The emergence of retrogaming or classic gaming has enlightened an old-school gaming experience for gaming lovers. Playing old games not only reminds you of old times but also but the availability of streaming them online enhances the experience to the next level.
The urge to play old Nintendo 64 games or Super Nintendo Environment systems would encourage you to buy consoles, doesn’t sound like a good idea as most the consoles are obsolete and would cost you a lot.
It would be time-consuming and irritating to find such antiques on online sites. On the contrary, it would be smart to consider single-board computers. Although single-board computers have several uses, retrogaming emulation is the most popular one.
Best Single-board Computers for Emulation Reviews
As retro games are not that graphically intensive, immense computing power is not required exactly. This is why SBCs are considered the best option as they are much cheaper compared to a PC or a laptop. Secondly, SBCs are in compact and small form factors and hence easily portable.
In this guide, you will know about the best single-board computers for emulation out in the market. In order to make you understand the factors on which reviews are based, a tailored-made buying guide is also included which would help you to choose the most appropriate Single-based computer.
Top Single-board Computers for Emulation Comparison Table
Raspberry Pi 4 Computer Model B
RAM: 8 GB
Computer Memory Type: DDR3 SDRAM
ASUS SBC Tinker Board
RAM: 2 GB
Memory Speed: 600 MHz
ODROID-XU4 Single Board Computer
RAM: 2 GB
Hard Drive: 1 TB
Element14 Raspberry Pi 3 B+
RAM: 1 GB
Memory Speed: 1.4 GHz
CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero W (Wireless)
Wireless Type: Bluetooth
MicroSD Card: 16 GB
Odyssey X86 Mini PC
RAM: 8 GB
Hard Drive: 64 GB
RAM: 2 GB
Storage Capacity: 32 GB
Libre Computer Board ROC-RK3328-CC
Processor: 1.4 GHz ARMv7
Memory Speed: 2133 MHz
Arduino Mega 2560 REV3 [A000067]
I/O pins: 54 digital I/O pins
Ideal for: 3D printing, CNC robotics
youyeetoo Rock PI 4B V1.4 Rockchip RK3399
1) Raspberry Pi 4 Computer Model B
This is one of the latest products in the Raspberry Pi range of computers. The increase in processing speed has made it one of the best in the market, as demand for Raspberry Pi 4 is escalating with every passing day.
Not only this but multimedia performance and memory are more enhanced as compared to Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. the amazing fact is, that it requires the same power consumption and backward compatibility.
Although the Raspberry Pi single-board computer offers a wide range of features, Raspberry Pi 4 has some enhanced and modified features. The key features include hardware video decode at up to 4Kp60, a high-performance 64-bit quad-core processor with a resolution of up to 4K. The product also offers 4GB of RAM and dual-band 2.4/5.0 GHz wireless LAN. The list goes on further as Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0
The latest Raspberry Pi has various versions depending on your need, the size varies from Raspberry Pi Computer Model B 1GB to 8 GB. The main specifications include Broadcom BCM2711, quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC 1.5GHz processor, and a Micro SD card slot.
- Faster processing speed with CPU
- Ease in the usage of USB type-C for power
- Not much expensive
- Overall upgraded performance
- Thermal issues involved
- USB-C port only used for the purpose of power
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is one of the most sold brands in the market of single-board computers. The enhanced processing power is real up-gradation in the Raspberry Pi 4 series, Model B enables users to utilize it as a basic desktop which is exactly a cheap little computer. The 4K video output is something that has made it one of the best in the market.
2) ASUS SBC Tinker Board
ASUS Tinker board is good at handling intensive tasks like limited video transcoding and retrogaming. It is one of the most powerful quad-core ARM-based processors and offers improved performance as compared to other well-reputed SBC boards. Tinker boards facilitate users by providing the greatest durability and enhanced stability. The improved user experience of those who are interested in DIY.
Tinker board facilitates 2GB DDR3 memory with a high-speed GBit LAN port. It also features Wi-Fi for network connectivity. Tinker boards provide multiple DIY-friendly use features. It enhances the experience by providing HD Audio quality equipped with an HD codec and one DSI MIPI connection for touchscreen and displays.
For improved connection clarity, this SBC provides silk-screening with a connection header and location callouts. It also supports GPU computing APIs and next-generation graphics. Due to fixed-function processors and GPU, it facilitates multiple areas like image stabilization and processing, computational photography, gaming, gesture recognition, and high-quality media playback.
- Fits on most Raspberry Pi cases
- Pleasant and Unique aesthetic
- It has essential applications that every PC has nowadays
- Possible to connect an external WiFi antenna
- Lack of technical support
- Limited media center support
- No CEC support for HDMI
In order to enhance multi-threaded application performance ARM-based RK3288 SoC is provided with 4 cores. The most important aspect of the Tinker board is that it is compatible with Raspberry Pi series cases. 4K video playback and solid SBC for HTPC use makes it more attractive. If you are an IoT enthusiast and looking for onboard expandable storage, Tinker board has a micro SD slot to fulfill your requirement.
