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Posts Tagged ‘benchmark’

Intel Atom x7-Z8700 (Cherry Trail) vs Intel Celeron N3150 (Braswell) Benchmarks Comparison

June 6th, 2016 5 comments

Intel tend to release lots of processors, and it’s not also clear how they perform against each others, but generally the rank from slowest to highest goes something like Atom < Celeron < Pentium < Core M < Core i3 < Core i5 < Core i7. Recently, I’ve seen and reviewed a few low power Intel Atom x7-Z8700 “Cherry Trail” and Intel Celeron N3150 “Braswell” mini PCs, both quad core processors @ 1.6 GHz (base), and I could not find much differences between the two during use.

Atom_x7-z8700_vs_Celeron_N3150

So to have a clear and objective view of the relative performance of the two processors, I’ve compared the results I got with Intel Atom x7-Z8700 based Beelink BT7 mini PC to the ones I got with MINIX NGC-1 mini PC powered by Celeron N3150 processor in the table below. Both machines have been designed quite well (good heat dissipation) and with storage devices having similar performance. A ratio greater than one (green) means the Celeron processor is faster, and if it is lower than one (red) the Atom processor prevails.

Benchmark Beelink BT7
Intel Atom x7-Z8700 @ 1.6 GHz / 2.48 Ghz (Turbo)
MINIX NGC-1
Intel Celeron N3150 @ 1.6 GHz / 2.08 GHz (Turbo)
Ratio
PCMark 8 Accelerated
Overall Score 1,509 1,492 0.99
Web Browsing – JunglePin 0.59309s 0.63426s 0.94
Web Browsing – Amazonia 0.19451s 0.2141s 0.91
Writing 8.53975s 9.3966s 0.91
Casual Gaming 7.96 fps 9.7 fps 1.22
Video Chat playback 29.99 fps 30.01 fps 1.00
Video Chat encoding 301 ms 193.333 ms 1.56
Photo Editing 0.65544s 0.81038s 0.81
Passmark 8
Passmark Rating 846 781.9 0.92
3DMark
Ice Storm 1.2 23,999 23,032 0.96
Cloud Gate 1.1 2,185 1,961 0.90
Sky Diver 1.0 1,131 1,108 0.98
Fire Strike 276 258 0.93

So in the end, both processors have a very close performance, except for video chat encoding where the Atom processor is about 56% slower than the Celeron processor. The Atom’s 16 EU GPU @ 200/600 MHz is faster than the Celeron’s 12 EU GPU @ 300/640 MHz in most case, but only marginally. Both SoCs are capable of decoding 4K videos with H.264 and H.265 video codecs. Systems based on the Intel Axom x7-Z8700 processor could consume less electricity as Atom x7 has a 2W SDP, while Celeron N3150 a 4W SDP, but the  power consumption of a complete mini PC also depends on its overall design.

So there seems to be very little to gain by purchasing a system with Celeron N3150 “Braswell” processor  over one with a Atom x7 “Cherry Trail processor, if a mini PC matches your requirements. One noticeable advantage of Braswell processors should be Linux support with the default/standard ISO images, while Atom x7 systems currently require community hacked ISO images for support of features such as HDMI audio, WiFi and Bluetooth. You can also find a side-by-side comparison of the features of the two processor on Intel website.

Beelink BT7 Review – Windows 10 mini PC Based on Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Processor

June 5th, 2016 15 comments

Beelink BT7 mini PC powered by Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor offers an interesting alternative to the fanless Voyo V3 mini PC, as it is actively cooled by a small fan, supports (Gigabit) Ethernet, and comes with three full USB 3.0 ports. There are three versions with either 64, 128 (64+64) or 320 (64+256) GB stortage, and I got Beelink BT7 128GB to play with. Since I’ve already checkout the hardware, I’ll focus on the performance and stability of the device on Windows 10 in the second part of the review.

Setup and System Information

I placed the mini PC on my desk, made use of the three USB 3.0 ports with a USB keyboard, a USB mouse, and a Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive, and connected Ethernet, HDMI and the power cable.
Beelink_BT7_desktop_mode

However, if you happen to own a TV or monitor that supports VESA mounts, you can use the include VESA bracket and screws, as well as the short HDMI cable to hook Beelink BT7 right behind the display.

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This is definitely a plus if you are short on space, or just want a cleaner desk. Press the red button on the side to start the computer. The boot will typically take 20 seconds, but the very first time you’ll go through Windows 10 setup starting by language selection between German, English, Spanish, Russian, and simplified Chinese. I assume other languages might also be available, but I’m unclear if it can be selected here.

Beelink_BT7_Windows_10_SetupThe rest of the usual Windows setup includes EULA agreement, Custom or Express settings selection (I went with Express), and account creation. Contrary to the pre-installed version of Windows 10 on Voyo V3 which lacks account support, Windows 10 on Beelink BT7 appears to be “clean”.

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As indicated in my unboxing and teardown post, I was confused at first because while I had been sent a 128GB version, all I got was a 64GB SSD in the device. But as you can see from the screenshot above, leaving apart the NTFS and exFAT partition from my USB hard drive, there are two storage devices with the C: “Windows” drive (eMMC flash) with 58.9 GB in total, and E: “New Volume” drive (SSD) with 57.5 GB.

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We can check some of the info in Control Panel->System and Security->System to find out an activated version (i.e. properly licensed) of 64-bit Windows 10 Home is installed, and the processor is indeed an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 CPU coupled with 4GB RAM.

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The Device Manager confirms the two hardware storage devices with “PowerSSD” and “Toshiba 064G70”, Bleutooth and WiFI connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet, etc…

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HWiNFO64 information is mostly the same as for Voyo V3 for CPU, GPU, and Operating System, but the reported memory is a little higher (4010MB vs 3882 MB), and the BIOS and storage info are obviously different.

Since many people did not trust the Windows 10 version installed on Voyo V3, they reinstalled Windows 10 themselves, but met a roadblock while finding the drivers. The company did release the complete firmware image (5GB+), so people extracted the drivers and provided a much smaller download link. Even though the issue was resolved after a while, many users went through the unnecessary steps of finding the drivers. With Beelink BT7, fewer people are likely to re-install Windows 10 since the security features are still enabled, and if you still do, the company provide  CD in the package with all Windows 10 drivers for Beelink BT7.

CD Content

CD Content

List of drivers available in the CD.

