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Posts Tagged ‘mini-pc’

Eny EKB368 TV Box with Rockchip RK3368 Runs Android 5.1

May 22nd, 2015 12 comments

We’ve had a first glimpse at RK3368 Android TV Boxes when Rockchip showcased X6 TV box during one of their events. However, that box was targeting the Chinese market only, but Eny Technology informed me they are about to launch EKB368 TV box destined to overseas markets.
EKB368_Rear_Panel
Eny EKB368 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3368 octa core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz with PowerVR G6110 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.x/2.0/3.x, OpenGL 3.2, DirectX 9.3, OpenCL 1.2 EP, and Renderscript
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3 (Option: 1GB)
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash (Options: 4GB/8GB/16GB/32GB) + micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz
  • Audio Output – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6335 by default)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – N/A

EKB368Remember that also RK3368 has eight 64-bit ARM cores, these are “LITTLE” Cortex A53 cores @ 1.5 GHz instead of the faster Cortex A17 cores @ 1.8GHz used in RK3288, meaning RK3368 product performance should be lower RK3288, but obviously from a marketing point of view “64-bit octa core ARM processor” looks great. Eny is normally not using eMMC flash in their product, but slower NAND flash instead, so you cannot expect very fast boot time or apps loading times. However, network connectivity is pretty good on paper with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac, HDMI 2.0 is supported, and Android 5.1 should also offer a performance boost compared to Android 4.4 used in RK3288 mini PCs.

Pricing is not public yet, but the box should start selling next month. To get a rough idea of the price, Gabe found out CSA90 TV box also powered by RK3368, but with only 1GB RAM, sells for $76.99 including shipping by EMS, so at least pricing of RK3368 mini PCs should be fairly competitive.

You can also visit Eny’s EBK368 product page.

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Artway W8 Plus is a $100 Mini PC with HDMI and DisplayPort

May 16th, 2015 4 comments

Most mini PCs with Intel Atom Z3735F only come with HDMI output, while a few others feature both HDMI and VGA like MeLE PCG03, but if you need a cheap mini PC with both HDMI and DisplayPort as found in Intel NUC, Artway W8 Plus is worth a look especially since it sells for just $99 on Aliexpress.

W8_PlusW8 Plus specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC  (16, 64 or 128GB optional) + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b, and DisplayPort
  • Audio I/F – HDMI, audio out and mic in jacks
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (RTL8723BS or AP6330), and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host
  • Misc – Power Button, RTC
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 107 x 107 x 25 mm
  • Weight – 200 grams

W8_PLus_HDMI_DisplayPortThe mini PC comes pre-loaded with Windows 8.1 (Which has got to be unlicensed at that price), but you should probably be able to run Linux based operating systems like Ubuntu, especially since there’s now a fix for HDMI audio. The computer supports dual independent displays via HDMI and DisplayPort. W8 Plus ships with an HDMI cable, a user’s manual, and a 5V/2A power adapter. If you plan to connect an external USB hard drive, you may have to replace the latter with a more powerful one (e.g. 5V/3A) to avoid potential stability issues.

Via AndroidPC.es

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MINIX NEO Z64W (Intel Atom Z3735F) mini PC gets HDMI Audio in Ubuntu

May 8th, 2015 4 comments

We’ve been able to run Ubuntu on Intel Atom Z3735F mini PCs, as well as other Linux distributions, for a while, but with an important caveat: HDMI audio would not work, so instead you had to use an external USB sound card to get any audio. Luckily the problem seems solved, as Linuxium has now released a script (audio-wifi-minix-neo-z64-release.sh) and relevant files that will  patch your system to enable HDMI audio, and WiFI on MINIX NEO Z64W running Ubuntu.

