• REVIEW: X99 a powerful TV-Box with RK3399 SoC and optional modem

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    TV-Box X99 is the model that we present today in our review, a device that integrates the extended Rockchip RK3399 SoC that is making a good space in the most powerful range of this type of products. A TV-Box that works with Android 7.1.2, has 4 GB of DDR3 RAM and 32 GB of internal storage expandable by microSD card. This controversial processor has given us quite variable results depending on its firmware works better or worse. Continue reading our review to see all the details, advantages and disadvantages that this powerful TV-Box hides.

    • The TV-Box X99 can be purchased at Gearbest.com from $126.99 (109€) including shipping, the version with 4G modem seems not available in stores.

    SPECIFICATIONS

    ModelX99
    CPURockchip RK3399 Hexa core 2x Cortex-A72 + 4x Cortex-A53
    GPUMali-T860MP4
    OSAndroid TV 7.1.2 (64bit)
    RAM4 GB DDR3
    Storage32 GB eMMc
    WiFiWiFi ac – 2.4/5 GHz
    Bluetooth4.1
    Ports1x USB 3.1 Type-C (5Gbps)
    1x USB 3.0
    1x USB 2.0
    microSD
    Ethernet Gigabit
    SPDIF optical
    HDMI 2.0
    DC-IN
    SIM 4G slot (opcional)
     OthersStatus Led
    Reset button
    Led screen
     ContentRF remote + microphone + flymouse
    HDMI cable
    5V 2A DC adapter (10W)
    Manual
    Measures: 3,66 x 3,66 x 0,59 inches
    Weight: 3.6 oz

    CONTENT DESCRIPTION

    Package content

    When we open the box of the X99 we find in the first level the TV-Box, down in a compartment we have the HDMI extension cable, a power adapter 5V / 2A (10 W) and a small manual in English and Chinese.

    Product Details

    This model TV-Box X99 is made of plastic, has lines in relief on the top and on the perimeter we have a series of ventilation slots. On the front we have a status light, LED panel with the time and IR receiver.

    In one of its sides we have a reset button, USB 2.0 port and another USB 3.0 connector, the SD card reader and a slot for the SIM card but we do not have the card socket welded (there is a variant that does have the hardware of the SIM cards) , we also have several ventilation slots.

    In the rear area we have a USB 3.0 Type-C port, SPDIF audio, HDMI 2.0 port, 10/100 Ethernet and round power connector.

    In the lower area we only have four small rubber feet, a sticker with the basic data of this model and a series of ventilation slots to cool the TV-Box.

    CONNECTING THE DEVICE

    Connection and desktops

    We start up the X99 for the first time we have a configuration wizard where we can choose the language, adjust the screen size, connect to our local Wi-Fi and launcher options although it does not let modify this section.

    Once the X99 is configured we have the launcher installed by default, top right we have status icons and different folders that we can customize with shortcuts to our apps. In this model we can not change the launcher, when installing another and try to use it gives us an error message. The Android system as we check in the internal settings is rendered at 1080p, something that is appreciated to see the contents of Android.

    • Boot time: 19 seconds

    Installed by default we find installed applications oriented to streaming, we also have Chrome as standard, Netflix, Explorer to manage files, Google Play store, WiFiDisplay for Miracast, music player and YouTube in Android TV version.

    The default system as we see has a bar of Android shortcuts and top curtain notifications, something useful to use for example with a mouse.

    Within the language settings we have all the classic Android languages, we can change to another language without problems.

    User Experience

    The performance of the TV-Box X99 is good thanks to the powerful Rockchip RK3399 SoC and its 4 GB of RAM with which we can load a good number of applications in multitasking without being closed, in the Android shortcuts bar we have an icon for activate this function. In general a stable and relatively fast system that has not given us many problems running the most common apps. The voice search system is not very well implemented because to use it we have to go to a text entry field or start the Google Search app, something that works better on Android TV.

    Android Settings

    By default in the X99 is quite new since we have Android 7.1.2 and as usual in this environment we have a side menu where the settings are displayed while we have the desktop in the background, a somewhat peculiar system.

    If we click on More Settings we get to the Classic Settings of Android we have some options more than in the previous settings but they are quite limited and it seems that some menus have been cut that would have allowed us to fine-tune the system.

    Android System

    Installed by default in the X99 we have the Android 7.1.2 64bit, a fairly modern system today. The kernel as we see is the version 4.4.103 and the compilation is dated 03-23-2018. With this version we have made the review that you can read in the following pages.