Vendor Driver or Utility name Driver Version Released date WHQL’d
Intel Intel(R) HD Graphics 20.19.15.4308 04/11/15 Y
Intel I2C Controller 604.10146.2654.7394 04/11/15 Y
Intel GPIO Controller 604.10146.2652.3930 04/11/15 Y
Realtek Realtek I2S Audio Codec 6.4.10147.4327 04/11/15 Y
Intel Intel SST Audio Device 604.10135.2664.5232 04/11/15 Y
Microsoft HID-compliant System control 10.0.10586.0 04/11/15 Y
Realtek Realtek PCle GBE Family Controller 9.1.402.2015 04/11/15 Y
Broadcom Broadcom 802.11abgn Wireless SDIO Adapter 5.93.102.19 04/11/15 Y
Microsoft Intel SD Host Controller 10.0.10586.0 04/11/15 Y

So when it comes to Windows 10 integration, and driver availability, Beelink BT7 clearly comes ahead of Voyo V3.

Beelink BT7 Benchmarks

Let’s run first run PCMARK 8 HOME accelerated and conventional benchmarks.

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Both scores are slightly higher than on Voyo V3. The PCMARK 8 Home Accelerated score is 1,509 points (vs 1,428), and PCMARK 8 Home Conventional is 1,211 points (vs. 1,066). Please note that the graphics driver on Voyo V3 would often crash, so I had to repeat the test a few times. Beelink BT7 had no such issues.

Something changed in 3DMark benchmark, and you now need to run each tests individually. I could run Sky Diver 1.0, Ice Storm 1.2 and Cloud Gate 1.1 successfully, while in Voyo V3 Skydiver would not run at all.

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However the two benchmark that went through on both mini PCs have vastly different scores in favor of Voyo V3. Cloud Gate 1.1: 1,664 vs 2,065 points; Ice Storm 1.2: 9,599 vs 20,853 points. A side by side comparison of the two Ice Storm 1.2 scores only show a different UI version, and strangely the width and height for Voyo V3 is not reported. The maximum CPU frequency was also only 1,760 MHz on BT7 against 2,319 MHz on Voyo V3, so maybe some throttling was happening.

So I ran the Ice Storm 1.2 and Cloud Gate 1.1 benchmarks again another day, and the results became much better with respectively 23,999 and 2,185 points.

Beelink_BT7_3DMark

Passmark 8 benchmark results ended being nearly the score as Voyo V3 with 845.9 points (vs 839.9 pts).

Beelink_BT7_Passmark-8CrystalDiskMark was used to test performance of the internal flash (C:), the SSD (E:), and the NTFS partition on my USB drive (D:).

Beelink_BT7_CrystalDiskMark_eMMC_FlashSequential read is excellent, sequential write not that much, with random write and read speeds roughly equivalent to the storage devices in Voyo V3 and MINIX NGC-1. Random I/Os are quite important when you’re going to run the operating systems, and there are many small read and write operation.

Beelink_BT7_CrystalDiskMark_SSDThe SSD does not perform quite as well, but should still be OK for data and programs. I’d still recommend installing programs on, and set the caches’ paths to, the eMMC flash (C:) for better performance.
Beelink_BT7_CrystalDiskMark_USB-3.0_NTFSUSS 3.0 performance was basically the same as on Voyo V3. The first run however had a very low 20 MB/s sequential write speed, which improved to 80MB/s+ in my second attempt. The random I/Os (4K Q32T1 and 4K) are quite slow, but it’s normal for a mechanical drive.

Finally, I installed iperf-2.x to test Gigabit Ethernet and WiFi performance.

Gigabit Ethernet dual duplex transfer with “iperf.exe -t 60 -c -d“:

That’s actually the best device I’ve tested when it comes to Ethernet performance.

iperf Full duplex Transfer over Ethernet (Mbps)

iperf Full duplex Transfer over Ethernet (Mbps)

The Wireless module is supposed to support 2.4 and 5.0 GHz WiFi, but only 2.4 GHz access points were detected in Windows. I repeated the same test with WiFi @ 802.11n:

Results were a bit disappointing but similar to the WiFi performance I got with Voyo V3. Since WiFi is not really designed for full duplex, I repeat the test in one direction only.

Again the results is about the same as I had with Voyo V3’s WiFi.

I’ve created a comparison chart between Beelink BT7 against Voyo V3, MINIX NGC-1, Tronsmart Ara X5, Intel NUC, Intel Core-M compute stick, abd Kangaroo mobile desktop in order to have a better feel of the relative performance of those systems. 3DMark Ice Storm results are divided by 20 to get a more readable chart.

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While the more expensive Core m3 stick is clearly ahead, Beelink BT7 is pretty good, and overall slightly better than Voyo V3 expect for sequential write speed.

Beelink BT7 User Experience and Usability Testing

Beelink BT7 passed the benchmark test almost flawlessly, with the main worry being the low 3D graphics performance during my first run of 3Dmark possibly due to some throttling, but the most important of course is how the system perform in real-life tasks. I perform the following using 1080p59 resolution, except for Kodi were I set the resolution to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz:

  • Multi-tasking – Using Microsoft Edge, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and Gimp at the same time
  • Web Browsing with Microsoft Edge
    • Loading multiple tab with CNX Software
    • Playing a 1080p YouTube Videos
    • Playing a flash game  (Candy Crush Saga)
  • Gaming with Asphalt 8
  • Kodi 16.1 @ 4K resolution with 4K videos using H.265 or H.264 codecs, and HDMI audio pass-through

Note that I’m using Microsoft Edge browser, instead of Chrome or Firefox, because the last two simply do not work very well in YouTube. It could be because Edge uses MP4, and the other two VP9, and Cherry Trail processors are not quite powerful enough to handle this without dropped frames.

Overall, Beelink BT7 did very well in all those tasks, although I would have wished higher frame rates in Asphalt 8, but the GPU is just not powerful enough to achieve optimal performance. Kodi could play 4K video using XVDA2 hardware decoding for H.265 and H.264 videos, but 4K 10-bit H.264 and H.265 videos could not be played smoothly, as Kodi fell back to software decoding. HDMI audio pass-through works but is limited to Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, and TrueHD and DTS HD is not supported (Kodi can transcode TrueHD to DD 5.1).

I also ran HWiNFO64 in the background during my tests, including benchmark to check whether the system would throttle.
Beelink_BT7_HWINFO64_Sensors
One core did throttle on average, but nothing too bad, and Voyo V3 had two cores throttling on average for the same set of tests.

However, I normally also test playing a 1080p YouTube video for over one hour in Microsoft Edge in full screen mode, and when I came back to check out the status,  the video was buffering, which could happen due to poor connectivity to the YouTube servers unrelated to the device itself, but I soon found out that something else was wrong.

