Official Launch Of The Asus Tinker Board

Earlier this year, a new single board computer was announced, and subsequently made its way onto the market. The Tinker Board was a little different from the rest of the crop of Raspberry Pi lookalikes, it didn’t come from a no-name company or a crowdfunding site, instead it came from a trusted name, Asus. As a result, it is a very high quality piece of hardware, upon which we remarked when we reviewed it.

Unfortunately, though we were extremely impressed with the board itself, we panned the Asus software and support offering of the time, because it was so patchy as to be non-existent. We had reached out to Asus while writing the review but received no answer, but subsequently they contacted us with a sorry tale of some Tinker Boards finding their way onto the market early, before their official launch and before they had put together their support offering. We updated our review accordingly, after all it is a very good product and we didn’t like to have to pan it in our review.

This week then, news has come through from Asus that they have now launched the board officially. There is a new OS version based on Debian 9, which features hardware acceleration for both the Chromium web browser and the bundled UHD media player. There is also an upcoming Android release though it is still in beta at time of writing and there is little more information.

The Tinker Board is one of the best of the current crop of Raspberry Pi-like single board computers, and it easily trounces the Pi itself on most counts. To see it launched alongside a meaningful software and support offering will give it a chance to prove itself. In our original review we urged tech-savvy readers to buy one anyway, now it has some of the backup it deserves we’d urge you to buy one for your non-technical family members too.

57 thoughts on “Official Launch Of The Asus Tinker Board

  1. You seem to have utterly missed the point of the raspi… listing: £54.99 Delivery at no extra cost for Prime members Details

    Raspi 3B: Price: £31.99 Delivery at no additional cost for Prime Members

    Raspi Zero W (with case as I can’t find a listing without):
    Price: £23.00 & FREE UK delivery

        1. I hate how every time a competitor / clone / form factor sharing board is mentioned this comment immediately comes up. It’s technically true, but we’ve seen enough of them that we can make our own decisions on them at this point.

          1. I now own 2 Asus boards and one pi 3b. I see a practical 2x difference in compute horse power and unlike the other sort-of clones the Asus board can talk to the DSi based LCD touch display unmodified. It serves as a direct plug in replacement for the pi for my embedded application. I’m very happy with it and have gotten at least 3 other folks to replace their Pis with the tinker board.

  2. At $60 it is really aimed at a different market from the Pi. It seems to be more suitable for a media server or maybe image processing. Probably worth considering when a Pi3 isn’t enough.

    1. Without the hw acceleration there won’t be much of (meaningful) image processing. And the Mali GPU is doesn’t have open source drivers, so unless Asus provides (and maintains!) the required binary blobs the board will be useless for it.

      It is not that hard to produce an SBC that is faster/has more I/O/RAM/whatever than Raspberry Pi. However, what turns most of boards into useless doorstops after a while is the lack of good ecosystem support from the vendors.

      Releasing a board and then producing one version of the firmware with hacked up software that barely runs and that never gets updated/maintained is what kills these products. This is where RPi has a huge advantage, because there is the Foundation supporting the ecosystem behind it.

        1. Likely never given the dubious license source of the silicon IP.
          As long as it stays hidden, people will not know whether it is misappropriated code.

          The GPU API was opened for the Pi, and the experimental OpenGL drivers are now in Raspbian.

          I think we will see fully gpu accelerated WebGL enabled browsers on the Pi this year.
          The accelerated Unreal engine will of course make the system a gamer’s dream.

      1. > And the Mali GPU is doesn’t have open source drivers

        Did I miss something? Boradcom opened RPi GPU?

        Really, RPi is the worst SBC around. Even with all its ecosystem.

        1. No audio output. That onboard PWM parody is unusable. So, if you want sound, pay one more RPi price for overpriced shield.
        2. Ethernet over USB. Unbelivable, but Broadcom forgot to add Ethernet controller to the chip. RPi useless for networking.
        3. No WiFi. Again, Broadcom and no WiFi is something very strange. Additional power and money for WiFi dongle.
        4. GPU works as supervisor and periodically stops CPU. So, forget about any realtime. LinuxCNC will never work on RPi. RPi useless in CNC, robotics and other realtime things.
        5. Strange interfaces for LCD and camera. You have to buy overpriced things instead of standard LCDs and cameras.

        Looks like Broadcom tried to develop some home entertainment chip for some big customer, but completely failed, and customer refused to buy out the chips. So, to utilize already baked chips Broadcom created RPi.

        It’s enough to make any other board be better that RPi.

        As for Mali – at least they always provide blobs for linux drivers. I can’t see any difference with RPi GPU blobs. And Mali don’t bother CPU, so, realtime works.

        That ASUS board is not the best example, but definitely better that RPi, just because it have normal Ethernet, normal audio output and normal GPU.

