Archive

Posts Tagged ‘mini pc’

ZX Spectrum Next Retro Keyboard PC Relies on Xilinx FPGA, Raspberry Pi Zero “Accelerator” Board (Crowdfunding)

May 2nd, 2017 11 comments

ZX Spectrum keyboard computer was launched in April 1982 in the United Kingdom, and 35 years later, a team of developers has now been working on ZX Spectrum Next somewhat resuscitating ZX Spectrum by emulating Z80 processor in a Xilinx FPGA, using an optional Raspberry Pi Zero board as an accelerator, and adding some modern features like HDMI output and WiFi.

While the case is only a 3D rendering for now, they have a working board prototype with the following specifications:

  • FPGA – Xilinx Spartan-6 FGPA emulating Z80 processor in 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
  • System Memory – 512KB RAM (expandable to 1.5MB internally and 2.5MB externally)
  • Storage – SD Card slot, with DivMMC compatible protocol used in the original ZX Spectrum
  • Video
    • Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8×1 mode etc.
    • Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
  • Audio – 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
  • Networking – Optional WiFi module
  • Joystick – DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
  • PS/2 port – Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
  • Special – Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
  • Tape support – Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
  • Expansion – Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port for Raspberry Pi Zero
  • Misc – Real Time Clock (optional), internal speaker (optional)
  • Power Supply – 9V

Spectrum Next board can also fit into the original case, if you find the new design too… well new.

The Raspberry Pi Zero is used to bring OpenGL support to the ZX Spectrum, as well as more memory and a faster processor, so beside running retro apps on the ZX Spectrum Next, you can also run apps that would not work before. The good news is that the board already works, and you can run program in normal or accelerated mode, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and more. The source code for the FPGA’s Z80 core will be released to the community.

ZX Spectrum Next has launched on Kickstarter, and has been rather popular so far having raised over £412,111 out of its £250,000 goal. If you want to upgrade your old enclosure, you could pledge £99 ($128 US) for the board only, but if you want the full package with the new enclosure, you’ll have to pledge at least £175 ($226). It’s probably not coincidence that’s the same price as the original ZX Spectrum with 48KB RAM when it launched in April 1982. Delivery for the board only is schedule for August 2017, while you’re expected to wait until January 2018 for the full version. Shipping adds 10 quids to the United Kingdom, and 25 quids to the rest of the world.

The Register reports there is no relationship between RCL, the company behind the failed ZX Spectrum-branded Vega and Vega+ consoles, and the team working on ZX Spectrum Next.

Via Liliputing

Yundoo Y8 Rockchip RK3399 mini PC Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Audio & Video Playback in Kodi

May 2nd, 2017 10 comments

Yundoo Y8 is one of the first Android TV boxes / mini PCs powered by Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor to be launched. GearBest sent me a review sample, and since I’ve already taken it apart in the first part of the review, I’ll report my experience with the firmware in terms of stability and performance, as well as audio & video capabilities with TVMC (Kodi fork), and more.

First Boot, Setup, and First Impressions

I’ve first connected a few peripherals Seagate USB 3.0 drive to the USB port, a USB keyboard to one of the USB 2.0 port, and a USB hub to the other one with two USB RF dongles for MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse, and Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad.

After adding Ethernet and HDMI cable, I pressed the power button on the unit to start it up. Please note that the remote control cannot turn on the box, so if you are comfortably seated in your sofa or lying down on your bed, you’d need to get to turn it on. The remote control can still be used to enter and get out of standby mode. A typical boot takes just around 20 seconds, and it’s one of the fastest boot I’ve seen on TV boxes.

Click for Original Size (1920×1080)

The launcher shows the time, networking and USB status icon, and weather forecast on the very top, and includes 5 sections with Home, Recommend, Online, Local, And Settings. The Home section has eight icon: TVMC media center (for of Kodi), YouTube (TV version), File Manager, Browser, TV store, K-Addons, Netflix, and Apps. The other three sections lists some pre-installed apps.

I’ve quickly tried the TV Store, and beside apps that can be found in Google Play, it also comes with some other extra apps, notably some IPTV apps that may or may not be legal in your country.

Click to Enlarge

I clicked on the Video icon to get a list of 44 apps as shown below.

The Settings section in the launcher gives access to four icons: “Settings”, “Weather” allowing you to input your city name, “Others” to change the “Theme ” (launcher colors) / enable touch sound, and Systeminfo.

The latter shows YUNDOO-Y8 model runs Android 6.0.1, and comes with 4GB memory, 32GB storage. The MAC address starts with “ac:83:f3” which looks up to “AMPAK Technology, Inc.”, so that’s the WiFi module MAC address….
The Settings menu looks familiar, as it’s just a colorized version of the Settings app found in Amlogic TV boxes.

Click to Enlarge

Some of the settings include:

  • Network – WiFi or Ethernet configuration
  • Bluetooth
  • Display – Day Dream, Calibration, and More Settings. Not that none of those allow you to change video output resolution.
  • System sounds – On/Off
  • Date & Time
  • Language
  • More Settings – Access to Android Marshmallow

Apart from Network to configure Ethernet or WiFi, Date & Time, and potentially Language, the rest of the settings are not really useful, or redirect to Android Marshmallow Settings.

