Table of Contents
The TV-Box X96 MAX has a very conventional design, only the logo of the brand stands out at the top. On the front we have a LED panel with the time and information of the connections, we found a USB 3.0 port, we also have HDMI 2.1 to 4K@75fps, AV jack (with internal flash button), IR extender jack (not included), another USB 2.0, microSD reader, SPDIF and the power connector.
- Materials and measures: Plastic / 105 x 105 x 20 mm / 120 gr.
- Package contents: HDMI Cable / Manual / DC 5V 2A adapter / IR Remote control (2x AAA batteries not included).
- Interfaces: HDMI 2.1 4K@75fps / AV Jack (reset) / SPDIF / Jack IR / 1x USB 2.0 / 1x USB 3.0 / MicroSD
- Leds and panel: LED panel with time information and connections / Can not turn off.
In the lower part we have several ventilation holes and two screw housings if we want to hang it. If we open the box we can see the S905X2 SoC with thermal foam that comes in contact with a piece of steel as a cooler. The wifi chip is an AP6356S and has two internal antennas stuck to the housing. The IR remote control only stands out for the inclusion of a few copying keys, we recommend changing it by a fly mouse or wireless mouse to have better control.
- Remote control: Basic IR Remote with keys to copy functions of other remotes.
- Alternative remote control: We can control remotely from our mobile or Android TV-Box using the app Cetusplay or connect a flymouse, mouse or keyboard.
Environment and user experience
We start the X96 MAX by connecting it to its power adapter, it starts up automatically and we have an input animation. We arrived at the launcher by default based on squares where we can customize only the top row and the position of icons in the middle part (see video review). We have the classic apps installed by default, some streaming apps and KD Player which is a KODI version, we recommend reinstalling the official one. In this model the system works fine moving the apps, the hardware performance is correct thanks to the 4GB DDR4 RAM and the S905X2 Quad Core SoC.
If we are going to play and make an intensive use of this model we recommend buying the model with 4GB of RAM, if we want to adjust our budget and we are only going to use it as a multimedia player, maybe with the 2GB model we can have enough.
- Launcher: Basic Launcher / YES we can change launcher but only Pixel launcher works 100% / Android UI rendering at 1080p.
- Multitasking and access: Multitasking not directly available / DON’T lower access bar or notification area.
- Installed apps: Google play, Google, Media center (DLNA), Update, Youtube, Files, KD Player (KODI) and Droid Settings.
- Languages: All the international Android classics.
- On/Off Controls: If we leave the power button off, the TV-Box show a configurable menu in settings.
System, support and store apps
In the TV-Box X96 Max we has installed three different settings menus, one the classic side menu with global android settings, other in the Droid Setting app with the TV-Box settings and finally the Android classics with the background in white. The Google Play store behaves normally and we can find the most common apps. The version of the system and the compilation of the kernel is quite new.
- System version: Android 8.1.0 (32 bit) / Kernel 4.9.76 / Reference U211.
- App store: Google Play with all the apps available for the Android system.
- Brand support: We do not have official support, if we find a firmware we will publish it.
- Root:The system IS root by default / NO menu to deactivate it in settings.
- Firmware and Scene: Firmware available / Have a Android TV custom firmware / NOT compatible with LibreELEC.
Storage and RAM Memory
We pass our usual memory tests for the internal storage in the X96 Max using the SD bench app. The internal memory has a pretty good speed. In this model we also have as a novelty with a USB 3.0 connector, the transfer speed is quite good and serves to save or view high bitrate content without problems.
- Storage: Total 32GB – Free 23GB. / Is expandable with a USB memory stick
- RAM: Total 4GB – Free 3GB / DDR4.
- Compatible formats: NTFS compatible / exFAT compatible
|USB 2.0||USB 3.0||microSD||SATA|
|Read / Write||20/17 MB/s||115/37 MB/s||20/16 MB/s||–|
WIFI and Bluetooth
In Wi-Fi connections, the X96 Max TV-Box has a Wifi ac 2×2 2.4/5GHz (AP6356S)with Bluetooth 4.1 with which we connect to an ASUS RT-AC1200G+ Router, a mid-range device. We perform tests on the use of streaming using the iPerf measurement tool to see the maximum performance of each network adapter.
