REVIEW: X96 Air an affordable Android TV-Box with Amlogic S905X3 SoC

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X96 Air is a the new Android TV-Box model which we present today in our review, an affordable device that integrates the new Amlogic S905X3 Quad core SoC, a processor that updates its CPU cores with the Cortex-A55 ARMs that replace the S905X2 Cortex-A53 ARMs. This device follows the trail of previous models of the same brand, has several hardware versions that differ in their internal storage, Wi-Fi and RAM, all of them have the Android 9 Pie system installed. Let’s see in our review how this device behaves and how it defends itself against its rivals.
  • If you are looking for a cheap box see our A95X F3 Review, in our opinion have better wifi and thermals than this device.
  • X96 Air can be purchased in Geekbuying.com only for $39.99 (36€) in his version with 4/32GB with free shipping with the coupon NNNX9632 or his basic version 2/16GB with the coupon NNNX9616 only for $29.99 (27€)

PRODUCT DETAILS

ModelX96 Air
Basic SpecsSoC: Amlogic S905X3 Quad Core 4x ARM-A55 @ 1.9GHz (64bit) / GPU Mali-G31 MP2 / 12nm
System: Android 9 Pie (32bit)
Ram, storage and network:
– 4GB RAM DDR3 + 32/64GB eMMC / Wifi ac Dual Band + Bluetooth 4.1 (X9655) / Ethernet 10/100
– 4GB RAM DDR3 + 32/64GB eMMC / Wifi ac Dual Band + Bluetooth 4.1 (X9655) / Ethernet Gigabit
– 2GB RAM DDR3 + 16GB eMMC / Wifi b/g/n / NO Bluetooth / Ethernet 10/100
Ports: HDMI 2.1 4K@75fps / Jack AV / SPDIF / 2x USB 2.0 / 1x USB 3.0 / MicroSD / Reset
Extras: IR remote / HDMI cable / Manual / DC 5V 2A adapter
Materials and measures: Plastic / LED panel / 77 x 77 x 17 mm / 125 gr.

Unboxing

The X96 Air comes in a standard cardboard box with a image of the device in the top, inside we found the TV-Box, IR remote, HDMI cable 4K@60fps compatible, Manual and a DC 5V 2A adapter.

Description

The box of the X96 Air is made in plastic and has a box design with round corners. On the front we have an LED display that indicates the time, on the sides and in the back area we have all the connectors in a classic configuration. This model includes a simple IR remote control that allows us to perform basic functions in apps like KODI but is limited for more complex ones.

Inside the audio jack we have the update button in case it is necessary to update the firmware. On the motherboard we can see the Wifi ac Dual Band + Bluetooth 4.1 (X9655) chip little known and has an internal Wi-Fi antenna, the 2GB model only mounts Wifi b/g/n without Bluetooth. The cooling system is extremely simple, rubber ends and metal plate, it could be better.

  • Remote Control: Basic IR Remote with copy keys/ NO microphone / We can choose other alternatives.
  • Alternate control: Does not have its own control app / We can try Cetusplay in our smartphone.

SYSTEM AND PERFORMANCE

Environment and Android system

Connecting the power adapter at the X96 Air boots automatically, we arrive at a simple and quite clear launcher, it is valid for use with the default command by default, it has a lower row that we can customize with the icons of the apps we want. The installed apps include Miracast and KD Player, which is a version of KODI full of addons. The performance of Android 9 is very good at the desktop level or with heavy apps and works stable and without forced app stops.

If we are going to play and make intensive use of this model we recommend buying the variant with 4GB of RAM, if we want to adjust our budget and we are only going to use it as a media player we may have enough with the 2GB model.

  • Launcher: As an alternative we have Pixel launcher to use mouse or Ugoos for IR control / Android UI rendering at 1080p.
  • Multitasking and access: Multitasking NOT available / NO lower Android bar or upper bar.
  • Languages and Google Play: All the international Android classics / Google Play installed.
  • On/Off Controls: If we keep press the power button we have reset and power off option / Configurable in settings.
  • System version and root: Android 9 Pie (32 bit) / The system IS root by default / NO root menu.
  • Support: X96 don’t have support site / Firmware available / Custom firmware not available yet.

Network, storage, RAM and ports

The X96 Air TV-Box has eMMC memory for internal storage and DDR3 RAM, it has two USB 3.0 port and SD card reader. In the network section it has a wireless adapter Wifi ac Dual Band + Bluetooth 4.1 (X9655) and Ethernet 10/100 port. As we can see in the tests results are correct, we have an acceptable wifi speed in the 5G band and a normal range for a model with an internal antenna.

  • Storage: Total 32GB  – Free 29GB / NTFS + exFAT compatible / Expandable with a USB or SD external memory.
  • RAM: Total 4GB – Free 3GB / DDR3.
  • Network: Basic speed with one internal wifi antennas / Range 42dBm, aceptable. / Bluetooth OK.
  • We recommend reading our Tutorial SAMBA on Android networks if we are going to use files from our network PC.
USB 2.0USB 3.0microSDSATA
Read / Write21/17 MB/s101/37 MB/s20/19 MB/s

Power and performance

At raw power level the X96 Air this model has installed the Amlogic S905X3 Quad Core SoC with ARM Cortex-A55 processors and in the graphic section a Mali-G31 MP2 GPU that is in the mid-range. This SoC is manufactured in 12nm, has a fairly low consumption but as we have seen the cooling system is basic and temperatures are somewhat high in normal use.