Click to Enlarge

Notably, you’ll to select Display Output option there to change the HDMI resolution. My box was setup to 720p60 by default, but I had no problems changing it to 3840x2160p-60 (YCbCr420).

Click to Enlarge

Here’s the full list of options per resolution:

  • Auto
  • 4096x2160p 60 (YCbCr420)/ 50 (YCbCr420) / 30 / 25 / 24
  • 3840x2160p 60 (YCbCr420)/ 50 (YCbCr420) / 30 / 25 / 24
  • 1920x1080p 60/50/25/24
  • 1920x1080i 60/50
  • 1360x768p 60
  • 1280x720p 60/50
  • 1024x768p-60
  • 800x600p-60
  • 720x576p-50, 720x576i-50
  • 720x480p-60

My TV does not support YCrCr444 @ 50/60 using 4K resolutions, but if your TV does, you may have a few extra options (TBC).

PCM audio output, and HDMI / optical S/PDIF audio pass-through can be configured by going to Sound & notifications, and scrolling down there until Sound Devices Manager.

But I would not even bother since it does not work at all, as we’ll see in the audio & video section of the review.

Other options found in most other recent TV boxes but missing in Yundoo Y8 are “HDR” (normal as not supported by hardware), automatic frame rate switching, and Printing.

Click to Enlarge

The TV box has plenty of storage with 27.50 GB partition. The system could only recognize the NTFS partition in my hardware, no exFAT, no EXT-4 support.

The About section shows the Android firmware relies on Linux 4.4.16, and the Android security patch level is dated August 5, 2016. The firmware is rooted by default. Wireless Update app appears to connect to an update server, but I could not verify if it is working, as the company did not provide an update to “yundoo_y8-userdebug 6.0.1 MXC89L user:arron.20170328.133704 test-keys” firmware I’ve been using for the review. The “firmware update” crashes several times again while running in the background, which pops up a window from time to time.

I tested the IR remote control up to 10 meters away, and it worked without issues. I also no trouble using the IR learning function to register my TV remote control’s power button. The big downside has mentioned previously is that you can’t turn on the box with the remote control, only with the power button.

I could install all apps I needed for review via Google Play and Amazon Underground stores.

Beside not being able to turn on the device with the remote control, power handling is implemented properly. You can go into and out of standby with a short press of the remote control’s power key, and a long press will show a menu with Power off and reboot options. I measured power consumption with or without a USB hard drive attached in power off, standby, and idle modes:

  • Power off – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby – 3.0 Watts
  • Idle – 4 to 4.3 Watts
  • Power off + USB HDD – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby + USB HDD – 5.2 Watts with HDD LED on.
  • Idle + USB HDD – 6.0 Watts

I did not notice any obvious throttling during use, and after playing a 2-hour video in TVMC, I measured maximum temperatures of 52 and 51°C on the top and bottom of the case respectively with an IR thermometer. After playing Riptide GP2 for 15 minutes, the temperatures were 49 and 55°C. CPU-Z did not report a realistic value for the thermal sensor (26 °C).

Overall Yundoo Y8 left me with a positive impression at first with very good performance, fast boot times, and good stability. The main disappointment was the inability to turn on the box with the remote control, and to a lesser extend, I found the firmware update app crashing a few times a day a bit annoying, and the settings are not user-friendly, and missing a few parts that you’d normally take for granted like Printing support, and automatic frame rate switching.

Audio & Video Playback in TVMC (Kodi fork), DRM Info

TVMC media center is a fork of Kodi 16.1.

Click for Original Size

I played all videos from a SAMBA share over Gigabit Ethernet, unless otherwise noted.

Starting with some Linaro media samples and Elecard H.265 samples :

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 1080p – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – OK
  • WebM / VP8 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container  – OK

Not bad, and all videos were played with RKCodec, meaning hardware video decoding. Automatic frame rate switching is not working, so you can’t expect perfectly fluid videos for 24 fps videos unless you manually change the resolution.

I tested videos with various bitrates:

  • ED_HD.avi (MSMPEG4vs – 10 Mbps) – OK (software decode)
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Not perfectly smooth
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK

Audio supports looks promising when we look at Audio output settings in TVMC with TrueHD and DTS-HD part of the options.

Click for Original Size

However, the actual results clearly show the mini PC is not capable of leveraging any AV receiver or amplifier you may have, and now it’s only suitable for stereo audio.