- Wifi speed results: Correct speed for this wifi adapter, quite stable with their 2 internal antennas.
- Wifi range: At a distance of 5 meters with a wall we have a signal of 43 dBm, good value.
- Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet with good speed although it does not reach the maximum it could give.
- Bluetooth: We can connect compatible devices without problems.
- We recommend reading our Tutorial SAMBA on Android networks if we are going to use files from our network PC.
Power consumption, temperature and noise
In the consumption side this Android TV X96 Max using the Amlogic S905X2 SoC has very good results in terms of efficiency. This new SoC is manufactured in 12nm and has a maximum consumption of only 3.8W, a correct result within its range.
We test the performance of the TV-Box in scenarios of maximum sustained performance and in its usual use, we use a stress app for fifteen minutes and thermal camera to detect hot areas. As we have seen the X96 MAX performs well and we only have some peak of fall of punctual performance.
- Loss of performance: The system maintains a maximum constant performance, maintains the 92% of his performance.
- Temperature: The upper part heats up a little but does not affect the general use of the TV-Box.
- Noise: Fanless system, 0db.
At the level of gross power the Android TV-Box X96 MAX has acceptable results thanks to the new Amlogic S905X2 Quad Core SoC with ARM Cortex-A53 processors and Mali-G31 MP2 GPU. observing the results we can see how it is almost on par with the most powerful SoC Amlogic the last generation the S912, in general section is below of powerful Rockchip RK3399 SoC that has ARM Cortex-A73 cores, in general a product with good performance.
- You can read our Comparison article for Amlogic S905X2 SoC with all its technical details
Games and gamepads
For the gaming aspect the X96 Max have the Amlogic S905X2 SoC that integrates a Mali-G31 MP2 GPU, this model allows us to correctly move most Android titles without performance problems and good compatibility. The titles with a lot of 3D load also move quite well and this GPU allows us to play them correctly in low or medium settings, even with PUBG that is demanding.
- Compatibility: IS possible to play demanding titles such as PUBG.
- Controls: Compatible with Gamepads by cable or bluetooth.
VIDEO AND AUDIO TEST
Video and audio connections
In the multimedia playback level the X96 Max works perfectly using the new Amlogic S905X2 SoC, which has video output support for HDMI 2.1 that theoretically allows maximum resolution up to 4K@75fps with HDR information. We also have SPDIF optical output and AV jack output for stereo or old TV audio.
This SoC we verify that we have image quality settings with brightness, contrast and saturation, and several preconfigured, also has DNR “Digital Noise Reduction” that effects a smoothing effect of the image with results that depend on personal tastes, all of these settings do not seem to work because of some problem in the Amlogic SDK that could fixed soon. We also have specific settings to activate Dolby Vision if we have a compatible TV.
- Automatic refresh rate change: Not available, the settings exist but it does not work. *
- Audio passthrough: Available in audio settings. *
- Image adjustments: Image quality settings exists but don’t work / RGB mode / HDR <> SDR modes. *
- Media sharing: Chromecast NO / Miracast NO / DLNA with BlubblePnP / Airplay YES with AirScreen.
- HDMI CEC: Available in settings.
- * Tutorials: Judder effect and how to avoid it / Multi-channel audio guide / Correct dark screen when playing video on Android.
Video playback test
For our review we tests on the X96 Max the video playback with the S905X2 SoC and a VPU compatible we can seen that model is compatible with the most modern video formats as we see in the video tests. We can use players like MX Player or install KODI from Google Play, we can uninstall the pre installed without problems. This model is NOT compatible with LibreELEC.
With the VPU called TruLife Gen8 gives us a pretty good image quality, we have more defined colors than in the S905X models where video processing is basic. We must also highlight the best compatibility with VP9 P2 video in 4K resolution, plus we notice improvements in the playback of Anime HVEC but still charge the CPU although it is a very specific niche format.
