Friendly Elec has released its open source NanoPi R5C — an computer system housed in an extremely compact and appealingly industrial metal chassis — for the starting price of just $49.
At its heart, the NanoPi R5C is powered by a Rockchip RK3568B2, which is a no-frills Arm A55 quad-core CPU. The entry-level configuration comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, but an extra $10 will get you 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The NanoPi R5C supports several operating systems, including Android and a number of Linux distros.
The system is built around a square PCB, with a square chassis measuring 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.1 inches (62.5 x 62.5 x 29mm); some pictures show the device with a pair of Wi-Fi antennae attached. Though the single board computer (SBC) weighs just 1.34 ounces (38g), a fully-assembled system with antennae weighs almost 6 ounces (170g).
Although there are many pictures showing the NanoPi R5C with the antennae attached, the antennae are optional: the Realtek RTL8822CE Wi-Fi 5 M.2 E-Key slot module is an $18 add-on. Buyers can also source their own or opt for a USB Wi-Fi dongle instead.
This Arm-powered mini PC is officially described by Friendly Elec as a “mini IoT gateway device.” Networking connectivity is important to its design, and a major feature of the system is its twin 2.5Gb/s Ethernet ports. It’s a highly-functional mini PC in general, though — other ports include 1x HDMI 2.0, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x microSD card reader with support for UHS-I cards, 1x USB Type-C (5V), and the aforementioned M.2 E-Key slot (1x PCIe 2.1, USB 2.0 support), which accepts devices such as Wi-Fi cards. There are connectors on either side of the chassis if you use an internal M.2 Wi-Fi card.
Thanks to the microSD card slot, which supports OS boot, users have the flexibility to easily run a number of different operating systems on this tiny PC. You can also install an OS on the NanoPi R5C using a USB cable attached to your PC, or a TF card and a web browser.
If you’re tempted by the NanoPi R5C but disappointed with just two Ethernet ports, you might be interested in the previously-introduced NanoPi R5S, which has a similar design but with three Ethernet ports (2x 2.5Gb/s, 1x 1Gb/s), an M.2 slot that can be used for storage expansion, and 2GB of RAM (at a minimum).
The NanoPi R5C is available now, starting at $49 for the base configuration with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage and going up to $59 for 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage; a Wi-Fi module can be added to either configuration at checkout for $18 more.