Many competitors to the Raspberry Pi family of single-board PCs have come and gone with varying levels of success. Pine64’s latest entry in this arena is now available for sale, and it’s called the Quartz64.
The Quartz64 uses a Rockchip RK3566 SoC, a quad-core design that pairs an Arm Cortex-A55 CPU with a Mali-G52 2EE GPU. While this low-power SoC won’t win any performance battles against modern Arm chips found in smartphones and tablets, it’s plenty enough for the intended audience, capable of 4K video at 60 fps.
When Pine64 first announced the Quartz64 back in February, it said that 2GB of RAM would come standard, with the option for 8GB. However, the Quartz64 is instead launching only in 4GB and 8GB configurations. No plans were announced in Pine64’s latest update for a cheaper 2GB SKU in the future.
As it currently stands, the Quartz64 is quite “stacked” on the I/O front, as it features GbE, three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, SATA 3.0, eMMC slot, microSD slot, and even a PCIe x1 connector for expansion. You won’t find wireless connectivity onboard, but Pine64 makes available an optional Wi-Fi 5/Bluetooth 5.0 module (SDIO 3.0).
All that connectivity means that the Quartz64 is quite a bit bigger than the Raspberry Pi 4, as it measures 5.2 inches x 3.1 inches. As for performance, the Pine64 team explains, “The performance [is better] than devices with a similar power and thermal envelopes currently available on the market. This is obviously a very exciting prospect, not only for the Quartz64 but also for the devices that it may give birth to.”
Things are a bit murkier on the software side, however, according to Pine64’s Lukasz Erecinski. “Quartz64 is only suitable for developers and advanced Linux users wishing to contribute to early software development,” writes Erecinski. “Both mainline and Rockchip’s BSP fork of Linux have already been booted on the platform, and development is proceeding very quickly, but it will be months before end-users and industry partners can reliably deploy it.”
Looking further out, Pine64 says that a “Model-B” variant is incoming, which will have smaller dimensions more comparable to the existing Rock64. The Quartz64 Model-B will feature integrated Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and is aimed at “education, tinkering, personal projects, and similar applications.”
You can purchase the Quartz64 right now from the Pine Store, with the 4GB coming in at $59.99, while its 8GB counterpart lists for $79.99.