I am a hobbyist with very little experience working with Linux/Unix Systems but I’ve been looking at getting an SBC. My question is many-layered. I’ve read a few posts here, many of which are very detailed and technical, this seems like a great community. Would Rock Pi 4c v1.4 be a good starting point as an SBC for a very amateur hobbyist? My Google-fu is decent but my technical knowledge is very limited right now. All I’ve really done is to build PCs and maintain a stable windows installation. My main use case at this point might be a media center, teaching myself how to write python/other languages, Emulation box. Eventually, I’d give it to my father as a desktop replacement since all he does is surf the internet. My other choice would be the Geekworm kit for the RPi 4 w/ x825 and x735 expansion boards.
Rasp is very slow, you will notice that and it will be really annoying each time you will use console.
Rock is comparably blazing fast, mostly when eMMC is used and is better choice for now.
I recently sold Rasp and stayed with Rock which fulfills almost all my needs.
My idea was to buy a 240-500gb SSD and run everything off of that, and I’ve seen that Rock Pi has the best interface for that. My main concerns were dealing with out of the box experience after the build. Am I looking at a multi day trouble shooting session to try and get this running or is it pretty straight forward? Also what kind of issues am I likely to run into with mainstream distros?
None. Mainstream distros support is from non-existing <-> terrible and will be generic only. With exceptions here and there. ARM world is still quite fragmented, not universal such as Intel or RPi. Support will probably reach late stock levels or special ARM single board computer distributions such as (Debian or Ubuntu based) Armbian which is well tuned and optimised for such hardware.
I would also go for the RockPi4. I’ve got both RPi4 and RockPi4(and many others).
The RockPi4 is well supported and it is improving much too.
I made videos where I show how to install Armbian on the NVMe with the RockPi.
Also a review video I lately made where I show the early stages of panfrost for it.
And many more videos I made about it.(gaming with RecalBox on the RockPi, Full Linux Review, …)
You can always ask questions on my Youtube channel. Or on this forum, or on the Armbian forum.
It will take a long time before the Raspberry Pi4 reaches the level the RockPi4 is at now. And it’s got big problems like undervoltage issues, and only USB3 for faster storage.
I use my NanoPi M4, almost identical to the RockPi4 as main desktop device with an NVMe drive(RockPi is my testdevice for new images). I would not want anything else anymore. It’s silent, fast, good to watch video, it can play cool games, …
For me the Raspberry Pi feels like a toy, while this is the real deal.
You all convinced me, only one problem. I can’t find a Rock Pi 4C 4GB for sale. Anyone know where I might find one, or will I have to wait? If not 4C 4GB what model should I buy? I’d preferably like to buy a Kit with all the hardware I’d need to ensure out of the box compatibility. Looking for Rock Pi 4C 4GB+Case+NVME Extension Board, PSU/Power Brick, and any Cables needed. Also I was looking at a safe shutdown HAT are those needed on Rock Pi? I have HDMI and Display port capable monitors. I have a 1080, a 2560x1440, and a 3840x1080.
ROCK Pi 4C is still under progress. If you want to buy a kit, maybe you can check Allnet store. They have kits bundle, including type c cable with switch.
For the display support, the HDMI is up to 4K max on all models, for the DP on 4C, the max resolution is 2560x1440@60HZ with DP 1.2 monitor.
Here’s my take on things…
For an absolute beginner, I believe the Raspberry Pi has a stronger community at this current moment. And Raspbian is fairly well developed, along with consistent updates every 1-3 months. The main issue, as others have pointed out… is that it’s SLOW. It’s mainly due to the fact that it runs off of an SD card. I believe you can run it via USB 3.0 and a SSD adapter… but it looks real ugly in real life.
I’ve purchased 3 Rock Pi v1.4b… 1 of them with external antenna. I think external antenna isn’t that much of a performance booster, maybe it’s my antenna… but the built-in antenna works just as well.