Video PCM 2.0 Output
(TVMC)
PCM 2.0 Output
(Video & Video Player app)
HDMI Pass-through
(Kodi)
HDMI Pass-through
(Video & Video Player app)
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK, video 1:1 aspect ratio Audio OK, video 1:1 aspect ratio No audio, video 1:1 aspect ratio. No audio, video 1:1 aspect ratio.
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK No audio No audio
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK OK No audio Loud noise (like helicopter)
TrueHD 5.1 OK OK No audio Loud noise
TrueHD 7.1 OK OK No audio Loud noise
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK No audio No audio Loud noise
DTS HD Master OK OK No audio Loud noise
DTS HD High Resolution OK OK No audio No audio
DTS:X OK OK No audio Loud noise (never ending flatulence)

4K videos fare better, although more work is needed:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Watchable, but not perfectly smooth
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK, but could be a little smoother
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC, 24 fps) – Plays, but not that smooth
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Very low frame rate (software decode)
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – The video somewhat plays but with a large audio delay  (4K H.264 @ 60 fps is not supported by RK3399 VPU)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – OK (hardware decode)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – SAMBA: Not 100% smooth; USB hard drive playback: OK
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – Not smooth at all, massive artifacts
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Not smooth at all, massive artifacts

Several videos are not quite as fluid as they could be, but a good point if 4K H.264 Hi10p video support, that the vast majority of other hardware platforms cannot handle. TVMC does not support VP9 hardware decoding, so I played the videos in Video Player instead:

  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – OK, and one of the best playback experience I’ve had with that video, although I’ve still noticed a few tiny slowdowns at times.

Sintel Blu-Ray ISO file could play fairly well. AMAT ISO blu-ray file started in the menu, and I could start playing the video, but for whatever reason audio switches quickly and repeatedly between the AC3 and TrueHD audio track, so I did not get any audio at all. Other videos with multiple audio tracks did not have this issue.

Two 1080i MPEG-2 video could play just fine. Since I was pleasantly surprised to see 4K 10-bit H.264 video playback working, I was hopefully with lower resolution videos, but I did not turn out that way.

  • Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – OK for video, audio and subtitles
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Crashes TVMC app (tried 3 times).

I’m assuming RK3399 VPU does not like “16 ref” in the 1080p video.  I tried to disable hardware acceleration in the settings, but RKcodec seems to be hard-coded in the app, so it did not change anything. If I play Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu video with “Video Player” app, all I get is a still image with the audio playing in the background for a while. I installed MX Player to work around the issue. I enabled the SW decoder in the app, and Rockchip RK3399 CPU was powerful enough to play the 1080p hi10p video smoothly with video, audio, and subtitles. In an ideal world, TVMC should detect if a video has a problem, and automatically fallback to software decoding…

I played some stereoscopic 3D videos to find out if they could be decoded as LG 42UB820T – the TV I use for review – does not support 3D:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Playing with lots of artifact (No dual 4K decoder required for 3D 4K in RK3399).
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

I completed TVMC/Kodi testing by playing full length movies with various container/codec combinations such as VOB, IFO, MKV, AVI, MP4, and DivX, and all played. The 2-hour video test also completed with any issues. You’ll find all samples mentioned above in the video samples post.

Both YouTube TV and YouTube Mobile apps are installed, and both work very well, as long as you close your eyes. If you happen to open your eyes by mistake, you’ll find out videos are all played at around 10 to 15 fps. So YouTube is not really usable to play videos with the current firmware..

DRM Info shows no DRM is supported whatsoever.

Click to Enlarge

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

I’ve already tested Gigabit Ethernet in RK3399 benchmarks post with iperf, and performance is excellent (881 Mbps upload, 939 Mbps download). But I’ve repeated the test to copy a 885 MB file from SAMBA to the flash and vice versa. The average file copy transfer rate is 11.57 MB/s, but there’s a big difference between download speed (18.06 MB/s) and upload speed (8.5 MB/s). So I guess there may be a problem with SAMBA in Android 6.0 since it happens with other boxes with this operating system too.

Throughput in MB/S – Click to Enlarge

I repeated the test with a a 278MB file using ES File Explorer to test 802.11ac WiFi performance. Average: 1.6 MB/s; download:  3.2 MB/s; upload: 1.09 MB/s.

Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

It does not look too good on the chart, but the main problem here appears to be related to SAMBA performance, and iperf shows about the same 802.11 WiFi performance in either direction.

WiFi download:

WiFi upload:

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

I manage to pair Yundoo Y8, shown as “TV Box”, with my Vernee Apollo Lite Android smartphone, but only from the smartphone, as originating pairing from  the TV box would lead to an “Invalid key” error. Once pairing was successful, I could transfer three photos from my phone to the box over Bluetooth. I used  X1T bluetooth earbuds to listen to audio while watching some YouTube videos (@ 10 fps), and managed to get my PS3 Bluetooth gamepad clone working with Sixaxis app.

Storage

As we’ve previously seen, file systems support is limited to NTFS, and FAT32.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK OK
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
exFAT Not mounted Not mounted
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK

Storage performance was tested with A1 SD bench app, and performance on the NTFS partition of my USB 3.0 hard drive was very good @ about 95 MB/s for sequential reads, and 54 MB/s for sequential writes.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

The internal storage did not work so well because of a cache read, but for reference the values were: 147.17 MB/s for seq. read, and 49.32 MB/s for seq. write. Nevertheless, the 32GB used in the TV box has pretty good performance  – despite being the lowest end 32GB eMMC flash from Samsung -, and I did not notice any slowdowns and the dreaded “app is not responding” window during use. If you purchase Yundoo Y8 with a 16GB flash expect lower storage performance, but I’m not convinced it would lower the performance much.

