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Asus ready to take bite of ‘Pi’ market with Tinker micro PC

Why it matters to you

The Tinker Board offers all sorts of new project opportunities, but it is pricey.

Asus is looking to take a bite out of the Raspberry Pi, micro-PC industry with an ultra-small form-factor system of its own. Called the Tinker Board, it’s impressively powerful and is even capable of handling 4K video and 24-bit audio, suggesting that it could make a very affordable HTPC in the right hands.

Homebrew computers have been part and parcel of the personal computing industry since its earliest days, but it was lost somewhat in the years between then and now. Fortunately thanks to the efforts of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and its contemporaries, we’ve seen a resurgence in home PC hardware hacking. As with any industry through, where there’s money to be made, companies will follow.

That’s why the Pi is no longer the only game in town and Asus is looking to play, too. Its approach is a little heftier than the others though, offering a quad-core Rockchip processor at its heart, with 2GB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet as standard, and the latest SDIO for additional components if required.

More: The Raspberry Pi Foundation offers its Pixel interface for Windows PCs, Macs

All of that hardware heft is what makes the Tinker Board so powerful and gives it its 4K video and 192kHz/24-bit audio capabilities. According to Asus it’s also what gives it a score on GeekBench as high as 3,925, which is close to twice that of what the Pi 3 Model B is capable of — though of course you should take any benchmarks produced by a manufacturer for its own product with a pinch of salt.

In any case, there’s no denying that the Tinker Board should be powerful. But power doesn’t come without a trade-off and in this case it’s cost. As Hexus points out, its price tag sits at around $55 when converted from the EU retailers where it’s recently become available. You can pick it up now from CPC, and a few other retailers.

This is at least 50 percent more expensive than the PI and a lot more expensive than some other alternatives, but it comes with the raw power that most of them just can’t compete with.

One of the biggest selling points of the Pi though, is that it has a huge backing from consumers, which creates a great community for modders to ask questions and learn from. So the question is, is the additional power worth the trade-off in price and community?