X98 mini, review: cheap Android TV-Box for KODI or IPTV

X98 mini is the TV-Box with the SoC Amlogic S905W2 that will see today in our review. A device with the classic features of the Chinese TV-Box oriented for KODI o IPTV.

The new Android TV-Box X98 mini integrates as a novelty the latest SoC Amlogic S905W2 a chip that despite being for the low end gives good results to use Android comfortably and in theory has support for the new AV1 codec. This TV-Box also has Android 11 operating system, as it has no certifications is not intended for paid streaming systems, on the other hand it offers a good margin of freedom compared to the certified Android TV.

Let’s see in our review how the X98 mini behaves and what it offers compared to its current rivals.

  • The TV-Box X98 mini can be purchased on Amazon or AliExpress only for $38 with free shipping.

X98 mini

PRODUCT DETAILS

X98 mini
SoC: Amlogic S905W2 Quad Core 4x ARM-A35 @ 1.8GHz (64bit) / GPU Mali-G31 MP2 / 12nm.
System: Android 11 (32bit).
Components: 2/4GB RAM DDR3 / 16/32/64/128GB eMMC / Wifi ac + Bluetooth 4.1 (AM7256).
Ports: HDMI 2.1 / USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 / AV / IR / microSD.
Extras: IR Remote / HDMI Cable / Manual / Adapter DC 5V 2A (10W).
Materials and measurements: Plastic / LED panel / LED top light / 112 x 135 x 24 mm / 250 gr.

Unboxing

The new Box X98 mini 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.

x98 mini review f001 min

Description

This small box X98 mini has a square design, on the sides we have a 10/100 Ethernet connector, USB 2.0, AV jack, HDMI 2.1, IR Jack, 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.

x98 mini review f003 min

This product 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 and we will have to physically disconnect them by opening it.

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

x98 mini review f002 min

SYSTEM AND PERFORMANCE

Environment and Android system

We start up theX98 mini 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 fine, 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.

x98 mini review te001 min

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 / Kernel v5.4.86.
  • Support: Only OTA support / NO website for support.

x98 mini review te005 min

Network, storage, RAM and ports

The Android TV-Box X98 mini in the review version has 4 GB 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 correct results and the network connector is only Ethernet 10/100, a pity.

  • Network: Two internal Wifi antennas / Range 47 dBm / Link 5G 526 Mbps / Bluetooth OK.

x98 mini review te011a min

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.

x98 mini review te013 min

Power and performance

In terms of performance, the X98 mini has the Amlogic S905W2 Quad Core SoC with ARM Cortex-A35 processors limited to 1.8GHz and a mid-range Mali-G31 MP2 GPU. This SoC offers similar performance to the S905X4 with less CPU power. As the results show we have a good performance for the hardware set and the performance of this new AMLogic SoC, it is close to the new Googlecast TV and far exceeds the Xiaomi Mi Box which is already somewhat outdated.

X98 mini test eng 06 GeekBench min

We test the games running 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.

x98 mini review te004 min

This SoC S905W2 of the X98 mini is manufactured in 12nm, has a very low power consumption, the cooling system works well and temperatures are not very high in normal use. The SoC manages speeds well so as not to overheat.

  • Thermals: Min. 62ºC / Working 70ºC / Max. 85ºC / Maintains performance up to 88% / 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

With respect to video playback the X98 mini 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 S905W2 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 sample test n07 min

 

Video and audio results

Formats Result
h.264 / 1080i / 8bit OK
h.264 / 1080p / 4K / 8bit OK
h.264 / 1080p / 10bit (anime) Frameskip (SW)
h.265 / 1080p / 8bit OK
h.265 / 1080p / 10bit (anime) OK
h.265 / 4K@24fps / 8bit OK
h.265 / 4K@60fps / 10bit HDR OK
VP9 P1 / 4K@24fps / 8bit OK
VP9 P2 / 4K@60fps / 10bit HDR OK
VP9 P2 / 8K@60fps / 10bit HDR Frameskip
AV1 / 4K@24fps / 10bit Not compatible, firmware issues.
Max. Bitrate 100 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.
Support Format
Native Dolby 5.1 – Plus / DTS 5.1 – Master Audio
Core Dolby HD – Atmos / DTS HR – X
PCM All
  • 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 passed several tests on the streaming services to check how the most popular services work. The X98 mini 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 service Calidad / Audio*
Youtube HD (720p) / Stereo
Google Play Movies HD (720p) / Stereo
Netflix SD+ (540p) / Stereo / Netflix Guide
HBO Max No Sound / HBO Max Guide
Disney+ HD (720p) /Stereo / Disney+ Guide
Amazon Prime Video SD (480p) / Stereo / Prime Video Guide
Apple TV+ No compabile / Apple TV+ Guide
DAZN HD (720p) / Stereo
IPTV FullHD (1080i) / Stereo
  • Multichannel audio only available via HDMI connection in streaming services, via SPDIF stereo only.