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The CPU was shown to be stuck at 0.13 to 0.26 GHz (in Task Manager) and 480 MHz (6x) in HWiNFO64, without any of the core overheating at the time, and the frequency would not go up whatever I did with the computer. It’s very similar to what happened with my first MINIX NGC-1, except the temperature was perfectly under control. So I turned the mini PC off, waited a few minutes, before starting it again, and playing the video for one more hour.

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The video only had 5 dropped frames out of over 100,000, which happened when I switched between full screen and windowed mode. So no problem at all here, and I have not explanation for what happened, unless there some bug with Windows 10, UEFI, or the drivers.

If you think that I should have used Chrome browser instead, I have a screenshot for you 🙂

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Power consumption in idle mode is normally around 5 to 7 watts, playing a 4K is around 10 to 12 watts, and in power off mode my meter reported 0.0 watt. The power consumption in sleep mode is a little odd, as after one minute the consumption varied between 5 and 10 watts, and after 30 minutes it was still 7 to 7.4 watts, ore greater than in idle mode. The fan turns all the time, but it’s really not that noisy. I can’t hear it when my main PC (which I reckon is quite noisy) or aircon is running. In a quiet room (PC and aircon off), I’m able to hear the fan at around 2 meters away, but the noise is very low.

Conclusion

Beelink BT7 is a good mini PC. The hardware build is of good quality, Windows 10 is activated and without some strange hacks like in Voyo V3, but if you want to reinstall Windows 10 anyway, the drivers are provided. Performance is very slightly better than Voyo V3, except for networking thanks to the Gigabit Ethernet interface. I still found some downsides, such as 5 GHZ WiFi access points are not detected, and in some rare & random cases the performance did suffer a lot (3Dmark benchmark and  one hour 1080p YouTube video). I have not good explanation for the latter issue, as the CPU did not overheat when it happened, and a reboot would apparently fix the issues. I have not tried Linux on the platform, yet but thanks to recent work, you should be able to run a fully working Ubuntu firmware (HDMI audio, and maybe WiFi and Bluetooth) using Ubuntu 16.04 ISO by linuxium.

Price is also an important factor in a purchase decision, and considering both Voyo V3 and Beelink BT7 (128GB) are about the same price (when using coupons), it’s likely a no-brainer to go with Beelink BT7, unless you don’t want a fan at all. The cheapest way to current buy Beelink BT7 is via GearBest for respectively $168.99 (64 GB – coupon: GBBT76), $195.99 (128 GB – coupon: GBBT72), and $249.99 (320 GB – coupon: GBBT73), but it can also be found on Banggood, Amazon UK, and Beelink themselves sell it directly on Amazon US.

Pine A64 Board Quick Start Guide & Benchmarks with Android 5.1

May 31st, 2016 11 comments

Pine A64 is one of the development boards with the best cost/performance ratio, as it sells as low as $15 + shipping. I received Pine A64+ board with 2GB RAM at the end of last month, and decided to start playing with Android, as Linux distributions such as Longsleep Ubuntu appear to require a little more work. So in this post, I’ll report my experience with installing and running Android 5.1 on the board, and share some Android benchmark results.

Pine A64 Board Pictures

You’ll receive the board in cardboard package with Pine64 branding.

Pine_A64_package

You can check which version of the board you’ve been sent on the side of the package: PA64512 (512 MB RAM), PA641GB (1GB RAM), or PA642GB (2GB RAM).
Pine_A64_Version

The top of the board has been photographed often but here it is again. I’ve been sent the 2GB version without wireless module.

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The bottom of the board has two RAM chips, and not much else.

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I was quite surprised by the size, as it’s quite bigger than I expected.

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From top left to bottom right: Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi Zero, Orange Pi One, ODROID-XU3, and Pine A64

Installing and Running Android 5.1 on Pine A64 Board

The list of Android and Linux firmware images can be found on Pine64 Wiki. The latest version of Android 5.1 has been released on May 5 2016 with SD card images for 8, 16, 32, and 64GB capacity, as well as Phoenix Card image with need to be installed with Windows or Linux tools. The only advantage of the Phoenix Card image is that it will not waste any bytes on your micro SD card, but since it should be negligible, I went ahead with the 32GB SD card image version:

I did so in a Ubuntu 16.04 computer, but other Linux distributions will have similar instructions, and in Windows you can either follow the instructions below with Windows for Linux subsystem or instead used Win32DiskImager program.

Once you’ve insert your SD card inside your computer (mine was a Toshiba class 10 32GB micro SD), check the device name with lsblk, which should be /dev/sdX or /dev/mmcblkY, with X some letter, and Y some numbers. I’ll call it <sd_device> below. First unmount partitions.

Normally, I’d use one command to extract, and once command to flash the image to the SD card, but since I was in a TV stick with 18GB free storage, I instead use a one liner to uncompress the 1.1 GB firmware and flash it to the micro SD card:

Now remove the micro SD card from your computer, insert it into the micro SD slot on Pine A64, connect Ethernet, a USB mouse and keyboard, and the power. My first board (and an early Android image) would not boot, so I connected the serial console to the EULER header: GND to pin 34, Tx to pin 30 and Rx to pin 29.

Pine_A64_Serial_Header

I ran minicom configured with /dev/ttyUSB0 115200 8N1 to find out what was going on:

The RAM clearly failed to initialize, so I reported this on the forum, and others had the same issue. I was sent another board, which booted just fine… sort of. The bootloader logo came very quickly, but then nothing happened, so I connect the serial console gain (I think a USB to TTL board is a must with Pine A64 at this stage of development), and I noticed a lot of erase operation on the micro SD card:

After 5 minutes it became quiet, and I though briefly the Android home screen, but it quickly fell back to another boot logo, and got stuck there. So I rebooted the board, and I got to the stock launcher in a little over one minute.

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The Android firmware appears to be based on the smartphone version instead of the table version used in most Android TV boxes. A few apps are pre-installed such as the Google Play Store and ES File Explorer.

Pine_A64_Android_Apps

I could login to the Play Store, but soon I found that network connectivity did not seem to work well at all, and although I could browser app, the system was unable to download any, and later one I got an error message about network timeout while checking out apps. Internet connectivity issues do happen, and it’s seldom a problem with the board, so I went to ES File Explorer to install the apk manually through my SAMBA share, but networking was also unreliable on my LAN, which is not normal at all. The symptom was very similar to early Rockchip RK3288 TV boxes with Gigabit Ethernet, the link would show a Gigabit Ethernet connection, but the connection itself was unreliable, So I disconnected the board from my Gigabit switch (D-Link DGS-1005A), and instead connected it a 10/100M switch, and everything started to work as expected, so I installed apps from Google Play. The good news is that a firmware update might be able to fix the Gigabit Ethernet issue, if the root cause is the same as on RK3288.

