back to article Tinker Tailor Soldier Pi? Asus's 'NUC-sized' SBC aims to out-Pi the Raspberry

Asus has released a new addition to its Tinker Board line of Arm-based single-board computer (SBC) systems, giving hobbyists and embedded developers another design option with a plethora of ports. The Tinker Board range launched by by Asus in 2017, but while previous models have typically followed a similar form factor to the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good hint is to try to get hold of older revisions of the board. If you notice that it is a struggle, project this forward and you might start to doubt the stability of the supply as just another short lived gizmo for your "Tech Junk" cupboard (yes, I know we all have them ;)

    This is one of the best things that the Raspberry Pi had going for it with the 1, 2 and 3. You can still get hold of them. Raspberry Pi unfortunately (albeit predictably) priced themselves out of the market with v4.

    1. CAPS LOCK

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      "Raspberry Pi unfortunately (albeit predictably) priced themselves out of the market with v4."

      I don't get that. Sure, they have been difficult to get, but not because the price is unreasonable. My experience with other models is that their prices tend to be worse. You can sometimes get a faster chip or a different peripheral for that, but often the prices are somewhat to a lot higher than the Pi's prices just for the bare board. In the kind of projects I do, I also price in things like non-universal power supplies and cases, but I'll leave them out for now. Then, most of them have to be imported and the shipping prices add to that. This isn't to say that the Raspberry Pi is perfect or competitors are bad, but in terms of price, I've often found that the Raspberry Pi in particular can boast about that. I would have been much less surprised if your trouble with the Pi was around performance, power consumption, or available options. I'm wondering what your experience has been and if ours have been so different.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        I do my tinkering on USFF ThinkCentres with dual core processors, 4GB of RAM and - typically - 500GB of spinning rust which I buy on eBay for around half the price of a Pi 4.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          And that's fine if your tinkering doesn't need GPIO, and isn't running 24/7...

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Completely different hardware though.

          I really don't think that given it's capabilities and the current cost of electronics manufacture (including ridiculous shipping costs currently) the Pi is really that overpriced

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Raspberry Pi unfortunately (albeit predictably) priced themselves out of the market with v4.

      What's the price of a comparable SBC to the RPi4 that's cheaper and do you think that SBCs are going to drop in price in the future?

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      Raspberry Pi unfortunately (albeit predictably) priced themselves out of the market with v4.

      Remained at $35 the whole time.

      None of the scalper pricing was set by Raspberry Pi.

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The Raspberry's pricing policy put it at the back of the line when supply chains collapsed. Reduced supply by constant demand means higher prices and the demand remains high for the reasons you give: projects that started on RPi 1s can run largely unchanged on RPi 4s and take advantage not only of faster processors but, more importantly, better IO. This kind of stability in essential in any industrial supply chain, and industry is probably the biggest buyer of RPi for prototyping the myriad of embedded devices in consumer and industrial equipment.

  2. Gary Stewart

    At least it is available at a reasonable price. Still can't get any Raspberry Pi in the US. I just checked all of the US vendors listed on the official Pi Buy Raspberry Pi 4 Model B page. I also checked them for model 3 B and B+ with the same results (this is as low as the project I want to build can go). After reading for many months now that availability is improving I am almost to the point of no return.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "At least it is available at a reasonable price"

      Which "it" are you referring to?

      If you mean the new Tinkerboard, care to share the link to show its availability (where is it in stock?) and its price?

      1. Gary Stewart

        Which it I am referring to is obvious. I went back and double checked and you are right, I couldn't find the Asus Tinker Board 3N on Amazon. I still haven't been able to find a Pi in the US in over three years now. Any bets on which comes in first? I'm hoping for, but not betting on the Pi.

        P.S. I've owned Raspberry Pis since the model 1 B, You know the one that had to have the fuse bypassed to work properly (and if you were really serious, and I was, removing the Raspberry Pi +3.3V supply from +3.3 V output of the USB to Ethernet chip). And I've owned at least one of the model B versions from then on. As a from the beginning customer I am very annoyed that I haven't been able to purchase the model B I need for a project that has been on hold for too long. The 3 B, 3 B+, 4 B 2G, 4 B 4G, and 4B 8G I have are already in use, Unfortunately a combo LCD display/Pi case I bought only works with 3 B(+) or 4 B so for now the continued unavailability is more than a minor annoyance.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          "Which it I am referring to is obvious."