- Compatibility: HEVC with good performance at 10 bit color or HDR / VP9 correct with P2, not compatible with 8K
- Tutorials: Install Addons in KODI in a simple way / LibreELEC installation guide for the TV-Boxes with Android
|H.264 / VC-1||Result|
|BBB – H.264 8bit – Simple@L1 – 1080p@25fps – 7 Mbps||Correct|
|Samsung Oceanic Life – H.264 8bit – High@L5.1 – 1080p@30fps – 40 Mbps||Correct|
|Timelapse – H.264 8bit – High@L5.1 – 4K@24fps – 43 Mbps||Correct|
|Anime – H.264 10bit – High 10@L5.1 – 1080p@24fps – 10 Mbps||Correct|
|MKV – VC-1 – Advance@L3 – 1080p@24fps – 17 Mbps||Correct|
|H.265 / VP9 SDR|
|Tears of steel – HVEC 8bit – Main@L6.2@Main – 1080p@24fps – 17 Mbps||Correct|
|Samsung UHD Dubai – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L5.2@Main – 4K@24fps – 51 Mbps||Correct|
|Anime – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L4@Main – 1080p@24fps – 21 Mbps||Correct|
|Eye of the Storm – VP9 – 4K@24fps – 14 Mbps||Correct|
|H.265 / VP9 HDR|
|Life of Pi HDR10 – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L5.1@High – 4K@24fps – 45 Mbps||Correct|
|LG Demo – Dolby Vision – HVEC 12bit – Main 10@L5@Main – 4K@24fps – 30 Mbps||Correct|
|Planet Earth II – HDR HLG 10bit – Main 10@L5@High – 4K@25fps – 31 Mbps||Correct|
|The world in HDR – VP9 Profile 2 10bit – 4K@60fps – 20 Mbps||Correct|
|Peru 8K HDR – VP9 Profile 2 10bit – 8K@60fps – 20 Mbps||Frameskip|
|Jellyfish – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L6.1@High – 4K@30fps – Test up to 400 Mbps||100 Mbps = 12,5 MB/s|
- * The maximum bitrate depends on the internal storage, usb port, Ethernet adapter or wifi used, we have used the fastest available, see Hardware tests section of this same review to have more information and have consider the limitations of SAMBA Networks.
Audio playback test
At the audio level the X96 Max using a Yamaha RXV-577 AV receiver we check that they supports DD and DTS pass through sound. We can only listen to the multi-channel audio up to 5.1, if we do not have an AV receiver and we have problems to listen to files with AC3 or multichannel sound we must configure the system to listen to configure the system to listen to multichannel AC3 videos in stereo on any TV.
- Ports: HDMI up to 5.1 / SPDIF 5.1 / Stereo audio jack
- Certification: No
- Chomecast Audio: No
Audio test results
|Formats||DD / DTS 5.1||DD+ / DTS MA||DD True / DTS HR||DD Atmos / DTS X|
|HDMI||OK / OK||OK / Core||Core||PCM / Core*|
|Optical||OK / OK||Core||Core||Core*|
- 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
We pass the classic tests on streaming services to see how the most popular services work. In this model does not have certificates for these services. The X96 Max model presents the classic configuration without certifications that limits us in quality in several streaming services, all the compatible services works without problems.
- DRM: Google Widevine L3
- Certification: No
|Streaming service||Video / Audio||Result||Manual|
|Youtube||FullHD (1080p) / Stereo||OK||–|
|Google Play Movies||HD (720p) / Stereo||OK||–|
|Netflix||SD+ (540p) / Stereo||OK, installing the apk and needs a mouse||Netflix on Android|
|HBO||FullHD (1080p) / Stereo||Pause icon in the middle of the screen||–|
|Amazon Prime Video||SD (480p) / Stereo||OK||Amazon Prime video on Android|
The TV-Box X96 MAX as we have been able to verify this is a classic low-cost model within the new products with the Amlogic S905X2. A SoC that includes USB 3.0 as a novelty, we also have visual improvements in video playback and a very controlled consumption. The performance of the Wifi ac adapter is correct and the Gigabit Ethernet port speed allows us to get the maximum performance from our home network although it could be better.
This X96 MAX has also integrated 4GB of DDR4 RAM, something that gives us fluidity when loading several apps from the internal memory. A TV-Box that behaves well as a video player for example with KODI or for powerful games such as PUBG and all kinds of Android apps. The firmware can be improved as we have seen since it has some bugs in the settings and does not have navigation bars and does not have Root selector, something that does not help us avoid compatibility problems of the UI.
In general we are facing an economic model but not very worked at firmware level, at least mounts Gigabit Ethernet. You can compare this product with our recommended models to know alternatives.
WHERE TO BUY AND ADD-ONS