3) ODROID-XU4 Single Board Computer
Odroid-XU4 is among the most versatile and high-performance SBC in the market that provides a Samsung Exynos 5422 Octa-Core CPU. The only difference between Odroid-XU4 and Odroid-XU4Q is the cooling system fan instead of heat skin. When eMMC 5.0, USB 3.0, and Gigabit Ethernet interface is implemented, the Odroid-XU4 offers enhanced data transfer capacity for such a small form factor.
Odroid-XU4 features Mali-T628 MP6, USB 3.0 Host, USB 2.0 Host, 2Gbyte LPDDR3 RAM PoP stacked, eMMC5.0 HS400 Flash Storage, Ethernet port and, HDMI 1.4a. It is one of the most reliable SBC with Quad Core 2GHz A15, 2GB RAM, Gigabit. There are three USB ports and 1 HDMI port.
It is more powerful and energy-efficient as compared to other SBCs in the market, built on open-source software. XU4 supports various types of Linux such as Android 4.4 KitKat and 5.0 Lollipop and the latest Ubuntu 18.04 running MATE desktop. Those who are looking for technical details and another sort of information on HardKernel SBCs would find Odroid Wiki quite useful.
- Odroid-XU4 contains a gigabit ethernet port which makes it much faster
- Fast processor and good memory capacity
- Efficient power consumption when eMMC 5.0 storage is utilized for booting
- Includes power adapter
- No SATA port
- No Audio CODEC
Odroid-XU4 is best for professionals and newbies might find it a little complicated in the beginning. Being one of the modern SBC in the market, XU4 is considered more like a traditional personal computer unlike a “gimmick” such as RPi, enhanced processing power, and twice as powerful as aboard. Android-XU4 is one of the most powerful boards but a little more
4) Element14 Raspberry Pi 3 B+
Raspberry pi range offers a low-cost and pocket-sized computer with big features. Those users who prefer to keep computing portable and simple are recommended as a formidable option due to its built-in features like word processing, spreadsheet, and image editing. The Raspberry Pi provides a mini keyboard and touchpad in its kit in order to enable users to start computing right away.
The Raspberry Pi range comes up with the new product Raspberry Pi 3 B+, which features dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless LAN, a quad-core processor with a 1.4GHz speed, Bluetooth 4.2, PoE capability, and faster Ethernet. It also offers many applications such as electronics designs, hobby and education, IoT, Consumer Electronics, and Embedded design and Development
It has enhanced power management to support powerful USB external devices and also offers built-in Bluetooth connectivity and wireless. Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is considered more fast and powerful as compared to predecessors. Raspberry Pi 3 B+ comes with 4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU, 1 GB RAM, 4 USB ports, 40 GPIO pins and Full HDMI port.
- Easy to use
- Enhanced online support
- Doesn’t get hung up or overloaded
- Makes a great retrogaming machine
- Need to download newest Raspbian Stretch
- MicroSD not included in the box
- No power adapter or cables provided
Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is an amazing ARM-based computer, which is considered a bit less expensive than its competitors offering almost the same features and specifications. If you are interested in buying this one, you would need a keyboard and a mouse, a power supply, HDMI cable, (USB) to initiate computing.
5) CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero W (Wireless)
CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero W is best for making Embedded (internet of things) IoT projects. With the help of mini connectors and an unpopulated 40-pin GPIO, enables you to use it according to the requirement of the project. It is designed to be as compact and flexible as possible. It is considered the smallest form factor Raspberry which is ultra-slim and ultra-small with BlueTooth and Wifi connectivity on board.
Raspberry Pi Zero W (Wireless) comes with Mini HDMI Adapter and Heat Sink, CanaKit 2.5A Micro USB Power Supply with Noise Filter (UL Listed), USB OTG Cable, SanDisk 16 GB MicroSD Card (Class 10), and Official Raspberry Pi Zero Case with 3 Interchangeable Lids. Plus it has Mini HDMI and USB On-The-Go ports, Broadcom BCM2835 1GHz processor with 512MB RAM, and an Unpopulated 40-pin GPIO connector.
CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero W is considered four times faster than the original Raspberry Pi and. Due to its small size, the setup is not that easy because many of the connectors are not standard. If you are looking up to buy this one make sure you also get a Unique CSI camera cable and USB OTG cable. The process of powering your board would also require a microSD card with an operating system.
- Only one micro USB port
- Most connections require adapters
- A bit slower than full-size options
CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero W is an all in one package with extremely low prices. Different lids that come with enable you to connect the camera option, Plus the MicroSD that is included in the kit also works quite well. It works perfect for a gaming system and offers more in less price.
