Asus has quietly waded into the fruit-dominated microcomputer market with a new single-board device designed to out-muscle the Raspberry Pi (RPi). The aptly named "Tinker Board" comes with chunkier specs than its seeded counterpart and even offers 4K HDMI output.
The Tinker Board is available for pre-order for £55 ($68), hitting the DIY computer hobbyist scene for almost double the cost of the popular Raspberry Pi 3 kits. Announced with zero fanfare, the Tinker Board supports the Debian Linux OS with Kodi media player support for fans of video streaming.
Asus Tinkerboard vs Raspberry Pi 3: Specs
Asus' offering is powered by a quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex-A17 Rockchip processor alongside a hefty 2GB of DDR3 RAM. By comparison, the Pi 3 is kitted with a 1.2GHz CPU and 1GB of DDR2 RAM. While initially the Tinker Board seems to offer a mammoth processing boost over the RPi, the former only offers support for 32-bit programs, while 2016's Raspberry Pi 3 Model B has a 64-bit CPU.
The Tinker Board also comes with 24-bit audio support, a Gigabit LAN connector, four USB (2.0) ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a HDMI 2.0 port with support for 4K video (as well as a port for standard HD resolution media). A built-in Wi-Fi module and Bluetooth 4.0 round out the package in the connectivity stakes.
While there have been many Raspberry Pi alternatives to challenge the Pi's breakout success story, very few have managed to garner the reputation or long-term community support seen by the berry brand. Whether it's hacked retro consoles or Tetris-playing bookshelves, the sheer amount of bizarre creations concocted by hobbyists from Raspberry Pi components has been fascinating to watch.
The £99 Raspberry Pi starter kit released in late 2016 saw the Raspberry Pi Foundation looking to get the microcomputer back to its original goal of introducing younger children to coding with a practical solution.
As for Asus' Tinker Board, its potential success will likely boil down to whether it catches on with the homebrew developer community in the same way the British-made Pi became hit for tech tinkerers.
The Asus Tinker Board is expected to ship in February 2017.