Raspberry Pi

Asus Tinker Board vs. Raspberry Pi Compared

A Single-Board Computer (SBC) houses all the essentials of a computer on a single board. This has become a convenient tool for builders, hobbyists, and project makers. It is also an affordable desktop computer for learners of all ages. Raspberry Pi is the most popular SBC to date, with varieties that suit different users and projects. Since its introduction in 2012, many competitors have joined the SBC scene with attempts to outperform the Pi. One company that produced its own line of SBCs is Asus. Asus released its first SBC, the Tinker Board, in 2017, and it has had several iterations since then. Asus Tinker Board is similar to the Raspberry Pi in many ways, but they also have a lot of differences. Does Asus have the potential to topple the Pi from its spot? Let’s compare the tiny computers from these two leading manufacturers to find out.

Hardware

The hardware components of a computer collectively determine its performance. An SBC is designed to function as a basic computer and as a controller if you embed it on your projects. It unbelievably fits all the necessary components on a credit-sized board. Basically, its hardware is composed of a CPU, GPU, I/O ports, and connectivity components. Both the Pi and the Tinker Board are composed of the same components, but these differ in specifications, types, and numbers. For comparison purposes, we will take the most recent release from these two manufacturers, Raspberry Pi 4B, and Asus Tinker Board 2S. Below is a comparison of their hardware components.

  Raspberry Pi 4B Asus Tinker Board 2S
CPU Quad Core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A72 Dual Core 2.0GHz A-72
  Quad Core 1.5GHz Cortex A53
GPU Broadcom Videocore VI ARM Mali-T860
RAM 1/2/4/8 GB LPDDR4 2/4 GB LPDDR4
Display 2 x micro-HDMI ports HDMI with CEC hardware ready
MIPI DSI (2 lane) USB Type-C (DP Alt Mode)
  MIPI DSI (4 lane)
Storage Micro-SD card slot 16GB eMMC
  Micro-SD card slot
Connectivity Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
802.11b/g/n/ac wireless M.2 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless
Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
GPIO 40-pin GPIO header 40-pin GPIO header
USB 2 x USB 3.0 Type-A ports 3 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports
2 x USB 2.0 ports 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C OTG port
Power 5V DC via USB-C connector 12~19V DC Power Input Jack (5.5/2.5 mm)
5V DC via GPIO header  
Power over Ethernet (PoE HAT)  

To handle different types of tasks requiring different amounts of power, Asus Tinker Board 2S is backed by big.LITTLE CPU architecture. Although Raspberry Pi 4B only has one quad-core CPU, it can be easily overclocked up to 2.1GHz for a performance boost. Raspberry Pi 4 also offers four RAM options ranging from 1GB to 8GB, while Tinker Board 2S only has two, 2GB, and 4GB. Both can play 4K videos and support dual-display; however, the Pi is only equipped with micro-HDMI ports, which would require an adapter for HDMI connectors.

Both have no problems connecting through wireless or wired networks when it comes to connectivity, but Asus would need a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna; otherwise, the board won’t be able to connect even to the nearest access point. The Pi is seamless in this area because it has built-in wireless and Bluetooth antenna, making it more suitable for IoTs and similar projects.

You cannot find it on the Pi through the internal 16GB eMMC storage on the Tinker Board, which is a nice addition, eliminating the need for a microSD card for OS installation.

When it comes to keeping the heat at bay, it may seem a win for the Tinker Board, which has a built-in heatsink, while you still have to install an external one on the Pi to keep it cool, especially when you intend to overclock the CPU. However, one downside to Tinker Board’s heatsink is that it blocks the HAT access to the GPIO pin, which poses a challenge when you’re mounting the board on your projects.

Software

The official operating system for Raspberry Pi 4B is the Debian-based Raspberry Pi OS, but there’s a wide range of operating systems that can also be run on it like Ubuntu Mate, Snappy Ubuntu Core, the Kodi-based media centers OSMC and LibreElec, RISC OS, Windows 10 IoT Core, and even Android. The Tinker Board is also running a Debian Linux derivative, the TinkerOS, which has a similar feel to the former Raspberry Pi OS, the Raspbian. Other Linux-based operating systems like Armbian, Ubuntu, Lakka can also be run on it and Android, but it has still not opened its doors to Windows 10 IoT Core.

Cost

Raspberry Pi boards are generally more affordable than Asus Tinker Boards. You can get a Raspberry Pi for less than a hundred dollars, but you won’t find a Tinker Board in that price range. Tinker Boards usually cost $100-$200, depending on the model.

Community Support

Raspberry Pi has dominated the SBC world since 2012, and its number of supporters has exponentially grown to millions in less than a decade. Because of this, Raspberry Pi users, new and experienced alike, can receive a lot of support from its loyalists, especially from seasoned hobbyists and builders. On the other hand, Asus had only joined the SBC world in 2017, and its community of supporters is growing rather slowly, especially since its newer boards are leaning towards home server and enterprise use.

Which is Better?

It is a close fight between Raspberry Pi and Asus Tinker Board. Both have the same form factor and an array of I/O ports, video outputs, and components that drive quality performance, but which board is better? The two processors on Tinker Board may seem to be a threat to the Pi, but overclocking the Pi can easily bring it to the same performance level as the Tinker Board. Not to forget that it has more RAM options than the Tinker Board. The internal eMMC storage on the Tinker Board is a nice-to-have plus the latest gen of USB ports, but the lack of wireless antenna is one of its shortcomings, making Raspberry Pi a favorable option for IoTs and projects that require a wireless connection.

On a broader view, you can get most of the features of a Tinker Board in a Raspberry Pi at a much lower cost. Moreover, the Pi has already cemented larger community support which has a great appeal for beginners. The Tinker Board is a good Raspberry Pi alternative, but it still cannot come close to the affordability, versatility, and popularity of the Raspberry Pi.

About the author

Glynis Navarrete

A freelance blogger who loves to write about anything related to technology. Born and raised in the Philippines and worked in Singapore for eight years as Technical Support for a wide range of IT equipment. Took a dive into the world of freelancing and now enjoying doing what I’m passionate about while not losing touch with technology.