Read & Write Speed in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

I still included the device in the chart above, but keep in mind that the blue (Read) should be shorter than on the chart.

Gaming

Beside getting two fast ARM Cortex A72 cores, Rockchip RK3399 SoC also comes with Mali-T760MP4 GPU that’s almost twice as fast as the most popular TV box solutions such as Amlogic S912. I’ve started with easy game to check there was no bug in that early hardware, and Candy Crush Saga & Beach Buggy Racing easily passed the test, with the latter playing very smoothly even with maximum graphics settings. But even other platforms can manage that. So I switched to Riptide GP2, and to my surprise performance, in terms of frame per second, did not feel any better than on lower end TV boxes, although I could see a few more details, like crowds, in the game. That’s a different result compared to Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced with Mediatek MT8693 Cortex A72/A53 processor + PowerVR GX6250 GPU, where I experienced both better quality/more details, and a much higher frame rate. 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme benchmark results are quite similar in both platforms (9,xxx points), so I wonder if this could be software problems, or possibly to game added too many details on that processor. I also switched video output from 4K to 1080p, but it did not make any difference.

I played Riptide GP2 for over 15 minutes, and performance was stable and constant throughout.

Yundoo Y8 Benchmarks

I’ve already run several benchmarks, and invite you to read “Yundoo Y8 Rockchip RK3399 TV Box System Info and Benchmarks” for details.

Conclusion

Yundoo Y8 mini PC works reasonably well, and you’ll get a boost in performance while doing tasks like web browsing. 3D graphics performance looks very good in benchmark, but somehow it did not translate into better performance in the games I’ve tried. Storage (both USB 3.0 + internal), and networking performance (WiFi + Gigabit Ethernet) are all very good, so we have a good hardware base here. People mostly wanting a TV box to play videos may be disappointed, as it may not be worth to pay extra, as while most videos are playing in TVMC (Kodi 16.1 fork), features like automatic frame rate switching and audio pass-through are not working at all, and the hardware does not come with HDR support.

PROS

  • Powerful hardware with firmware relatively stable and responsive at this early stage
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4096x2160p 60Hz; 24/25/30/50/60 Hz refresh rates supported
  • 10-bit H.265 and 10-bit H.264 (hi10p) video supported in TVMC up to 4K resolutions. 4K VP9 well supported in Video Player app.
  • Excellent networking performance for Gigabit Ethernet, and good 802.11ac WiFi performance
  • USB 3.0 storage delivers the expected performance
  • Fast internal storage (32GB version) lead to fast boot and app loading times
  • Good 3D graphics performance as reported in benchmarks
  • Power implementation is OK: 0 watt in power off mode; off/reboot/standby selection possible.
  • OTA firmware update appears to have been implemented (but not used in the first released of the firmware on March 28th)

CONS (and bugs)

  • TVMC/Kodi issues
    • no support for automatic frame rate switching
    • audio pass-through does not work at all
    • VP9 HW decode is not supported
    • Some videos are not as smooth as usual
    • no zoom option while playing videos.
  • Audio pass-through does not work in other video apps either (after enabling HDMI bitstream)
  • YouTube (TV & Mobile) apps can not play any video smoothly (maybe ~10 fps)
  • The remote control cannot be used to turn on the TV box
  • 3D graphics performance in games not as good as expected (compared to Mi Box 3 Enhanced).
  • System Update app crashes several times a time
  • Settings – Settings App lacks options, so we need to go to Android Settings to set HDMI output, Audio device, etc… Printing option is also gone.
  • Some potential issues with SAMBA performance, especially upload.

I’d like to thank GearBest for sending a sample for review, and you could purchase the mini PC on their website for $109.99 with coupon GBYDY8, or $90 with coupon GBYDY816 for the 2GB/16GB version. I could not find other websites with the device.

Shuttle NS02E Rockchip RK3368 Android mini PC Supports PoE for Digital Signage and Thin Clients

April 28th, 2017 3 comments

The market is flooded of octa-core Android mini PCs or TV boxes for the consumer market, but Rockchip RK3368 powered Shuttle NS02E Android mini PC targets a different mark, specifically digital signage and thin clients as it’s been designed for 24/7 nonstop operation, and supports features such as PoE (Power over Ethernet).

Shuttle XPC nano NS02E specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3368 ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.5 GHz with Imagination PowerVR G6110 “Rogue” GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash, 2.5″ SATA bay for 7″ drives (requires one extra optional accessory), SD card reader
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output – Via HDMI, 3.5mm Line OUT audio jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8211-CG transceiver) with PoE support, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 (RTL8723BS module)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Kensington lock hole, power button, power LED, HDD LED, VESA mount, RTC + battery
  • Power Supply
    • Optional 12V/2A via power barrel
    • PoE 802.3af (Up to 12.9W) or POE+ 802.3at (up to 25.5W) with the later recommended with a 2.5″ drive or external USB peripherals
  • Dimensions – 141 x 141 x 29 mm (slim plastic chassis)
  • Weight – 270 grams
  • Operating Temperature Range – 0 to 40 °C
  • Certifications – EMI: CE, FCC, BSMI, RCM, CCC, R&TTE; safety: CB, BSMI, ETL; others: RoHS, EuP Lot 6

The mini PC runs Android 5.1.1, and the company highlights features like screen rotation function, HDMI output scaler function (zoom in/out), auto power-on-after-power-fail, and wake up / Standby by RTC time.

