MXQ S85 Android TV Box (Amlogic S805) Review

MXQ S85 (aka MXQ OTT TV box) and EM6Q-MXQ are two main Full HD H.265 Android media players based on Amlogic S805 currently selling on Chinese online stores. I’m lucky enough to have received both, and I’ve already completed the review for EM6Q-MXQ, so today I’ll complete MXQ S85 review and compare both devices. I’ve already taken picture of the device, accessories, and checked out the board’s components in my unboxing post, so in this post, I’ll focus on the user interface, evaluate performance, and test most hardware features of this media player.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I’ve started by a quick test of the IR remote control, and it works as expected after inserting two AAA batteries, before switching to Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse for convenience. I’ve connected all ports of the device except the S/PDIF output: Ethernet cable, HDMI and AV cables, micro SD card, USB hard drive, USB webcam, and a USB hub with two RF dongles for my air mouse and gamepad.  I’ve connected the power, pressed the power button opn the top of the box, a Blue LED turns off, “Google TV” icon appears on TV and in a little more than 40 seconds the boot completes. It’s not quite as fast as higher RK3288 TV boxes (20s), but it’s much better than the boot time on EM6Q-MXQ (1m 50s), so the flash must be faster.

Home Screen (Click for Original Size)
Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

The user interface is the Android Home screen, but you can also switch the MediaBox launcher with a Metro-style user interface found in many Amlogic S80X TV boxes, by going to the “Home” section in Android settings. The box automatically selected 1080p60 Hz video output, and the user interface resolution is 1920×1080 as you can infer from the screenshot above. I’ve noticed that switching to 720p still keep the user interface to 1920×1080 resolution, so there’s no performance gain doing so.

The “Setting” menu is based on the same Metro-style interface as EM6Q-MXQ with four sub menus: Network, Display, Advanced and Other. I’ve highlighted difference in bold.

  • Network – Enable and configure Wi-Fi or Ethernet
  • Display:
    • Automatic or manual HDMI resolution: 480p/i @ 60 Hz, 576p/i @ 50 Hz, 720p @ 50/60 Hz, 1080i @ 50/60 Hz, or 1080p @ 24/50/60 Hz
    • CVBS Mode Setting: 480 CVBS or 576 CVBS (if Composite output selected on TV).
    • Hide or Show status bar
    • Display Position
    • Screen Save (Never, 4, 8 or 12 minutes)
  • Advanced:
    • Miracast
    • Remote Control (app)
    • CEC Control
    • Location for weather (Chinese cities only)
    • Screen Orientation settings
    • Digital Audio Output (Auto, PCM, S/PDIF pass-through, or HDMI pass-through)
  • Other – System Update: Local file or OTA (not working), Backup, and “More Settings” for standard Android Settings.

So it’s exactly the same as EM6Q-MXQ, except the current firmware also supports 1080p @ 24 Hz.

I’ve also tested composite output, and both 480 CVBS and 576 CVBS settings worked fine. There’s no component (YPbPr) output in this box.

I have not made a video for MXQ S85, because it’s very similar to EM6Q-MXQ, except you have the option to switch between the Android home screen or MediaBox launcher, 1080p24 is supported, and S85 is a little more responsive. But you can watch the video I shot for EM6Q-MXQ if you haven’t already where I walk through the user interface and settings, XBMC user interface (1920×1080 UI rendered at 30 fps), and show H.265 video playback in MX Player.

About_MXQ_S85MXQ-S85 comes with an 8GB NAND flash with a single partition (8.00 GB – black magic again…), and at the end of the review I still had 4.01 GB free. Looking into “About MediaBox” section, we can find out that the model number is “S85″, and the system runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.33. The firmware is rooted, and after I started the review I found firmware 106k4 (an updated to version 105k4 used for the review), which you can probably flash with Amlogic USB flash tool, but I have not tried.

All apps I needed for the review could be installed with Google Play Store including Antutu, 3D Mark, ES File Explorer, MX Player, Beach Buggy Blitz, A1SD benchmark, Sixaxis Controller, etc… However, as I scrolled through the list of apps installed on other Android devices, there were a few incompatible apps notably some messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp), Instagram, Google Translate, and a few others. But you can usually work around these issues by spoofing your device name with an app (paid), or changing build.prop. I’ve also downloaded and installed Amazon AppStore, in order to play Riptide GP2.

