The folks behind the Banana Pi line of products have been riffing on the Raspberry Pi name and product lineup for a few years. One of the company’s newest products is a tiny computer called the Banana Pi M2 Zero.

As the name suggests, it looks a lot like the Raspberry Pi Zero W and features similar ports and functionality. But the Banana Pi M2 Zero has a much more powerful processor. It’s also about $5 more expensive.

The Banana Pi M2 Zero sells for $15 plus shipping.

Like the Raspberry Pi Zero W, this little computer has 512MB of RAM, a microSD card slot, a mini HDMI port, and built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth. It has two micro USB ports (one of which is only used for power), and a camera connector. And the computer features a 40-pin expansion header.

But while Raspberry Pi’s smallest, cheapest computer as a single-core Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 processor (the same chip used in the original Raspberry Pi), the Banana Pi version has a quad-core Allwinner H2+ ARM Cortex-A7 processor with ARM Mali-400MP2 graphics.

In other words, the 2.4″ x 1.2″ computer is about the same size and shape as the Raspberry Pi Zero W, but for a few bucks more you get a model that should offer significantly better performance.

On the other hand, you get less official and unofficial support, since Banana Pi products aren’t as popular and don’t have the same kind of user base as Raspberry Pi’s devices.

That said, you can already download Ubuntu 16.04 MATE for the Banana Pi M2 Zero, and it’s possible that other operating systems developed for similar hardware will run on the single-board computer.

Top: Razpberry Pi Zero / Bottom: Banana Pi M2 Zero

If you’re looking for a cheap PC that you can use as a desktop computer, there are probably better options. But this could be an interesting base for a handheld game console or terminal, a smart speaker, network attached storage device, or security system, or other DIY gadget.

via CNX Software

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16 replies on “Banana Pi M2 Zero is a (faster) Raspberry Pi Zero clone for $15”

  1. The only problem is that this device DOESNT WORK AT ALL! ( I’ve got two for a few months, no image provided by manufactor works)

    Result: threw them in the drawer and bought Raspberry Pis.

  2. I just don’t get why the PiZero can’t just get the 4 core CPU. I’d like it for a portable games console that I currently use with the Pi3 but with the USB and other ports (of which none are used) make it quite thick. My next project I’ll be looking at removing the. USB and Ethernet, would be great if it could be supplied that way!

    1. Ha! Probably Raspberry staff that downvoted your comment.
      I was about to say, don’t even try to mention any good ideas to them, they treat anyone with a good idea like crap, and only want to hear praise!
      Banana Pi it became for me too!

  3. *sigh* No PMIC on board or in die. Too bad, I would have been interested in this for handheld device purposes, but it suffers the same fate in my mind as the rPi 0- if it doesn’t support some form of sleep / suspend, it’s not suitable for all day use.

  4. The problem with the RPiZ was never the performance. It’s that many years after it’s release you still have to hunt them down one at a time because of sh*t supply. Seriously I wanted to buy 3 of them for a project and had to order from 3 different vendors because there was a 1-per-user limit.

    1. I absolutley agree about the availability. Great little board but anywhere the sells them gouges you on shipping.

    2. While you’re correct… there has been an overwhelming demand for a beefy RiPi.
      Even I’ve been waiting on one, sadly I don’t think it will come until most of the interest has waned.

    3. The RPI 0W is faster than the RPI 0, and the CPU is a severe bottleneck, even at 1Ghz.
      Downloading a file over wifi happens at <3MB/s, with the CPU at 100% load (just a regular Http download). I do use a GUI, and the gui feels sluggish, meaning more than 100ms latency between doing something with the mouse or keyboard, and seeing it done on the screen.
      The Pi3B+ is slightly sluggish,around the 100ms mark, but when overclocking it, it works fine (response time is less than 100ms).
      Since Intel's x86 technology is heavier than ARM, and Windows is more bloated, they need a 1,6-1.75 Ghz CPU, but ARM needs just 1.5Ghz.
      The zero W feels sluggish.

  5. All that power means nothing with the crap support from allwinner chips. I prefer going with a rpi of some variety and loading up software where the devs have squeezed every last bit of performance out of the chip. For example the millhouse builds of librelec for the rpi3 can handle 720p hevc.

    1. Well, it all depends what you use this for. I use a similarly specced Orange Pi Zero for Octoprint as a headless server. It runs great! The RPiZ was struggling with the same task. Video playing is another thing, but only one specific use-case.

      1. Surely you’re doing something wrong – even a headless server would benefit from VideoCore graphics. I usually run my GPIO led flash scripts directly from GPU VRAM! Sometimes I fear my code runs too fast, but luckily everything is limited by the I/O bandwidth of the single USB host. It’s shared between all devices which is great. 3 to 4 USB hosts, 1000M ethernet, or native SATA would be an abomination. Huh

        1. To be hones I did not try any optimization for that project (I never even considered the GPU can help for Octoprint), just installed a minimal Ubuntu (no GUI), and cloned and installed Octoprint from Github. It did work, but it was kinda slow. The OPiZ worked with the same method flawlessly. Since I had both boards at hand I did not pursue employing the RasPi for this, as I have other ideas to use it, and the OPi with the RJ45 connector and PoE is probably even better for this task.

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