6) Odyssey X86 Mini PC
The role of edge computing devices is becoming increasingly significant in the field of IoT. ODYSSEY represents a series of single-board computers which provide ease in building Computing applications. Odyssey X8 is a Quad-Core 1.5GHz CPU that reaches up to 2.5GHz. It’s quite reasonable in price and the mouse, keyboard, and Monitor are easily connected to Odyssey X86, with Windows 10 Enterprise pre-installed.
It includes all essential features. These include Dual Gigabit Ethernet Ports, onboard Wi-Fi/BLE, 8GB LPDDR4 RAM, onboard Wi-Fi/BLE, 64GB eMMC Storage(optional), onboard Wi-Fi/BLE, SATA Connectors and PCIe, Audio Input and Output, HDMI and USB Ports.
It comes with 8GB RAM and 64GB of Storage. Furthermore, it has support for Windows 10 & Linux Operating Systems.
Odyssey X86 has a SATA III interface, 2 x M.2 PCIe slots, 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible, 4 USB Ports, and 28-pin Arduino compatible headers. You can use it for enterprise applications as well as personal internet applications like mini gaming PC, Internet Gateway, Edge Computing, Server Cluster, and NAS (Network-Attached Storage).
- Easy to set up
- The most expandable Mini PC
- Diversified network connectivity
- Powerful Intel CPU and GPU
- Fan controller issue
- RAM fixed at 8GB
It is just more than a computer. You can also use it to connect with gyroscopes and sensors. It offers abundant accessories and stylish cases. Most of the SBC users prefer Odyssey X86 due to the features it offers. With Dual Gigabit Ethernet, one can easily build the OpenWrt project and pfSense. Two of M.2 PCIe (B Key and M Key) enables multiple expandable capabilities like SSD, GPU, 4G, even 5G cellular network connectivity and hard drive.
7) LattePanda 2G/32GB
LattePanda is one of the best markets and considered a complete Windows 10 SBC. the best thing about this SBC is that the full edition of Windows 10 is pre-installed which enables you to run powerful tools like Processing, Visual Studio, NodeJS, Java, and more. LAttePanda’s single board can enhance your creative process whether you are an IoT developer, Windows developer, DIY fanatic, robotics whizz, interactive designer, or maker.
It offers the Best expansibility with 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0, onboard Wi-Fi 802, comes with an onboard Arduino compatible processor, 11n 2.4G, and Bluetooth 4.0. LattePanda also features Base Frequency: 1.44GHz (1.92GHz Burst Frequency), 2GB DDR3L RAM, 32GB Storage Capacity, Intel HD Graphics, 12 EUs @200-500Mhz, single-channel memory, ATmega32u4 (Arduino Leonardo), HDMI, and MIPI-DSI. Furthermore, it Supports 100Mbps Ethernet.
LattePanda is also compatible with Linux and Android which makes it the most versatile Single-board computer. It has a flexible software and hardware development environment. Users can also benefit from the real-time operations from the Atmega Chip. it provides both the power and performance of a powerful CPU.
- Enhanced performance
- Versatile range of features
- No heatsink or a fan
- Can bring change to the operating system
- Wifi connectivity issues
- Wiring and power supply issues
- Minor issues with updates
If you are looking forward to buying LattePanda, make sure that you also buy a good quality 5V power adapter because you would need extra power if the monitor is connected to HDMI output and other USB devices. It’s windows, so you can also install new drivers. The 2g32GB offers a validated windows license but it could turn expensive, so it’s better to find a cheap license fee.
8) Libre Computer Board ROC-RK3328-CC
The Libre computer board ROC is considered the best alternative to Raspberry Pi, and one of the most powerful single-board computers in the market. It features a Rockchip RK3328 SoC for enhanced performance and a low-power board. Excellent operating system support is also featured in Libre Computer Board.
The key features of Libre Computer Board ROC are something that makes it worth investing in. The high-performance design comes with 1GB DDR4, VP9 Hardware Decoding, H.264 AVC, 4K 60FPS Display Engine for H.265 HEVC and 1080P 60FPS Hardware Encoding and 1.4GHz ARM Cortex-A53 Processors, Ultra HD ARM Mali-450 GPU. There are some key features that enhance the customer experience such as the 2.5D Programmable Pipeline Display Engine.
Libre Computer Board ROC-RK3328-CC facilitates users with some basic essentials like HDMI 2.0 with HDR support, Gigabit ethernet, compatibility with H.265, 264, and V9 files provide superb multimedia processing and enhance home theatre PC (HTPC).
