REVIEW: X96 X4, a TV-Box with the powerful Amlogic S905X4 SoC and Android 11


X96 X4 is the new Android TV-Box that we will see today its analysis or review. A device with the classic features of the Chinese TV-Box that has the powerful SoC S905X4 but does not have certificates for streaming.

The Android TV-Box X96 X4 surprises us with its colored LED lights and has the latest Amlogic SoC, the S905X4, a chip with which we can run Android without problems. A hardware far superior to the Xiaomi Mi Box for example and has support for the new AV1 codec. This TV-Box has Android 11 operating system although it is not intended for paid streaming systems, but we have much more freedom to install and manage apps of all kinds.

Let’s see in our review how the X96 X4 behaves and what it offers compared to its current rivals.

  • The X96 X4 Smart Box with 4/32 GB can be purchased on Aliexpress or Geekbuying only for $57 (€49) including shipping.

PRODUCT DETAILS

X96 X4
SoC: Amlogic S905X4 Quad Core 4x ARM-A55 @ 1.8GHz (64bit) / GPU Mali-G31 MP2 / 12nm.
System: Android 11 (32bit).
Components: 4GB RAM DDR3 / 32/64/128GB eMMC / Wifi ac + Bluetooth 4.1 (AM7256).
Ports: HDMI 2.1 / USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 / AV / SPDIF / microSD.
Extras: IR Remote / HDMI Cable / Manual / Adapter DC 5V 2A (10W).
Materials and dimensions: Plastic / LED Panel / LED RGB LED top / 112 x 135 x 24 mm / 250 gr.

Unboxing

The new Android TV-Box X96 X4 comes in a generic cardboard box with a image of the device in the top, inside we found the TV-Box, BT remote, HDMI cable 4K@60fps compatible, Manual and a DC 5V 2A adapter.

Description

This X96 X4 has a square design, on the sides we have a 10/100 Ethernet connector, USB 2.0, AV jack, HDMI 2.1, SPDIF, power connector, a USB 3.0 and microSD reader to expand the internal storage. We also have a fairly basic IR remote control that may not be worth changing for a wireless PC mouse to operate it more comfortably with a pointer.

This TV-Box has a Wifi aC + Bluetooth 4.1 (AM7256) with two internal wifi antennas. The passive cooling system is very basic but effective. On the audio jack it has a reset button to reboot the system if it suffers a software catastrophe and be able to reset it. The LED lights can not be disabled with its control app and we will have to physically disconnect them by opening it.

  • Remote Control: Basic IR remote / Compatible with keyboard and mouse / App control for Android TV.

SYSTEM AND PERFORMANCE

Environment and Android system

We turn on the X96 X4 and it starts automatically, after a few seconds we get to the new launcher installed which is based on rows with different shortcuts. In general this launcher is quite uncomfortable and we can change it for another that we like more from Google Play. The performance is good, we can move smoothly and quickly between menus. Unfortunately we do not have navigation bars or notification area. The Google Play store has limited app selection, it has some firmware problem.

  • Launcher: We can use another launcher installed from Google Play / Android UI rendering at 1080p.
  • Multitasking and access: Multitasking NOT available / Notifications not available.
  • Languages and Google Play: All the international Android classics / Android store installed.

System

We check the system data and the options included in terms of root, we also observe that power systems allows us this device. If we find any firmware we will publish it on our website, usually only updated by OTA.

  • Power on/off: Power off and sleep mode / Additional options in settings.
  • Version and root: Android 11 (32 bit) / NO Root  / NO Root selector / CPU r2p0 (S905X4) / Model ohm.
  • Support: Only OTA support / NO website for support.

Network, storage, RAM and ports

The TV-Box X96 X4 has 4GB of RAM and for storage we have 32 GB eMMC that we can expand with a USB memory. In the network section we find a wireless adapter Wifi ac + Bluetooth 4.1 (AM7256) that as we can see in the test the average results and the network connector is only Ethernet 10/100, a pity.

  • Network: Two internal Wifi antennas / Range 47 dBm / Link 5G 866 Mbps / Bluetooth OK.

The performance of the internal storage is quite good and moves the system without problems, on the other hand the RAM memory offers data in the line of these devices. The port with the highest speed is the USB 3.0 which behaves normally.

  • Storage: Total 32GB  – Free 27GB / Expandable with a USB or SD external memory.
  • RAM: Total 4GB – Free 3GB / DDR3.
  • Read/Write Ports: USB 3.0 OTG / On external USB drives it is only possible to read data.
  • We recommend reading our Tutorial SAMBA on Android networks if we are going to use files from our network PC.

Power and performance

In terms of raw performance the TV-Box X96 X4 has a Quad Core SoC Amlogic S905X4 with ARM Cortex-A55 processors and in the graphics section a Mali-G31 MP2 GPU which is in the mid-range, this version have license for Dolby sound. In performance we have good figures similar to any other conventional S905X4 box, is evenly matched against the new Googlecast TV and far outperforms the Xiaomi Mi Box, which is already somewhat outdated in comparison.

In the games section we can run PUBG in medium/low quality and also cloud gaming services such as NVIDIA GForce Now. In the emulators section we can get at most run some Wii titles, but we will not have problems with 2D games from classic consoles with emulators like Retroarch or from KODI, the EmuELEC system can not be run, as it is not yet compatible.

