R-Box Pro 3G Android TV Box Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 Firmware

The vast majority of octa-core Android TV Boxes sold on the market comes with 2GB RAM, but Amlogic S912 based R-Box Pro TV box was interesting with its 3GB RAM option (aka R-Box Pro 3G), as I wondered if I would see any noticeable improvements during my tests with the extra RAM. We’ve already confirmed the the hardware comes with 3GB RAM using 2x 1GB + 2x 512MB RAM chips configuration in the first part of the review last month, and it’s now time to check out whether this translates to anything in Android, as well as go through the usual hard-to-get features to work like automatic frame rate switching and HD audio pass-through.

r-box-pro-3g

First Boot, Firmware Update, and First Impressions

One positive with the device is the four USB ports, so this time I did not need an USB hub at all, and connected a USB HDD, two RF dongles for an air mouse and gamepad, as well as a USB keyboard to take screenshots. I completed the hardware setup with Ethernet and HDMI cables, and plugged the power supply to boot the device. Boot time is rather slow compared to competitors at about one minute.

Click for Original Size
Click for Original Size

The launcher used is exactly the same as on Rikomagic MK22, and the list of apps is also quite similar with IPTV apps such as Mobdro, Netflix, FilmOn Live, and UkTVNow.
r-box-pro-app-list

r-box-pro-apps-list-2The setup is also exactly the same, so if you want to find out more about the interface and setup options you can read Rikomagic MK22 review, while you’ll find more details about the IPTV apps (Mobdro / Filmon) in MXQ Plus / M12N TV box review.

I had no troubles with the settings when configuring WiFi and Ethernet, and the system kept the video output resolution I set (3840x2160p60) even between reboot. Part of the 16GB flash is used for the operating system, and the user still get 11.38 GB to play with, and at the end of the review after installing apps and some copying files, I only had used 3.26 GB.

r-box-pro-storageYou can also see exFAT and NTFS file systems are supported as usual, and a FAT32 micro SD card could also be mounted.

about-mediabox-r-box-proThe “About Media” box section shows R-BOX Pro 3G runs Android 6.0.1 with Linux 3.14.29, no surprise here. The firmware is rooted. I received the box early October, and when I first boot up the device the firmware was dated in September, so I checked for firmware update. They’ve done something pretty stupid as they’ve included both UPDATE&BACKUP and WirelessUpdate apps in the firmware, which is sure to confuse customers. But basically UPDATE&BACKUP app is not configured and trying to get an OTA firmware update will results in “Check Failed! Check Your OTA Servier Argent” (sic), while WirelessUpdate app appears to be configured, but can’t get any update firmware from the server, probably because they did not bother to copy any firmware… Finally, I could find new firmware on GeekBuying, but again on for “USB Burning Tool” with IMG extension, so I decided to try some new SD card method with Amlogic IMG firmware in Linux and Windows, and I finally managed to flash the firmware without using Amlogic USB Burning Tool. It took me nearly a full Saturday to make it work, but at least now I know how to do.

Nevertheless, this is 2016, and OTA firmware update is now working on most TV boxes, even some cheaper ones, so manufacturers should not expect end users to work with tools reserved to factory workers…

I had no problems using both Google Play and Amazon Underground to install apps. The remote control worked well enough up to 8 meters, and I could turn on and off the box with it.

Power handling is properly implemented with power off and standby modes, but the latter is pretty much useless based on the power consumption values I got on my power meter (with all USB devices connected as shown in top photo):

  • Power Off – 0.0 watt
  • Standby – 6.4 watts (USB HDD still on, Box LED is red)
  • Idle – 6.2 watts (Box LED is blue)

The case top and bottom temperatures were  respectively 41 and 51 °C max after Antutu 6.x benchmark, and after 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2, they rose to 42°C and 60°C respectively. The game performance was constant over time, and about the same as on other Amlogic S912 with highest resolution settings, i.e. not perfect, but playable.

Since one of the first thing I do with a new box is to check for new firmware, not having OTA firmware update, nor a simple SD card or USB flash drive ZIP firmware is not a good way to start. Sadly, even after the frustration of flash a new firmware, I had sluggishness issues with some apps show the “App is not responsive window” aking to wait or kill the app a bit more often than I’m comfortable with, and as we’ll see below my Kodi experience was one of the worse with 4K videos and audio pass-through. I certainly did not feel any benefit of having 3GB RAM over 2GB RAM with this device, as I was hoping the extra read/write buffer for the storage might improve the performance, but the opposite happened, likely because of sub-optimized firmware.

