Single-board computers, or SBCs, are great for developers and hobbyists. These little computers allow users to do all sorts of things, from building musical synthesizers to developing full-blown robotics projects. Raspberry Pi has been the predominant name in this space for a number of years, but there are a fair number of clones. One such clone, the Pico Pi V2.0, might just be a better SBC than the Raspberry Pi 4.
The Pico Pi V2.0 comes from Chinese manufacturer 9tripod and has some cutting-edge tech backing it. It joins the rank of Raspberry Pi clones that exceed the specifications and performance of its forebearer.
If you’re looking for a good basis for your next DIY project, it may very well be worth looking into getting the Pico Pi V2.0. Let’s take a look at the specs, how it stacks up against the competition, as well as its compatibility with the many accessories available for the Raspberry Pi form factor.
Pico Pi V2.0 Overview
Release Date and Price
The Pico Pi V2.0 launched in February of 2023 at a retail price of $124.99.
The base model of the Pico Pi V2.0 comes in a few different configurations which can be purchased. Users can choose between the base configuration with 4GB of RAM or a slightly more expanded version with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. 9tripod has discussed offering up models with up to 16GB of RAM in the future.
The Pico Pi V2.0 comes in a fairly typical configuration for a single-board computer. Users can expect to see four USB ports on the device itself, two being USB 3.0 compliant and the remaining ports adhering to USB 2.0 standards.
Power is supplied to the device through a USB Type-C connector, which solely provides power compared to the visual output connectors. Video output is handled through a Micro HDMI or USB Type-C connection.
The inclusion of the Type-C connector allows for the use of compatible DisplayPort Alt modes. 9tripod has also included a 40-pin GPIO connector, which is compatible with Raspberry Pi accessories. A 4-pin debugging connector is also present on the board, good for serial console usage when booting into the system conventionally may not be an option.
The system itself also handles Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Pico Pi V2.0 is Wi-Fi 6.0 compliant so should be more than capable of handling solid network throughput through the integrated wireless radio.
Users who prefer hardwiring can take advantage of the integrated Ethernet port, which is a standard gigabit port. 9tripod has integrated a microSD card reader on the board, as well, which should help with storage once users have exceeded the included eMMC storage.
It’s a tidy little package, though it would be nice to see a full-sized HDMI input.
|ARM Cortex-A76 and ARM Cortex-A55
|Number of CPU Cores
|4 Cortex-A76 cores, 4 Cortex-A55 cores
|2.4 GHz for A76 cores, 1.8 GHz for A55 cores
|4GB in the default configuration, 8GB for the expanded model
|No storage on the base model, 32GB of eMMC storage for the expanded model
|USB Type-A, 3.5mm stereo headphones, 40-pin Raspberry Pi GPIO header
|USB Type-C, micro HDMI 2.1
|6 TOPS Neural Processing Unit
Pico Pi V2.0 Review
The Pico Pi V2.0 is a smart little SBC, though it is hamstrung by a few considerations.
The Rockchip RK3588S provides a fair amount of grunt to the Pico Pi V2.0 that you won’t see on a comparable Raspberry Pi SBC. The eight integrated cores are relatively zippy and work well with the ARM-compatible Debian distro images provided by 9tripod.
General performance as a daily driver is great; you won’t notice any shortcomings when doing general word processing, web browsing, or other activities. For development, the Rockchip RK3588S has more power than the Raspberry Pi’s central chipset, and can certainly handle a lot more. The Pico Pi V2.0 has more RAM to draw from in the higher-end model.
For general gaming, it handles most ARM-compatible emulation and games just fine. Users can expect great performance using specifically compiled emulators like RetroArch to play their retro favorites. You likely aren’t going to be playing Doom Eternal, but it does well with what is available for the instruction set.
The included 40-pin GPIO connector means that traditional Raspberry Pi-oriented additions to the mainboard can be readily integrated. Otherwise, the SBC itself is running a typical ARM instruction set.
This doesn’t maintain compatibility with x86_64-based binaries like you might find on the usual Windows or Linux distros, but there is a suite of software out there which can easily run on the hardware.
Debian and Ubuntu both have compiled images that are readily run on an SBC. 9tripod also provides a custom-configured Debian distro meant for the Pico Pi V2.0 hardware.
The myriad of gadgets and devices you can attach to the GPIO connector gives the Pico Pi V2.0 a good amount of flexibility. Where it is hamstrung in this regard is in terms of enclosures.
Some of the Raspberry Pi enclosures will fit the device, but others may need adjustment. It is something to be aware of if you are using the Pico Pi V2.0 as a microcontroller or as the driver behind any of your projects.
How It Stacks Up Against Other SBCs
The Pico Pi V2.0 is more powerful than the ever-popular Raspberry Pi 4 Rev B. Out of the box, it can have more RAM and a more powerful CPU, which is also capable of accelerating neural networks and other AI-based software. While this won’t readily replace dedicated rigs meant for training AI models, it can handle some of the work that home researchers get up to.
There are other SBCs running the same Rockfish RK3588S chipset. The Cool Pi 4 and Radxa Rock5 Model A are two such SBCs. These have the added benefit of having documentation more readily available for them in the English language. The Pico Pi V2.0 is, unfortunately, somewhat slim on documentation, and, as such, might require a fair bit of guesswork to be effectively used.
Pico Pi V2.0 Review
The Pico Pi V2.0 is a robust little SBC. It is roughly the same size as a Raspberry Pi 4, but it packs far more of a punch. The pricing is a bit higher than for a Raspberry Pi but, given the hardware, that is to be expected.
The Pico Pi V2.0 handles testing admirably. The CPU and extra RAM certainly benefit common applications you might run on a Raspberry Pi. Emulation applications run without a hitch and handle consoles up to the Playstation Portable with minimal effort. This could easily make for a great homebrew arcade cabinet for MAME with the requisite arcade sticks and a custom enclosure.
The display output is crisp, and the micro HDMI output is 2.1 compliant. It supports resolutions of up to 8K at 60Hz with ease. It is a sturdy and well-built SBC, and can certainly handle most tasks you would expect to use a Raspberry Pi for.
Developers will likely find issues with developing purpose-built applications to take advantage of the hardware. Documentation for the Pico Pi V2.0 is not readily available in English, and the community around the device itself pales compared to those developing for the Raspberry Pi. All things considered, it is a hot-rodded SBC; it just has a few shortcomings that make it hard to recommend universally.
Pico Pi V2.0: Pros and Cons
- More powerful than Raspberry Pi 4
- Can have up to 16GB of RAM
- Higher models include onboard storage in addition to a microSD reader
- More expensive than Raspberry Pi 4 and other SBCs
- Only available through AliExpress
- Lacks documentation in other languages
Pico Pi V2.0: Is It a Buy?
Buy it if…
You’re in the market for a project computer but aren’t looking to break the bank. This is more powerful than a Raspberry Pi by some measures but isn’t nearly as expensive as the smaller Intel-based NUCs that are available on the market.
The inclusion of the 40-pin GPIO connector means you can use this device to build all sorts of projects that you might use a Raspberry Pi to drive ordinarily.
Don’t buy it if…
You need easy access to English or other languages in regard to documentation. The Pico Pi V2.0 is certainly a powerful device but it lacks the community around it that has made the Raspberry Pi such a resounding success.
On the one hand, it is readily available compared to the somewhat hit-and-miss nature of the supply surrounding the Raspberry Pi. But, on the other, it lacks the support needed to use the device.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©y0ye/Shutterstock.com.