It’s once again time for our annual reader survey of open-spec, Linux- or Android-ready single board computers priced under $200. In collaboration with LinuxGizmos, we have published freshly updated summaries of 98 SBCs, up from 81 boards in our 2016 survey and 53 boards in our 2015 survey.
You can now take our brief, 3-minute SurveyMonkey survey, where you can rank up to three of your favorite boards from our list.
We also ask a handful of questions on key buying criteria and intended applications. Completing the survey earns you a chance to be among 27 randomly selected winners who will receive a free board from one of six SBC families. These include the Arduino Uno WiFi, BeagleBone and variants, DragonBoard 410C, MinnowBoard Turbot Quad-core, Gumstix Pepper DVI-D, and several UP boards including the new UP Squared.
Community-backed SBCs running Linux and Android are seeing increasing demand from makers, educators, researchers, and a growing number of embedded equipment manufacturers. Hacker boards are used as desktop replacements, media centers, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as home or industrial automation gateways and gadgets. Other applications include robots, drones, smart city equipment, signage, and kiosks.
We’ve added dozens of new products since last year’s survey and trimmed a few others from our list. Newcomers include several new BeagleBone variants such as the robotics focused BeagleBone Blue, and a new Raspberry Pi Zero W board that adds wireless to the minimalist IoT-oriented Zero. There’s also the RPi-like, Rockchip-based Tinker Board from Asus, the first hacker board from a major PC manufacturer. Many of the new boards add to the low-cost Raspberry Pi imitating product lines from Shenzhen Xunlong (Orange Pi) and FriendlyElec (NanoPi). Other newcomers include the high-end, media-focused Khadas Vim and the Wandboard-like SavageBoard.
Recent trends include increased adoption of 64-bit ARMv8 SoCs, leading to a total of 20 such boards in our roundup. There are also several more tiny, stripped-down IoT boards like the Raspberry Pi Zero W, Orange Pi Zero, and NanoPi Neo. On the high end, we’ve seen new x86 boards like the UP board and UP Squared, as well as the Udoo x86 and MinnowBoard Turbot Quad-core. High-end ARM boards include the Firefly-RK3399 and the MediaTek X20 Development Board.
To be included in our survey, the SBCs must be supported with open Linux and/or Android stacks and be priced under $200 (not counting shipping), with promised shipment in July. They must also meet our relatively flexible selection criteria for open source compliance. The vast majority of the boards are offered with full schematics and extensive specs, and most include open source licensing. However, we also admit some less open source boards like the Raspberry Pi, especially if considerable attention has been given to providing suitable open source Linux and Android images, as well as community features such as forums, tutorials, and tech support.
For more details on selection criteria, as well as summaries and a comparison spreadsheet for the 98 boards, see the 2017 hacker board catalog posted at LinuxGizmos.com. To read more about product trends and fill out the survey to earn a chance to win prizes, see the 2017 hacker board survey page. The results of the survey and the lists of winners will be posted here in mid-June. Prizes should arrive in July.