Pine_A64_Android_Storage

My 32GB SD card has 26.27 GB usable by the user on a single unified partition.

Pine A64 Android Benchmarks

Let’s start with CPU-Z first to find a little more about the system.

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Allwiner A64 processor has 4 Cortex A53 cores clocked at 480 MHz to 1.34 GHz with a Mali-400 MP2 GPU. The model is PINE A64 (tulip_chiphd), and the hardware 50iw1p1. The app detected 1987 MB RAM for the system with 26.27 GB for storage, and the resolution is set to 1920×1080.  The system runs Android 5.1.1 on top of a 64-bit Linux 3.10.35 kernel.
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We should not expect a Cortex A53 @ ~1.4 Ghz with a weak Mali-400MP2 GPU to get an amazing score, and the board got 24,568 points in Antutu 6.1.4, which is barely above the 21,500 points I got with Rockchip RK3229 quad core Cortex A7 based Zidoo X1 II TV box, and quite below the 35,000+ points in Amlogic S905 or Rockchip RK3368 based hardware platforms.

Pine_A64_Vellamo

Vellamo pretty much confirm the performance with 1,292 points for multicore, 648 for Metal, and 1,610 for browser benchmarks, which compares to respectively 1,572, 763 and 2,002 points in K1 Plus TV box powered by Amlogic S905 quad core Cortex A53 @ 2.0 GHz.

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3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited was used to get a score for the GPU, and 1,701 points is on the low side, but expected.

Finally, I tested the Ethernet connection using iperf for Android performing a full duplex transfer:

The results connected to my Ethernet switch are just fine:

But switching to my Gigabit Ethernet switch confirm the problem I had earlier as the transfer only properly occurred in one direction instead of both:

Overall performance is as expected, expect for Gigabit Ethernet, with only Fast Ethernet working reliably with my setup.

If you are interested in the board, you can purchase it on Pine64 online store for $15 (512MB RAM), $19 (1 GB RAM) or $29 (2GB) + shipping. Please note that the 512 MB version is only suitable for Linux distributions, and Android requires at least 1GB RAM.

Star Cloud PCG02U Ubuntu 14.04 TV Stick Review

May 24th, 2016 9 comments

Star Cloud PCG02U is the first Ubuntu product from MeLE. After taking a few pictures of the TV stick and the board, I’ve tested the performance and functionality of the device.

First Boot and Setup

You can either connected the stick directly into an HDMI port, or using the provided female to female adapter via an HDMI cable. I’ve opted to insert the device directly into the AUX port of my Onkyo A/V receiver itself connected to my TV. Since there’s only one USB host port, USB keyboard and mouse are not convenient since it would add a USB hub, so I went with Logitech MK270r wireless mouse & keyboard combo instead. You can either used Ethernet or WiFi for Internet connectivity, and I opted for the latter for most of the review, but WiFi is also working fine.

Star_Cloud_PCG02U_Ubuntu_TV_Stick_AV_ReceiverThe final step is to connect the power supply into the micro USB port, and boot the device which takes around 20 seconds. Power consumption is a low 3.4 watts in idle mode, and 0.4 watts while powered off. The system automatically login to Unity desktop shell with user “pp” without password. But if you do need to perform some administrative tasks as root, pp password is 123456.

PCG02U_User_AccountsSo you’ll probably want to go to “User Accounts” to Unlock the settings, and either add a password to pp, or create a new user.

PCG02U_Time_DateTime is set to New Year by default, so I changed that to match my local, as well as the Clock setting to display the time using a 24-hour clock, instead of the default 12-hour clock.

PCG02U_Software_Update_Server_ConfigThe download server for updates is configured to use servers in China by default. This  will likely be slow in most countries, so you’ll want to select a server for your country, or simply use the “Select Best Server” feature.

Ubuntu_Select_Best_ServerI also disabled “Online search” and removed “Amazon” icon from the dashboard.

Ubuntu_Disable_AmazonI completed the initial setup by installing the latest updates as well as OpenSSH server:

PCG02U System Information

Now that I have a system configured to my taste, let’s check some of the system information from the terminal start with Ubuntu and Linux kernel versions:

It’s not surprising that they went with Linux 3.16 since it was the only option to get HDMI audio until recently. MeLE did use Linuxium image possibly with some modifications.

MeLE also created pp user, but I’m not sure they did other improvements.

I still had 20GB free storage after installing the latest upgrade, with LibreOffice and Firefox pre-installed.

The system reports 1.9GB memory and a 1.9GB swap partition that’s barely used.

You can only see 159 MB free memory, simply because of lot of it is used as buffer/cache, not because Ubuntu is about to run out of memory.

cpuinfo show four cores, but I’m only showing one below.

Finally, I’ve installed hardinfo mostly to confirm the previous findings.

PCG02_hardinfo

Star Cloud PCG02U Benchmarks

Phoronix Benchmark

I’ll first use Phoronix to benchmark the TV stick.

I also installed psensor to monitor the CPU tempetature.

Before running the same benchmarks that was run on several ARM Linux development boards.

You can find the results on openbenchmarking.org, but as the tests were underway, the temperature seemed under control never going above 79 C, and I soon realized that the governor was setup to “Powersave”, so I changed that to “Performance”, and ran the tests again.

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So finally we have the results for both lowpower and performance governors, and the results are not that much different. Let’s see some of the results compared to  ARM boards. Please note that “MeUbuntu 14.04.3” is actually the test for PCG02U in powersave mode.

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First Star Cloud PCG02 is faster than ARM boards in some, but not all of the tests.

PCG02U_John_The_Ripper

John the ripper multi-threaded password cracker still works best on Banana Pi M3 octa-core ARM Cortex A7 board.

PCG02U_Himeno_Benchmark_3.0But Himeno benchmark is way much faster on Intel than ARM. Himeno page mentions that version 1.2.0 “use AVX2 by default if available”, so while the test still used version 1.10, and I did not find x86 optimization in the source code, it’s quite possible the compiler makes use a SIMD instruction on Intel, but not on ARM, or that ARM NEON is not quite as good as SSE2, AVX… instructions on Intel processors.

PCG02_FLAC_Audio_EncodingFLAC audio encoding is also confirming the better performance of the Intel platform here, although the gap to ODROID-XU4 is not as wide as for Himeno benchmark. Audio encoding would also benefit from SIMD instructions so that may explain it.

Network Performance

I tested both Ethernet and WiFi with iperf.