NS02E also includes digital signage software, and DS Creator 2.0 app can be used with an Android 4.2 or greater phone or tablet to upload digital signage content such as scrolling text, pictures, videos and webpage links to your digital signage player, as well as to configure the display layout.

NS02E does not ship with a power supply by default, as it’s meant to be powered by a PoE switch or PoE injector. If you do not need PoE, but are still interested i nthe mini PC features and capabilities, NS02A model is better suited as it does not support PoE, but comes with a 12V/2A power supply by default.

Shuttle XPC Nano NS02E is sold for $162.15 on Amazon US, while NS02A goes for $141.59. You’ll find more details on Shuttle NS02E and NS02A product pages.

Thanks to ML for the tip.

Yundoo Y8 Rockchip RK3399 TV Box System Info and Benchmarks

April 24th, 2017 6 comments

Most 64-bit ARM processors found in TV boxes and mini PC features ARM Cortex A53 cores which are good enough to watch most videos, since video decoding is usually handled by the video processing unit. But if you want some more performance for games and web browsing, SoCs based on Cortex A72 or similar high performance ARMv8 cores would deliver much a much better experience in Android. The problem is that there aren’t many options with products such as NVIDIA Shield Android TV, and Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced. The former is potentially expensive depending where you live, and the later is targeted at the Chinese market and lacks an Ethernet port. Rockchip RK3399 SoC should fill the market void for people wanting to do more than just watching videos on their TV box, and since I’ve just received Yundoo Y8 TV box based on the processor, I’ve run some apps to check out system information, and benchmark the system.

Yundoo Y8 / Rockchip RK3399 System Info with CPU-Z

CPU-Z appears to have improved since it can now detect clusters, and could detect a processor with two clusters: 2x Cortex A72 @ up to 1.99 GHz and4x Cortex A53 @ up to 1.51 GHz, as well as a Mali-T860 (actually T860MP4).

Click to Enlarge

Yundoo Y8 runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 4.4.16, but I’ve read that other upcoming models based on RK3399 will run Android 7.1 instead.

Yundoo Y8 / Rockchip RK3399 Benchmarks

Let’s start with Antutu 6.x.

The 76,819 points achieved by the device is a big improvement compared to – for example – the 41,000 points in Amlogic S912 TV boxes. It also beats the ~71,000 points of Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced also based on a hexa-core Cortex A72/A53 processor (Mediatek MT8693), but at a lower 1.57 GHz maximal frequency, with a PowerVR GX6250 GPU,. and running Android 5.1 instead of Android 6.0.

Vellamo 2.x confirms the good performance of Rockchip RK3399: 5,275 points for Chrome Browser test, 2,492 points for Multicore test, and 2,332 points the Metal test. Amlogic S912 TV boxes gets about half that, and it’s also significantly better than Mi Box 3 Enhanced except for the metal test (2,392 points).

Click to Enlarge

The most powerful mobile/embedded GPUs will easily max out in 3Dmark Ice Storm Extreme 1.2 test, but the Mali-T860MP4 in RK3399 cannot quite do it, although with 9,906 points it’s a big improvement over the Mali-T820MP3 found in Amlogic S912 (~5,750 points), and slightly better than PowerVR GX6250 GPU in Mediatek MT8693 (9,260 points) using 1920×1080 output resolution.

Since low power processors are gone a long way in recent, I wanted to check out far it was from my main computer based on AMD FX8350 processor (125 Watt TDP) and running Ubuntu 16.04. One way to compare performance across different hardware and operating systems is to run GeekBench cross-platform benchmark.

GeekBench 4 Results for my PC:

Click to Enlarge

GeekBench 4 Android Results for Yundoo Y8:

Click to Enlarge

The single Cortex A72 core performance is about 50% of an FX8350 “Piledriver” core. Not too bad, even though the single core performance of this AMD CPU is not the best in the world. Multi-core performance is another story, as there are less cores/threads (6 vs 8), my computer throttles when all 8 cores are used (Normal score should be 10,000 to 12,000) , and it appears the Cortex A53 cores in RK3399 may not be used at all in GeekBench’s multi-core test. For reference, the latest Samsung Exynos 9 (8850) gets respectively 1,978 and 6,375 points in the same benchmarks. I’m assuming than in 4 to 5 years, we should be able to get AMD FX8350 type of performance in a mobile device.

Ethernet performance should be about the same in all RK3399 devices, and I tested with iperf with the command used in the TV box shown in brackets:

  • Full duplex (iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d):

  • Upload only (iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.104):

  • Download only (iperf -s):

So it’s working pretty well here.