Minix_NEO_Z64_Ubuntu_HDI_AudioIan Morrison (Liuxium) compiled a Linux kernel and the Wi-Fi driver, together with a modified DSDT (Differentiated System Description Table) table to fix an ACPI bug. He used John Pemberton’s Bay Trail Audio HDMI patch, as well as help from Paul Kendall for identifying the ACPI DSDT table bug, Bastien Nocera (hadess) for the wifi source code and DroidMote Server / Client for the wifi pointer.  A quick demo shows WiFi and HDMI audio working in Ubuntu.

It works on MINIX NEO Z64W, but I don’t see why it could not easily be adapted to any other Intel Atom Z3700 platform, you’d just need to patch the Linux kernel (3.16) and re-built it.

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MeegoPad T02 HDMI TV Stick Comes with Windows 8.1 (Activated) or Ubuntu

May 6th, 2015 10 comments

MeegoPad T01 was one of the first Intel Atom Bay Trail-T TV sticks, announced and released well before Intel’s own Compute Stick, but it initially sold without a proper Windows 8.1 license, although some sellers would sell with an activated version for $25 to $30 more. The company has launched the second version, MeegoPad T02, with either a properly licensed/validated Windows 8.1 with Bing for $109, or an Ubuntu version (or Windows 8.1 non validated) for $90, both prices including shipping.

MeegoPad_T02MeegoPad T02 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F  “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics Gen 7 (2W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot up to 64GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4, 1x audio jack
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB host ports, 1x micro USB 2.0 port
  • Misc – Power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – 110 x 43 x 9.9mm
  • Weight – 48 grams

MeegoPad_T02_Side

The company listed three main changes compared to MeegoPad T01:
  1. Two full-sized USB ports, instead of just one.
  2. Audio output to connect speakers or headphones
  3. Better Cooling. New housing design using “nanometre material for heat radiation”

T02 should also be slightly larger (4mm extra) compared to T01. The seller for he $90 version mentions “This link is Unbutu OS, or Non-Activated Windows 8.1 OS with Bing,Trail Version.  Based Factory Final Decision.”, so I assume they did not work on an Ubuntu port at all, they may just decide to install Ubuntu or an unlicensed version of Windows 8.1 with Bing as they see fit, but of course I hope I’m proven wrong.

[Update: Gearbest sells MeeGoPad T02 Ubuntu for $79 with coupon GBT02, and MeegoPad T02 Windows for $99 with coupon GBMT02]

Via Mini PCs G+ community and Chinavasion

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AMD to Launch ARM Cortex A57 “Amur” Mobile SoCs in 2015, ARM “K12″ Mobile SoCs in 2016

May 1st, 2015 10 comments

AMD started using ARM Cortex A5 to add TrustZone security to their x86 processor, they followed with their ARM based Opteron A1100 processor for server last year, recently they announced Hierofalcon embedded processors powered by up to eight Cortex A57 processor, and starting this year and beyond, the company will launch “ultra-low power’ mobile SoCs  using ARM cores, at least according to a leaked roadmap.

AMD Roadmap 2015 - 2016 (Click to Enlarge)

AMD Roadmap 2015 – 2016 (Click to Enlarge)

Two ARM families are planned:

  • “Amur” APU planned for 2015 with:
    • Up to 4 ARM Cortex A57 cores
    • GCN Graphics Compute Units
    • AMD Secure Processor (Trustzone?)
    • ~2W TDP
    • 20nm process, FT4 BGA package
  • “Styx” APU planned for 2016 with:
    • Up to two “K12″ CPU cores. These should be high performance custom-designed ARM cores.
    • Next-gen GCN Graphics Compute Units
    • Full HSA 1.0 support (Heterogeneous System Architecture)
    • AMD Secure Processor
    • ~2W TDP
    • 14 nm process, FT4 BGA package

With this kind of thermal dissipation, AMD Android and Windows tablets are the likely candidates for such chips, as well as certainly low power mini PCs and HDMI sticks.