The main issue that I ran into, was that Ubuntu/Debian builds provided by Radxa… are not that stable as a server (would restart itself randomly in the middle of the night?). However, there’s a community over at Armbian… and I think Igor is a Dev there… they’ve got a stable build for the Rock Pi 4. I’ve been using their build… with a 1TB NVME ssd, running home backups for my cPanel server that I’m renting from a provider. It works really well, and temperatures are great with the high profile case from Radxa. It also has my pi-hole DNS installed there as well… runs better than the RaspPi4.
If you’re looking for a robust desktop experience… it’s hard to vote for Rock Pi tho. Mainly cause you’ll need to use LDXE or XFCE for the desktop for a lag-less experience. I’m currently using GNOME, headless… and it lags if I don’t disable multiple desktops on the Rock Pi 4. But for the Raspberry Pi 4, even running on a SD card… feels smoother… until you open up a few tabs on Chromium and then it starts lagging… lol.
But if you’re not all about having a Desktop, and you’re trying to get with a board with many possibilities… go for Rock Pi 4. I’m running an Android TV box (custom by mo123) with 1 for my parents… bought a UGEEK pi powerhat, and a 16mm LED power switch… it works awesome besides Netflix.
And I got a debian 8 server on another with an external antenna… running the OS on a 128GB emmc and using a 1TB sabrent rocket as nvme storage (for my backups). It runs super smooth, and super stable. It acts as my home pi-hole DNS server as well.
My 3rd rock pi, I’ve been experimenting on with retro games. It runs SNES games, butter smooth. WAY better than RaspPi.
Here’s some things to watch out for when you get your Rock Pi my dude…
- Get a strong power brick, capable of QC3.0/fast charge (you gotta get 1 that is higher in power output)
- If you use the Radxa Debian/Ubuntu distros… watch out for the SPI boot update. If you do that, it will not load Android or some other OS correctly without putting a jumper between pins 23 and 25.
- You will need a good fan or heatsink. There’s a lot of heat generated from the Rock Pi 4 board, mainly processor - so if you want it to run consistently fast… get that high profile alunimum case and use a good amount of thermal paste. The high profile will allow you to use the NVME hat if you ever want to do that, or gives you room for a power management hat. And you since it’s alunimum, it’s easier to drill a hole on the side to put a power button.
parent’s entertainment system
retrogaming project… originally with tinkerboard s, now im testing with rock pi 4b
This is such an amazing post, very thorough and filled with highly useful information. I was looking at using the NvME hat and eventually figuring out a way to get a Power management hat in there as well.
So I’m looking at this item for a possible solution to stack over the top of the NVMe hat and add the UGeek Power Management HAT. There are 4 in the pack so I can double stack them if need be I think? Then use some stand offs above the NVMe Hat to make a stable stack. So the power supply I’m looking at has a customer posted picture of it putting out 19.8v and 2.86 AMP which sound like plenty for Rock Pi. The third link shows a inline USB-C Power switch not sure yet if the AWG is 18 on this waiting to hear back from a question I asked on the product page. With all that will I still need a Power HAT? Does the power HAT provide power state management or something I am unclear on this?
I did it, I ordered it all. Hope I didn’t buy things I’ll regret later, figured I’d take a chance on the switch, Thank you all for the information you provided.
=D Nice man!
I can try to see if it fits in my build, I have an extra power board from a different brand that didn’t fit due to barrel jack. But the power management board basically sends a signal via GPIO and runs a script to do safe shutdown. In my use case tho… since I have it attached to an Android TV media center… I don’t do it and make it hard shut down. But I know it’s possible if I chose to ran a Debian/Ubuntu linux distro.
For the USB-C power button, I think to achieve safe shutdown - you’ll need to shut down in the OS and then click it off as it just cuts off power.
I’m not sure if your SSD will work, it’s a trial and error at this point. This is the compiled list of SSD’s that work with Rock Pi.
But since you got Amazon, IF your SSD doesn’t work out - you could probably get a free return and then get another one to try.
Okay, so it does fit with a power management board sandwiched in between the Rock Pi and the NVME hat. But fitting a 16mm power button would not be possible, would need to get a smaller power button.