Internal storage will different from box to box, and even Yundoo Y8 with 32GB storage should perform than the same box with 16GB storage, but USB 3.0 performance should remain pretty much the same across devices.

The cached read is for the internal memory (eMMC flash) which we’ll ignore here due to reason explained above. The “SD card” is the NTFS partition of my Seagate USB 3.0 drive, and results are pretty good with 94.34 MB/s sequential read, and 53.50 MB/s sequential write considering I could achieve 107 MB/s and 45 MB/s with that hard drive in my main computer.  The RAM test shows a 9684.47MB/s copy, which compared to the 3301.73 MB/s achieved by Mecool BB2 Pro Amlogic S912 TV box with DDR4 memory.

So overall the platform looks promising, and offers a significant performance boost compared to the Cortex A53 competition at an affordable price, more exactly $90 and up with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage. The downside is that since the SoC is rather new there may be a few firmware bugs at this stage, which I’ll check/report in the full review, but I’m confident they will be ironed out over time, if not in Yundoo Y8, in other RK3399 devices.

Beelink AP42 Apollo Lake mini PC Linux Review with Ubuntu, KDE Neon, Elementary OS….

Beelink’s latest Intel mini PC offerings includes the AP34 and AP42 which are their first models using Intel Apollo Lake processors. The former uses an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 processor (burst frequency 2.2GHz, Intel HD Graphics 500 with Graphics Burst Frequency 700MHz and 12 Execution Units) while the latter uses the slightly more powerful Pentium N4200 (burst frequency 2.5GHz, Intel HD Graphics 505 with Graphics Burst Frequency 750MHz and 18 Execution Units). Both support Windows 10 (Home) and Beelink’s marketing claim they “support Linux system”. GearBest has given me the chance to review running Linux on the AP42 model so here are my findings.

Spot the difference!

Normally I first make a disk image before booting Windows or installing Linux. However initial attempts at booting a Live USB with a variety of Linux systems failed so both the reseller and manufacturer were contacted for comment. Interestingly there was no immediate reply but early indications that something was amiss was when the reseller’s advert (right) changed compared with the manufacturers advert (left).

As I’d previously had a comment on my website about using rEFInd boot manager when a system wouldn’t boot I gave it a try by manually building an Ubuntu Live USB which successfully booted. Unfortunately the ISO I had used was Ubuntu 16.04.2 and whilst it ran fine on the USB drive, it couldn’t ‘see’ the eMMC of the AP42. Further experimentation with Ubuntu 17.04 Beta 2 and a variety of kernels showed that a minimum 4.10 kernel was required in order to access the eMMC. Anyone wanting to boot an Ubuntu ISO can either manually add the rRFInd boot manager, or use the latest version of ‘isorespin.sh’ to respin the ISO with the rRFInd boot manager and optionally update the kernel.

Then having taken a disk image I booted Windows only to find that Windows was already set up with an ‘Admin’ account. Which of course gave me the opportunity to test a full Windows restore that fortunately worked.

Click to Enlarge

So with a nice clean and activated Windows system and 24 hours later due to all the updates download and installing I was able to run my usual Windows tests to given me a basic comparison with other Intel devices.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

As can be seen there is a performance increment over Cherry Trail devices including better graphics performance and the new Apollo Lake Pentium N4200 processor is overall slightly better than the earlier Celeron N3150 processor.

Click to Enlarge

​Being a passively cooled device I was interested to see whether temperature was an issue. I ran HWiNFO64’s Sensor Status utility before and after each test and rather unscientifically held the box to see how hot it was. Neither indicated that I had any reason to be concerned as whilst the box felt warm the temperature maxed out at around 70 °C and no thermal-throttling was encountered.

Click to Enlarge

Having put the device through its paces under Windows, it was time to look at Linux performance. For a comparison I was going to use the results from my Phoronix ‘mini PC’ test suite run on Intel Compute Sticks. However I initially had problems getting the ‘unpack-linux’ test to install so I decided to download the latest version directly from www.phoronix-test-suite.com rather than use the one provided through ‘apt’. And because comparing results across different versions of test software and different releases of OS is often meaningless I first had to reinstall Ubuntu 17.04 on the comparison hardware and then run the tests in parallel across each device. For those not familiar with the model names they decode as STCK1A32WFC is the Intel Compute Stick (Falls City), STK1AW32SC is the Intel Compute Stick (Sterling City) and STKM3W64CC is the Intel Compute Stick (Cedar City) with the specs listed in the above table. Unfortunately with the Phoronix Test Suite some tests give decidedly strange and confusing results even those they are the average of three runs. However, as per the Windows results there is a noticeable improvement as the power of the processor increases and the AP42 performance is as expected.

Click to Enlarge

I also ran the Octane 2 on Chrome which was also comparable with the Windows result albeit slightly lower which in iteself was slightly unusual given it is typically slightly higher in Ubuntu than with Windows normally. Interestingly Octane 2 has now been retired as it seems too many programs were cheating their scores (all too familiar).