Via Liliputing and CPU World

PS: I will be on the road for some time, so I’ll post a bit less often, maybe 4 to 5 posts a week, and as usual tips / post ideas will be very welcome.

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$170 Solidrun Cubox-i 4×4 Freescale i.MX6 Mini PC Boasts 4GB RAM, an eSATA Port

April 30th, 2015 16 comments

Most ARM based mini PCs come with 1 or 2GB RAM, with few exceptions like Nagrace HPH NT-V6 or Tronsmart Draco AW80 Telos featuring 4GB RAM,  but they are mostly optimized for Android, and although they can also run Linux desktop distributions there are often caveats with lack of hardware video decoding for example. Solidrun has now added a new model to its Cubox-I mini PC family with Cubox-I 4×4 powered by Freescale i.MX6 quad core processor coupled with 4GB RAM, and it’s also one of the few mini PCs coming with an eSATA port.

Cubox-I_4x4SolidRun CuBox-i 4×4 specifications

  • SoC –  Freescale i.MX6 Quad 4x Cortex A9 @1GHz-1.2GHz with Vivante GC2000 (OpenGL/ES 2.0)
  • System Memory – 4GB 64-bit DDR3 @ 1066 MHz
  • Storage – microSD card slot, eSATA II (3 Gbps) connector
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 with 3D support
  • Audio Output – HDMi, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (up to 470Mbps), WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host, 1x micro USB to RS232 port for console access
  • Misc – InfraRed receiver and transmitter,  RTC with backup battery
  • Power Supply –  5V/3A via  2.1/5.5mm power jack
  • Dimensions – 55 x 55 x 42 mm
Cubox-i Block Diagram

Cubox-i Block Diagram

CuBox-i 4×4 will ship with a 110V/220V power adapter, and a 8GB Micro SD Class 10 card preloaded with OpenELEC/Kodi or Android 4.4.2 KitKat, but you can also download GeexBox XBMC, Debian, Arch Linux ARM, OpenSUSE, and other Linux based operating systems for the platform.

Cubox-i 4×4 can be pre-ordered for $169.99 on Solid-run website, or on Newegg for the same, with shipping scheduled for the end of May. You may find more details on Solidrun Cubox-i mini computer page.

Via LinuxGizmos

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How to Install 64-bit BIOS on Sunchip CX-W8

April 29th, 2015 15 comments

Sunchip CX-W8 is an Intel Atom Z3735F TV box running Windows, but I’ve been informed that originally Sunchip designed it for WeTek in order to manufacture a Linux based mini PC. Unfortunately, they finally gave up once they discovered Intel had no intention to work on HDMI audio support in Linux for their Atom Z3700 series processor despite it working on Android… Intel Compute Stick will apparently use a separate DSP to handle that part (TBC).

Nevertheless, when WeTek saw I had Wintel W8, they decided to share the 64-bit “BIOS” they had worked on for the Linux port. By the way, Wintel W8 and Sunchip CX-W8 allegedly come from two different factories / design houses, so although they look alike, the hardware might be different, and the UEFI firmware / BIOS, I’m about to share may or may not be compatible with Wintel W8, so you may brick it if it is not already bricked…

If you want to install a new version of the BIOS, or possibly unbrick your device (TBC), you can download and extract CX-W8_64-bit_UEFI.tar.7z. You should get three files:

  • H2OFFT-S.efi – H2O UEFI Flash Firmware Tool
  • M64.W8ANNA01.ROM – 64-bit BIOS
  • STARTUP.nsh – startup script

Copy these three files to the root directory of a USB flash drive formatted with FAT32, and insert the drive into one of the USB ports of CX-W8 mini PC. Power on the device, and press the “Esc” key on the keyboard repeatedly (not press and hold) until you see the menu below.Sunchip-CX_W8_BIOS_InstallationNow select Boot Manager with the keyboard’s arrow keys and Enter, and select Internal EFI shell.

CX-W8_UEFI_FirmwareAs you press Enter,  the BIOS installation should start.

