REVIEW: X98 mini, new Android TV-Box with Amlogic S905W2 SoC


X98 mini is the TV-Box with which we release the new SoC Amlogic S905W2 of which we will see today its analysis or review. A device with the classic features of the Chinese TV-Box that is oriented to multimedia use.

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 AliExpress only for $44.46 (€37) with free shipping.

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.

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.

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 Android TV.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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 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

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 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 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 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

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 AliExpress only for $44.46 (€37) with free shipping.

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