Click to Enlarge

In terms of what works under Ubuntu it was nice to find that all the usual problem areas were fine, with working audio, WiFi, Bluetooth and SD cards (including Sandisk). I did encounter a problem with HDMI audio in that you must first select the audio device under Sound Settings before it works. And in Lubuntu this was impossible to do as only Headphones showed up until I plugged in some external speakers into the headphone jack and then after unplugging them the HDMI output option then appeared. But otherwise the device ran smoothly on Ubuntu.

Some specifics about the hardware.

Click to Enlarge

The memory is single channel and is 2x 2GB DDR3 1600 MHz…

Click to Enlarge

… and the eMMC storage is CJNB4R which is a Samsung 64GB storage chip…

Click to Enlarge

… with WiFi/Bluetooth provided by an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 chip with Bluetooth 4.2 as reported by inxi.

Click to Enlarge

Given the kernel limitation, I found running other Linuxes rather limiting. I did get OpenELEC to successfully boot and run from USB but installing would be an issue. I also tried Android-x86 and Chromium OS loaders but they were also impacted and not usable. My initial Remix attempts were unsuccessful and Phoenix took too long to download to be worth waiting for another failure. Other Ubuntu based distro ISOs worked as long as they were respun with a later kernel (I tested LinuxMint, Neon and Elementary with the latest v4.11-rc7 kernel). The only other Linux distro I tried was Debian but this was also unsuccessful due to the kernel issue, however other distros with rolling releases like Tumbleweed and Arch should be okay.

Linux Mint – Click to Enlarge

KDE Neon – Click to Enlarge

Elementary Linux – Click to Enlarge

In terms of support Beelink are somewhat lacking. Despite having released the device for nearly a month, there are still no download links for BIOS or Windows drivers. They have just added a download for the entire Windows OS, but have failed to create a forum for AP42 users. For the Linux issue, they did eventually respond with “Sorry for that we don’t allow the right of Linux now” which is a somewhat unexpected response given their advert.

So for a new device running Linux it is arguably hit and miss. Depending on what you want to run will rule out the device completely at this stage and if you are looking for flexibility it may also be too restrictive. It may be that a BIOS update addresses the current Linux limitations, but equally given Beelink’s response it could restrict Linux even further.

The price is also somewhat questionable given it has a range from US$180 to US$270 which is the current price on Amazon. In comparison a barebones Zotac ZBOX CI323 with Celeron N3150 is currently US $148 on Newegg and a barebones Intel NUC NUC6CAYS with Celeron J3455 is US $149 on Amazon so the value for money given the level of support and current Linux restrictions is worth considering before purchasing. GearBest – who sent Beelink AP42 mini PC for review – somewhat sweetens the deal, as they sell it for $179.99 including shipping with coupon GBAP42. Beside Amazon and GearBest, you can also purchase the mini PC on sites like Aliexpress and Banggood for $185 to $190.

Zotac CI327 Nano Apollo Lake Fanless mini PC Features HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and VGA Video Outputs

April 23rd, 2017 7 comments

While many Apollo Lake mini PCs have been launched, few support 4K @ 60 Hz video output, but Zotac CI327 Nano mini PC does even better than that thanks to HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 outputs allowing for dual 4K UHD @ 60 Hz setups, and it also adds an extra VGA port to enable triple display setups.

The rest of the specifications are not too bad either with three models CI327 Nano (windows / no windows) and CI327 Nano Plus with slightly different hardware specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad-core  processor @ 1.1GHz / 2.2GHz with Intel HD Graphics 500
  • System Memory
    • Nano with Windows and Nano PLUS – 4GB DDR3L (one slot occupied, up to 8GB)
    • Nano – 2x 204-pin DDR3L-1866 SO-DIMM slots (up to 8GB)
  • Storage – 1x 2.5″ SATA 6.0 Gbps SSD/HDD slot; 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC); Nano with WINDOWS only: 32GB M.2 on-board SATA SSD
  • Video Output
    • HDMI 2.0 up to 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz
    • DisplayPort 1.2 up to 4096×2160 @ 60 Hz
    • VGA up to 1920×1080 @ 60 Hz
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, lossless bitstream via HDMI
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 type C port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Connectivity – Dual Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.2
  • Misc – Power button, Kensington lock, Power/HDD/WiFi LEDs, VESA mount
  • Power Supply – 19V/40W AC adapter
  • Dimensions – 127 .8 x 126.8 x 56.8 mm

The mini PC ships with a WiFi antenna, an AC adapter with power cord, a warranty card, a user manual, a quick install guide, a driver disc, and a VESA monitor mount (with 4 screws). Nano with Windows version also comes with a O/S recovery DVD. The only operating system listed as supported is Windows 10 Home 64-bit, so it’s unclear whether you’d be able to install Linux distributions.

The barebone version – Zotac CI327 Nano – sells for as low as 172.13 Euros in Germany. You’ll find a comparison of the three models on Zotac website.