  • CPU performance: Min 500 MHz / Working  1,7ºC / Max 1,9 MHz
  • Thermals: Min. 40ºC / Working  65ºC / Max. 75ºC / Maintains performance up to 92% / Heat zone on the top / Noise 0db
  • Consumption: Off 0.6W / Min 2.3W / Working 3.6W / Max. 7.8W
  • Games and emulators: IS possible to play titles such as PUBG with low settings / Emulators up to Wii / NO Vulkan support.
  • Controls: Compatible with Gamepads by cable or bluetooth.

VIDEO AND AUDIO TEST

Video playback test

For the video playback aspect, the X96 Air features the Amlogic S905X3 SoC and a VPU Advanced Video Engine Gen10 compatible with most modern video formats such as h.265 and VP9 with 4K HDR native resolution or even 8K@60fps support, don’t have video quality settings. We can use players like KODI or PLEX without the slightest problem, the system comes by default with a version of KODI full of addons that we recommend uninstalling. At the audio level we can play DD and DTS sound up to 5.1 through the HDMI port. Check our Amlogic S905X3 SoC Comparison against all SoCs to see more details about A/V aspects of this SoC.

Video results

FormatsResult
h.264 / 1080i / 8bitFrameskip
h.264 / 1080p / 4K / 8bitOK
h.264 / 1080p / 10bit (anime)Frameskip (SW)
h.265 / 1080p / 8bitOK
h.265 / 1080p / 10bit (anime)OK
h.265 / 4K@24fps / 8bitOK
h.265 / 4K@60fps / 10bit HDROK
VP9 P1 / 4K@24fps / 8bitOK
VP9 P2 / 4K@60fps / 10bit HDROK
VP9 P2 / 8K@60fps / 10bit HDROK (only in KODI)
Max. Bitrate100 Mbps = 12,5 MB/s.
  • The maximum bitrate depends on the port used to connect or the limitations of SAMBA Networks.
  • SW = does not have hardware acceleration and may have have some frameskip in very heavy files.

Audio test results

FormatsDD / DTS 5.1DD+ / DTS MADD True / DTS HRDD Atmos / DTS X
HDMIOK / OKCoreCoreCore*
OpticalOK / OKCoreCoreCore*
  • PCM – Stereo only doing downmix from DD or DTS
  • Core – Only the core of the format is played back with what we passed to the Dolby / DTS base system
    * Our AV receiver does not support these native formats but we verify that it is played back to 7.1

Streaming services

In our usual tests with streaming services we see how the most popular services work. The X96 Air presents the classic configuration without certifications which limits us in quality in several streaming services, luckily if it is compatible with most services even if they are in its most basic quality of SD video

Streaming serviceVideo / AudioResultManual
YoutubeFullHD HDR (720p) / StereoOK
Google Play MoviesHD (720p) / StereoOK
NetflixSD+ (540p) / StereoOK, installing the apk with mouseNetflix on Android
HBOFullHD (1080p) / StereoOK, with mouseHBO on Android
Amazon Prime VideoSD (480p) / StereoOK, with mouseAmazon Prime video on Android
DAZNHD (720p) / StereoOK, with mouse
IPTVFullHD (1080p) / StereoOK

CONCLUSIONS AND BUY LINKS

Score

X96 Air

0.00
7.1

Design

7.0/10

Hardware

6.5/10

Connectivity

7.5/10

Support

7.0/10

Price

7.5/10

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Wifi ac
  • SPDIF and some USB
  • Android 9
  • Fast and stable

Cons

  • No android navigation bars
  • Ethernet 10/100
  • A bit hot in normal use

Opinion

After testing the X96 Air we can say that we are facing a low-cost model that is quite competent with positive points regarding the competition, although it has some lack. In this TV-Box we have the S905X3 that improves its Cortex-A55 CPU cores and updates its VPU with VP9 video support up to 8K. The GPU allows us to play powerful titles like PUBG although if we are going to play we recommend the 4GB model over the 2GB model to do it without problems.

At the level of WiFi connectivity the X96 Air has correct performance with its Wifi ac Dual Band adapter but it only mounts an internal antenna, the Ethernet adapter is only 10/100 and we have a very basic IR control, some classic cut-off points of hardware in low-cost models. As negative points it should be noted that it does not have Android navigation bars and also has a somewhat basic cooling system that added to its closed box does not help much with thermal.

In short, the X96 Air is a competent low-cost TV-Box, a model that serves as a conventional media player and that mounts a decent Wi-Fi chip, can be valid at a good price.

Where to buy

  • X96 Air can be purchased in Geekbuying.com only for $39.99 (36€) in his version with 4/32GB with free shipping with the coupon NNNX9632 or his basic version 2/16GB with the coupon NNNX9616 only for $29.99 (27€)

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Jerry Rocteur
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Jerry Rocteur

Very good review with detailed analysis and lots of helpful links which I am reading.
Mine switches on automatically, it switches off then comes on by itself.
Wi/Fi does not work if I boot with Ethernet cable, if I boot with Wi/fi, I can later plug in the cable.. Weird.
I liked this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQYssD0DM60 if you want to install Linux on it as well..
Thanks for the review!!

mark
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mark

Typo Gigabit 10/100M
if using mod Youtube apk capable 4K Youtube.

M. Farouk
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M. Farouk

Thanks for the great review.
Would you recommend Magicsee N5 MAX over this X96 Air ?
i’m looking for an Android box to stream IPTV, youtube & web browsing nothing more.

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