Full duplex transfer with Fast Ethernet shows very good performance:

I repeated the test with WiFi in one direction only, and the connection seems pretty good too:

Storage performance

I install IOZone to benchmark the internal flash.

I used the command line armbian community uses to test random read and write speed initially:

Random read @ 121 MB/s and write at 70MB/s is not too bad, but I can’t explain why they are random I/O are faster than sequential ones, so I repeated the test again with basically the same results.

I did two more runs with a larger file to test sequential read and write speed more accurately.

75MB/s sequential write speed and 125 MB/s sequential read speed are rather typical values for low cost Intel platforms.

Star Cloud PCG02U Usability Testing

In the final part of the review, I’ve test some common apps including:

  • Chrome web browser
    • Multitab browser
    • Adobe flash with Candy Crush Saga game
    • YouTube playing at 1080p
  • Libreoffice with text files, spreadsheet and presentations
  • Kodi 16.1 playing 1080p60 H.264 and 1080p24 H.265 videos
  • SuperTuxKart 3D games

You can watch the user’s experience in the video below.

Basically, I’m very happy with the performance of the device for desktop tasks, as everything worked smoothly. Video playback in YouTube and Kodi 16.1 ws not 100% perfect though, but still watchable, and finally SuperTuxKart ran pretty well at around 25 fps.

Overall, I’ve very satisfied with MeLE PCG02U TV stick, especially considering the $70 price tag, and you’ve got a fully working Ubuntu device suitable for desktop tasks, although multi-tasking should probably be limited due to the 2GB RAM. I’d like to thank MeLE for providing the sample, but we should also thank Linuxium for his work on the Ubuntu for Intel Atom Z3735F devices. You can currently purchase Star Cloud PCG02U for $69.76 including shipping, except for resident of the United Stated, Canada and Mexico, because MeLE has an agreement with another reseller targeting business consumers.

Debian on DragonBoard 410c Development Board

May 6th, 2016 29 comments

I purchased Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c development board last year, and first tested it and run some benchmark on the 96Boards compliant hardware with Android. I found that it was still work-in-progress, and decided to wait before trying Debian on the board. I’ve now done so, and will report by experience installing Debian Linux, playing with the board, and running Phoronix benchmarks to compare it to other ARM Linux boards.

Installing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The first challenge is to navigate through the documentation that is not always clear or up-to-date. I eventually ended up on DragonBoard 410c Wiki on Github.

DragonBoard_410c_Debian_Android_Opearting_SystemsYou then have to decided which image you want. While there are two official operating systems with Android and Debian, you can three “entities” releasiong their own images. For Debian specifically, you have the Linaro image, and Reference Platform Build (RPB) image. I could not find any changelog or known issues with the former, but the latter as its own Wiki with the latest release being RPB 16.03 (March 2016), and the next one scheduled to be RPB 16.06 in June.

That’s the current list of known issues

  • bug 285 USB host doesn’t detect any plugged devices
  • bug 121 [RPB] Cannot soft power off or shutdown db410c
  • bug 284 [RPB] Dragon board Display sleep not working
  • bug 289 [RPB] USB devices don’t work after reboot
  • bug 207 [RPB] Bluetooth does not work on Dragon board debian
  • bug 153 [RPB] Missing information about hwpack usage

USB host not working did not inspire confidence, so I first tested the Linaro image. The (other) Wiki points to the “latest version”, but the link would point to Linaro Debian 16.02 release, while I could find a more recent Linaro Debian 16.04 which I downloaded in a terminal:

I used a micro SD card to install it. If you use Windows, simply use Win32DiskImager, but in computer running Linux or in Windows via Windows subsystem for Linux, you may want to do it in the terminal. First check the SD card device with lsblk. Mine was /dev/sdb, but your may be different, and I use /dev/sdX in the command below tp flash the Debian installer to a micro SD card:

Now remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert it in to the board, set the jumper to boot from SD card on the DragonBoard 410c, and connect the power. I could see LED 1 blinking, but nothing on my HDMI TV. Last time, I did not  manage to make the serial console (requiring a 1.8V USB to TTL board or cable) using Hardkernel ODROID board, so I went to the support forums, and after several minutes of reading, I found that the RPB image is recommended, as well as a clear explanation between the Linaro and RPB images:

Use the Reference Platform Build instead of the Linaro release. The Reference Platform is an integrated build with support for multiple boards, and that is where all engineering effort is going. The Linaro build is the old single-platform image that we’re not working on anymore.

The reference platform will run on all 96boards CE (Consumer Edition) and EE (Enterprise Edition), while the Linaro image is built specifically for a given board, and they are not really working on it. [Update: This answer was specific to Hikey board, and for DragonBoard 410c there are two images provided by Qualcomm Landing Team and the Reference Platform team]

So let’s start again from scratch using the RPB image, and download the bootloader, Linux kernel and rootfs to my Ubuntu computer:

Now find a micro USB to USB cable to connect to DragonBoard 410c, install fastboot…

.. and check the device is detected:

Good. After making sure the jumper switch is set to 0000 on the board again, we can  extract the three files, and install Debian as follows:

That was a lot of commands to install the operating system… Now you can unplug the board, remove the micro USB cable, and connect the power again. After a few seconds, you should see the kernel log, and eventually LXDE desktop environment.

Click to Original Size

Click to Original Size

You’ll be asked to configure WiFi, and you’re basically done.

DragonBoard 410c Debian System Info

I’ve then run a few command to learn more about the image and system:

One of the main advantage of 96Boards should be recent Linux version,and that’s exactly what we have here with Linux 4.4 running on the board. Out of a total of 866MB reported RAM, 64MB is free, and the 6.9GB rootfs has 4.8 GB available to the user. Snapdragon 410 SoC is correctly reported as being a quad core Cortex A53 (0xd03) processor.

I used file utility to make sure a 64-bit rootfs is being used here:

Finally, there’s a bunch of modules pre-loaded on the board:

Testing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The thing that often do not work on ARM Linux board are 3D graphics and hardware video decoding, so I’ve specifically tested these two, and also played with the pre-installed Chromium browser.

If I understand correctly the debian image comes with Freedreno open source graphics driver, and if that’s the case I have the first ever platform with working open source 3D graphics drivers:

So that means both framebuffer and X11 3D graphics acceleration are working. Nice !

I also tried to play Tuxracer as it was part of the board’s test results provided by Linaro.

It works, but it’s so slow that it’s barely playable (see video below).

I installed VLC to play 1080op h.264 videos, but based on the CPU usage the system is clearly using software decoding, and there’s no audio via HDMI. I’ve asked about those two issues on the forums about 24 hours ago, but I have yet to get a reply.

