July 11, 2020 updateThe NanoPi NEO3 is now available for purchase for $20 and up.

The upcoming NanoPi NEO3 is a tiny PC that measures just about 1.9″ x 1.9″ and  which features a 1.5 GHz Rockchip RK3328 ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor, support for up to 2GB of RAM, and a microSD card for storage.

With Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 Type-A ports, the little system could power a homemade router, file server, or other applications that don’t require plugging in a display — because this little single-board computer doesn’t have a video out port.

Discovered by CNX-Software, the NanoPi NEO3 will likely sell for around $25 or less when it goes on sale in the not-too-distant future.

Despite the number three in the name, the little computer will actually be the fourth member of FriendlyELEC’s NanoPI NEO lineup.

The first model was introduced in 2017, priced at just $7 and up, and designed for DIY network-attached storage solutions, among other things. It was followed by a slightly more powerful NanoPi NEO2 and then the even more powerful (and even pricier) NanoPi NEO4.

Wondering where the new model fits into the lineup? Unlike the NEO2, the NEO3 has a USB 3.0 port, which should allow for faster data transfer speeds. But it has a processor that should be a little slower than the NEO2’s 2 GHz Allwinner H5 quad-core Cortex-A53 chip and much slower than the NEO4’s RK3399 hexa-core chip (with two Cortex-A72 CPU cores and four Cortex-A53 cores).

So it’s likely that the new model will have a NEO2-like price tag in the $20 range.

Here’s a run-down of some of the NanoPi NEO3’s key specs:

CPURockchip RK3328
StoragemicroSD card slot
ConnectivityGigabit Ethernet
USB1 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x USB Type-C (for power)
Expansion26-pin header with I2C, UART, SPI, I2S, GPIO
Debugging3-pin header for serial console
Other2-pin header for 5V fan, user key, power & system LED lights
Power Supply5V/1A (USB-C or GPIO pin)
Dimensions48mm x 48mm (1.9″ x 1.9″)
Weight22 grams (0.8 ounces)

This article was first published on June 29, 2020 and last updated on July 11, 2020. 

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7 replies on “NanoPi NEO3 is a cheap, tiny single board computer for headless applications”

  1. That’s weird. I’m 95% sure I clicked the reply button on Boxy’s comment, but now it looks like I commented on the article and as if Kris is replying to Boxy who is replying to me.
    I know the comments have been experimented with for a bit. But I also use umatrix so most sites are at least partially broken for me (and that’s the way I likes it). Maybe if I actually enabled that script from jetpack.wordpress.com that wouldn’t have happened.

      1. Yep, I’m guessing it’s a script issue. I think I fixed the issue that had been causing the comment box not to show up in the right place.

  2. Well, it’ll still be storage attached to your network. Although if you’ve got a really good router, it’s possibly only slightly better than plugging a hard drive enclosure into the router’s USB port. But it is cheaper to get one of these and connect it to a really cheap router.

  3. The folks over at the FreeNAS forum won’t even talk to you unless your system is running at least 16GB ECC RAM. How do these little micro boards handle NAS duties with such (relatively) meager resources?

    1. By having a lot fewer resources and doing fewer functions.

      File access for one drive? Pretty easy.
      RAID / integrity checking? Not so easily done with this CPU.

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