Nano Pi M4 SBC Board Review : Part II

So this is a continuation of my first post, where I encountered a good deal of stability issues with the Nano Pi M4 boards I had acquired:

New Setups & New Results

So I changed up some things after employing a USB power meter to determine what the boards were pulling:

  • Ensure that the AC->USB power adapter provided slightly more than 5.0V and provided a stable and solid 2A. The board pulls between 600-900mA at any given point in time… but I strongly suspect that there are periodic, brief transient, current spikes that exceeds the response speed of the power supply.
  • Ensure that if I am doing anything more than just an idling OS install, I should have a small fan providing active air currents.

Devices Tried:

  • Apple 5V/1A – Boots sometimes, but unstable.
  • Apple 5V/2.4A – Boots reliably and runs stably.
  • Dual Port 5V/2.4V – Boots reliably and runs reliably. However, only use one port, as a second port being used will drop the voltage, increase the amperage draw, and most adapters will share the current load.. causing fluctuations.
  • 60W Apple Square AC Power adapter to USB-C – This requires smart power negotiation on the USB data lines… however, the Nano Pi M4 does not perform any negotiation, so it will be capped at 5V @500mA. So booting will be unstable and operation will be unstable.
  • USB Battery Pack on port providing 5V 2.1A – Boots reliably and runs reliably. However, note that many battery packs will limit the total current of all ports.
  • Switched Wall Wart 5V @ 3A – Works great. Since it’s a simple “dumb” switched power supply, 3A is the current capacity of the unit, so if the power draw goes up and doesn’t exceed 3A, it works well.

OS Images Tried And Setups

  • Armbian for ARM8/ARM64 SD Card Image
    • This boots and works well. However, unsure about any optimizations or driver support for the RockChip3399 Arm processor. It works though. Switched away from this image in favor of the Friendly Elec Ubuntu image.
  • Friendly Electronic’s Ubuntu Bionic 18.04 SD Card Image for Nano Pi M4
    • This is the image provided specifically for the Nano Pi M4. I’ve got this running a Plex server for the last few days and seems to be quite stable. Without a fan, this gets into the 50°C range. With a 120mm fan it will drop down to the 32-38°C range. CPU governor set to manual at 1.4Ghz.
    • Used with a USB3 10TB hard drive(external power adapter for drive, so not powered from the USB bus).
  • RecalBox SD Card Image for Arm M4
    • Been testing this image on another Nano Pi M4 and found that it runs emulation engines quite well. The CPU gets quite warm, hits 45-50°C. If I put a box fan nearby to ensure airflow, I see the CPU temp drop to a more sensible 36-40°C. CPU governor set to manual at 1.4Ghz.
    • Added a USB Bluetooth adapter to enable PS3 wireless controller.
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