Chromium loads OK, but I did notice some freezes during use, and YouTube will struggle at full screen at 1080p, in similar way to many other low end ARM Linux platforms.

DragonBoard 410c Linux Benchmarks

Let’s install the latest version of Phoronix…

…and run some benchmarks to compare against other development boards:

After over 3 hours the results are in. Bear in mind that the board does not have heatsink, just a metallic shield, and this may affects the performance. It’s also running an OS with a 64-bit ARM rootfs, while platforms like Raspberry Pi 3 features a 64-bit processor running 32-bit code.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I like to check John the Ripper for multi-threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_John_The_RipperWhile FLAC audio encoding is nice to single threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_FLAC

In theory the CPU performance of Snapdragon 410 and Broadcom BCM2837 (as found in RPi 3) should be equal since both are quad core Cortex A53 processors @ 1.2 GHz, but for some reasons DragonBoard 410c is a little slower in the multi-threaded benchmark, and quite faster during FLAC audio encoding likely due to software differences (Aarch64 vs Aarch32).

You can find the full results @ http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1605068-GA-1604204GA12

MK808B Pro Android TV Stick Mini Review

April 26th, 2016 10 comments

MK808B PRO is the first Amlogic S905 TV stick readily available for sale, and GeekBuying sent me a sample for review. I’ve already checked out the hardware, and the lack of heatsink is a worry, so we’ll see how it performs in this mini review, where I’ll focus mainly on potential pitfalls, rather than do a throrough review as usual, since I’ve already tested so many Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S905 processor

First Boot, Settings, and First Impressions

I’ve connected MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse RF dongle to the USB port, and Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad dongle to the mini USB port via the provided USB OTG adapter, and the provided HDMI cable to the AUX port of my AV receiver and nothing else, except the power adapter to the other mini USB port.

MK808_PRO_4K_TV_Stick

Boot time typically takes about one minute that it’s not a speed daemon in that regards. The user interface is familiar, since it’s the same as used in Beelink MINI MX, and a few other models.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

About_MK808B_ProThe settings are also the same, so I won’t go through them all. But I could set video output to 4K @ 60Hz, and connect to WiFi (2.4 GHz only) without any problems. There’s a single storage partition with 4.41GB in total available for apps and data. The About section reports MK808B Pro model is running Android 5.1.1 on top of Linux 3.14.29. The firmware is rooted.

I also tried the Online Update in the Update&Backup app to get the latest firmware, but sadly OTA firmware update is not implemented.

Since the stick does not come with the remote control, I use an air mouse, but in theory if you don’t have one, you should be able to use RemoteIME app after enabling “Remote” in the “Remote & Accessories” settings. This did not work for me the first time with the app unable to find MK808B Pro, but as I tried again a few hours later, it worked pretty well with keyboard, mouse, and remote control modes.

The lack of remote also raise a problem when you want to turn off the device, especially since there’s no power icon on the task bar. I could turn off the device by connecting a USB keyboard, and pressing the Power key. It works, and power consumption in that mode is only 0.3 Watt. However, the only way to turn the stick back on is to manually power cycle it, by disconnecting the power supply for a few seconds, and putting it back in. So it’s definitely not user-friendly.

I could install most apps needed for review the first time I used Google Play, except most games would not be compatible with my device. I tried again later, and i could install Candy Crush Saga, and Beach Buggy Racing. So Google Play is working OK. Amazon Underground refused to install though. After 5 or so minutes trying to install the apk, it will just say “App not installed”. I downloaded it twice, and tried to install it a few minutes with the same result.

MK808B Pro feels a little sluggish compared to other device, and you may have to be especially patient when installing apps. Sometimes apps exit by themselves, while other times, I would only get a black screen with the status bar when trying to get back to the home screen. I wonder if it would be because memory is tight. So my first impressions were not that good about the device.

Kodi in MK808B Pro

Then I switched to the pre-installed Kodi 15.2 which comes with some add-ons.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

For some weird reasons, Kodi 15.2 reports a 1280×720 screen resolution, but if you enlarge the screenshot below, it is instead 1920×1080.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Nevertheless, just a small issue. A much bigger issue was the disaster the box is to play 4K videos:

  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 (4K H.264, ~ 8 Mbps) – Choppy as hell, frequent audio cuts, artifacts may appear after a while.
  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Not smooth at all, unwatchable

I was about to give up at this stage, but later I found that Kodi had an update in Google Play, so they may have the original version of Kodi without modifications, except installing add-ons. I did the update to Kodi 16.1, and the videos played a bit better, but still not watchable:

  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 (4K H.264, ~ 8 Mbps) – Video somewhat smooth at the beginning, but then becomes more choppy with frequent audio cuts. Kodi decided by itself it could not take it anymore, and exited by itself.
  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264) – Not smooth, then buffering kicks in (60 Mbps is too high for WiFi)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (H.265 @ 60 fps – ~6.5 Mbps) – Video not smooth, and some audio cuts, but no buffering issues here. After a few minutes, Kodi exited.

If I wanted to access Kodi UI while the video is playing, key inputs from my air mouse were either irresponsive, or with 10 seconds or so delay.

I’ve decided to to waste any more with Kodi, and video playback, on that TV stick.

Wi-Fi & Storage Performance

WiFi throughput averaged about 2.6 MB/s after several transfers between the internal flash and a SAMBA server. Not a catastrophe, but still below average.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

I also tested the internal storage performance with A1 SD bench app, and the results clearly show why the stick is so cheap.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Gaming and Performance Stability

I’ve only played Beach Buggy Racing game on MK808K Pro. At the beginning it was not quite as smooth as on some other Amlogic S905 based TV boxes, but still playable. However, the games became very slow near the end of my first races (one lap – less than 1 minute play), and stayed that way after that. I measured the temperature on the top and bottom of the device, and both were around 60 C. I’ve also notice that at the beginning my power meter reported 4.4 Watts, but when it became slow, it dropped to 3.0 Watts, most probably because the system was throttling.

So the lack of heatsink, possibly combined with high ambient temperature (30 C), is really a problem with the stick, and you can’t expect good performance over time.

MK808B Pro Benchmark and System Info

I’ve finally ran CPU-Z and Antutu 6.1.4 to complete the review.

MK808B_Pro_CPU-Z_System_Info

Click to Enlarge

The package mentions the CPU was clocked @ 1.5 GHz, but CPU-Z and Antutu info both reports a Quad coe Cortex A53 processor clocked between 100 MHz and 2.02 GHz. But whenever it reaches 2.02 GHz, it won’t stay there for long, as we’ve seen before. The total RAM is only 775 MB, with 4.41 GB internal storage. MK808N Pro is also based on p201 board.

