ODROID-H2+ Power Consumption
In terms of power consumption, that is a strong point of this system.
At idle, the official specs claim ~4W. We could get this figure, but not when we had the system fully loaded with optional components. Our test configurations were in the 5-7W range at idle but we can see that there are other possibilities to add more to the system. 4-10W seems like a safe range for idle.
Maximum power consumption is listed at 14W with the CPU loaded and 22W with the CPU and GPU load. Again, we were a few watts higher with our configuration with the H2 Net Card, and accessories, but we never surpassed 30W. The GPU aspect did add a noticeable bump in power consumption. If you are planning to use this as a desktop with two displays we would recommend getting a fan. The fan uses power as well.
If you are just going to use this as a lower utilization server type box, you can likely skip that fan. We have it running a 29-30% CPU load 0% GPU load with traffic on all six NICs on an eMMC OS boot and it is running passively cooled for over 24 hours now. These are low-power enough that one can certainly run them without a fan.
Overall, this is one of those platforms that some are going to love, and others are going to think “absolutely not” when they see. Today, driver support is not great outside of Windows. For Linux, we expect that to change over time just because that is a big market and the predecessor RTL8111 1GbE part is fairly well supported.
One may wonder “why not just use a Raspberry Pi 4” and I think there are a few good reasons here:
- x86 tends to do very well with legacy support. We cannot predict the future, but there is a good chance that 5-7 years from now, the hardware we have on the ODROID-H2+ will still be well supported and OSes will install out-of-the-box. That is not necessarily the same for the Arm maker board ecosystem to date.
- We have upgradeable memory. We only tried up to 32GB on this unit, but it is very inexpensive to get to 16GB or 32GB. It is only about $50 to get 2x 8GB SODIMMs, so that is $50 for 16GB. Going 2GB to 8GB on the Raspberry Pi 4 costs $40 for that incremental 6GB.
- Networking is frankly a great point here. Driver issues aside, 2x 2.5GbE or 6x 2.5GbE is a powerful combination.
- SATA drive support we wish was a bit more on board, but the ability to use standard SATA drives easily is nice. One also gets Intel SATA RAID which we tend not to use, but it is an option.
In this small “single-board computer” space, one needs to have a differentiator. The ODROID-H2+ has replaceable RAM modules and the H2 Net Card which probably take it out of the SBC space, but it is clearly targeted at an adjacent market. The ODROID-H2+ alone is interesting, but at some point, one can add USB NICs to the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90n-IoT and have a somewhat analogous solution.
The ODROID-H2+ with the H2 Net Card is something different, and something that frankly many STH readers will want for their labs. The ability to have 6x 2.5GbE ports in a fanless low power solution is great. Driver situations will improve over the next few months and quarters so perhaps the biggest challenge will be addressed. Price-wise, this is a noticeable jump from a Raspberry Pi 4 8GB, but it also offers another level of connectivity and features.
Reflecting on the experience thus far, perhaps the best indicator of what I thought of these solutions is in my actions. I purchased the initial unit from Hardkernel, went through the driver and testing. After about a week I ordered two more units from Ameridroid (at slightly higher prices) since they are in California and only a day away using any shipping method. As much as I have disdain for platform experiences where there is no NIC available until a driver is installed, the ODROID-H2+ with the H2 Net Card is a very unique and useful offering.