prime video esp n03 min

CONCLUSIONS AND BUY LINKS

Score

X98 mini

0.00
6.5

Design

6.0/10

Hardware

7.0/10

Conectividad

6.5/10

Support

5.5/10

Price

7.5/10

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Sufficient for KODI or IPTV
  • Android 11 fast
  • Good thermals
  • Wifi ok

Cons

  • No Android bars, no root
  • Google Play limited
  • No app to turn off the top LED
  • AV1 codec does not work
  • Ethernet 10/100

Opinion

Once we have passed our tests to the X98 mini is possible to say that the SoC Amlogic S905W2 gives us enough power for its main task of multimedia use and we have good performance that allows us to run the basic app smoothly including Android 11. The top LED light can not be disabled and we will have to open it to disconnect it physically, a negative and incomprehensible point.

In the connectivity section the X98 mini integrates a Wifi aC adapter that does not give problems and has an acceptable performance, we have a USB 3.0 and unfortunately only Ethernet 10/100. In this Box we have the Android 11 operating system but we miss the root permissions. Unfortunately the S905W2 is not yet compatible with LibreELEC although we can run emulators and other games from Android. We also found that Google Play gives compatibility problems with many apps that we can’t find.

Thanks to this SoC we can play our content in 4K HDR quality without many problems, even up to 8K. 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. In addition, the AV1 codec has problems with the firmware and videos with this codec do not play properly.

As a summary we will say that the X98 mini is a TV-Box enough for multimedia but still has firmware problems, if we are not interested in paid streaming services can be an option, but there are better alternatives.

Where to buy

  • The TV-Box X98 mini can be purchased on Amazon or AliExpress only for $38 with free shipping.

x98 mini review f010 min

X98 mini

0.00
6.5

Design

6.0/10

Hardware

7.0/10

Conectividad

6.5/10

Support

5.5/10

Price

7.5/10

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Sufficient for KODI or IPTV
  • Android 11 fast
  • Good thermals
  • Wifi ok

Cons

  • No Android bars, no root
  • Google Play limited
  • No app to turn off the top LED
  • AV1 codec does not work
  • Ethernet 10/100
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steve

Hi, Can you help me resolve the issue with Firefox, Mt Olpus and Possion not working any more?

Thanks

Mk89

Can we install 3rd Party android apps ( apks ) through pendrive in it ? Which are compatible with android tv ?

csell

Hi.

I se two new Formats in your review of the X98 mini.
The 265 / 4K@24fps / 8bit and VP9 P1 / 4K@24fps / 8bit.
I wonder if it is the new SoC, or if you just begin to test it?
Is it an automatic change from 50/60 fps, or do you have to change to 24 fps manually?
And please tell us, what player are you using testing it?

Regards Carsten.

Kim

You need to change manually.
We use Kodi.

Samuel

I bought this tv box like a week ago it was working perfectly on till now…..suddenly wifi stopped turning on….please if you know any fix please do tell

Kim

Do a factory reset.

Samuel

I did twice…..still not working

Samuel

I did twice still not working

Kim

Contact with your store and explain, if the device not work open a dispute.
You have a frimware file here too:
https://androidpctv.com/x98-mini-firmware/

Shin

Hi,I have something to ask.
Why is there less storage than specification, not just in this TV box?
It should be 32GB, but it’s actually 25.70GB.

Kim

Android OS take some space, like windows or IOS.

LITUATUI

Hopefully the AV1 issue gets solved soon. I ordered two of these tvboxs to be able to play AV1 files.

Is the AV1 codec working on YouTube or Kodi Matrix?

Kim

No.
Test with your firmware version and talk with the shop if don’t work.

LITUATUI

Thanks for the reply. I haven’t received the tvboxs yet.

I know that the last update gives root access.

LITUATUI

Just got my x98 mini tvbox. Firmware X98mini_20211011-1647 is still very buggy.

Installed apps won’t even appear on the apps folder if we install a custom launcher, such as Simple TV Launcher.

AV1 only works on YouTube, but not on Kodi, nor on VLC, nor on MPV.

Root is also badly implemented, AdAway doesn’t work properly.

My only hope is to see Slimbox developing a ATV rom for S905W2 devices.

Kim

We explain the AV1 codec issue.
I found a firmware file, but I don’t know if it is new or the factory version.
https://androidpctv.com/x98-mini-firmware/
Compare the compilation date before and after flash.

Carsten.

Hi.

Is there any news, on the AV1 codec issue?

Can any suggest an another TV Box for playback of 4K in 10 bit AV1?

Regards Carsten.

18
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x