CX-W8_BIOS_InstallationOne installation is completed, the PC will reboot, and you can install the 64-bit operating system of your choice. I’m also trying to get the 32-bit BIOS for people who want to unbrick their device to re-install Windows.

I have not tried these instructions myself, but I know at least two persons who bricked their CX-W8 or W8 mini PC, so hopefully we’ll get some feedback soon.

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Wintel W8 Review – Dual Boot Android & Windows TV Box

April 27th, 2015 8 comments

Wintel W8 (aka Kingnovel K8) is an Intel Atom Z3735F mini PC inspired from Sunchip Wintel CX-W8 (the hardware is a little different), but instead of just running Windows 8.1, the device can dual boot Android 4.4 and Windows 8.1 with Bing. I’ve already taken pictures or torn down Wintel W8, so today, I’ll focus on the software part of the review, first checking dual boot functionality and Windows 8.1 broefly ince it should be very similar to MeLE PCG03, before spending more time on Android as it’s my first Android Intel platform.

Dual boot in Wintel W8

When you boot the device, you can select Android or Windows icon, with a 10 second timeout that will boot your latest choice. There’s no menu within Windows to start Android, and vice versa, so to dual boot you need to reboot first, and select the operating systems right after UEFI. The best way to checkout how this all work is to watch the short demo below where it first boot into Android, reboot, and switch to Windows.

If you watched the video, you must have noticed that if you change OS, it will reboot again. One person on Google+ mentioned that the system is switching between the 32-bit UEFI firmware (for Windows) and 64-bit UEFI firmware (for Android), which would explain why it needs to reboot, and you have to make sure you don’t turn off the device, or a power failure occur during that process, or you may brick your device! Same thing if you mistakenly try to install Windows 8.1/10 with the 64-bit UEFI firmware.

Wintel_W8_UEFI_BIOS

Click to Enlarge

However, when I checked Aptio Setup Utility both version looked exactly the same whether I selected Android or Windows.

A Quick Look at Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 will bot in about 40 seconds on Wintel W8 because the FORESEE eMMC flash used in the hardware is not quite as fast as the Samsung Class 5 eMMC flash used in MeLE PCG03 and many other Intel Bay trail mini PCs.

Windows 8.1 Metro Interface on Wintel W8 (Click for Original Size)

Windows 8.1 Metro Interface on Wintel W8 (Click for Original Size)

Windows 8.1 with Bing is not activated in my sample, and clicking on activation failed. However, since my sample comes from Kingnovel it’s not a retail sample, and resellers can certainly request for a valid Windows NTE license if required.

Wintel W8 PC Info and Storage in Windows 8.1 (Click for Original Size)

Wintel W8 PC Info and Storage in Windows 8.1 (Click for Original Size)

Another detail you should probably pay attention when getting a dual boot firmware is the space reserved for Windows… Wintel W8 C: drive is 18.6GB large with 14.8GB free. Considering I already struggled with 32GB space on Mele PCG03, I’d really recommend trying to get a version with 64GB flash, and soon models with 128GB storage will also be up for sale.

Since I’ve already reviewed Windows 8.1 with Bing on MeLE mini PC, and that firmware customizations are not really an option with Windows, that’s all I’ve checked in the Windows side of the firmware.

Wintel W8 Review with Android 4.4

First impressions and Setup Menu

While in Windows, you’ll probably want to connect a wireless or USB keyboard and mouse, these may not be the most convenient in Android, so as usual I connected the RF dongle of my MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse to control the mini PC. I’ve also connected HDMI and Ethernet cables, before powering up the device which will boot automatically as you connect the power adapter. It also takes around 40 seconds to boot into Android.