4K and Audio pass-through in Kodi 17.0 and DRM Info

The firmware I used for review (October 13, 2016) comes with Kodi 17.0-Alpha3 built on July 31, 2016 with TVaddons installed. I connected to my video samples SAMBA share and started testing some 4K videos:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK
  • 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) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Won’t play, stays in UI
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Started well, but after 30 seconds or so the image intermittently froze from time to time
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth, and audio delay (hardware does not support this type of video)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK (although video did not seem as sharp as usual)
  • 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
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – Won’t play, stays in UI
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Won’t play, stays in UI

Most people probably don’t have VP9 videos, but considering one of the key selling on Amlogic S912 over Amlogic S905 is hardware video decoding support for VP9, it’s quite an unexpected issue, especially it is working on other Amlogic S912 TV boxes I tested so far.

Unsurprisingly, automatic frame rate switching is not working either…
kodi-17-audio-pass-through

I continued testing Kodi with HDMI pass-through to Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver was quite a disaster:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK (Dolby D 5.1), but video not smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – OK
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – PCM 2.0
  • TrueHD 5.1 – PCM 2.0
  • TrueHD 7.1 – PCM 2.0
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – PCM 2.0
  • DTS HD Master – Black screen and no audio
  • DTS HD High Resolution – Black screen and no audio
  • DTS:X – Black screen and no audio (not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636, but should normally be heard as DTS-HD MA)

The box supports Widevine Security Level 3 DRM, which should allow for SD playback of some premium video services, but not HD or UHD.

r-box-pro-drm
Click to Enlarge

WiFi and Internal Storage Benchmark

I’ve copied a 278 MB file between the internal storage and a SAMBA server using ES File Explorer in both direction in order to estimate WiFi performance. R-Box Pro support 802.11n and 802.11ac WiFi, so I tested both on different routers, and the system achieved 1.4 MB/s throughput using 802.11n, and 2.0 MB/s for 802.11ac on average.

WiFi Throughput in MB/s
WiFi Throughput in MB/s

rbox-pro-wifi-802-11ac-serverThe chart makes is clear that neither 802.11n nor 802.11ac performance is very. I must note than in the case of 802.11ac download performance was much higher than upload performance averaging about 3.4 MB/s. The chart on the right shows both Download (Upload from TV box – top) and Upload (Download from TV box – bottom) shows the traffic shape for 802.11ac transfer. 802.11ac download shows the performance is not stable, but at least there are no stalls, but the upload shows mostly constant throughput with several 3 stalls during transfer, so the connection does not appear to be entirely stable.

I measure Internal storage performance with A1SD bench, and the eMMC flash used in R-Box Pro delivered 39.28 MB/s read speed, and 19.31 MB/s write speed. Not the best, but those values should be enough to have responsive firmware in most conditions. So the slow loading apps issue if most probably due to a firmware/software issue then a problem with the hardware itself.

R-Box Pro 3G System Info and Antutu Benchmark

The board name is q6330, exactly the same as Rikomagic MK22, so I’d expect the firmware between those models to be very similar. R-Box manufacturer releases different firmware with their 2GB and 3GB RAM version however. CPU-Z also reports Amlogic S912 is an octa-core Cortex A53 clocked at 1.51 GHz with a Mali-T820MP GPU. 3 GB RAM is detected, or more exactly 2810 MB taking into account the hardware buffers), with 11.38 GB storage available to the user.

r-box-pro-3gb-cpu-z
Click to Enlarge

I ran Antutu 6.x to verify the performance, and 39,846 points is about what we’ve come to expect from Amlogic S912 TV boxes, with some devices getting as high as 42,000+ points.

r-box-pro-3g-antutu

Conclusion

I was intrigued with R-Box Pro 3G because of its 3GB RAM, but I ended getting the worse Amlogic S912 TV box of the six models I’ve reviewed so far.  OTA firmware is not working, the company does not seem to have a webpage for firmware, so I had to look on the Internet to find something on GeekBuying, with only IMG firmware requiring some Windows tools, or building your own parser in Linux in order to flash it. Clearly not user friendly. Kodi 17.0-alpha3 is installed in the box, and the list of issues is impressive: Vp9 videos can’t play, some 4K H.264 @ 30 fps video won’t play smoothly, automatic frame rate switching is not working either, and I only managed to get audio pass-through in Kodi work for a Dolby Digital 5.1 with some DTS-HD videos just showing a black screen. WiFi performance is rather weak both using 802.11n and 802.11ac WiFi, and the apps are not always loading very fast, leading the system to ask whether to wait or kill the apps. I’m pretty sure I missed some issues, but needless to say the company has a lot of work to do to make it a worthwhile device.