MK808B_Pro_Antutu_6.1.4

Antutu 6.1.4 score is 31,5166, but that’s without 3D graphics. I tried to run the benchmark again, but it would always get stuck during “Image Processing Fisheye” test right after the 3D benchmark successfully completed. It was a complete system freeze, I noticed the power draw was 8.4 watts, and my IR thermometer reported 88 C. I had to turn if off, and let it cool for 5 minutes to be able to use the stick again.

Conclusion

I wonder why anybody would buy MK808B Pro, even if the price is so low, as I’ve had so many problems, it performs slowly, Kodi 15.2 & Kodi 16.1 don’t handle 4K video very well at all, and WiFi performance is under par, at least with my setup. Maybe the stick works better at a lower ambient temperature, but I would not bet on it.

GeekBuying kindly provided the sample for review, and if for some reasons you feel the urge to buy it, you can do so for $34.99 including shipping.

Mini Review of Doogee Smart Cube P1 Android Projector

April 22nd, 2016 4 comments

Doogee Smart Cube P1, or just Doogee P1, is an Android projector powered by a quad core Amlogic processor. I’ve already taken some pictures of the device, and gave it a quick try, so today, I’ll write a little more about my experience using it in standalone mode with an air mouse, as well as with an Android phone using both Miracast and DLNA. The device also supports Airplay, but I don’t think I have any compatible device, so I have not tried this mode.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Doogee P1 in Standalone Mode with an Air mouse (or other wireless/USB input device)

After connecting MINIX NEO A2 lite air mouse’s RF dongle to the only USB port on the device, I pressed the power button for 5 seconds to start it up, and boot is pretty fast in around 30 seconds. You’ll need to adjust the focus with the wheel button on the side. It will start with the stock Android launcher, showing “Hotspot mode” on the left in the notification bar, but instead I went to the settings to connect to my WiFi network. My 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz access points were detected, but if you don’t input the password fast enough that “Hotspot mode” notification will come up again, and you have to start again. After a few unsuccessful frustrating attempts, I finally managed to connect to my WiFi network.

So I went to Google Play Store to install YouTube. I could sign-in with any issues, but I got some error message when installing the app.

Doogee_P1_YouTube_Installation_Issue

It also happens with all other apps, and two other reviewers actually contacted me to know if I had the same problem with Google Play. So there’s definitely a problem with the firmware here. However, at the end of the review, I finally found out that Wireless update works, and March 30, 2016 firmware did fix Google Play. So make sure you update when you receive the device.

Since YouTube app was not an easy option at the time, I instead started the pre-installed Chrome Browser, went to youtube.com, and started playing videos, and it worked well with audio coming out of the built-in speakers. I also tried to connect some Bluetooth headset, but the projector would not detect it.

I’m pretty sure some people would have asked me about Kodi, so I installed SPMC 16.2.1, and played a 1080p H.264 video (Big Buck Bunny) from the USB flash drive connected via a USB hub, and no problem here.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The projector resolution is 854×480, but it still feels sharp enough.

Doogee P1 with an Android Smartphone (Miracast + DLNA)

Since Smart Cube P1 does not come with a user’s manual that part may be tricky at first, and I eventually found out that you need to press the power button twice to get to connection instructions, and the first time, download Doogee app for Android 4.0+ or iOS 7.0+. Then each time you start the project, you have to pair it with your smartphone again.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You’ll need to tap on the top right icon, scan the QR code, and the relevant icon will turn green and show “Connected”. You’ll be able to control the projector with the remote.

Doogee Smartphone App - Click to Enlarge

Doogee Smartphone App – Click to Enlarge

However, since it is in Hotspot mode, there’s no Internet connection by default, so you’ll need to tap on the WiFi button, just under DLNA, to seatch for WiFi access point, and connect. Sadly I also have to do this each time, and the WiFi is not saved by the app.

Now that configuration is done, you can play with DLNA or Miracast. Starting with Miracast, the system will show the app has crashed, but you can still go ahead enable Wireless Display in your phone, and connect to the projector. I’ve played YouTube videos, and played Beach Buggy Racing from my phone, which I’ll be able to see in the demo video further below, and it worked reasonably well. Later, I played some music videos in YouTube, and noticed artifacts from time to time. Anyway, Mircast is working reasonably well.

On the other end, my DLNA  experience was pretty poor, with videos and photos super slow to load with BubbleUPnP, and most of the time the video would just end before completion. The projector was only 4 to 5 meters (+ one wall) from the router.

The demo video below shows my experience in standalone mode, and with Miracast & DLNA using a Mediatek smartphone.

Doogee P1 System Info & Antutu Benchmark

Let’s check the system details with CPU-Z first.

Doogee_Smart_Cube_P1_CPU-ZSo we have a quad core Cortex A5 processor @ 24 MHz to 1.54 GHz with a Mali-450 MP GPU. That’s similar to Amlogic S805 processor, but it’s likely Amlogic T826 processor since it also targets “smart projectors” The model is P1, and the screen resolution is confirmed to be 848 x 480 pixels. There’s 799 MB total RAM (part of the 1GB RAM are probably used for the GPU or VPU), and 5.32 GB storage with 5.08 GB free after installing a few apps. The device runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux 3.10.33.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The projector achieves 16,210 points in Antutu 6.0.4, which is about what I expected. I had to run the benchmark three times to get 3D to succeed.

Doogee Smart Cube P1 OTA firmware update

When I went to the About section of the Android settings, I noticed both System update and Wireless update options.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

System update reported that the device was up-to-date, but Wireless update detected a new firmware. I should have done this earlier…, or rather a first time setup app should have made me go through it… Anyway, I clicked on Download to start the process.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The changelog only mentions “System optimizations” and “Fix errors”. The update went through and did not delete any of my apps and settings. I tried to access Google Play, but the app would just exit. So I powered off the device (5 second press on the power button), and powered it on again, and I could access the Google Play Store, input my credential again, and install YouTube! Hooray!

Conclusion

I liked the DLP projector from the start with a bright and sharp image, and that’s straightforward to focus. At first, I had troubles with the Google Play Store, which did not work at all, but luckily the projector supports OTA firmware updates, and after the update I could install apps from the Play Store, which makes Standalone mode a much user-friendly option. Controlling the projector with my Android smartphone worked well, although I would have like a touchpad area to control the mouse pointer. Miracast worked OK most of the time, but DLNA performance was really poor. However, since Doogee has implemented OTA firmware updates, I’m hopefully many of the issues will be fixed overtime. The projector is also small and cute.