- Compatibility and accessibility
- Android Support
- Support open source
- Poor software support
- Hard to find information as it is a new device
The Libre Computer Board ROC-RK3328-CC (Renegade) has tons of uses which makes it quite a special one in the market, it is just simply a bit more than a Raspberry Pi 3. The only thing which could turn out to be a problem in this device is the lack of operating system support. The compatibility with Raspberry Pi cases enables Libre Computer board users to find accessories.
9) Arduino Mega 2560 REV3 [A000067]
The Arduino Mega 2560 is considered a microcontroller that is based on the ATmega2560. It has a reset button, 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header. Plus 54 digital input/output pins (of which 15 can be used as PWM outputs). It is compatible with most shield designs for Diecimila. The Mega 2560 appears to be an update to the Arduino Mega.
Arduino Mega 2650 is best for ambitious projects requiring extra memory and additional pins. Perfect for 3D printing, CNC robotics, and Compatible with most shields designed for the Arduino Uno.
There are several aspects that make the Arduino Mega unique and special. It provides enhanced User experience, high quality communication modules are used with modern design approaches. UNO REV 3, Arduino NANO and Arduino DUE without headers are almost similar designs that could be considered if you are looking forward to upgrading previous Arduino designs.
- Lots of I/O for projects
- End to end security for IoT.
- Larger space for sketches
- Best to learn coding for Arduino projects
- Not suitable for space-constraints projects
- Not enough space for large I/O expansion header
The Arduino Mega 2560 is considered the best development program for 8-bit microcontroller projects. It is much better than the previous generation Arduino boards as it provides plentiful code space, additional I/O and serial ports.
10) youyeetoo Rock PI 4B V1.4 Rockchip RK3399
Rock PI is considered an ultra-small form factor single-board computer that provides enhanced performance in the process of leveraging excellent mechanical compatibility. Rock Pi is most suitable for IoT enthusiasts, PC DIY enthusiasts, hobbyists, and makers, a capable platform in order to facilitate ideas to turn into reality.
The performance of this SBC is considered much better than popular single-board computers as it offers a modern powerful hexa-core ARM-based processor, RK3399 inside, and a powerful hexa-core ARM-based processor. It also features a dedicated bus and controller and Gbit LAN for the network. The CPU offers frequency 1.8GHz with quad Cortex-A53,1.4GHz, processor Dual Cortex-A72 and RK3399 64bit hexa core.
The best thing is that it offers a wide range of applications and could be used for various purposes such as home automation, NAS server, home entertainment, Smart home control gateway, 4Grouting intelligent terminal, high wireless performance, Network cache server, Industrial grade network aggregation server, and Security video intelligent terminal.
- Class-leading performance
- Rich interface
- Wide range of applications
- self-service computer with a slot for NVMe SSD
- Lack of support
- Does not work on the Odroid Xu4
It is famous for its top media server that is able to access all external USB storage media. No issues with wireless keyboard or mouse. It is Odroid Friendly which enhances its significance even further. It does not cost much for 32fb eMMC.
Single-board Computer Buying Guide
The use of single-board computers is becoming increasingly significant in various fields, a small computing device facilitates a variety of purposes such as learning how to program, building a media player, robotics, etc. recently SBCs are mostly used in industrial applications and the internet of things(IoT).
In order to provide you with a personalized view, tailored according to your needs, there is a customized buying guide for you. The most significant elements that every single-board computer must have are mentioned precisely.
The performance is the most important aspect to consider while choosing the Single-board computer. There are several benchmark tests that enable users to identify the performance. Every next model comes with enhanced features that enhance the performance of the device. It would be wise to make sure that SBC, you are willing to buy, provides enhanced performance like Raspberry Pi model 4 which offers Quad-Core 64-bit Broadcom 2711, Cortex A72 processor clocked at 1.5GHz speed.
In order to build applications such as Edge computing, powerful single-board computers are required. It would be better if Single-board computers have running windows 10 in order to get facilitated by high speed. The powerful features in an SBC device provide speed versatility, diligence, and accuracy.
Most of the single-board computers have an ARM, Intel, or comparable architectures. The main aspect to focus on is whether application processing power is achievable within its temperature profile.
Most of the single-board computers available in the market feature up to 32GB of memory. It depends upon the application that how much memory is required, few projects require enhanced memory whereas needs are also fulfilled with low-memory as well as it takes works run at lower temperature with lower power needs.
There is a diversified range of features offered in various Single-board computers. The most common features that every SBC must have are Quad Core 1.2GHz Broadcom, 1GB RAM, Base ethernet 4 USB 2 port, Full-size HDMI and MicroSD port, etc. Different SBCs offer different features, it depends upon your requirement which one suits you the best
The use of single-board computers in automotive, appliances, medical commercial, industrial, and military applications is becoming increasingly popular with every passing day. As far as retro gaming emulation is concerned almost all the Single-board computers in the market are best for emulation. Although they vary in price, quality, features, applications, performance, and memory.
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