Hardkernel Unveils the ODROID-H4 Family, Boasting of a 36-83 Percent Performance Boost

New Intel "Alder Lake-N" single-board computers offer a big speed boost, but at the cost of a 48GB RAM limit.

Hardkernel has quietly launched new models in its ODROID-H family of x86 single-board computers (SBCs), incrementing it to the ODROID-H4 series — and with a top-end model, the ODROID-H4 Ultra, offering an eight-core Intel Core i3 N305 "Alder Lake-N" processor with a clock speed up to 3.8GHz

"Hardkernel is introducing the ODROID-H4, H4+, and H4 Ultra, which is equipped with higher performance and richer interfaces," the company explains of its new boards. "We also implemented little details following the ODROID-H3 feedback we receive from all of our users — this means you. The ODROID H4 series doubles down on versatility by adding the low cost H4, with stripped down hardware, on one side of the H4+, and the 8-core H4 Ultra flagship on the other side of the H4+."

The latest ODROID-H models, brought to our attention by CNX Software, start with the ODROID-H4 and an Intel Processor N97 quad-core chip running at up to 3.6GHz burst and with an Intel UHD Graphics integrated GPU (iGPU) with 24 execution units and a 1,200MHz burst frequency. The ODROID-H4+ keeps the same CPU, but adds four SATA-III ports missing from its non-plus sibling. The ODROID-H4 Ultra, meanwhile, moves to the more powerful Intel Core i3 N305 — boosting the maximum single-core clock speed to 3.8GHz while doubling the core count to eight and increasing the iGPU execution units to 32 at a faster 1,250MHz.

The new ODROID-H4 follows on from the series' reboot in 2022, after Hardkernel's decision to discontinue the range after the ODROID-H4. The ODROID-H3 and higher-performance ODROID-H3 Plus brought with them a choice of Intel Celeron N5105 or Pentium Silver N6005 "Jasper Lake" processors and support for up to 64GB of DDR4 memory. The new models are built on newer "Alder Lake-N" chips, with improvements including a shift from DDR5 to faster DDR5 memory and support for Intel's Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2) instructions.

The company is positioning the new boards as suitable for hardware-accelerated gaming and emulation without the need for an external GPU. (📹: Hardkernel)

Other improvements in the new boards compared to the earlier ODROID-H3 and -H3+ include a doubling of DisplayPort outputs to two, along with one HDMI output, a doubling of SATA ports on all but the entry-level ODROID-H4 model, and an increase in performance of around 36 percent depending on workload — increasing to 83 percent for the ODROID-H4 Ultra. The trade-off, though, is a larger footprint, meaning the new boards aren't compatible with cases designed for older ODROID-H models — with Hardkernel planning its own case design inspired by Nintendo's GameCube console.

All models in the ODROID-H4 range include two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, an eMMC slot, an analog audio jack, either a single 2.5-gig-Ethernet in the ODROID-H4 or two in the -H4+ and -H4 Ultra models, expansion input/output (IO) ports with two I2C buses, three more USB 2.0 ports, one UART bus, HDMI-CEC, and external power button connectivity, and four PCI Express Gen. 3 lanes exposed on an M.2 slot designed primarily for use with Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) storage.

There's one regression compared to the older models, though: where the ODROID-H3 family supported up to 64GB of DDR4 memory across two SODIMM slots, the new ODROID-H4 boards are limited to 48GB of DDR5 total.

The new ODROID-H4, ODROID-H4+, and ODROID-H4 Ultra are now available to order on the Hardkernel store, priced at $99, $139, and $220 respectively.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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