    Brand Support

    In the X99 model like all of this type does not have a known support and the firmwares can appear without warning through the network thanks to stores or users, for our part we will publish what we have available, much support we can not ask for.

    Storage and RAM

    The model X99 includes 32 GB of eMMc storage memory, from this storage memory we have actually available about 27 GB, a figure enough to install a good number of apps. As a device with Rockchip SoC this has a single partition in the storage memory which facilitates the management of our files.

    In the section of memory we have 4 GB of DDR3 RAM that behave normally, of this amount we are still available about 3.1 GB at boot, we can load several apps without noticing slowdowns.

    We check the memory and internal storage testing the hardware that is integrated in this device, we used the SD bench app as usual. The results of the X99 gives us some pretty good figures, the TV-Box with this soc usually get good performance from the integrated storage.

    Consumption and temperatures

    In the terms of power consumption the X99 with the RK3399 SoC shows results within the range of other devices, even putting the SoC to the brim with games with 3D graphics only 11 W peak is reached. The temperature of the TV-Box is somewhat high and on the surface side you can see the heat of the processor.

    We pass a thermal throttling test where we can see how the yield drops by 30% if we keep it to the maximum, we reach 90ºC, in normal use the SoC remains at about 72ºC rather normal.

    The design of the box of the X99 does not help to improve in the thermal section, the heat is concentrated in the upper part that do not have any ventilation slots, if we are going to use it to play powerful titles it will be better to make some kind of mod.

    Google Play and Amazon App Store

    We enter the Google Play store where we have no problems installing the most common apps and download them automatically into the internal memory, we can use Amazon appstore as a alternative.

    Root

    We checked that the X99 system checked that we do not have root, something that allows us certain options but it will not affect us services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video as we will see in our analysis in the corresponding section.

    Power Off / Standby / Power On

    By default in the X99 if we press the off button we turn off the screen and enter low power mode with about 3.5W but we can not turn it off completely nor do we have the power off menu.

    TEST BENCH

    Video and audio connections.

    In the model of TV-Box X99 we have the Rockchip RK3399 SoC that has support for video output by HDMI 2.0b which gives us the option to see content with a maximum resolution of 4K@60MHz with 10 bit of color, theoretically. This system is compatible with HDR but we have not seen any options in the settings. In this system we do not have automatic refresh option, something very interesting since it avoids us to reproduce content with the annoying Judder effect.

    If we enter the Color settings we have support to change the RGB mode something that is necessary in some old TV models that have incompatibility with the current color modes.. We can change the size of the mouse pointer and the captions of several streaming services following our turorial.

    Within the advanced settings of HDMI we have quality controls for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Tone, something that will help us fine-tune the image quality with respect to our TV.

    DLNA and Miracast

    Installed in the X99 system we have the apps called Airplay and WifiDisplay that allow us to play content with a LG G6 Smartphone, an app that gives us correct results but can be variable depending on the device, we can play it by AirPlay from apple or Miracast in Android respectively.

    We can use the DLNA service to access the multimedia content that we have in our device easily using an app like BubbleUPnP from an Android mobile or from a PC with Windows file explorer.

    Webcam

    We test the TV-Box for videoconferencing with the X99 we use the simple webcam Logitech C170, but it has NOT worked using Skype, the image jumps and looks blurred.

    NETWORK CONNECTIONS

    Wi-Fi and Ethernet

    Installed in the X99 we have a ac Wireless Wi-Fi Adapter and Gigabit Ethernet chip, with which we have connected with an ASUS RT-AC1200G+ Router, a mid range device. We transferred files over a SAMBA network connected through 2.4 Ghz Wi-Fi and achieved a speed of about 22 Mbps., with the 5 GHz Wifi we reach 31 Mbps. This model has a Gigabit Ethernet connector with which we used a Category 6 network cable to guarantee the max speed, using this connection we reach about 118 mbps which is a basic transfer speed. Low but classics results in a product of this low-cost sector.

    We also ran tests on the network adapters for streaming using the iPerf measurement tool with which we have the maximum connection speed in each type of network. With this figure we have how far we can reach using the available connections, the final performance will depend on our internet provider, the contracted speed, the distance of our Wi-Fi network and other factors. The wifi results are basics, quite limited but enough to see Netflix 4K contents that ask for at most 20 Mbps, the ethernet port works well.

    During the Wi-Fi coverage tests with the device located at a distance of about 16 ft as always and with a wall in between we verified that we have connection without cuts, the signal reaches a level of about 48 dBm a low result, don’t go far away from the router.

