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The Rock Pi S Review

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When writing articles like these, there is an inevitable comparison to the Raspberry Pi series. There is no way to fight this, and for good reason. The first Raspberry Pi ushered in a slew of Single Board Computers (SBCs), and one of them is the Rock Pi S, a new board from Seeed Studio.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Rock Pi S was provided by Seeed Studio for this review. Specifically, it?s the model with 512MB of RAM and 4Gb of built-in flash.

The Rock Pi S competes in the same segment as the Raspberry Pi Zero, particularly the Zero W with built-in WiFi. Its form factor is different; where the Zero is shaped like a stick of gum, the Rock Pi S is closer to a square. The Rock also has USB-C for power, an ethernet jack, and a USB-A port. Depending on the project, it can end up being cheaper than the Zero, since you don?t have to buy a micro-USB to USB-A adapter to hook up most other devices.

You do still need a micro SD card. While there are versions of the Rock with built-in flash, it?s small and not meant for booting an OS. Note that the size of the built-in flash is listed in gigabits. The 4Gb version is actually 512 megabytes. So get an SD card.

Which leaves us the question of which SD card. Some people automatically reach for a class 10 or UHS-I card, since those have the highest performance on the box. Trouble is, the traditional class ratings on SD cards only tell you the sequential read and write performance. That?s fine for cameras, but running an operating system means lots of random reads. Testing often showed that a good class 4 card was better than a lot of the class 10 cards out there.

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