SBCs have become famous in recent years, but the most popular of all does not have the power to perform many of the functions that SBCs are often called upon to do. Instead of waiting for Raspberry Pi version 5, you can choose not to wait and choose one based on an x86 processor, which will give you a lot more power.
What is an SBC?
The acronym SBC stands for Single Board Computer or Computer on a Single Board. It consists of a small board on which all the circuits essential for operation are included. So the processor, RAM, I / O ports, and sometimes even graphics are all on this card.
The difference with a conventional PC motherboard is that it is small in size and uses a series of specific interfaces in order to keep its size small. So you can find USB, GPIO, SDIO interfaces and all those that tend to take up little space and consume little. However, don’t expect to find PCI Express, SATA, or interfaces that don’t meet these requirements.
Why do I want an SBC with an x86 processor?
Currently the most famous SBC, Raspberry Pi, does not use an x86 processor and despite the fact that ARM cores have increased their processing capacity over x86 and can cope with you, not all ARM cores are powerful. and those who include Raspberry Pi many times fail when it comes to power.
The other reason is that even on Linux, the x86 application ecosystem has enough inheritance to make ARM versions pale. It is true that ARM is the most widely used operating system in PostPC devices, but the dominance of x86 in the PC world leaves a lot of applications on Windows and Linux. Thus, the weight of x86 applications makes SBCs with processors an option to choose from over Raspberry Pi.
Another advantage of the x86 SBCs is that their processors are designed for use in laptops, so they already have the typical interfaces of a PC built inside the processor. That is, we can find x86 SBCs that have SATA ports, SO-DIMM connections for RAM, and even M.2 connectors. Something we don’t see in ARM based systems.
The trade-off is that the price and consumption of these boards is higher than Raspberry Pi and other ARM-based alternatives. After all, AMD and Intel have a duopoly from which they make as much profit as possible.
What are the best x86 SBCs on the market?
Most of us are going to find an SBC for one thing in particular, which is why most of these systems are used in homes, as putting machine emulators. While everyone is free to do whatever they want with their SBC, we cannot deny the reality and we are very sure that if you are reading this article now, it is for this reason.
That’s why we’ve focused our small selection on x86 SBCs with which you can build your emulation platforms for older systems and even more powerful arcades.
HardKernel ODROID H2 +
The processor of this SBC x86 is an Intel Celeron J4115, which brings an integrated HD 600 graphics at 700 MHz. The processor clock speed is 2.5 GHz if the HT is not active and 2.3 GHz for this asset. It has 2 SO-DIMM RAM memory slots with dual channel support and for storage we can install M.2 PCI Express 2280 module, so there is plenty of RAM and storage.
If we want to mount a SATA drive instead, we have 2 SATA power connectors as well as 2 SATA3 data connec tors. But these are not the only expansion options available, since we have 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports. A 24-pin GPIO connector like that of the Rasbperry Pi and an RJ45 connector with the capacity to reach 2.5 Gbps.
In terms of multimedia inputs and outputs, the ODROID H2 + has two video outputs: an HDMI 2.0 and a Display Port 1.2. When it comes to audio, we have the classic mini-jack, one for input and one for output. The surprise? An S / PDIF output in case we want to connect a powerful 7.1 speaker system.
Seed Studio ODYSSEY X86J4105800
This is an x86 SBC that we sincerely love. Its CPU is a 1.5 GHz quad-core Intel Celeron J4105 that can sporadically go up to 2.5 GHz and has an Intel UHD 600 GPU. Its built-in memory is 8 GB LPDDR4 and we don’t make any mistakes and a 64 GB eMMC.
Regarding the input and output ports, we have a USB 3.1 port, a USB type C port, a microSD slot which turns out to be the same as that used in smartphones and to which we can connect a SIM if we add a 4G radio. It has 2 RJ45 connectors with both WiFi and Bluetooth capacity and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity as standard, 2 USB 2.0 ports and in case we want to connect an SSD or conventional hard drive we have 2 full SATA connectors, in addition to an M. 2 PCIe to connect an NVMe SSD
The board is more designed for robotics enthusiasts, as we have a 28 pin connection for Arduino, which together with the Cortex M0 + coprocessor can program Arduino based devices. It also has a 24-pin GPIO port for connecting accessories designed for Raspberry Pi.
When it comes to media outputs, it has a 3.5mm audio mini-jack that supports both input and output, making it ideal for directly connecting headphones with a microphone, as well as an HDMI 2.0 port.