps40 (2)XX
Raspberry Pi 3Jack45V power supplyCSI40

(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

BoardDimensionsweightLed (power on, status)GPIO UART (1)
OPi Zero48 mm × 46mm26 gX
OPi One69 mm × 48mm36gX
OPi Lite69mm × 48mm60gXX
OPi PC85 mm × 55mm38gXX
OPi PC 285 mm × 55mm70gXX
OPi PC Plus85mm × 55mm70 gXX
OPi PC Plus 2108 mm × 67 mm83 gXX
OPi Plus108 mm × 60 mm50 gXX
OPi PC 2108 mm × 67 mm83 gXX
Raspberry Pi 386 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.

DistributionPi ZeroPi OnePi LitePi PCPi PC2Pi + PCPi + PC 2Pi +Pi + 2
ArmbianXXXXXXXX
AndroidXXXX
Debian ServerXX
Debian XFCEX
Debian 8 XFCEXX
Ubuntu ServerXXX
Ubuntu XFCE
Arch ServerXX
Arch XFCE
LubuntuXXXX
RaspbianXXXX
Fedora 22XXX
OpenSuseXXX
kali LinuxXX

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 …).

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