Kodi 14 Video Playback on Intel Atom Z3735F Computers Running Windows 8.1

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I’ve already written a short review of Mele PCG03 mini PC powered by Intel Atom Z3735F processor, with 2GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC flash, where I found out that almost it’s not the fastest device around, it’s still usable for most tasks, albeit you can quickly run out of space with only 32GB storage, so if you really plan to use it as an actual computer using applications such as email clients, web browser and office suites, an external USB hard drive, or connection to a NAS is probably a must, or you’ll probably have to run Disk Cleaner fairly often.  Mele PCG03 also have a valid Windows 8.1 license, and a VGA port, both of which are often missing on many other Bay Trail-T mini PCs.

Kodi 14.1 on Mele PCG03 (Click for Original Size)
Kodi 14.1 on Mele PCG03 (Click for Original Size)

I’ve now installed Kodi 14.1 – downloaded directly from xbmc.org – on this low cost and low power computer, in order to go through my video test files, and see how it performs compared to the many ARM based Android TV boxes I’ve tested in the past. I’ve played the videos over Ethernet from a SAMBA share on an Ubuntu 14.04 machine, unless otherwise noted. I full expect the results to be identical on other Intel Atom Z3735 / Z3736 based mini PCs such as MeegoPad T01 or Pipo X7.

The device was connected to LG 42UB820T, a 4K UltraHD television, but the maximum output resolution supported by the box is 1080p60 (1920×1080), so that’s the output resolution I used for testing.

Let’s get started with videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, plus some H.265/HEVC videos (Elecard), and 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. But XBMC reports decoding at 24 fps, instead of the video native 25 fps.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK, but at 720p and 1080p video is played at about 22 fps instead of 25 fps.
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 360p and 720p OK, 1080p video is not really watchable (15 fps), and audio cuts.
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

Followed by some higher bitrate videos:

  • 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) – OK, but plays at 24 fps instead of 29.970 fps
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK (using USB hard drive)

High definition audio codecs below have only been tested using PCM output over HDMI, as I’ll still waiting for Speakers to go with my AV receiver. So HDMI pass-through is still To Be Tested (TBT), and S/PDIF won’t be tested since there’s no S/PDIF output on MeLE’s mini PC. I expect to update the table with HDMI pass-through in about a week. I’ve now tested HDMI audio pass-through using Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver. I selected WASAPI audio device in Kodi, and enabled all codecs below.

Video’s Audio Codec HDMI PCM Output HDMI Pass-through SPDIF Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK OK No S/PDIF Output on MeLE PCG03
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK Some audio but frequent cuts
TrueHD 5.1 OK No audio Audio Formats Not Supported over S/PDIF
TrueHD 7.1 OK No audio
DTS HD Master OK No audio
DTS HD High Resolution OK No audio

I could play Sintel-Bluray.iso without problem, so Bluray ISO are supported. I’ve been told encrypted ISO might be more problematic, but I don’t have any sample to test. 1080i MPEG2 videos (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) could also play.

Intel Atom Z3735F processor does not support 4K video output, however it can still decode some 4K videos (H.264), but both H.265 and VP9 are out of reach:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – XBMC reports playback at about 10 fps, but it looks like 2 to 3 fps to me.
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – XBMC reports playback at about 10 fps, but it looks like 2 to 3 fps to me.
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) –  Won’t play at all (stays in XBMC UI)
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Slow notion playback, just like other H.265 videos.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at about 10 fps.
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play at all (stays in XBMC UI)

I’ve also played some 3D videos:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK (Decoded at 60 fps as it should)
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Plays at about 10 fps, and frequent audio cuts.
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Please note that My TV does not support 3D, so I only tested video decoding capability.

All my AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB, IFO and MP4 videos could play smmothly, without A/V sync issues, and contrary to XBMC Android, the reported framerate is extremely stable. In most, if not all, Android media players, it’s quite common to see 24 fps videos, being played at  a reported 22 to 25 fps according to XBMC live log window. But in ths test, the vast majority of videos played exactly and constantly at the native framerate.

All the video above where played over Ethernet, but I switched to Wi-Fi, but my reliability test, consisting of playing a full 1080p movie (1h50 / MKV / 3GB). XBMC reported only 1 skipped frame over the whole movie, while in Android TV boxes I usually get 14,000 skipped frames for the complete movie.

I also wanted to test automatic frame rate switching, so I went to Settings->Video, changed the Settings level to Advanced, and set Adjust display refresh rate to match video to On start/stop. And got the following results using the Info button on the remote control of my TV for the video output:

  • 23.976 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p24
  • 24 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p24
  • 25 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p50
  • 30 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60
  • 50 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p50
  • 59.94 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60
  • 60 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60

So it’s mostly working. If I open Intel HD Graphics Control Panel, the following refresh rate are available: 23p, 24p, 25p, 29p, 30p, 50p, 50i, 59p, 59i, 60p, and 60i, and I can set any of these refresh rates, but for example, when I set 59p, and press the Info button on the remote of my LG TV, I only see 1080p60, so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on for refresh rates such as 23.976 or 59.94 fps.