Albeit the box features a power button, power handling is not perfect, as a clean power off is not possible. You can either use the remote control power button to enter and exit standby, and the power button on the unit, can be used to achieve real power off, and to turn the device on, but it’s and hardware power off which powers off the device immediately, Android does not cleanly shuts down. The device temperature is pretty cool: 40°C and 46°C measured with an infrared thermometer respectively on the top and bottom of the box, right after running Android 5 benchmark. And after playing Riptide GP2 for about 10 minutes (at which stage the game froze), the maximum temperature on top and bottom reached 42°C and 46°C…

The system very pretty stable, but just like with EM6Q-MXQ, attempting to play a 4K video in XBMC will freeze the system requiring a hard reboot. However, the flash is fast enough no to experience various slowdowns, or making apps randomly exit. Android did pop up the “app not responding” windows at load time for some games, so it’s not perfect, but answering “wait” will start the games normally. Nevertheless, although it’s clearly not as snappy as the latest Amlogic S802 or Rockchip RK3288 based mini PCs, I did not find MXQ S85 frustrating to use, unlike EM6Q-MXQ.

Video Playback

Videos were playing from SAMBA share in Ubuntu 14.04 over Ethernet using XBMC 13.1 pre-installed in the system, switching to MX Player for videos that failed to play. I had no problems connect to SAMBA with XBMC and ES File Explorer.

I started with videos from samplemedia.linaro.org, H.265/HEVC videos by Elecard, as well as a (low resolution) VP9 video:

  • 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), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK but not that smooth (S/W decode)
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p OK, 720p some rare parts in slowmo, 1080p plays in slow motion all the time.
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container
    • XBMC – Audio only
    • MX Player – OK (H/W decode), but seeking does not work properly. It will switch to S/W decode, and the video becomes unwatchable.
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video)
    • XBMC – Won’t even start
    • MX Player – OK (H/W decode).

Then I played some higher bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – XBMC: audio only; MX Player: black screen only, no audio.
  • 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) – OK, but could be smoother, and XBMC reports skipped frames regularly.
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK (Played from USB hard drive)

Videos with high definition audio codec could be played in XBMC (with performance issues), but not in MX Player (except AC3):

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
  • DTS-MA – OK
  • DTS-HR – SAMBA: Audio completely cuts after a few seconds. USB: No problem with audio, but video feels slow.

A Blu-ray ISO video (Sintel-Bluray.iso) played perfectly in XBMC.

I tested over a dozen other videos from my library (AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB/IFO, and MP4 containers), and they could all play with any A/V sync issues. I also watched a complete 1080p video (1h50 / MKV / 3GB), so no problem with stability either.

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

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

A 278 MB file between a SAMBA share (Ubuntu 14.04) and the internal flash, and vice versa, repeating the test three times with ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi transfer speed is still pretty good @ 2.95 MB/s on average, although not quite as fast as EM6Q-MXQ media player.

Wi-Fi Transfer Rate in MB/s
Wi-Fi Transfer Rate in MB/s

Ethernet worked at 100 Mbps connected to my Gigabit Ethernet switch, with performance similar its competitor. Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta is way ahead, simply because it’s the only box I have that actually supports Gigabit Ethernet.

Ethernet Transfer Rate in MB/s
Ethernet Transfer Rate in MB/s

For a raw benchmark of Ethernet performance, I ran iPerf app using “iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” command line. It does not quite maxes out Fast Ethernet bandwidth like Rockchip RK3288, but results are similar to EM6Q-MXQ just like with the test above.

TCP window size: 136 KByte (default)
————————————————————
[ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 57781 connected with 192.168.0.106 port 5001
[ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth
[ 4] 0.0-60.0 sec 476 MBytes 66.5 Mbits/sec
[ 6] 0.0-60.0 sec 566 MBytes 79.1 Mbits/sec

Throughput in Mbps
Throughput in Mbps

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Contrary to the version of EM6Q-MXQ I reviewed, MXQ S85 comes with Bluetooth.

I could transfer pictures from my Android phone to the box over Bluetooth, Sixaxis Compatibility Checker appeared to support PS3 wireless gamepads, but my controller was not recognized.

Bluetooth LE (Smart) was tested with Vidonn X5 activity tracker, but unfortunately the app could not locate the device over BLE.