Android Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

Android Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

The firmware is using the stock Android launcher, with a 1920×1080 resolution. Pre-installed apps include Kodi 15 Alpha 1 and Google Play Store. After setting up Ethernet, and login to the Play Store, I could install all apps required for this review just like on ARM based platforms, but I did notice some games such as Shadowgun: Deadzone, Dead Trigger, Angry Bird Star Wars, etc.. could not be installed, but many other games could. Whatsapp was also greyed out, but not Facebook or Facebook Messenger that both could be installed. I also side-loaded Amazon AppStore and installed Riptide GP2 without issues.

The settings allow you to configure Network settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet, and services including VPN, Tethering and PPPoE. There aren’t any really useful Audio settings, but Day Dream is enabled in the Display settings, and an HDMI section will allow you to compensate for overscan if needed, and select various HDMI output:Wintel_W8_About_Tablet

  • 1080p @ 60/50/30/25/24Hz
  • 1280×1024 @ 60Hz, 1360×768 @ 60Hz, 1152×864 @ 60Hz
  • 720p @ 60 or 50Hz
  • 1024×768 @ 60 Hz, 800×600 @ 60Hz
  • 720×576 @ 50Hz, 720×480 @ 60Hz (16:9 or 4:3)
  • 640×480 @ 60 Hz, 720×400 @ 70Hz

The firmware also has a separate function for video post-processing called “Intel Smart Video” that will “improve video quality by reducing noise and eliminating artifacts with interlaced content”.

Since most storage is reserved for Windows, the partition in Android is only 4.36GB out of the 32GB flash with most of it available.  Developers option can easily be enabled, and Printing menu is enabled by default, although you’ll probably prefer printing in Windows 8.1 instead.

The “About tablet” section indicate the model number is w8, and Android 4.4.4 runs on top of Linux 3.10.20. There’s also a line showing IFWI version 5.6.5, but I’m not sure what that means. The firmware is rooted. You can checkout all Android settings in the 2-minute video embedded below.

There’s an IR receiver, but it’s supposed to only work in Android, and I’m not quite sure how to set it up. One of the most important features of an IR remote control is to allow turning on and off the platform, and there’s no problem with turning off and rebooting the device in Android or Windows 8.1 with MeLE F10 Deluxe or another air mouse, but it’s just not possible to turn it back on without pressing the power button on the unit itself. If you had a power extension with a remote control, you should be able to start the box automatically.

Wintel W8 does not get hotter than ARM TV boxes, as I measured respectively 42 and 50 C on the top and bottom of the case after Antutu 5.7, and 50 and 56 after 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2.

Overall Android on Intel Atom Z3735F feels just like Android on recent ARM platforms such as Rockchip RK3288, with the exception that some games won’t install, and the games experience for some games may not be as good. The firmware is not only smooth, but extremely stable too, and I did not experience any noticeable slowdown or freezes during my testing. The only issues I had was with Kodi 15 Alpha 1 which may exit from time to time or even freeze, but it’s probably because they chose to load an Alpha version of Kodi, instead of Kodi 14.2 stable release.

Kodi 15 Android on Intel Atom Z3735F Processor

I’ve already tested Kodi on Intel both with Kodi 14.1 in Windows 8.1, and Kodi 14.2 in Linux (Ubuntu 15.04), and I was impressed by the performance in both system, although Z3735F does not support HDMI audio in Linux, so I had to use an inexpensive USB sound card instead. Let’s see how Kodi 15 Alpha 1 (pre-installed) works on Intel Atom Bay Trail-T processor by playing videos from a SAMBA share over Ethernet.