Anyway, the conclusion is excluding the lack of H.265 codec and 4K video output support, that’s clearly the best experience I’ve had using XBMC / Kodi on any low cost hardware platform, as all 1080p or lower resolution videos could be played, the vast majority at the native video framerate, H.264 4K videos are playing fine (but outputted to 1080p), and automatic frame rate switching is working. [Update: 4K video are limited to 30 fps, as the system can’t handle 4K 60fps at full rate]

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

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onebir
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onebir

Big kick up the arse for ARM vendors!

onebir
Guest
onebir

“Of course, if there was some standard that everybody followed for video decoding on ARM platform that would help too… ”
Or providing open source drivers, absent such a standard? I know they’re competing, but now the buffaloes have to cross the river, and Intel is the crocodile…

jpearn
Guest
jpearn

Good test. Which display drivers were you using, manufacturers or the latest 4061s?

Steve
Guest
Steve

I’ve got a Pipo X7 running Win 8.1 with Bing and has the Z3736F processor which runs slightly faster when in boost.

Over HDMI in Windows I get DD/DTS/DD+ bitstreamed and PCM 8 channel, so no bitstreaming of HD Audio. Netflix HD in the Win 8.1 app plays back very well with DD+ bitstreamed over HDMI.

In Kodi in Windows the CPU/GPU can’t cope with high quality 720/50p for long without overheating and throttling (dropping to 40fps or less), and doesn’t appear to cope with 1080/50i at all (20fps or less). However the internal heatsinking in the Pipo is very poor.

Under Ubuntu 64bit (a challenge to install but entirely doable) with development builds of Kodi you get full 720/50p (even with thermal throttling) and Bob deinterlacing of 1080/50i (occasional skips).

Like a few others, I’m fitting a heatsink and some heat pads to conduct heat to the aluminium case – which should improve things.

Luis
Guest
Luis

hi from spain, have you try live tv streaming from a backend such tvheadend or similar? Please share the experience. Thanks.

freechelmi
Guest

Fyi vaapi d’or baytrail will soon have vpa GPU decoding.

freechelmi
Guest

I meant vp8 decoding

Steve
Guest
Steve

I’m getting VAAPI decoding under Ubuntu on my Baytrail-T Z3736F Pipo X7 already under Ubuntu with the development set-up listed here : http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=165707

What I don’t have under Linux is any HDMI Audio – as there aren’t currently Baytrail-T Linux drivers for HDMI Audio in the wild AIUI (so I use a USB sound device instead at the moment)

Member

Just little English issue I should point out: I’ve could play Sintel-Bluray.iso without problem , the I’ve doesn’t really belong there.
Not a big issue though and it happens when you write so many articles.

anon
Guest
anon

@cnxsoft
Off topic, but what about adding “sticky articles” to the front page, was just wondering if there were an “video capabilities” table that you would gradually update/add systems into (like comparison of info of this article vs various ARM reviews), that would give bird’s eye view of all reviewed systems?

And of course similar updated/added pages could be done on various generic things, like benchmarks, hardware problems, etc..

Just a thought. 😉

Mark
Guest
Mark

“it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on for refresh rates such as 23.976 or 59.94 fps.”

Not that difficult if you use the correct test files. I posted these before but here’s the link again:
http://st7.us/MotionBarsH264.7z (these are preferred since they include AC3 audio).

If the above fails for some reason, here’s a different set without audio:
https://www.sendspace.com/file/5mvgsn

Unlike 99% of Android players, the Intel Baytrail supports 23.976 and 59.940 correctly so all the test files should play perfectly smooth without any micro freezes or jumps in motion using a proper software player.

Regarding HD Audio – it is not supported on Baytrail-T. It works on Baytrail-D with latest drivers. You don’t need speakers to test this – just plug in headphones and view the status display of your receiver – most will display the audio format they are receiving.

trackback

[…] enough to run Kodi 14 with the default skin, and should make a very good media player based on my Kodi 14.1 testing with MeLE PCG03, providing a smoother experience than on any ARM based mini PC I tried in the past, as long as you […]

magnus67
Guest
magnus67

It would be interesting to see if the soc can play 1080 HEVC with any of the optimiced HEVC decoders in this threads

http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=171219

http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?p=1705352#post1705352

magnus67
Guest
magnus67

To bad. I tried the Strongene cpu decoder on my surface pro and the CPU utilization dropped to half for a 8 bit 10mb/s 1080p HEVC movie.

klein
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klein

Is this box “clearly the best experience I’ve had using XBMC / Kodi on any low cost hardware platform, as all 1080p or lower resolution videos could be played, the vast majority at the native video framerate”… really?, i disagree severe here, maybe your expectations were so low and so will you seemed very good. But looking your own review see that mpeg2, rmvb, h265 and hi rate vc1 play in framerate incorrect or inestable. not to mention 4k, that some ARM have.
So i’ve 3 pc ( i3 hd2500, i3+ hd7750 and lenovo x61), also severe pc & servers at work. In android/arm side 2 galaxy (s, s2) and rk3188 tablet. I use mx player, i can’t say that any of my PCs run better than my androids.
That’s the problem with subjetives afirmations, its just your feeling. But i don’t find support in that, sorry.
Maybe the only thing that can make difference with my experience is xmbc, is it so ugly in android?