    CONTROL SYSTEMS
    Remote control

    By default with the TV-Box X99 we have a RF flymouse remote control with microphone that works with two AAA batteries, we have the classic crosshead functions, shortcuts of Android commands, volume, mouse to move with the cursors and on the button of the microphone we have the option to give orders with the integrated microphone. Within the screen settings we can activate the CEC functions in this TV-Box.

    As we have commented in other sections, the search with voice is not very well resolved and basically works as a way of entering texts by voice, it is not like in Android TV that is integrated and we can do global searches.

    Remote control app

    By default in the X99 we can use the alternative CetusPlay to control it from our mobile or tablet, we only need to install the server in our TV-Box and the client app in or desired device.

    Gamepad and games

    You can play games on the X99 connecting a Gamepad with cable or bluetooth that work without problems, we can use this control in the games with this type of support, in general we will not have problems with conventional PC control. We can use them in games with this type of support, in general we will not have problems with conventional PC controls. With the Mali-T860MP4 GPU that incorporates this SoC we have good performance, we can play titles like PUBG Mobile without problems, but you have to take into account the temperature that the box can reach in prolonged sessions.

    PERFORMANCE TEST

    SOC

    At the power level, the X99 defends itself correctly with its SoC Rockchip RK3399, a six core that integrates a cluster with two ARM Cortex-A72 processors able to reach 2.0Ghz and another cluster with four ARM Cortex-A53 processors, while at the same level GPU has a Mali-T860mp4. This SoC incorporates hardware decoding support for the H.265 video codec, VP9, 10-bit color and even HDR, it is capable of taking video signal at 4K@60fps thanks to the HDMI 2.0b video output connector. This processor can be used without problems with the most powerful Android games and any app in general.

    Benchmarks

    Antutu

    With this famous test we get an idea of the general performance of the device and we can compare it with others. Since this tests changes a lot of scale we can not use it in our graphics.

    Geekbench 4

    A new benchmark in SoC testing that offers fairly reliable numbers of CPU’s working in a single core or multiple cores ate the same time, it also has a section of GPU computing that gives us an overall result of the processing capacity.

    3Dmark

    The graphical performance test par excellence with a fairly solid continuity in the results which helps us to compare the performance of GPU’s historically.

    PCMark

    This benchmark tests the device in various scenarios of image processing, web browsing and other everyday uses of our device, the results are useful to check if you defend well in these areas.

    VIDEO AND AUDIO TEST

    Video format test

    We passed our usual video playback test on the X99, thanks to the Rockchip RK3399 SoC we have quite good results in this regard. We can reproduce the most common files without problems at native resolution in a fluid way. We can watch videos at resolutions at 1080p or also in 4K format encoded with the h.265 codec, this SoC also supports HDR modes although as we appreciate in the tests we have problems with 10 bit color files. The system defends well both using KODI and the native player in its native resolution at 1080p or 4K, the limitation is in the 10-bit color files that can not be played fluently.

    Test results

    H.264 FormatResult
    BBB – H.264 8bit – Simple@L1 – 1080p@25fps – 7 MbpsCorrect
    Samsung Oceanic Life – H.264  8bit – High@L5.1 – 1080p@30fps – 40 MbpsCorrect
    Timelapse – H.264 8bit – High@L5.1 – 4K@24fps – 43 MbpsCorrect
    Anime – H.264 10bit – High 10@L5.1 – 1080p@24fps – 10 MbpsFrameskip
    H.265 Format
    Tears of steel – HVEC 8bit – Main@L6.2@Main – 1080p@24fps – 17 MbpsCorrect
    Samsung UHD Dubai – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L5.2@Main – 4K@24fps – 51 MbpsFrameskip
    Jellyfish – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L6.1@High – 4K@30fps – 392 MbpsFrameskip
    Anime – HVEC 10bit –  Main 10@L4@Main – 1080p@24fps – 21 MbpsFrameskip
    HDR Format
    Life of Pi HDR10 –  HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L5.1@High – 4K@24fps – 45 MbpsFrameskip
    LG Demo – Dolby Vision – HVEC 12bit – Main 10@L5@Main – 4K@24fps – 30 MbpsFrameskip
    Planet Earth II – HDR HLG 10bit  – Main 10@L5@High – 4K@25fps – 31 MbpsFrameskip
    The world in HDR – VP9 Profile 2 10bit – 4K@60fps – 20 MbpsNot supported

     

    • The MKV, Blu-ray ISO and BDRemux formats are only containers, inside we can have different codecs, resolutions, audio channels, chapters or subtitles. To play the Blu-ray format menus we need KODI or a compatible program.