Results with video samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, plus Elecard H.265/HEVC samples, and a low resolution VP9 video:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p/1080p60 – OK. However 1080p60 video renders at ~36 fps according to Kodi overlay debug info.
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – RV8 (OK, but first time I had a greenish background, which disappeared the second time). RV9, and RV10 –play at 16 fps instead of 25 fps.
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – 360p & 720p OK. 1080p will play only about 3 seconds before freezing. I can’t go back to Kodi, and going back to the Home Screen and restarting Kodi does not work, so I had to reboot the device (Tested twice).
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

Some higher bitrate videos could play more or less smoothly:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK
  • 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 smooth, plays at 12 to 15 fps instead of 29.97 fps
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – Not smooth, plays at 12 to 15 fps instead of 29.97 fps

HD audio codecs have been tested down-mixed to PCM using Kodi and MXPlayer, and audio pass-through has been tested with Onkyo TX-NR636 using HDMI pass-through with BD/DVD input. I enabled pass-through in Kodi for AC3 and DTS, as well as Dolby Digital transcoding, and did not change anything in Android settings.

Video PCM Output
Kodi
PCM Output
MX Player
HDMI Pass-through
Kodi
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK, but the video could be smoother No audio OK
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK No audio OK
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK No audio Dolby 5.1
TrueHD 5.1 OK No audio Dolby 5.1
TrueHD 7.1 OK No audio Dolby 5.1
DTS HD Master OK No audio Dolby 5.1
DTS HD High Resolution OK No audio Dolby 5.1

So the firmware does not support any advanced audio codec as shown with MX Player results, so but since Kodi implements its own audio decoding by software all formats can be down-mixed in Kodi. Lossless audio codecs HDMI pass-through is not supported, but again Kodi handle that by transcoding unsupported audio codec to Dolby Digital 5.1. I’d like to note however that enabled HDMI pass-through makes Kodi relatively unstable, as it might randomly exit when starting to play videos.

Sintel-Bluray.iso could play so unencrypted Blur-ay ISO are supported The two 1080i MPEG2 videos (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) could also play, but GridHD video would sparkle. Both Hi10p H.264 videos failed to play:

  • [Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – No audio / no video. Back screen.
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – No audio / no video. Back screen.

Bay Trail-T processors can’t output to 2160p (4K UHD), but they should still decode H.264 videos up to 2160p30:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – 10 fps
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – 10 fps
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Won’t start
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Won’t start
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – 10 fps
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Kodi will exit
  • tears_of_steel_4k_H264_24fps.mov – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth, plays @ ~20 fps.

My LG 42UB820T television does not support 3D, but I still tested whether the platform could decode some stereoscopic 3D videos:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – Looks OK, but plays at 36 fps instead of 60 fps
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Looks like a still picture slideshow
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

All my AVI, MKV, IFO and MP4 videos (720p/1080p) could play fine without issues such as A/V out-of-sync. Most FLV videos played, but some only had audio with black screen. A full 1080p movie (1h50 / MKV / 3GB) could play without interruption and no dropped or skipped frames at all for the whole duration.

Kodi 15 Alpha 1 is not that bad on Intel platform, but it certainly does not perform as well as Kodi 14.x in Windows 8.1, with some videos not playing smoothly, HDMI audio pass-through makes Kodi unstable, and Kodi may exit while starting videos. So I’d still recommend using Kodi inside Windows 8.1 instead of Android 4.4.

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and especially in its comments section.

I’ve also run Antutu Video Tester where Wintel W8 gets 460 points about of 700+ possible despite failing to play a fair amount a video due to lack audio codec and HEVC video codec among other things.

Antutu Video Tester Results (Click to Enlarge)

Antutu Video Tester Results (Click to Enlarge)

It’s not quite as good as HiSilicon (700+ points), or Allwinner (600+) platforms, but still better than the score I got with Open Hour Chameleon (Rockchip RK3288): 262 points.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

I’ve tested networking performance by transferring a 278MB file over SAMBA three times with ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi performance is very good with an average transfer rate of 3.58 MB/s, making it one of the best 802.11n performer.

Throughput in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Throughput in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve repeated the same test with the 10/100M Ethernet connection, which achieves 6.78MB/s which is quite good for a Fast Ethernet connection.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

Run iperf instead with the command iperf -t 60 -s server_ip -d confirms the good performance.

