What is the Pine64 RockPro64: RockPro64 Specs and MorePine64 brags that the RockPro64 4GB unit is the most powerful SBC on the market. This ARM-based dev board boasts a hexa-core Rockchip RK3399 SoC with dual ARM Cortex A72 an quad ARM Cortex A53 processors. There's a Mali T-860 quad-core GPU, and 4GB of DDR4 RAM. Onboard, you'll find a microSD card slot for installing an operating system (OS), and optional eMMC for use with an eMMC module. There's a PCIe x4, USB 3.0, type C, USB 2.o, Gigabit Ethernet, and PI02 GPIO bus. Moreover, there's a MiPi DSI interface, MiPi CSI interface, and more.
Unfortunately, the RockPro64 lacks wireless and Bluetooth, though an optional wireless networking addon provides a means of gracing the RockPro64 with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
RockPro64 OS OptionsIn terms of software support, the RockPro64 offers superb operating system support. RockPro64 OS choices include Armbian, Debian, DietPi, Arch Linux, Slackware, and a RockPro64 Ubuntu image. For retro gaming, you can run Recalbox and Batocera Linux on the RockPro64. OpenMediaVault lets you transform the RockPro64 into a network attached storage (NAS) device for server use, and LibreELEC turns the RockPro64 into a home theatre PC (HTPC).
Aside from Linux distros, there are a few different RockPro64 Android downloads for making a do-it-yourself (DIY) Android desktop. OpenBSD and NetBSD are available as well.
- Arch Linux
RockPro64 Case Options and AccessoriesThe RockPro64 utilizes a different form factor than the Raspberry Pi 3. Whereas many Raspberry Pi alternatives including the ASUS Tinker Board and Libre Computer RK3328-CC Renegade opt for the same footprint as the Raspberry Pi, the RockPro64 comes in a proprietary shape. As such, you'll need a custom case rather than a Pi case. However, tons of RockPro64 cases exist, including a basic ABS enclosure, RockPro65 Playbox with a touchscreen, and a RockPro64 NAS case.
Aside from cases, you can snag a RockPro64 MIMO dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.2 module for adding wireless networking to the Pine64 board. A heatsink ensures low CPU temps for demanding projects. Upgrading to a 12V/5A power supply allows for use with harddrives and power-hungry devices.
Getting Started With the RockPro64: What You'll NeedFor getting started with the RockPro64, you'll need a few items. First, the RockPro64 board, a 5V power supply, and boot medium like a microSD card or eMMC module. I'd also suggest snagging the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi module and a case. You'll need an operating system, though which one you use depends on your needs. A basic Linux desktop works with Debian, Armbian, Ubuntu, Arch, and DietPi. LibreELEC allows for a Kodi-based RockPro64 HTPC. Batocera and Recalbox are excellent for retro gaming, and you can cobble together a RockPro64 NAS with OpenBSD, NetBSD, or OpenMediaVault. Android is excellent as a retro gaming and HTPC dual-purpose environment, or for Android development. Which RockPro64 OS you pick depends on your needs and specific project.
- RockPro64 board
- Boot medium
- Internet access
- RockPro64 OS
Hands-on With the RockPro64
I tested Ubuntu on the RockPro64 and it mostly worked well. A few areas were kind of buggy, but that's not the board's fault, and instead an issue of development. Apparently, its shoddiness is a known issue. Running Recalbox on the RockPro64 yielded superb results. The version of Recalbox on the RockPro64 includes a slew of emulators, the lush EmulationStation frontend, and solid performance for even demanding PlayStation Portable and Nintendo 64 titles.
Should You Buy a RockPro64?
Ultimately, I was pleased with my RockPro64. Unfortunately, the Ubuntu image I tested was a bit buggy, and even YouTube wouldn't work properly out-of-the-box. However, the board itself, when provided with a functional image works like a champ. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of PSP games on the RockPro64 running Recalbox. I did have to set frameskipping to 1, but that solved the choppy audio issue.
What single-board computers are you using?