I’d like to thank GearBest for providing the sample, and you could consider purchasing it for $168.99 including shipping (+$4 discount with GBP1 coupon). Only a few other shops list the device on Aliexpress.

Matricom G-Box Q2 Android TV Box Review

April 21st, 2016 4 comments

Another guest review from Karl, this time, with Matricom G-Box Q2 Android 5.1 TV box based on Amlogic S812 processor.

First Impressions

gbox_q2_package

Today I will be reviewing the G-Box Q2 by Matricom. This is a follow up device to the popular G-Box Q. The first day I plugged it in and did some basic first impressions I thought it was laggy…..but after using it and setting up the way I am accustomed to using it…I found it very fast and responsive. From the time power is applied to launcher is loaded is about 33 seconds. The software seems solid and I ran into only minor issues. It got very respectable scores between 38000 and 42000 on Antutu. The box does have a lot of software that I am not a fan of, but these can be easily uninstalled. The launcher that comes with it is ok but I prefer a more vanilla launcher. I do wish it had gigabit Ethernet it would help streaming high bitrate 4K movies but in reality other than test videos I have no 4k movies. I did end up testing a USB 3.0 gigabit adapter and was pleasantly surprised it just worked and got significant improvement over the integrated Ethernet.

gbox_q2_accessories

Specs

  • CPU/GPU – Amlogic s812 Quad Core @ 2GHz Mali-450 Octo Core 3D GPU
  • Memory – 2GB DDR3 SK Hynix
  • Storage – 16GB Flash Storage Samsung
  • Android OS – Android Lollipop
  • USB Ports – Two (2) USB 2.0
  • Ethernet – 10/100 Full Duplex
  • Wi-Fi – Broadcom 5G 802.11 Dual Band Via AP6330
  • Bluetooth – V.4.0 Low Power, Full Speed
  • Dimensions – Length: 12.5cm, Width: 12.5cm,
  • Height: 2.5cm

gbox_q2_board

gbox_q2_board_closeup

Chrome

Chrome is the only app that I found major deficiencies with…it was very laggy. The built it browser worked much better for me. I recently installed an Emby server and it takes a good minute for it to load,  and when I click a link 5-10 seconds for a response. I found 5-10 seconds to respond on most pages.

Video

SPMC works great plays everything in my collection. Further down I did testing with some test vids. With the Masters going I loaded there app from the play store….I watched several pre-recorded items and they played well but live was jittery. YouTube plays 1080p and is nice and fluid.

Launcher, Home, and UI

The stock launcher is OK, and you can install others, but there is no way to make it default unless the Matricom launcher is totally removed. One thing that kind of grew on me is when pressing the home button the app switcher loads at the bottom of the screen. The app switcher is part of the Matricom Launcher so I opted to keep it and just click Nova Launcher every boot.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

One thing I found odd was there is a mixture of double clicks and single clicks in the UI. There are no notifications or navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen. To get around the lack of app switcher to kill a process I had to hold an alt-tab and slide the app off the screen to kill it.

Testing

Moving Files around

Scenario Size in MB sec MBytes/sec
From NAS to Internal SD over Wi-Fi 5GHz

1575.246

658

2.393990881

From NAS to Internal SD over Ethernet

1575.246

194

8.119824742

From Internal SD to NAS over Ethernet

1575.246

226

6.970115044

From NAS to External SD over Ethernet

1575.246

174

9.053137931

From Internal SD to External SD

1575.246

154

10.22887013

From External SD to Internal SD

1575.246

102

15.44358824

From USB Thumb to Internal SD

1575.246

57

27.63589474

From Internal SD to USB Thumb

1575.246

142

11.09328169

External SD to USB Thumb

1575.246

146

10.78935616

From NAS to Internal SD over Gig USB to Ethernet

1575.246

98

16.07393878

From Internal SD to NAS over Gig USB to Ethernet

1575.246

157

10.03341401

After connecting a USB Gigabit adapter you can tell there is a significant advantage to using it. My NAS is the limiting factor. I max out around 16-17 MB/s. I would imagine it could go as high as the USB to thumb drive move of about 27 MB/s which is about the typical throughput of USB 2.0.

4k Video Test

Kodi 16.0

MX Player

SPMC 16.2.1

big_buck_bunny_1080p_H264_AAC_25fps_7200K_short.MP4

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_MPEG2_MP2_25fps_6600K_short.MPG

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_MPEG4_MP3_25fps_7600K_short.AVI

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_VC1_WMA3_25fps_8600K_short.WMV

ok

ok

ok

big_buck_bunny_1080p_VP8_VORBIS_25fps_7800K_short.WebM

ok

Stutters

ok

Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv

Pauses occasionally almost perfect

Pauses occasionally

Pauses occasionally almost perfect

jellyfish-120-mbps-4k-uhd-hevc-10bit.mkv

Weird video issue

Plays few frames skips plays few frames skips

Weird video issue

Samsung_UHD_Dubai.ts

ok

Plays few frames skips plays few frames skips

ok

tears_of_steel_4k_H264_24fps.mov

ok

ok

ok

tears_of_steel_1080p_H264_24fps.mov

ok

ok

ok

140626_4k_hm130_4s_sao_dbf_qp27.265.mpeg

Slight stutter

ok

ok

140803_4k_hm130_4s_sao_dbf_qp27.265.mpeg

Slight stutter

Ok but slight pause at same spot every time

ok

SPMC is the clear winner.

Benchmarks

CPU-Z

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Antutu 6.0.1

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Vellamo

gbox_q2_vellamo3DMark Ice Storm Extreme

gbox_q2_3dmark_ICS

Apps

  • Netflix – Only SD
  • Asphalt 8 – OK
  • Riptide GP 2 – OK
  • YouTube 1080 – OK
  • Google Play Movies – Black Screen no audio
  • Crackle – OK
  • Hulu – OK
  • Emby – Works well with MX player as external player. Everything stretched 16:9
  • Plex App – OK, some streams won’t play

Final notes

I have really enjoyed my time with this box. Everything but Chrome seemed to work very well. Video test went very well. S/PDIF worked perfectly. I do wish it had a notification bar and navigation bar so I could kill apps and get notifications easily. I would have tried to change this but I was fearful I would brick the box and not get it back. Matricom/Google should resolve the Chrome issue soon. I would say it is the best overall box that I have played with, behind the NVidia Shield.


CNXSoft here. Matricom G-Box Q2 can be purchased for $97 on Amazon US, but I have to thank Sandroid.co.uk instead, as they are the one who sent the device for review, and they sell it in the UK for £83.33 to £94.16 depending on the chosen remote control. And of course, thanks to Karl for the review!