        1. Boradcom DID OPEN the QPU (GPU).

          2. Yes it is bottleneck but It is definitelly not useless.
          3. Rpi3 and Rpi0w DO have onchip wifi with onboard antennas.
          4. You are mistaking GPU (QPU) with VPU (the media processor that starts the CPU) and what you are saying smells like bullshit. Sauce?
          5. The MIPI DSI and CSI are standardized interfaces commonly used in mobile phones.

          1. Don’t play with words like Broadcom. QPU and VPU is VideoCore GPU, running closed-source blob. Opening of the API for this blob is not opening GPU at all. You still can’t run your own code on GPU and main GPU hypervisor blob is still closed and IMHO will never be opened.

            2. It’s useless for networking tasks. Most RPi-like boards could be used as router. RPi could be used only as a toy.
            3. Both uses external WiFi on SDIO. Better than placing networking device on USB, but still ugly. ESP8266 users scratching their heads looking at big fat wifi-guru Broadcom who can’t put WiFi and Ethernet into the SoC on the processor bus.
            4. VideoCore running closed blob to emulate GPU functions presented for user. You can’t run your own code on GPU/VPU/QPU whatever…
            5. Yes! In _mobile_phones_. RPi is not a mobile phone. Cheap LCD and camera from some mobile phone will have hard/impossible-to-find connector and you’ll need to make an adapter PCB to finally connect it to RPI. Stuff that intended to be connected to SBCs uses other insterfaces, like LVDS with more common connectors.

        2. “Looks like Broadcom tried to develop some home entertainment chip for some big customer, but completely failed, and customer refused to buy out the chips. So, to utilize already baked chips Broadcom created RPi.”

          Well the Roku is broadcom I think.

          1. @Brian Benchoff,

            @martimorta made [IMO] a “Joke” with is RPi “Doorstop” case – and the page linked to in his comment post not only explains what it is, apparently you can buy it too! So WHY would he bother with all the hurdles (scripting layers, login-account nonsense) to deal with the Hackaday[dot]io site just to duplicate what he’s already published? Or maybe you pushed a button and the Brian Benchoff software-scripting Robot spawned your post trying to drive more native content to [IMO] the lame Hackaday[dot]io site? And what does “There’s a hackaday blog post in it for you” mean? If you want to make a Hackaday Blog post about the Doorstop Pi case that @martimorta made (and published openly) already, just do it yourself Brian. Why do you have to “offer” something to him?

  3. It does not trounce the pi on the most important part, software support. Even in this article there are limitations. The hardware acceleration limited to chromium and their player??? What if I want to use firefox or kodi or whatever? Without proper drivers this to me is nothing better than the many chinese/kickstarter boards out there.

    Let them show some proper driver support and than I might agree with you.

  4. and it easily trounces the Pi itself on most counts.

    You mean on useless specs? yes. Where it really counts such as a community and massive amount of documentation and publications that hand hold you through it? Not a chance. Pi utterly destroys this so badly in this way that it might as well not exist.

    There is a reason why the BeableBone that is a better spec wise mini computer still is second banana to the Pi.

    Where it actually counts is community support.

    1. I have a Beaglebone Black, but for the life of me I could never find any documentation on how to actually install an OS, or download it for that matter.

      The Pi may be less powerful and not boast Android support, but I can get one up an running in minutes.

    2. If community support was everything that mattered, there would be Linux phones.

      This use of “community” to reject others really makes some elements of the open source world look bad, and reflects the sort of bullying noise fetish of people who live by appeals to authority. We all want to wave a flag and be truer than others, insult them, trash their projects.

      Many people prefer the BeagleBone (Beagle, not Beable) because they are mature enough to see that it has a use for them. It excites their interest. It stokes their creativity. Perhaps you feel that way about the Pi. That is great. If you cared about community, you would probably respect that in others.

      1. “If community support was everything that mattered, there would be Linux phones”

        Android is a thing. Before anybody comes in saying ‘Its not Linux’, community support was a big selling point of early Android, back, when they were the underdog against Apple and competing with Microsoft.

  5. Ok I bought one of these this weekend, and here are my impressions so far:

    1: it was more sensitive with power than my Pi3 is. I used the same micro usb cable that I was using with a Pi3 and it would get part way through the boot and then reset itself. Changing cables fixed this problem.

    2: It was inconsistent about detecting my monitor. I had it plugged into a Dell 27″ 4k monitor and it kept coming up in 800×600 with no way to change (xrandr did not list any other available resolutions). Unplugging the power and the hdmi cable and plugging everything back in seemed to fix that.

    3: 4k is not useable! Just moving a window around is freaking sluggish. HD resolution worked better. Playing youtube videos in chromium (in a window, not full screen) in the 4k video mode was pretty crappy (and this was not a high res video, just a music video from the 80’s)

    4: the os image doesn’t start up ntp. Chromium wont start any secure connections because the time on the server (the correct time) is too far in the future compared to the default start time on the tinker board. On a system without a batter clock this is 100% vital.

    5: The asus site is not helpful. even finding the download images is a pain. And -10 points for the fact that the android image is a .exe.