Wintel_W8_iperf

Throughput in Mbps

iperf output:

[  4] local 192.168.0.104 port 5001 connected with 192.168.0.111 port 33327
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to 192.168.0.111, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  272 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 59163 connected with 192.168.0.111 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  4]  0.0-60.0 sec   652 MBytes  91.2 Mbits/sec
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   423 MBytes  59.1 Mbits/sec

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

I had mixed results with Bluetooth. Photo transfers over Bluetooth between Iocean M6752 smartphone and the box worked fine, but Vidonn X5 smartband (Bluetooth Low Energy) could not be found by the relevant app, and my Wireless PS3 gamepad clone failed to connect with Sixaxis Compatibility checker, although the drivers appears to be there.

Storage

Both a micro SD card and USB flash drive formatted with FAT32 could be mounted by the system. However, only the NTFS partition of my Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted and accessed.

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

The system also only appear to support one USB storage device at a time, so when I connected my USB flash drive it automatically unmounted the NTFS partition on my hard drive with a notification popping up as follows:

Warning: One more MSC devices attached
Warning:  only one USB mass storage device can be used.

I ran A1 SD Bench to benchmark USB hard drive and internal flash performance, but I have to gave with the former, since I could not find a supported mount point. in ES File Explorer it shows as usb://1004/USB3_NTFS, where USB3_NTFS is the volume name, but this string is not recognized in A1 SD bench.

Read and Write Speed in MB/S (Click to Enlarge)

Read and Write Speed in MB/S (Click to Enlarge)

So finally, I only tested the eMMC which turns not to be so bad after all. It’s still much slower than the 160MB/s achieved with CrystalDiskMark on MeLE PCG03 in Windows 8.1, but compared to Android TV boxes, the read speed is acceptable, and the write speed is very good.

USB Webcam

I could install Skype and Google Hangouts, but once I connected my USB webcam I lost all input to the mini PC (keyboard and air mouse unresponsive) for 30 seconds or so before I could use the system again.

The camera was detected in Google Handhouts (Camera icon shown), but I could not get any image during calls. I tried to call “Echo / Sound Testing services” but I could get the lady voice at all despite the system audio working. Trying to call a real person, who just get me the Android home screen, and start Skype again.

Conclusion: if you want to use Skype / Hangouts on Wintel W8, use Windows 8.1…

Gaming

My three usual test games namely Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Racing, and Riptide GP2 could all be installed and run on the box. I control Candy Crush Saga with the air mouse, and game play was nice and smooth. I then then switched to Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad for Beach Buggy Racing and Riptide GP2. The former was behaving just like on higher end Android TV boxes, with a higher framerate even with quality settings set to the maximum. Riptide GP2 was playable with high quality settings, but far from optimal, and the user experience appeared to deteriorate with time. I played  15 minutes (5 races), and the game felt slower at the end.

As mentioned in the “First impressions” section, some famous games (Dead Trigger, Shadowngun…) can’t be installed on the platform, and I’m assuming it might be because these have not been ported to x86 target (TBC), so to play Android games better go with Rockchip RK3288, Tegra K1/X1 or Qualcomm Snapdragon S8xx based platforms.

Wintel W8 Android Benchmarks

Before running benchmarks per se, let’s see what CPU-Z has to show for this Intel mini PC.

CPU-Z _ Intel Atom Z3735F Mini PC (Click to Enlarge)

CPU-Z _ Intel Atom Z3735F Mini PC (Click to Enlarge)

It correctly detects an Intel Atom Z3735F processor @ 498 MHz to 1.83GHz processor with HD Graphics. The screen resolution is 1920×1080, total RAM 1887 MB, and it has 4.36GB reserved for Android OS.

Wintel_W8_AntutuWintel W8 got 30,682 points in Antutu 5.7, which is fairly similar to the score with MeegoPad T01 running Android-x86, and I have compared to Rockchip RK3288 processor.  Rockchip RK3288 devices now get around 36,000 to 39,000 points.

