In recent years, there has been a growing popularity for Single Board Servers, but very few of them are operating on an x86_64 platform. However, the ZimaBoard created by Icewhale aims to change this by offering a hackable single-board server, which is claimed to be the first of its kind in the world. ZimaBoard-832 is a high-performance single-board computer designed for use in a variety of applications, including robotics, automation, and edge computing. The board is based on the powerful Rockchip RK3399 hexacore processor, which includes two ARM Cortex-A72 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores. The processor is coupled with a powerful Mali-T860MP4 GPU, which provides excellent graphics performance.
Design & Connectivity
What immediately caught my attention about the ZimaBoard was its compact size. I am surprised to see that it measured only 5.46 x 3.2 x 1.36 inches (height x width x depth). The ZimaBoard single-board computer is even smaller than a mini-ATX board, and it can be comfortably held in one hand.
The Zimaboard 832 has a captivating appearance, with an aluminum frame and heat fins, and a dark transparent “polycarbonate” bottom cover that provides a clear view of the printed circuit board (PCB). While it is similar to a Raspberry Pi, the Z832 sets itself apart by integrating an Intel Celeron N3450 processor, which offers excellent performance and supports a wide range of operating systems. As an individual who enjoys tinkering and has experience running a home server, I was excited to explore the Z832’s capabilities and discover what it has to offer.
One of the standout features of the ZimaBoard-832 is its connectivity options. The board includes a wide range of ports and interfaces, including two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and an HDMI 2.0 port. The board also includes an M.2 slot for solid-state drives, as well as a microSD slot for expandable storage. Additionally, the board includes support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Ease of use
The Z832 is an uncomplicated and user-friendly project board that comes ready to use straight out of the box. Once you connect the power and ethernet cables, you can embark on your new adventure. However, before you can access the board, you need to locate its address on your network. You can do this by checking your router or using a tool like Advanced IP Scanner 2 to scan for the address. Once you have the address, simply plug it into your browser, and you’re in!
The operating system provided with the Z832 is visually appealing and packed with features. However, if you’re looking to go beyond the basics, things can get a bit more complicated. While there are plenty of options to choose from, and documentation is available on the vendor’s website, it may be challenging for less experienced users to navigate. The documentation assumes that the reader has some background knowledge of similar devices like a Raspberry Pi, which may not always be the case. Nonetheless, the docs are helpful, but additional assistance may be necessary for beginners.
When you purchase a ZimaBoard, it comes with CasaOS pre-installed, a Debian-based Linux operating system that supports Docker. CasaOS is a user-friendly and adaptable OS that offers many features. It includes a built-in file server and an app store to expand its capabilities.
To access the ZimaBoard, you need to know its IP address, which you can access through your router’s built-in software. Once you’ve accessed the IP address, the left side of the browser displays storage availability, hardware performance, network status, and temperature. On the right side of the browser, you can access the App Store, where you can easily install a variety of applications, such as Jellyfin, PieHole, and many more. Each application enhances ZimaBoard’s capabilities.
The ZimaBoard is not limited to CasaOS, as it can run a variety of operating systems, including Linux, OpenWrt, LibreELEC, pfSense, Windows, and Android. Linux and Windows allow you to take advantage of the different ports and features. To test this out, the author installed Lakka, a retro gaming-focused Linux Distro, and was able to play a variety of games through an emulator without any issues.
In terms of performance, the ZimaBoard-832 is impressive. The hexacore processor provides plenty of processing power, making it well-suited for computationally intensive applications. The Mali-T860MP4 GPU also provides excellent graphics performance, making the board a good choice for applications that require high-quality visuals.
One of the potential drawbacks of the ZimaBoard-832 is its price. Compared to other single-board computers on the market, the ZimaBoard-832 is relatively expensive. However, given its powerful hardware and extensive connectivity options, the board may be worth the investment for certain applications.
Overall, the ZimaBoard-832 is an impressive single-board computer that offers excellent performance and a wide range of connectivity options. While it may be more expensive than some other options on the market, its powerful hardware and impressive performance make it a good choice for many applications.