  • Games and emulators:  IS possible to play titles such as PUBG / Emulators up to Wii / YES Vulkan support.
  • Controls: Compatible with Gamepads BT or cable.

This SoC S905X4 of the X96 X4 is manufactured in 12nm, has a very low power consumption, the cooling system works well and temperatures are not very high in basic use. The SoC manages speeds well so as not to overheat.

  • Thermals: Min. 62ºC / Working 70ºC / Max. 85ºC / Maintains performance up to 80% / Heat zone on the top / Noise 0db
  • Consumption: Off 0.5W / Min 5.5W / Working 8W / Max. 9.5W

VIDEO AND AUDIO TEST

Video playback test

We tested the video playback section and the X96 X4 is compatible with most modern video formats such as h.265, VP9 with native 4K@120fps HDR resolution support, AV1 codec have problems with the firmware. It even supports 8K@60fps, this device doesn’t have a video quality settings and don’t have auto refresh rate switching. In the base firmware of this SoC S905X4 we do not find the settings for Dolby Vision, it is possible that it lowers the quality of this system to normal HDR10.

We can use players like KODI or PLEX without the slightest problem by installing them directly from the Android TV store. As for audio we can play DD and DTS up to 5.1 through its HDMI port.

Video and audio results

FormatsResult
h.264 / 1080i / 8bitOK
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
AV1 / 4K@24fps / 10bitNot compatible, firmware issues.
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.
SupportFormat
NativeDolby 5.1 – Plus / DTS 5.1 – Master Audio
CoreDolby HD – Atmos / DTS HR – X
PCMAll
  • Native – Supports the format directly in our AV receiver or similar / More info.
  • Core – Only the 5.1 core of the format is played so we go to the Dolby or DTS base system / More info.
  • PCM – Only stereo downmixing from DD or DTS.

Streaming services

We performed several tests on the streaming services to check how the most popular services work. The X96 X4 presents us with the classic configuration without certificates which limits us in quality in several services. We can use it with many of these services, but always in basic quality.

Streaming serviceCalidad / Audio*
YoutubeHD (720p) / Stereo
Google Play MoviesHD (720p) / Stereo
NetflixSD+ (540p) / Stereo / Netflix Guide
HBOHD (720p) / Stereo / HBO Guide
Disney+HD (720p) /Stereo / Disney+ Guide
Amazon Prime VideoSD (480p) / Stereo / Prime Video Guide
Apple TV+No compabile / Apple TV+ Guide
DAZNHD (720p) / Stereo
IPTVFullHD (1080i) / Stereo
  • Multichannel audio only available via HDMI connection in streaming services, via SPDIF stereo only.

CONCLUSIONS AND BUY LINKS

Score

X96 X4

0.00
6.6

Design

6.0/10

Hardware

7.5/10

Conectivity

7.0/10

Software

5.5/10

Price

7.0/10

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Powerful
  • Ok for KODI and media
  • Wifi OK
  • Not very hot

Cons

  • Ethernet 10/100
  • No android navigation bars
  • Poor firmware, no root, limited Google Play
  • App cannot turn off the LEDs
  • AV1 codec don't work

Opinion

After testing the new X96 X4 we can say that its main interest is the new SoC Amlogic S905X4, a chip with good performance that allows us to run any app fluently and includes Android 11. The IR remote control included is very basic and possibly we will have to opt for another control if we want to get more usability. The LED lights cannot be deactivated from the app and we will have to open it to disconnect them manually.

In terms of connectivity the X96 X4 integrates a Wifi aC adapter that does not give problems but has a not very high range, we have a USB 3.0, another USB 2.0 extra and unfortunately only Ethernet 10/100. As operating system we have Android 11 but we miss the root permissions to use AFR or other advantages of this type of permissions, also unfortunately the S905X4 is not yet compatible with LibreELEC even though we can run emulators and other games from Android. Google Play have limitations with a limited app compatibility.

This device allows us to play our content in 4K HDR quality. We can also use other apps such as IPTV players, PLEX or KODI to watch local content. We have the classic limitations of Amlogic SoCs such as the lack of image quality control or automatic refresh rate change. Firmware have problems with AV1 codec, can’t playback this files or youtube videos (use vp9).

After testing the X96 X4 we can say that the TV-Box is suitable if we are looking for a device of this type but with firmware issues, if we are not interested in paid streaming services is ok but we have better options.

Where to buy

  • The X96 X4 Smart Box with 4/32 GB can be purchased on Aliexpress or Geekbuying only for $57 (€49) including shipping.

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Ron.

Seems to me 90 percent of devices being released lately are 10/100 lan. What happened to gigabyte ?

Cazz

Hi guys,
Thanks for this review, I’d like to highlight two points here. First one is a suggestion, and this is if you can show the WIFI Link Speed on the review. This’s shown on AIDA Network session and I think it’s very important since you have expensive boxes with worst link speed than cheapest ones. Second point is that you didn’t mention current firmware issues this box has with power/restarts/front-led-time. I don’t know your tester, but I know many people are experiencing issues.

Cazz

Thanks Kim, good to know the Link Speed on future reviews. My unit may be bad or something, and even de F3 is better I think. A box that will power off instead of sleep when pressing power button won’t work in today life LOL.