Storage

FAT32 formatted micro SD card and USB flash drive could be recognized and properly mounted by the system
Only NTFS and FAT32 partition on my USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted and accessed. That’s common to all Android mini PCs I tested, except A80 OptimusBoard which could mount the EXT-4 partition too (but in read-only mode).

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

A1 SD Bench was used to benchmark USB hard drive and internal flash performance. The read speed was 16.92 MB/s, and the write speed of 21.87MB/s fore NTFS partition in /storage/external_storage/sda1, both results being weak.

MXQ_S85_USB_NTFS_Benchmark
USB HDD (NTFS) Read and Write Speeds

The NAND flash speed is clearly not outstanding at 15.8 MB/s (read) and 6.83 MB/s (write), but still better than EM6Q-MXQ, and apparently good enough for a smooth operation of the device most of the time.

MXQ_S85_NAND_Flash_BenchmarkUSB Webcam

I had troubles with both Skype and Google Hangouts with my USB webcam. I did manage to see the image in Skype once, but never long enough to make a phone call. The camera is not detected at all in Hangouts.

Gaming

Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2 could run on the box. I played Candy Crush Saga with my air mouse, and switched to Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad for Beach Buggy Blitz and Riptide GP2. For each game, the system showed up pop up with “App XXX is not responding. Do you want to close it?”, but selecting “Wait” could load the games just fine. Beach Buggy Blitz framerate felt good using the default settings (low res), but I did notice some very short freezes (<1s) from time to time. Riptide GP2 is not really enjoyable with default settings (high resolution), but lowering the resolution makes it relatively enjoyable to play. Riptide GP2 freezing I encountered on other Amlogic s802/S805 devices, and Allwinner A80 development board occurred yet again, after just around 10 minutes of play time. I’m not sure if the game itself is buggy, or the GPU drivers/libraries are. I checked the maximum temperature on the top and bottom of the device at that time, and I got 42°C and 46°C.

Even if games can run, the gaming experience is not great, and you should really consider spending more to get a Rockchip RK3288, or not as good, Amlogic S802 devices if you are really interested in playing games. Nvidia Tegra K1 devices should even be better but in a completely different price category.

MXQ S85 Benchmarks

CPU-Z shows the device is indeed powered a quad ARM Cortex A5 processor clocked between 24 MHz and 1.49 GHz, but instead of using a performance governor, MXQ S85 is using a hotplug (on-demand). The board is m201, which can be a useful thing to know in case you download firmware files. FYR, EM6Q-MXQ is based on hd18t board.

Amlogic_S805_CPU-Z_MXQ_S85

The devices gets 16,448 points in Antutu 5.1 which is consistent with the score I got with EM6Q-MXQ (16,647).

MXQ_S85_Antutu_5.1

There are some differences in Vellamo 3 however, with a lower Browser score (812 vs 1061), a higher multicore score (1319 vs 1139). The metal score is about the same.

Vellamo_3_MXQ_S85

Ice Storm Extreme test in 3DMark is about the same with 2,308 points (vs 2,325 for EM6Q-MXQ), and clearly shows the relatively low performance of the quad core Mali-450MP GPU used in S805 compared to high-end SoC with better GPUs.

S85_3D_Mark_Ice_Storm_Extreme

Conclusion

MXQ S85 is actually a pretty good device and performance considering the price (<$50). Wi-Fi and Ethernet are pretty decent, video codecs/containers is quite good in XBMC, and H.265 can be played in MX Player, but not yet in XBMC. The firmware is pretty stable, and I did not come across massive slowdowns like in EM6Q-MXQ.

PRO:

  • The firmware is stable, relatively smooth to operate, and only hung when trying to play 4K videos
  • Good XBMC support.
  • HEVC/H.265 hardware video decoding support. Working in MX Player, but not with XBMC (yet)
  • Very good price/performance ratio.
  • Good Wi-Fi, and decent Ethernet performance
  • Video Output – Supports 1080p24/50/60 (but no 25/30 Hz), and composite output (NTSC/PAL).

CONS:

  • Despite having a power button, power off is not perfect (no clean power off)
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (mostly used for wearables) is not currently supported.
  • OTA firmware upgrade is not working
  • USB / NTFS storage performance is disappointing.
  • USB webcam did not work reliably for me in either Skype and Hangouts.
  • “App xxx not responding” message may appear while loading large apps such as games.