    Audio format test

    In the X99 we have the Rockchip RK3399 SoC Quad Core that as we know it is NOT licensed for the use of audio pass through for DD and DTS. For the sound tests we use our Yamaha RXV-577 AV receiver and we naturally check that in the device we have audio pass through for DTS  and DD5.1 although in some  7.1 formats we have noticed audio errors, although it is much better in this respect than other RK3399 that we had tested.

    Test results

    Formato audioPCM*HDMIOptical
    Dolby Digital 5.1CorrectCorrectCorrect
    Dolby Digital Plus 7.1CorrectCorrectCore
    Dolby True HD 7.1CorrectCutsCore
    Dolby Atmos 7.1CorrectPCM *PCM
    DTS 5.1CorrectCorrectCore
    DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1CorrectCorrectCore
    DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1CorrectCutsCore
    DTS-X 7.1CorrectCore *Core
    • PCM – Stereo downmix from DD or DTS
    • Core – Only the core of the format Dolby / DTS is played
    • * Our AV receiver does not support these native formats but we check that it does downmix fine

    WEB NAVIGATION AND STREAMING

    Navigation

    We perform performance tests on the X99 using the serial browser where we have no problems with multiple tabs open using the 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. The content that is reproduced in HTML5 does not have major problems installing a browser compatible with Android TV from its app store.

    DRM

    At the level of DRM certificates needed for some payment Streaming apps we do not have any installed as standard, something usual in this family of products, something that limits us to SD quality in Netflix for example.

    Youtube and streaming apps

    We installed some of the most common Streaming apps to watch TV online that we downloaded from the Play Store, we don’t have problems. This TV-Box can play Youtube up to 1080p without any problems with the version installed from Google Play, the Android TV app installed by default gives us problems it is better install the normal Android classic.

    Streaming services with subscription

    We do our battery test as usual on the most popular streaming services to verified if can work correctly, the power of this device is more than enough to see any type of content on this services, although as we know we are limited on the streaming quality for the restrictions of each company. In this model we have a basic support for streaming apps without certificates.

    • NOTE: We remind that these TV-Box do not have official support for these streaming apps, the compatibility with these services can vary depends of any new limitations imposed for this companies. The tests are perform with the indicated firmware and the version of the streaming app at the date of the review.
    Streaming serviceVideoAudioPerformance
    NetflixSD (480p)StereoCorrect
    Amazon Prime VideoDon’t work
    HBO nordicFullHD (1080p)StereoCorrect
    • You can consult our guides where we explain in detail all the most known streaming services, what are their limitations in each platform and how to configure them to see content in HD or 4K quality if possible.
    • Guide for Netflix on Android, inside you can found a solution for Error 0013 and installation method on rooted devices
    • Guide for Amazon Prime video on Android

    CONCLUSIONS

    6.6

    DESIGN AND CONNECTIVITY

    6.5 /10

    HARDWARE

    7.5 /10

    SOFTWARE

    6.5 /10

    SUPPORT

    6.0 /10

    PRICE

    6.5 /10

    Pros

    • RF remote + flymouse + microphone
    • Powerful RK3399 SoC
    • 4GB of RAM and 32GB eMMC
    • Stable firmware
    • Gigabit Ethernet, Sound 7.1

    Cons

    • 10bit video not compatible

    Opinion

    As we have seen throughout our review of TV-Box X99 we have before a TV-Box with the powerful Rockchip RK3399 SoC that improves in certain aspects the previous models with this same processor, it is not very difficult since they were quite deficient models in all aspects, this device at least in general works better. A model that has 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage which gives a good performance when it comes to moving the system, also has a firmware that has no big bugs or problems when configuring it.

    On the other hand it seems that the problems of video playback with the RK3399 are the usual, although we have no problems in most video files at 1080p and 4K is proven that this SoC can not with 10bit color videos, maybe never be possible since the VPU does not seem to be ready for it. On the other hand the box of this TV-Box does not have a very cool design and as we see when we demand performance the speed of the processor drops by 30%. In general a very powerful model thanks to its SoC and its specifications but in the section of video playback does not shine.

    WHERE TO BUY

    • The TV-Box X99 can be purchased at Gearbest.com from $126.99 (109€) including shipping, the version with 4G modem seems not available in stores.

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