Via FanlessTech

Yundoo Y8 (Rockchip RK3399) TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

April 21st, 2017 15 comments

Rockchip first unveiled RK3399 hexa-core processor at the beginning of 2016, but we had to wait longer than expected to get devices to play with. The first retail product based on the processor is really Samsung Chromebook Plus, and we only saw a few TV boxes for pre-sale in January such as Yundoo Y8 or R-TV Box K99, and with the first shipments occurring in March. However, I’ve also noticed many companies postponed the launch of the RK3399 mini PC/TV box, and no company contacted me for review so far, so I had no rush because that probably means the boxes were not quite ready. But starting at the beginning of next month, more companies will start selling their model, and GearBest proposed to send me Yundoo Y8 model with 4GB RAm, 32GB flash, and decided to give it a go. In this first part of the review, I’ll only look at the hardware, and will further test overall performance, video & audio capabilities, in subsequent posts.

Yundoo Y8 Unboxing

The retail package refers to Yundoo Y8 “True 4” media player.

There are two version for Y8 model one with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, and the other with 4GB RAM/32GB storage which I received,

The box ships with a HDMI cable, an infrared remote control with IR learning function for 5 keys, a 5V/2.5A power supply, and a rather useless user manual.


The enclosure is made of plastic with the power button on the front panel, an SD card, USB 3.0 port, and USB type C port on one of the side, with the rest of the ports on the rear panel: DC jack, optical S/PDIF, AV port (composite + stereo audio), Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, and two USB 2.0 ports.

Click to Enlarge

You may watch the unboxing video if you please.

Yundoo Y8 Teardown

We’ll start our unboxing by removing 3 rubber pads from the bottom of the case, and loosen the three screws underneath. You can leave the one at the top left alone, since there’s nothing there.

Click to Enlarge

The gap between the two side of the enclosure is extremely small, and my green plastic tool was not sharp enough, so I took a bit more risks and used a sharper metal tool to get started with popping up the bottom part of the case, before carrying on with the plastic tool.

Click to Enlarge

There’s no much to see on the bottom of the board, except a footprint for a wireless module with one antenna, and the sticker showing the key features of the board: RK3399, 4G/32G, and AP6356 wireless module. After removing four more screws, we can completely take the board out.

Click to Enlarge

A large heatsink covers the processor and RAM chips, and it’s further cooled by a thermal pad and a thick metal plate attached to the box of the case. Two antennas are connected to the Wireless module, which could help with WiFi reliability and/or performance. The power button and LED is located in a separate small board.


I’ve removed the heatsink to have a better look at the board, Note that there’s no thermal paste between the heatsink and the processor, but instead the company used another thermal pad.

Click to Enlarge

Rockchip RK3399 processor is connected to four Samsung K4B8G1646D-MYK0 DDR3L chip (4x 1GByte), and a 32GB Samsung KLMBG4WEBD-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash with theoretical 260/46 MB/s sequential read and write speed, and 6000/5000 R/W IOPS, which should offer a good user experience. That’s still the lowest end 32GB Samsung eMMC flash there is. Ampak AP6356S module brings dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac 2×2 (Up to 867 Mbps) and Bluetooth 4.1 LE connectivity to the board, while Gigabit Ethernet is made possible thanks to ZTE ZX2AA500 transceiver – no a Realtek chip for once – and SG24002 magnetics. Rockchip RK808-D PMIC completes the list of the mains chips on the board. You may have also noticed the unpopulated 4-pin header  on the bottom right of the board which should be the serial console. The firmware recovery button is hidden right behind the AV port.

I’d like to thank GearBest for sending a sample for review. If you are interested you could purchase the device on their website for $109.99 with coupon GBYDY8, or $90 with coupon GBYDY816 for the 2GB/16GB version. Yundoo Y8 appears to be a GearBest exclusivity, as I failed to find it on Aliexpress, GeekBuying and other websites.

Bben to Launch an Apollo Lake HDMI TV Stick Powered by Intel Celeron N3450 Processor

April 17th, 2017 3 comments

Intel is planning to launch “Michigan City” Apollo Lake Compute Sticks sometimes with year, but Bben, after launching MN17A Apollo Lake mini PC, may be able to launch their own Celeron N3450 TV stick before Intel does, as Netbook Italia reports the company showcased such product at the Hong Kong Global Sources Electronics Fair.

Bben Applo Lake “Micro Computer” (foreground) vs Cherry Trail Stick (background)

Bben Micro computer  specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz, 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200 MHz / 700 MHz; 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 2 to 4GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32 or 64 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI port (likely limited to 1.4 version with 4K @ 30 Hz max resolution/framerate)
  • Audio – HDMI + 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Misc – Fan and ventilation holes
  • Power Supply – TBD via power barrel
  • Dimensions & Weight – TBD (Metal housing)

The stick, whose name is still to be decided, will run Windows 10 or Android (version TBD), including a dual boot version. The first part of the video below introduced the Cherry Trail TV sticks, before a short description of the Apollo Lake one, and other products.

The new TV stick should be released this summer for a yet-to-be-determined price. You’ll likely be able to purchase it from Bben Official Aliexpress store once it comes out.