          To you, perhaps, but I am at the very least the second who doesn't know. At first, I assumed you were referring to the Asus model, either having found its price or having mistaken something else for it. Now, I'm not even sure of that since you indicated that you didn't have the price of that but still think it was obvious.

          There are a lot of SBCs out there now, and many of them are at a similar price point to the Pi, although in my experience their specs and software support are usually not as good. For example, there are really quite a lot with quad A53 CPUs, which is getting a bit old now. The quad A55 is certainly better, but it's still a six-year-old core and intended for the little half of the cores. Of course, this isn't necessarily a problem depending on what you're doing with it, as for a lot of networking or automation, the A53s are fast enough and the machine is connected to mains power; I have a few doing that kind of task. I sometimes want higher performance or better power efficiency, though, which is why I've been waiting for better SBCs to come out eventually. The ARM-based SoCs that manufacturers have been making are really great compared to the ones we have access to.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      An unapproved reseller:

      (no affiliation, I live in France)

      If you prefer an official retailer:

      CanaKit has Pi 4 boards (2GB and up) in stock.

      But, yes, stock of the boards are somewhat less than ideal. I guess unapproved resellers bumping up prices on sites like Amazon (cough, the top link, cough) isn't helping matters either.

    3. Martin-R

      They're in stock at as of Saturday PM Check to see who else has 'em

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Really? I was able to buy 4 Raspberry Pi 3B+ in May from Mouser. Took 3 weeks to arrive.

      I don't know the "official Pi Buy Raspberry Pi 4 Model B page" so I don't know what vendors you're looking at.

    6. imanidiot Silver badge

      It's probably best to select a few reputable vendors that might get it in stock again and either register to get an update from them automatically when they get stock if they have that feature or keep an eye out directly yourself. There's regular supply to many vendors but it usually sells out so fast that by the time the official page might get updated they're out of stock again already. So it's not impossible to get, but you have to play the buy it as soon as someone has it. Or even just gamble with a more trustworthy supplier and buy in advance so they ship it as soon as they get to your place in the wait list if they have hat option.

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The real strength of the Raspberry Pi is not its price point but the software and support you get from the manufacturer and the community in general. This is something often lacking with alternative SBCs who just want to put out the hardware and a couple of OS builds on their website and then forget about that device and start hyping up the next version.

    Hopefully the shortage of supplies on the Rpi will be resolved this year, if the video that Jeff Gerling made when he interviewed someone from the Raspberry Pi foundation is to be believe.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Yes, this yet another SBC is the ten thousandth Raspberry Pi beater to have come to market and will most likely go the same way as the rest of them.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Yeah their support for the government surveillance industry and ex-coppers is awesome.

      Support for actually buying their product... not so much.

  4. Binraider Silver badge

    Interesting feature set; and so a capable little board for on the cheap industrial applications where a pi might not quite do but a proper PLC is too much.

  5. Coofer Cat

    Not necessarily a Pi replacement

    I suspect this isn't going to make big incursions into the "home DIY tinkerer" market, but it could do well in embedded systems (unless it's in the region of $50 or less, which seems doubtful).

    Embedded systems aren't quite as price sensitive, but often have other requirements like security of supply, eMMC (instead of SD card) and wider temperature/power ranges or whatever. PoE would strike me as useful in those situations as well. The other thing embedded folk like is the ability to get things taken off the board - so maybe make it as pictured, but with no USBs and no HDMI or whatever. Embedded folk will likely flash the device once with a Buildroot image, for which they'll need some convenient method, but beyond that, all the convenience of a Raspberry Pi isn't needed. Once flashed the first time, their own application's updates will take it from there (if indeed they update it at all - a lot of stuff doesn't).

    This thing may not have the community support of a Pi, and it may not be nearly as easy to home-tinker with it as a result, but it could well sweep up a good chunk of the more professional market. But then again, it's a crowded market (and the Pi does operate there too), so who knows?

  6. James Anderson

    I generally consideder myself good at this stuff, b

    B U T. Yo to is a nightmare. Avoid,

  7. GraXXoR


    In this day and age, when you start pushing into the UKP200 bracket, IMHO you are starting to move out of the hobbyist / tinkerer bracket, despite the name.

    At this price, NUC devices like the Celeron N5105 based Geekom NUC mini with 16GB RAM and a "proper" 512Gb NVME M.2 SSD start to become viable when priced at UKP 180... Pair that with an Arduino (or three) for I/O and you're golden....

    Does anyone have any opinions about what market segment they are targetting? Beucase it doesn't feel like a Pi alternative as such.

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