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A look at SoC computers (mini Computers, OUYA...

Creator: Searz January 19, 2013 7:11am
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(SoC means System on Chip, single-chip computers)

I'm in the process of buying one myself right now and I thought I'd get a discussion going on the different contenders.
I will be listing the most interesting contenders here. Requirements are that it costs less than 100$ and is very small.




Specifications and pictures



Raspberry Pi


Price: 35$
Singlecore ARM11 at 700MHz (1GHz turbo), Videocore4 GPU, 512MB RAM, SD card reader, 2USB slots, HDMI, Ethernet, composite video and 3.5mm audio.

Cubieboard


Price: 49$
Dualcore cortex A8 at 1GHz, Mali400 GPU, 1GB RAM, 4GB storage, MicroSD reader, SATA, 2USB slots, HDMI, Ethernet and 3.5mm audio. This thing has the capability to run a 2.5" HDD/SSD. That's a very, very nice feature.

Gamestick


Price: 79$ (bluetooth controller included)
Dualcore cortex A9 at up to 1.5GHz (no clock speed is listed), dual Mali400 GPUs, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, HDMI, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth. The biggest thing though is that IT DOES NOT REQUIRE A POWER CABLE, you literally just plug it into your TV and it starts running, just like a USB stick.

GK802


Price: 99$
Quadcore cortex A9 at 1.2GHz, Vivante GC2000 GPU, 1GB RAM, 2Micro SD slots (one internal with 8GB micro SD card included), 1USB slot, HDMI, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth.

OUYA


Price: 99$ (bluetooth controller included)
Quadcore cortex A9 at 1.7GHz, 1GB RAM, 1USB slot, HDMI, Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

ODROID-U2


Price: 89$+
Quadcore cortex A9 at 1.7GHz, 2GB RAM, 2USB slots, HDMI, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio.





Feature summary and evaluation



These things all connect through HDMI. The only one with another video output is the Raspberry Pi.

Cortex A8 is roughly 100% faster than ARM11 at the same clock (2GHz ARM11 is equal to 1GHz cortex A8 in speed).
Cortex A9 is roughly 20% faster than cortex A8 at the same clock.

That means that the relative CPU performance is (higher is better):
Raspberry Pi(in turbo): 1
Cubieboard: 4
Gamestick: ~7
(it depends on the clock speed they set)
GK802: 11.5
Tegra 3: 13
OUYA: 15
ODROID-U2: 15.5


Cubie is essentially 4 times faster than RasPi. GK802 and OUYA are pretty monstrous in comparison.
The above assumes perfect scaling to 4 cores, which is rarely the case. Many programs can only use 2, so the difference between RasPi/Cubie/Gamestick and GK802/OUYA isn't always as big as it looks.


The relative GPU(Graphics Processing Unit) performance is (higher is better):
Raspberry Pi: 1
Cubieboard: ~1
Gamestick: ~2
Tegra 3: ~3
GK802: ~3.5
OUYA: ~4
ODROID-U2: ~4


The numbers are only educated guesses, do not take them to heart, only use them to compare the devices at hand.

Tegra 3 was added for reference. OUYA uses Tegra 3, but can run it in higher clocks(faster) because it has a fan. Tablets with Tegra 3 don't have the luxury of a cooling fan.



Price:
Raspberry Pi: 35$ (+whatever you pay for the SD card+9-15$ if you want a case)
Cubieboard: 49$ (+9-15$ if you want a case)
Gamestick: 79$
GK802: 99$
OUYA: 99$
ODROID-U2: 89$ (+9$ for a power adapter + whatever you pay for the SD card)


Storage:
Raspberry Pi: 0 + SD card reader
Cubieboard: 4GB + Micro SD + SATA
Gamestick: 8GB (+Micro SD if they reach 520k $ on Kickstarter)
GK802: 8GB (Micro SD) + Another Micro SD slot
OUYA: 8GB
ODROID-U2: 0 + Micro SD (or NAND, which is what SSDs use)

USB slots:
Raspberry Pi: 2
Cubieboard: 2
Gamestick: 0
GK802: 1
OUYA: 1
ODROID-U2: 2

Wi-Fi/Bluetooth:
Raspberry Pi: -
Cubieboard: -
Gamestick: Both
GK802: Both
OUYA: Both
ODROID-U2: -


The Raspberry Pi and Cubieboard are both perfect for small setups you make at home. They're both extremely small, and with the wide variety of modules you can connect them to (the pins) you make all kinds of makeshift home devices. A security camera that transmits the video online, a server(albeit a very weak one), a fileserver, a remote control system for your home, the possibilities are endless.
While the built in 4GB storage and the ability to run a 2.5" HDD/SSD are huge advantages for the Cubieboard, Raspberry Pi has many more cases available and a much bigger community providing lots of guides for creating your own abominations of technology, so they kind of balance each other out. It's a very tough choice.


As an HTPC (for watching movies, browsing the web and casual gaming) the Gamestick, GK802, OUYA and ODROID-U2 are clearly the best choices. They all have some decent power. Especially the Gamestick impresses me with the ability to run it without a cable for supplying power (it takes the power from the HDMI slot). And even though OUYA is really strong in raw power, it's also A LOT BIGGER than the other 2 and uses a fan(so it's not completely quiet).


Me? I'm I'm still very unsure, but at the moment I've decided that I do not want the OUYA. I want something smaller.
The Raspberry Pi and Cubieboard are both pretty small, but the Gamstick and GK802 are just insanely small. While the two "sticks" are clearly superior in size, the two "boards" make up for it with connectivity/moddability.
I'm gonna be a little biased towards RasPi, because I can get it from a Swedish retailer, while I would have to import the others.
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Pheyniex
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please explain like i was really dumb: what can you use them for? Anything?


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Gamestick looks badass as phuck

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OMIGOSH! I found another awesome contender! The ODROID-U2! (wait a little and I'll add it to the main post)

It's slightly faster than even OUYA while being much smaller and having an SD card slot.
Pheyniex wrote:

please explain like i was really dumb: what can you use them for? Anything?

The Raspberry Pi and Cubieboard are both very much for tinkering with. To create your own little works of technology.

The others are for having a very small and reasonably powerful media center (usually at your TV).

Gamestick looks badass as phuck

Indeed it does. The performance is nothing special, but it's incredibly small, and the fact that you don't need a cable to supply power is just awesome.
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I think the GK or Gamestick is what I would get if I was gonna get anything.


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I'm looking at this and all I see are numbers and letters. I don't think I can be of help. XD

Gamestick's pretty neat, though.

OUYA's cute too.
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sirell wrote:

I'm looking at this and all I see are numbers and letters. I don't think I can be of help. XD

Gamestick's pretty neat, though.

OUYA's cute too.

Oh, I didn't explicitly mean that you should 'help', I just wanted to show the thread.
Look at the feature summary. There I write how fast they are compared to each other and overall features. I believe lower end (cheap) stationary PC CPUs are roughly 30-40 on the CPU scale. So you've essentially got something very, very small that is somewhat close to the power of a normal PC. (tho a gaming CPU like i5 3570K is like 100 on that scale)

OUYA is simply a little bit too big for me personally. It's ~8cm*8cm*8cm (~500cm3. While the other cubic one, ODROID-U2 is ~5cm*5cm*5cm (~125cm3). That's almost a whopping 400cm3 in difference.
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