UP Board: The Raspberry Pi killer? // Review

Will the new UpBoard be a true Raspberry Pi killer? What is this new board like and how does it help the Maker?

Find out in this review.


Unboxing

My kickstarter package was fairly basic with just an HDMI cable and UpBoard. I was fairly impressed with the “getting started” page, and as I found out later it was trivial to get going.

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The Up comes in three different flavours with 1G, 2G and 4G RAM and a range of eMMC storage options. From the last time I checked the Up store. They only had two models with 2G RAM and either 16G or 32G eMMC storage.


What do you get

The Up Board claims to be a 100% Raspberry Pi compatible electrically and physically.

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So you should be able to drop it in place of a Pi without changing anything. As it turns out it’s not 100% accurate, but before we get on to that Let’s see what you get on the board.

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You get and RTC with battery and MIPI CSI, (which isn’t pin for pin compatible with Pi).

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DSI and eDP on the one connector and a header for 2x USB2.0 and UART which can act as a console.

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Stock standard Raspberry Pi GPIO header. This is 100% compatible and to ensure this the board has a CPLD chip which allows some very interesting changes to be made to GPIO pins. You can change things such as slew rates, driver strength, diode clamps, pullup/down resistors, and create Finite State Machines. Very nice!

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An additional 4x USB2.0 and 1Gb ethernet.

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USB 3.0 OTG and HDMI.

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5v power, reset header, power header and power button.

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Finally you get the Intel x5-z8350 CPU with 4 cores running at a max of 1.92GHz. This final point changes the game. It means that you have, essentially, a standard desktop PC. This means that you will have access to all the plethora of software that exists for the desktop, which is far more than exists for ARM based CPUs.


What don’t you get

There are a number of things that you don’t get compared to the recent Raspverry Pi 3. For example there is no onboard WiFi or Bluetooth. You also don’t have analog audio in/out.

When it comes to the physical size, it is exactly the same size as the Pi. However, there are a few elements that make it hard to fit into a Pi case.

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The USB OTG aand 5v power connectors of course aren’t present on the Pi, and so would make it impossible to fit into a Pi case unless you had a handy dremmel tool.

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The power button matches up with the Pi’s USB power connector and is set back far enough for it not to be an issue.

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The other side that causes issues is where the MIPI CSI, DSI/eDP, and USB/UART connectors are. You will have to get out your dremmel if you want to use these whilst being put in a Pi case.

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The only other aspect that may cause issues is the height of the heatsink, which protrudes enough for it to be an issue with some Pi hats… Possibly. Most Pi hats usually have a header block which should keep it clear of the metallic heat sink.