MangoPi MQ Pro is a $20 Raspberry Pi Zero W alternative

The MangoPi MQ Pro (opens in new tab) started in China. This tiny single-board computer (SBC) uses the same form factor as the more popular, but equally small, Raspberry Pi Zero W that we reviewed in October 2021. However, the new MangoPi MQ Pro has a key difference from the UK-designed SBC that sets it apart from the multitude of clones – it uses a RISC-V processor.

By January, the MangoPi MQ Pro had reached its final design and was ready for mass production. The SBC used a green PCB back then, but now it’s gratifying to see that it’s fully mature, with a striking red PCB.

After the design was finalized, it wasn’t long before MangoPi started shipping the first MQ Pro boards. CNX software (opens in new tab) noted that it was available in China priced at around $20. It’s currently only available on Taobao in China, but the news outlet expects it to appear on retailers like Aliexpress, an accessible portal for buyers outside of China, in due course.

MangoPi MQ Pro specifications

SoC

Allwinner D1, C906 Core, RISC-V Core up to 1GHz

R.A.M.

512 MB (MPi-MQ1PL model) or 1 GB DDR3 (MPi-MQ1PH)

USB

USB OTG Type-C, USB HOST Type-C

other ports

Mini HDMI port, TF card

connections

40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO header, 24-pin DVP/RGMII connector, 20-pin DSI/CTP/LVDS FPC connector, audio OUT pads

Networking

Built-in Wi-Fi/BT, Ethernet via 24-pin connector

Dimensions

6.5x3cm

The big attraction of the MangoPi MQ Pro for a certain group of developers, manufacturers and tinkerers will be the processor with RISC-V architecture on board. The exact processor used is the Allwinner D1 C906 (opens in new tab), which can also be found on MangoPi’s postage stamp-sized MQ1 board. In short, the RISC-V core of this SoC runs up to 1GHz and features a DSP, 2D graphics acceleration and a VPU supporting 4K H.265/H.264.

You may have noticed by omission that the Allwinner D1 SoC does not offer 3D acceleration. As such, the MangoPi MQ Pro isn’t as well-rounded as the $15 Raspberry Pi Zero W. The MangoPi MQ Pro is probably more suited to 2D desktop applications and headless use cases. Also, when you buy a MangoPi MQ Pro you have a more limited choice of operating systems – with rumored support for either Tina Linux or Debian. Finally, it’s important to note that the GitHub repository for MQ Pro is currently somewhat empty. We hope that more software and documentation will become available before this SBC gets into the hands of the user.

(Image credit: MangoPi)

Readers may fret over the $20 ticket price for the MangoPi MQ Pro when the Raspberry Pi Zero W has an MSRP of $15. It’s one of the cheapest RISC-V boards currently available, however, and its scarcity and uniqueness come at a price. Additionally, we recently reported that potential Raspberry Pi buyers are currently struggling to source stock depending on the model, so the shortage is also affecting SBCs like the Pi Zero W.

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