Gearbest provided the sample for review, so if you are interested in purchasing you could do so on their site for $47.99 (with MXQBCM coupon), or for $45.99 (with MXQCM coupon) for the version without Bluetooth. Coupons are valid until November 30, 2014. MXQ-S85 can also be found on other stores including DealExtreme, Amazon US, Dealsmachines, and Aliexpress.

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fossxplorer
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fossxplorer

Poor performance IMO

adem
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adem

just bought one now i will get in a about a month or so then i will do i review.

adem
Guest
adem

@fossxplorer

performance is the last thing on people’s minds. the most important thing is video playback. to be honest if a box performs as fast as the mk908 and plays content as good as the tronsmart Prometheus and has the wifi performance as the cs868 now that would be the perfect box and i would pay up to $ 80 for it. 🙂

adem
Guest
adem

just got an email saying payment verified and also this
(Some good news:When the order status is updated to ”shipped out” then you will receive a bonus of 62 points from this purchase.) whats the go with these point scheme what do we get out of it this is the first time i bout some thing from these guys. but to be honost i think they are much more expensive then geekbuying i saw a mk908 for $73 or more.

fossxplorer
Guest
fossxplorer

@adem: i get your point, but i would like to have some decent CPU as well for gaming and for general purpose actually.
I ordered http://www.buyincoins.com/item/53589.html, it’s got Mali 400 vs 450 on this one.
Is there any big difference on video playback?

adem
Guest
adem

@fossxplorer
i think i got that one too last week or so i always go with free shipping so it would take another 3-4 weeks to get to me.

mali 450 is supposed to be better but i dont do gaming i just watch video’s and to be honest i cannot tell the difference. few days a go i got the vega s89 elite and xbmc kept chrashing on me video playback had problems playing from nas and the most important thing wifi performans suxk. i flashed it with 3 different F/W finless a.6, wasser, and the latest one from tronsmart with was a img file that i had to use the amlogic burning tool which is a big head ache and all them had very very bad wifi performance at the moment i have about 10 boxes and out of the lot the vega has the worst wifi performance.

onebir
Guest
onebir

@fossxplorer
Let us know how you get on with that one!

Mitchell
Guest

Hi,
Could you do a fw update.. and tell us how this one differs from 105k4
Could the 720p patch from freaktab for s802 be applied to this box?
Was this box pre-rooted? Or can the ‘root update.zip’ be used from freaktab?
What version of xbmc was pre-install? And what version(s) did you use in your review?
On some s802 devices.. if you use bluetooth and wifi.. you get wifi/speed slowdowns did you experience this?
Will.. a fw update or cpu tweaking fix.. the ‘not responding’ issue ?
Where can i find fw updates? ( my box is still intransit/post)

Ps.. thanks for the review… and keep up the good work
Cheers and thanks

adem
Guest
adem

@cnxsoft

with the Windows USB burning tools it would not work on my intel pc or my amd pc i tried all usb ports it was driving me crazy then i tried my ibm laptop and it work on there. you have to try different usb sockets and different pc or laptops

Pajo
Guest
Pajo

Between this device MXQ S85 and this one MXIII Amlogic S802 witch one did you buy to use with XBMC ??
Sorry for the off topic.

Pajo
Guest
Pajo

@cnxsoft
Thanks for the answer.
Did you like the performance of the MXQ S85 in xbmc?
I mite by that one.

Pajo
Guest
Pajo

Thanks @Cnxsoft
Ordering one 🙂

Pajo
Guest
Pajo

Forget to ask something….
His the device rooted???
Thanks

Syztemlord
Guest
Syztemlord

Just wondering, is there a zip version of the firmware instead of img format?

trackback

[…] gone out of the window, as M85 is currently selling for $98.99 on Aliexpress. For reference, MXQ S85 TV box sells for less than $50, so a market price for Amlogic S805 based TV sticks should probably […]

Harley
Guest
Harley

Can you guys please try this test build and report here http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=206333 ?