klein
Guest
klein

@cnxsoft
so you only belive because the xmbc log, and don’t feel difference between 22-25fps, well lawer say “Acknowledgement from the parties make discoveries non-essential.”.
I known intel is very careful in drivers, documentation, etc. is profesional, xmbc ‘ve long time in platform so maybe good adjustment, but your test have other element that make me distrustful, it is Windows, in this platform you don’t have even soft rtos, you can make a correct design & implementation code and final results are unstable… if your test was in linux, well all is understandable.
I make test in different platforms for a HPC project 2 years ago, and not only process, threads are unstable with standard deviation very high, also the clock is not reliable. I lost time in sync errors that in my log are imposible, but discover in hard way that windows clock was inaccurate. So maybe xmbc log is also cheated because the return of windows function, bad coded or worst, we don’t known windows is code closed.
Anyway +90% of top 100 HPC are unix/linux, is for performance, yes, but mostly because is reliable and if have problem you can see the code how is working.
I used unix(hp-ux), linux(some flavors server/desktop/rtos), solaris, windows(many), old 8bits os and msdos, maybe more, and to date the worst is Windows. So i never again buy other hw that come with it, i cant pay for space that immediately recover, formating and installing other os.

klein
Guest
klein

umm, so bay trail soc is ok, HD graphics is also good… well hdmi is direct output from soc, right?, then all box with z3735 should perform same.
Now, if problems with xbmc in arm/android are mostly noticeable, which is the cause:
1- is android itself?
2- is poor implementation of hw codec in SOC by companies like allwinner, amlogic, rockchip, mstar and also samsung, qualcomm, freescale, etc.?
3- is somewhat intermediate in the implementation of the firmware of each SOC, which, as is done by each manufacturer for soc (and usually without documentation and open source), becomes ALMOST the same as point 2.
4- or the xbmc / kodi in android that has bugs.

Point 1 I doubt it. would the same behavior at different hw, but also could contribute something to that screen refresh is fixed, I think in android unlike linux can not be changed on the fly resolution or refresh. But I doubt that’s the cause of the problems you’ve noticed in your reviews.
There are a few soc with official versions of Linux: imx6, amlogic, tegra k1, exynos 4/5 … rockchip and allwinner are three party, i think.
You still have some of these hw, as wandboard, ODROID c1, u3, radxa, firefly, etc. if the answer is yes, could test the XMBC on them to see if the problems go away. Now I see that there is interest in running linux in box that came with android. There are also android for bay trail, but i dont known, if there is source code, I have the impression that it is not very good, but you could also try.
Anyway thanks for answering. i was looking at the soc of mstar, awaiting your review of zidoo x9, or odroid c1 because kernel source available. But may be i first search a vga cable, to send 1080p from x61, add partition w/android and try xbmc, next xbmc in the current Lubuntu, then xbmc in windows.

trackback

[…] spend some times to test MeLE PCG03 Bay Trail-T mini PC in Windows 8.1, including a detailed video and audio review in Kodi 14.1. Since I don’t have anything else to do with Windows on the machine, I’ve decided to […]

Marysh
Guest
Marysh

You should test on Linux Kodi ex. OPENELEC Kodi on Mele PCG03, and review for us..
XBMC/Kodi on Windows it will be a little worse work than Linux Kodi compilation.
Please test OPENELEC on Mele PCG03.

Marysh
Guest
Peter
Guest
Peter

@cnxsoft
HDMI Audio is not supported by any current Linux kernel, unfortunately. If you want to have HDMI audio, just install Windows. 🙂

magnus67
Guest
magnus67

I managed to play 1080p HEVC of a popular movie with no problem on my voyo pad with z3735f. I don´t know the bitrate but the movie was 10Gb+. I used lentoid cpu codec and LAV splitter on 32 bit MPC-HC. The OpenCL codec crashed but played a 720p movie.

magnus67
Guest
magnus67

I can also play the big bucks bunny 1080p sample on the elecard page.

magnus67
Guest
magnus67

the other samples are somewhat jerky and played with dropped frames but i can play both the 4k and 1080p files.

Nimious
Guest
Nimious

Can you try a 1080p Hi10p video and see how well it runs?

trackback

[…] already tested Kodi 14.1 on MeLE PCG03 running Windows 8.1, with the Intel Atom Z3735F device performing greatly for 1080p videos, working DTS and Dolby […]

techguru
Guest
techguru
techguru
Guest
techguru

http://anijp.com/thread-82018-1-1.html
10 bit 1080p hevc
id be surprised if this played

trackback

[…] 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, […]

D
Guest
D

Well… could you test Hi10p aka h.264 10 bit profile with 1080 files by now ? Or are you still looking for some video samples?