Libre Computers ROC-RK3328-CC “Renegade” SBC Review

Libre Computers "Renegade" ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly Review
Libre Computers “Renegade” ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly Review

Recently I reviewed the Libre Computers “Le Potato” and I really like it. Libre Computers offers very up to date images (and takes pride in it) and the build quality on the board was rock solid. I also like that it is actually widely available to order for only $40.

I’m very excited that today I received the “Renegade” ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly board from Libre Computers which is available for only $50. One very interesting feature this board has that the “Le Potato” doesn’t is a USB 3.0 port. Since I love writing USB booting guides for all my single board computers having a USB 3.0 port means that the “Renegade” has the potential to hit much higher I/O performance scores using USB 3.0.

Will the “Renegade” live up to the high expectations set by the “Le Potato”? Let’s find out!

Hardware Used

Libre Computers "Renegade"
Libre Computers “Renegade” ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly

The ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly “Renegade” from Libre Computers is a very powerful RockChip based single board computer. The “Renegade” features 2G of DDR4 RAM, USB 3.0, a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, a Mali-450 GPU and 1 USB 3.0 port!

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Build Quality

The board uses the same high contrast colors as the “Le Potato”. It is just reversed as white text on black background instead of black text on white background. It’s still extremely easy to see the text and the board traces:

Libre Computers "Renegade" - Front View
Libre Computers “Renegade” – Front View

For the back view:

Libre Computers "Renegade" - Back View
Libre Computers “Renegade” – Back View

Like the “Le Potato” this board came very fresh from the factory. We can see from my quality check sticker that this board was checked on August of 2022. This one was so fresh I could smell some of the manufacturing chemicals still.

Everything is very solid and looks good. The edges of the board are very clean and everything feels sturdy. I would rate the build quality as excellent. The pictures don’t do it justice as the boards traces actually catch the light as you rotate the board which is a very cool visual effect.

Images Available

In all of my recent reviews of single board computers we have been analyzing the number of images available for the board and how old they are.

One of Libre Computers’ most compelling points is that they keep a wide variety of up to date images available for their boards. The “Renegade” is no exception here. Here are some of the choices available at time of writing (see the official download page for all choices):

That’s a very nice and up to date selection of images including Raspberry Pi OS / Raspbian! The full Armbian support is nice as well. The only version a little on the older side is Android but Libre Computers is largely a Linux company and all of those images are as new as they should be!

Testing I/O Performance

You can verify the performance of your SD card on Pi Benchmarks using the following command:

sudo curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/PiBenchmarks/master/Storage.sh | sudo bash

On the “Le Potato” we got a score of 939 so we’d expect something close to that score for the “Renegade” when using a SD card.

Here are the results:

     Category                  Test                      Result     
HDParm                    Disk Read                 64.24 MB/s               
HDParm                    Cached Disk Read          57.55 MB/s               
DD                        Disk Write                22.3 MB/s                
FIO                       4k random read            3574 IOPS (14299 KB/s)   
FIO                       4k random write           261 IOPS (1047 KB/s)     
IOZone                    4k read                   12437 KB/s               
IOZone                    4k write                  2926 KB/s                
IOZone                    4k random read            12402 KB/s               
IOZone                    4k random write           3148 KB/s                

                          Score: 1,361                                        

The full “Renegade” SD card benchmark can be viewed here on pibenchmarks.com.

Oh wow, I was definitely not expecting that. It obliterated the “Le Potato”. Perhaps it’s the DDR4 memory in the board or a much higher core system clock? In fact that is one of the highest SD card scores I’ve seen and it was just using a pretty standard Samsung EVO Select (green). That’s a very impressive result.

Now you may be curious what kind of performance we can get using a SSD via the USB 3.0 port. I was too. Here is a benchmark using a SSD:

     Category                  Test                      Result     
HDParm                    Disk Read                 305.13 MB/s              
HDParm                    Cached Disk Read          239.02 MB/s              
DD                        Disk Write                115 MB/s                 
FIO                       4k random read            23432 IOPS (93729 KB/s)  
FIO                       4k random write           12190 IOPS (48761 KB/s)  
IOZone                    4k read                   20588 KB/s               
IOZone                    4k write                  25046 KB/s               
IOZone                    4k random read            16739 KB/s               
IOZone                    4k random write           31967 KB/s               

                          Score: 7,656

The full “Renegade” SSD benchmark can be viewed here on pibenchmarks.com.

Excellent, we are definitely getting our USB 3.0 speeds and hitting about 3x higher numbers than the “Le Potato” can due to that model only having USB 2.0. Make sure you see my SSD boot guide for instructions on how to set up a SSD with the Renegade for high I/O performance!

Pros / Cons

Pros

  • Has USB 3.0
  • Has a powerful CPU and GPU that can easily handle desktop performance
  • Large and up to date image selection
  • Tools available to easily convert from Raspberry Pi to Libre

Cons

  • Only 1 USB 3.0 port is available (but using a hub and other available board connections is possible)

Conclusion

I continue to be very impressed by the boards from Libre Computers. The ROC-RK3328-CC Firefly board looks and feels like a much more expensive board than $50. This board is particularly stylish the way the traces catch the light and the black background of the board has a little bit of shine to it.

You don’t have to worry about old unsupported images with Libre Computers. They have a huge emphasis and even take pride on keeping their software and images up to date and this is a really refreshing change vs. a lot of other companies that are trying to compete with the Pi form factor.

With the on-board USB 3.0 port you can achieve very high I/O performance scores rivaling anything a Pi 4 can do. The quad-core CPU is no slouch either and the 2GB of RAM included doesn’t leave you starving for resources. It’s very comparable to a entry-level 2GB Pi 4 but you can buy 2-3 of these boards for the prices that the Pi is going for right now. Benchmarking showed excellent performance gains using a SSD with this board (and pretty impressive SD card performance as well).

This board would be great for running one of my Minecraft Geyser containers especially if paired with a SSD. When I was strongly encouraging people to buy Pis a few years ago they were around the price this board is now. I can comfortably recommend this board at $50 to anyone who needs a powerful and flexible single board computer!

Other Resources

If you are moving from a Raspberry Pi to a “Renegade” see my Raspbian Portability Tool for Libre Boards Guide

The “Le Potato” is around $40 from Libre Computers and is also an excellent board

The Orange Pi Zero 2 is a board that costs around $30 or so and is another fantastic choice as a Raspberry Pi alternative

If you would like to use NVMe-grade storage with an SBC the ODROID M1 has a real M.2 NVMe slot

See the rest of my single board computer reviews

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Jason
Jason
8 days ago

Are you able to get the Armbian Desktop images to boot? I cannot and neither can some of the reviewers on Amazon. I can put XFCE on the CLI Armbian version, but as soon as I update it, the desktop no longer works. I wonder if it’s the same problem as the Odroid M1?