JOSE
Guest
JOSE

I need help with the MXQ Amlogic S805 ..
I do not know how to configure the device to get full screen on certain apps that I assume are design for phones, but I did not have this problem with different Androids for example with Rockchip RK3066.
Please give me hand with this issue,
Thanks
Jose

Matt
Guest
Matt

@cnxsoft, could you please test whether HDMI-CEC works on this box?

trackback

[…] can get a cheap an decent H.265 capable Android TV box for less than $50 with MXQ S85, but MK808B Plus may be the cheapest H.265 capable player on the market, as the Amlogic S805 based […]

JOSE
Guest
JOSE

@cnxsoft
Thank you for your help @cnxsoft, I will try with a different firmware and let you know. By the way any finless rom for this box? I have 107k4.
Thanks

johnny8453
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johnny8453
johnny8453
Guest
johnny8453

Matt :
@cnxsoft, could you please test whether HDMI-CEC works on this box?

tried two diferrent series of LG’s – did not work at all…
CEC were active on both ends (MXQ and TV) but devices were not seeing each-other

jase
Guest
jase

Does this play 3D files HSBS or HOU flawlessly? Also it DID play DTS MA right? Thats the main thing for me.

jase
Guest
jase

cnxsoft :
@jase
Where can I download HSBS / HOU 3D files? DTS-MA could play using PCM output (downsampling), no AV receiver here.

I’m not sure where you can get the freely available 3D files sorrry.

JOSE
Guest
JOSE

@johnny8453
Thank you johnny. I tried that one and the problem still.

JOSE
Guest
JOSE

Hi guys.
Now I have one more issue. Streaming some live channels on a regular app from play store for live channels the quality is very very low.. (Lot Pixels) XBMC works great and I do not have this problem with the Rk3066 Dual Core 1.6G (Cortex-A9). The funny thing (for me) is when I went to use the screenshot to show the poor quality, the picture (screenshot) is almost HD…LOL….. I already used the different firmware (106k4, 107k4, 108k4), I changed resolution, tried AV port, different TV etc and the problem still there.
Any idea on this one ? Help pls..!!!!

trackback

[…] with MXQ S85 in several benchmarks above. The model number is reported as NEO X6 (m201), whereas MXQ-S85 was reported as S85 (m201). At first I thought the board could be virtually the same, except MINIX […]

trackback

[…] such as MK808B Plus TV Stick which can be purchased for as low as $30, or full-sized TV box such as MXQ S85 or MINIX NEO X6. All this low cost devices are nice, but the full source code is not available in […]

trackback

[…] Ubuntu / Debian or other Linux distributions for other Amlogic S805 devices such as MK808B Plus, MXQ S85, or MINIX NEO […]

trackback

[…] of the time, cheap also means bad quality, but not always. One of the exception is MXQ S85 selling for about $50, with above average Wi-Fi and 10/100M Ethernet performance, pretty goos […]

Alex
Guest
Alex

@jase

Yes it plays 3d sbs (even 30gb files) quite well over wired ethernet. It actually plays 10p anime over wired ethernet and I was told it’s not supposed to. So far I have not come across one file that doesn’t play. *Holding thumbs

Alex
Guest
Alex

I also have not seen any issues with DTS so far but I mostly have stereo rips so I can’t confirm it.

Ken
Guest
Ken

For some reason the ir remote doesn’t work. Can someone help me trouble shoot?

Ken
Guest
Ken

@cnxsoft

Anywhere in the settings I can change? I’ve tried two sets of batteries.

Skdzzz
Guest
Skdzzz

@johnny8453
HDMI-CEC is neither working for me. I received my MXQ S85 yesterday and tested with my LG TV and no luck. I doesn´t matter if the TV or the MXQ was switched on before the other.
The same configuration (same TV and HDMI cable) is working fine in my Raspberry Pi with OpenELEC(Kodi).

I will test the Finless ROM soon but there is no comment on HDMI-CEC in the release comments.

I have been using HDMI-CEC with OpenELEC for about two years and it is really convenient, you only have to use one remote to control everything.

Skdzzz
Guest
Skdzzz

@Ken to test if the problem is in the remote itself, you can point the remote to your smartphone camera (with the camera application on) and check if you can see a blinking white dot in your remote while pressing any key. Try it with other remotes that you know are working to know how to check it.

mike890
Guest
mike890

What impact does the slow NAND performance have on everyday use? Does it affect streaming and watching movies?

onebir
Guest
onebir

I guess the Hardkernel Odroid C1 versions of Linux should work on these?

Will
Guest
Will

Hi everyone,

Having a kind of strange problem. My MXQ S85 is connect to ethernet and when I go to android ethernet settings —> Connection Type: Change to Static —-> then try to manually enter DNS info, and then hit save, it does not appear to save. There is no message that settings are saved and when I go back in.

I have no idea why the settings are not saving. I don’t have this issue when connected via WIFI.

any ideas on how to fix this?