I recently received a NodeMCU (identical to the one shown in the first picture below) and originally, I was unable to connect it to my computer which eventually turned out to be driver issues; however, during my initial panic, I found that there seems to be two variations of the NodeMCU board.

As you can see from the pictures below, at first glance there seems to be no difference to the boards, however, some of the more noticeable differences are that the first one has only one "orange" chip whereas the second one has two. Moreover, the first one has a large square chip towards the USB port wheareas the second seems to have a rectangular one.

First one: 1st one

Second one: 2nd one

I would really appreciate if someone could enlighten me to what these small differences are between the two boards are and also what are the implications of these differences (if there are any).

Thank you in advance for any help,

Kind regards, John

  • 1
    the one on top is better: narrower, better 5v (vin), faster serial, etc
    – dandavis
    Jul 23, 2018 at 16:51
  • 2
    Marcel Stör wrote an excellent comparison of the different NodeMCU development boards: frightanic.com/iot/…
    – MacFreek
    Jan 5, 2020 at 11:37

2 Answers 2


The top one is a real NodeMCU version 1 board (ESP-12E module).

The bottom one is a knock-off copy - looks like the same module on it.

The biggest difference is the USB interface. The real one uses a CP2102 USB to UART bridge. The copy uses a CH340G chip. The CH340G is notoriously unstable and liable to die at a moments notice. The CP2102 is far more reliable. I recently accidentally nuked a Wemos D1 Mini pro which has the same CP2102 on it with 12V. It took out the voltage regulator. It took out the ESP8266 chip. I replaced both those, and the CP2102 was proved to still be working fine. More than could be said for a CH340G - glance at one of those wrong and they die.

  • Thank you for your answer! I wasn't aware that there were knock-off clones of the NodeMCU out there and I'm so glad that the one I have is not one of them! I'll be sure to look out for the differences in the future; other than that, my NodeMCU seems to be functioning perfectly. Quick point; I came across this article: frightanic.com/iot/comparison-of-esp8266-nodemcu-development-boards/ where the picture they use of the board does seem to have the CP2102 chip but also seems to have an extra orange chip compared to the first picture above; why is this? Thanks once again :)
    – Tom
    Jul 21, 2018 at 17:57
  • That's just a tantalum capacitor. They come in different colours from different manufacturers. Black and yellow are the most common colours.
    – Majenko
    Jul 21, 2018 at 18:53
  • Having China clone your device is a sign of success :)
    – Majenko
    Jul 21, 2018 at 18:54
  • 4
    @Majenko: Regarding the CH340G, have you had that happen to you? Under which circumstances? Most of my 3D-printer control boards use the CH340, and they've always been reliable.
    – towe
    Mar 20, 2019 at 8:44
  • 2
    I have 5 Arduinos with CH340G, all flashed few hundreds times, and none died.
    – zmechanic
    Nov 4, 2019 at 21:58

I have several of the second version and they all have the CP2102 USB to UART bridge. So I wouldn't say it's a copy or a clone. These are now made by several manufacturers, mine came from DOITING not AI Thinker, so the components can vary and come in different colours ! AND, Chinese is Good !

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