Make a $40 Linux or Android PC with new Raspberry Pi 2 rival

Hardkernel's Odroid-C2 supports 4K video and gaming

If you want to build a powerful $40 Linux or Android PC with 4K video support, consider Hardkernel's Odroid-C2 computer.

The developer board is an uncased computer like the popular Raspberry Pi 2, which sells for $35. But South Korea-based Hardkernel claims Odroid-C2 has more horsepower than its popular rival and can be a desktop replacement.

The popularity of single-board computers has grown with more people developing robots, wearables, drones and other devices. Few boards have been designed to be desktop replacements, and the that are powerful enough, like Nvidia's Jetson and Rockchip-backed Firefly, are priced over $200.

The Odroid-C2 can run full instances of Ubuntu 16.04 or Android 5.1. But the board's strong suit is graphics, and the computer could make an interesting Android or Linux-based gaming PC.

A 4K monitor can be attached to Odroid-C2 through an HDMI 2.0 port. The board has ARM's latest Mali-450 MP3 GPU and a video acceleration chip that can render H.265 4K video streams at 60 frames per second.

The board has an ARM Cortex-A53 64-bit CPU -- which is used in smartphones, tablets, PCs and servers -- and 2GB of DDR3 RAM. It has a Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 2.0 ports, microSD slot and eMMC slot.

If used as a Linux desktop, it is possible to put a heat sink and fan on the board.

The board can also be used as an alternative to Raspberry Pi 2 for the development of electronics and IoT devices. It has GPIO, I2C, I2S and UART ports. However, it doesn't support Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT core OS, which works with Raspberry Pi 2.

The Odroid-C2 will start shipping on March 4 with Ubuntu pre-installed, according to the company.

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