    6: no community. no forums.

    1. have you tried the “new OS version based on Debian 9, which features hardware acceleration for both the Chromium web browser and the bundled UHD media player” and its that terrible? or is that with old software?

      also what kernel is asus shipping? is it 3.19 or something like all the chinese shitter companies?

      1. It was version 1.8 of their OS image, kernel version 4.4.16 built on April 17. Also I noticed something really odd just now when moving the chromium window around on the screen in 4k mode: moving it up and down was fine, but there was a LOT of lag when moving it left and right. I’m talking at least 2 seconds to catch up with the mouse once you stop moving it

  6. As with any one of these SBC boards My first question: is there a Linux Kernel mainlining effort or not? If not then I’m sticking with the Raspberry Pi.

    If I want 4K video playback , High performance, more RAM, gigabit ethernet blah blah blah I’d buy a NUC.

  7. Hi all,
    Some more good news. Recently you can also find Hardkernel ODROID-XU4 for at a price of 59$, so it seems that competition drives down costs.
    Any way, Asus Thinker Board, or any board with price higher than 40..45$ (max) won’t be much of a popular solution,… right?

    1. Odroid XU4–

      USB 3.0: Genesys GL3521 2-port, low-power, configurable SuperSpeed hub controller….
      REAL 10/100/1000 Ethernet: Realtek RTL8211F complies with
      1000Base-T IEEE 802.3 standards….
      4/8 core processor: Samsung Exynos OctaCore 5422…
      64 GB eMMC; 64 GB UHS-1 SD card…
      2 GB RAM…
      Runs Ubuntu, Android, Fedora, ARCHLinux, Debian, OpenELEC..
      1920 X 1200 HDMI…

      $59.00, and you’ve got everything you need to build a REAL computer.

      Of course, if you insist on paying $35.00 for a device which blinks LEDs almost as fast as a 555 timer (and only AFTER an operating system has been loaded), and not much else…

  8. I am waiting to see a comprehensive technical manual like the fabulous 4000 page plus TRM for the BBB. I see selected chapters from the RK3288 chip on the Tinker Wiki. I am too busy having fun with Orange Pi boards right now though, so I’ll wait before spending money on one of these Looks good though. It has real Gigabit ethernet instead of the ridiculous situation with ethernet interfaced via USB on the Pi. This might be a real computer. Hard to beat the prices for the Orange Pi boards though.

  9. I don’t live in a city and from my perspective the pi has really missed it’s potential. They are expensive. Last I looked the one that should cost $5 was going for in the mid $20’s on eBay. I keep hearing that they are inexpensive but I have yet to see it first hand. And the software support. That may have gotten better. However when I first started with the Pi their idea of “having” ha package in the ecosystem was the package compiling without errors. There is a big difference between someting compiling without tossing it’s cookies and it actually working as it should.

  10. >debian 9
    >systemd is the default


    I will shitpost about lennart poettering and his cancerous fellow maintainers who blame kernel devs for problems that they themselves create with the poor quality of the software they are responsible for.

  11. Will some company or group just buy the Rendition Verite intellectual property from Micron then release the information openly to write code for the GPU? Despite the age of that GPU it’s pretty good. Micron has done absolutely nothing with this, other than using the Rendition name on a line of RAM products. If Micron wants to keep the Rendition name, call it the RRedline Verite GPU.

    Give it a die shrink and pump up the speed. Then extend its capabilities. Do a very affordable licensing deal for the silicon design, with the caveat that improvements have to be shared or at least made open specification.

  12. Whats with all the hate comments about it compared to the Pi. There was nothing that stated they were the same or that they were in the same price range. The does indeed have better specs (stated in the article) but yes, for a higher price. Yet everyone automatically wants to compare it to the Pi as if they were the same device.

  13. What about DSI? If it is more flexible than in RasPi and can be used with any of the cheap smartphone/tablet displays than greater price of board should not be a problem for GUI solutions.

  14. I’ve been using one for a few weeks now. At first I used the stock OS image, but I’ve since started using Armbian and so far, that’s working great on the Tinkerboard.

    This board is significantly faster than the RPi3… roughly double the speed. The larger amount of ram, the Gbit ethernet on it’s own dedicated bus, and the 192Khz audio chip are *really* nice, and so far are proving just how much better this board is.

    The RPi3 is a great general purpose board, and I believe that with a little bit of time, the Tinkerboard will evolve to be more general purpose. Right now, it’s quite capable –if you have the expertise to go beyond the stock images and build out your OS environment on your own.

  15. Anyone have a link to the full specs (in particular- is the audio out capable of driving a basic 5.1 surround system? (Logitech z-series)

    Also- what version of Android are they working on?

  16. Asus now has a US website up for the Tinker Board, and on April 28th they provided a link to Android 6.0 for the Tinker Board. The following blog has used Android for Kodi hardware acceleration and developing a home theater solution: 3/8/17 4/19/17 4/21/17 4/25/17 5/4/17

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