Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Images source Electronics Hub
You are a manufacturer building products that will use Wi-Fi modules. ESP32 vs ESP8266 should come into your mind. These are among the cheapest Wi-Fi microchip or modules that you will find in the market.
They are also ideal for people working on DIY projects.
But, which one should I choose between the two?
Or, which one is better between them?
In this guide, we are going to help you decide the best between ESP32 vs ESP8266.
We will also help you choose the best Wi-Fi chip suppliers in China.
Know what a Wi-FI module is
A Wi-Fi module is an electronic device that is used to provide Wi-Fi connectivity. These modules are often placed in computers, smartphones, and other devices with the purpose of connecting them to a wireless network.
These chips contain a Wi-Fi transceiver, capable of connecting to a wireless network and sending/receiving data.
Wi-Fi chips are not all the same. They come with different specifications and hence deliver different performance levels.
To make you a better choice, we are going to do a deep comparison between ESP32 vs ESP8266. At the end of it all, you will make a smart decision on which one you think is perfect for your device or project.
What is ESP32?
The ESP32 is a Wi-Fi module that provides dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz support, as well as Bluetooth 4.2, low power consumption, and low cost. It is manufactured by many different companies and can be used to build a variety of different types of products or projects.
This chip is suitable for applications in which high throughput is required, such as home automation, robotics, and machine learning.
The ESP32 also offers increased performance compared to its predecessor, the ESP8266. It offers up to 600 Mbps data rate in comparison to the 72 Mbps of the ESP8266.
The module has a well-defined power management module as well as an RF balun and an integrated antenna.
It also features filters, power amplifiers, and low-noise amplifiers.
It is a reliable and easily scalable module that will perfectly fit into your project.
What is ESP8266?
The ESP8266 is a low-cost Wi-Fi SoC module, ideal for creating a fully functional WiFi device that will be suitable for your project.
The good thing about this chip is its ability to integrate all the required Wi-Fi components.
It has an L106 32-bit processor backed with a storage space of 80KB.
There are 16 GPIO pins that can be used to control various sensors.
It is perfect for IoT applications as its low cost makes it ideal for mass production.
The ESP8266 is also capable of providing a reliable connection with a throughput of up to 150 Mbps.
The peripherals packaged on this IC include a serial peripheral interface (SPI), universal asynchronous receiver transmitter(UART), integrated circuit protocol(I2C), and an analog-digital converter.
This chip also has an advanced power management system that helps reduce power consumption and can easily fit into a battery-powered device.
However, it comes with a difficult-to-use maker package that tends to give most users a hard time navigating.
Maybe the flash memory among other components make it a better choice.
ESP32 vs ESP8266: What’s The Differences
Let’s now analyze various areas that differentiate the two Wi-Fi chips.
First, let’s compare the processors of the two modules. ESP32 is a dual-core processor with a CPU processing speed that ranges between 160MHz to 240 MHz.
On the other hand, ESP8266 is a single-core processor whose CPU runs to a maximum of 80MHz.
So, what does this tell you about their processing speed?
Well, the ESP32 is faster than the ESP8266. It will be able to run more complex algorithms and instructions at a much faster speed.
The RAM capacity of both modules also differs. The ESP32 comes with a 512KB RAM capacity while that of the ESP8266 is limited to 80KB. This means that the ESP32 can handle more tasks and instructions at a shorter time than the ESP8266.
Since RAM is closely connected to the processor, ESP32 again proves its superiority.
The data rates of both modules also differ significantly. The ESP32 supports up to 600 Mbps data rate while that of the ESP8266 is limited to 150 Mbps. This means that the ESP32 will offer better connectivity and higher data transfer speeds, making it ideal for applications that require high throughput.
The power consumption of a module is directly related to its processing capacity.
The more powerful the processor is, the higher its power consumption.
Since ESP32 has a better processor, is power consumption is significantly higher than that of ESP8266.
How significant is this to the final user?
Well, if you are dealing with low-power applications, then ESP8266 is your best bet as it will help reduce the overall cost and energy consumption of the device.
However, if you need high-end performance then ESP32 can be a great choice.
You will have to sacrifice the power cost for the performance. Afer all, that is what most users do.
Peripherals are essential components of any electronic device.
In this section, we will compare the peripherals offered by both modules.
ESP32 comes with a wide variety of peripherals such as USB OTG, UART, I2S, CAN 2.0 interfaces, touch sensor interface and much more.
It also has an embedded Bluetooth v4.2 module that supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
This will enable you to connect your device to various other devices without any problems.
On the other hand, ESP8266 has fewer peripherals such as UART, I2C, SPI, and ADC interfaces.
It does not come with an inbuilt Bluetooth module and its peripheral capabilities are much more limited when compared to the ESP32.
So, if you need advanced peripherals in your device then ESP32 is the better choice.
Hardware security refers to the security measures used in a device to protect the user’s data.
ESP32 has advanced hardware security features such as secure boot, flash encryption, and hardware-based cryptography that helps keep your data safe from attackers.
It also comes with an integrated Trusted Platform Module (TPM) which makes it even more secure.
On the other hand, ESP8266 does not come with any hardware security features.
So, if you are looking for a secure device then ESP32 is your best bet.
SSL support refers to the support of Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol which is used to secure communication over a network.
ESP32 comes with SSL support while ESP8266 does not. This means that the ESP32 can be used for applications such as online payments and banking where security is paramount.
While both chips can be programmed, the difference is on the ease of programming.
ESP32 has a better platform for programming as compared to ESP8266. It offers better documentation and libraries that make it easier to program and debug.
It also supports Arduino, MicroPython, and Espressif-IDF which makes it even more accessible for developers.
On the other hand, ESP8266 does not have any official support for the Arduino platform which makes it less attractive to developers.
Overall, ESP32 is much more suitable for programming than ESP8266.
Software support is an important aspect of Wi-Fi microchips. It ensures that the chip is compatible with the various software used for development.
ESP32 comes with official support from Espressif and its development environment is well documented. This makes it easier for developers to use the chip in their projects.
It also has official support from Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and ESP-IDF which makes it a lot more accessible.
On the other hand, ESP8266 has fewer software support options, and its development environment is not as well documented as that of ESP32.
Also, the software support for the ESP8266 is getting older if not outdated.
When do we say a microchip is maker-friendly?
A chip is considered to be maker-friendly when it has a wide range of applications that can easily be used by makers and hobbyists.
ESP32 is definitely the more maker friendly choice here. Its wide range of peripherals, robust software support, and high performance make it an ideal choice for many makers.
It also comes with support for various development boards such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi and ESP-IDF which makes it easier to use.
On the other hand, ESP8266 does not come with as many features as a maker would need.
Price is also an important factor when choosing the right Wi-Fi microchip.
ESP32 is usually more expensive than ESP8266 but it offers a lot more features and better performance.
So, if you have the budget for it then ESP32 is the better choice for most applications.
If you are looking for an affordable Wi-Fi microchip then ESP8266 is the way to go.
When it comes to choosing a Wi-Fi microchip for your project, there are many factors you need to consider such as performance, hardware security, programmability, software support and maker friendliness.
ESP32 is undoubtedly the better choice for most applications with its robust features, official software support, and better performance.
However, if you are looking for a more affordable option then ESP8266 is still worth considering.
Overall, both chips have their own advantages and disadvantages and it is up to the user to decide which one best suits their needs.
And if you are looking for affordable Wi-FI modules in China, let ICRFQ be your partner. We are a reputable supplier of electronic components in China, providing competitive prices and quality assurance. For more information, contact us today.
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