Raspberry Pi Zero Killer? What is RADXA Zero?

That's RADical!

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RADXA, developers of the Rock Pi, a single-board computer in the same ethos as the Raspberry Pi that inspired it, announced a few months ago that they’d be entering a smaller form factor into this mortal coil, aptly named after the Raspberry Pi Zero, the RADXA Zero.

Quite literally the same form factor, with 40 GPIO pins for interacting with various devices, the tiny computer currently – and officially – runs Android 9 and Linux distro, Ubuntu. Though it looks familiar, it is actually a hell of a lot more powerful than its counterpart.

Starting at a measly $15, the tiny PC comes with two USB-C ports (rated at 3.0 and 2.0 speeds), a Micro HDMI slot, and a microSD card slot as well. Each version appears to come with Bluetooth and WiFi built-in, whereas with the Pi Zero, you need to get hold of the Pi Zero W or Pi Zero WH.

The Micro HDMI can actually output up to 4K60, with HDR (it’s HDMI 2.1?!), which in my experience with the Raspberry Pi 4’s 4K performance, if this is going to be weaker than the Pi 4, I don’t really want to throw it on anything more than 1080p.

RADXA claims that the ARM chip on board is capable of up to 70% of the Raspberry Pi 4, which if we’re being honest, at this form factor, blows the Zero out the water. The only thing is, you’ll have to work within Ubuntu rather than the more comfortable-looking Raspbian (Raspberry Pi OS) to use the GPIO pins.

Specs for the RADXA Zero:

  • Up to 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM
  • Up to 16GB of eMMC flash storage
  • Ampak AP6212 or Ampak AP6256 (WiFi/Bluetooth 4 or 5 respectively)
  • Two USB-C (rated at 3.0 and 2.0 individually)
  • microSD Card Slot
  • Micro HDMI port
  • 40 GPIO pins (including 5V of power distribution)

How much is the RADXA Zero?

The RADXA Zero comes in a few variations, so you can purchase each one for the following price:

  • 512MB RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi 4, no eMMC storage – $15
  • 1GB RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi 4, no eMMC storage – $20
  • 2GB RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi 5, 8GB eMMC storage – $30
  • 4GB RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi 5, 16GB eMMC storage – $45

While the RADXA Zero isn’t actively available just yet, it should become available later into 2021, as 100 units have been made and shipped to developers to generate support for the new model. If it does come out and is actually in stock, I can see the Pi Zero being tossed aside very quickly, as for the life of me, I cannot find one anywhere.