Wintel_W8_VellamoBut Antutu can easily be cheated, so I’ve also run Vellamo 3.x, and compare it to the results I got with HPH NT-V6, another Rockchip RK3288 TV Box.

Vellamo 3.x Test Wintel W8
Intel Atom Z3735F
HPH NT-V6
Rockchip RK3288
Browser 2,683 2,549
Multicore 1,423 2,003
Metal 1,077 1,457

The Intel platform slightly outperform the ARM device in the browser test with the stock Android browser, but Rockchip RK3288 clearly has the edge in  metal and multicore benchmarks.

3DMark_Ice_Storm_ExtremeFinally, 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme shows the limitations of the Intel GPU, as 4771 points is significantly lower than 6,400 points in Allwinner A80 platforms (PowerVR GC6230), and 7,000+ points with ARM Mali-T764 GPU found in Rockchip RK3288.

Conclusion

When it comes to Windows 8.1, I don’t believe there’s much difference between vendors with a given processor, in that case Intel Atom Z3735F, except with eMMC speed, and thermal management. Wintel W8 does not seem to overheat at all, and although the eMMC may not be quite as fast as other low cost bay Trail mini PC I find it’s still acceptable. But dual boot with Android is the selling point of this device, and the Android firmware is actually fairly good with Google Play support, and very stable, but some applications like Office, Kodi, and Skype should still better run in Windows 8.1, and 3D graphics performance is a little weak compared to recent ARM targets.

PRO:

  • Dual boot image with Windows 8.1 with Bing and Android 4.4
  • Google Play pre-installed.
  • Relatively fast processor
  • Stable and fast firmware.
  • Very good Wi-Fi and Ethernet (10/100M) performance

CONS:

  • 32GB internal storage may not be enough for many people: 18GB in Windows 8.1, 4GB+ in Android, and it’s a bit slower than other Intel Atom mini PCs, but performance is still decent.
  • 3D graphics performance is a little weak, and some games can’t be installed in Android.
  • Pre-installed Kodi 15.1 Alpha 1 is not quite as stable, and video playaback is not as good as in Windows 8.1, so use Kodi 14/15 in Windows 8.1 instead
  • Skype and Hangouts not working in Android, but should be OK in Windows 8.1
  • Bluetooth Low Energy not supported
  • Windows 8.1 is not activated (in my sample)

The dual boot firmware helps Wintel W8 being a better device, as some of the cons, such as average Kodi or poor Skype support in Android, can easily be worked around by rebooting into Windows. So this type of device could really be great with 64 or 128GB internal storage, as with 32GB it’s likely to be frustrating over time, with the user having to free space regularly.

Kingnovel provide their K8 box for reviews, and resellers / wholesalers can purchase it in quantities (with 32, 64 or 128GB storage) by contacting the company via their Kingnovel K8 product page, or alternatively you could consider Kingnovel K8-II based on the same hardware but with a metal case instead. Individuals can pre-order Wintel W8 with the same dual boot firmware on the partner’s Aliexpress store or Geekbuying* for $126, although I’m not 100% whether Windows 8.1 with Bing is properly licensed, or they simply use the tablet version. Another model called Wintel CX-W8 can be purchased on Aliexpress for less than $100, but with Windows 8.1 only, and most definitely without a proper Windows license at that price.

[Update: * I’ve been told the following:

Geekbuying website which shows the K8 is not released by Kingnovel…
Actually, There are two original manufacturers for K8, There is a true situation need clarify to you.Our software is not the same as other’s.  our software is “A key switch external” for Android OS and Windows OS. it is very stable for running system.their software is “A key switch internal” for Android OS and Windows OS. It need to upgrade bois every time once switched. it will occur big risk for drop procedure easily.
So basically, that should mean Kingnovel K8 should not be easily brickable like Wintel W8 sold on Geekbuying]
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