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The $69 ZimaBoard lets you supercharge your smart home systems

Image of the ZimaBoard
(Image credit: IceWhale Technology)

Setting up a smart home system could be set to get a lot easier thanks to a new pint-sized device that is designed to be used as a DIY, hackable server.

While ZimaBoard isn’t the first of its kind, the fanless server offers a number of unique features, which would explain how it managed to reach its funding goal in less than ten minutes. The project has received pledges for over $160,000 over the weekend against its initial target of about $6500.

“ZimaBoard allows users to build a personal NAS, private VPN, 4K media server, software router, and so much more,” writes Lauren Pan, founder of Shanghai-based IceWhale Technology, that’s developed the ZimaBoard.

Open and dexterous

ZimaBoard is a single board computer, which unlike similar devices is powered by a 6-watt Intel Apollo Lake processor.

It’s equipped with two SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports that can be used for hooking up SSDs. You also get a single PCIe 2.0 4x interface, a couple of USB 3.0 Type-A ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as one Mini-DisplayPort that can output in up to 4K at 60 Hz.

There are two versions of the ZimaBoard. The $99 ZimaBoard 216 uses 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM with 16GB of eMMC storage, while the ZimaBoard 832 retails for $179 and is equipped with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM with 32GB of eMMC storage. Backers on Kickstarter can snag them at discounted prices starting at $69.

According to IceWhale Technology, the ZimaBoard ships with Linux but is compatible with Windows, OpenWrt, pfSense, Android and LibreELEC. Pan suggests that this allows ZimaBoard to be used as a personal NAS, private VPN, a 4K media server, software router, and much more.

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.