Kingnovel provided R-Box Pro 3G for review, and resellers & distributors can contact the company via their website. Individuals should probably not buy the device at this stage, but you can still purchase it for about $70 and up on GeekBuying,and Aliexpress. Note that the 2GB RAM version is often sold side-by-side with the 3GB RAM version, and price starts at $66.

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117 Replies to “R-Box Pro 3G Android TV Box Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 Firmware”

  1. @Shomari
    Do you have the change log for this November 07 firmware?
    I have used aml_s912_q6330-R-BOX-PRO-3gddr-mac-20161015.img. It broke the Standby command as shown in this review “Standby – 6.4 watts”. I remembered the original firmware gave me <1 watt (my watt meter shows 0 watt, it does not show decimal number), the LED light can be turned off as well.

  2. Hey what I mean is that i do not get downloaded and does not have a username on the link and translated from china language.
    Do you have a direct link where I can download the latest software?

  3. Kurt Berg :
    this is the latest firmware i could find and it rocks no more kicking off Kodi and now with screenshot ,Kodi 17 is working fine with Dimitrology build (echo wizard communitybuild) https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/43467761/r-box/aml_s912_q6330-R-BOX-PRO-3gddr-mac-20161015.img hope you can use it

    Hi Kurt, Tried to download it three time, always failed at 29%. Is it the same .img file as http://www.mediafire.com/file/1qjwnd8areplxkt/PC.rar which is referred from http://blog.geekbuying.com/index.php/2016/09/27/r-box-pro-amlogic-s912-tv-box-firmware-20160927/?

  4. Kurt Berg :
    Please try this instead Frank i have zipped the file so you have to unzip to a directory on your harddisk ,then start the burncardmaker as i uploaded insert a sdcard in your cardreader and the try to figger the chinese language out in the prg
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/43467761/r-box/aml_s912_q6330-R-BOX-PRO-3gddr-mac-20161015.zip

    Thanks Kurt. I got your file downloaded successfully. When I did a hex compare with the un-rar-ed .img file from http://www.mediafire.com/file/1qjwnd8areplxkt/PC.rar , they have the same contents. When PC.rar is un-rar-ed, it gives the same file name as yours.

  5. Thankyou Shomari for uploading .I found a script for chrome so now i can download from baidu have a nice day (i am from Denmark)

  6. @jan-ivar Andresen
    Hey Jan -Ivar did you get the update up running ,i tryed but i got red x in the andriod when i try use the sdcardoption what did you used for Shomaris update ? Sdcard or USB A-A ?

  7. aml_s912_8723bs_yuenanTpS8(2016_12_03)mac.img from aml_s912_(2016_12_03)mac.rar is about 300 MB smaller than other R-Box Pro images. That is why I did not want to try it.

  8. Both firmware files are for CSA93 TV box, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPoJ8xrZad4 and https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/CSA93-Amlogic-S912-Octa-Core-Android-6-0-TV-Box-RAM-3GB-ROM-32GB-2-4GHZ/1805266_32743367199.html. I think they have the same or similar q6330 motherboard. I have flashed the one in post #42 (which is the same as in post #3). The boot up logo is the same as in the first link Youtube video and it does not have the very loud sound. It is good for me because I don’t need to turn down the TV volume during boot up.

  9. i am back on old image again somebody else have tried Shomaris imagefiles ? I had to move my mouse to avoiding my screen going into darkness when i saw a movie

  10. @rick bishop
    The photo for R-Box Pro board can be seen @ http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/10/01/review-of-r-box-pro-tv-box-with-3gb-ram-part-1-unboxing-and-teardown/.
    I’m not sure about H96 Pro+ board photos, but if you have one you could compare.

    Another way to get is using the board number via CPU-Z or other apps. For R-Box Pro it’s q6330. You also need to make sure the memory, storage, and WiFi module are the same to increase the probability that one firmware will work on another box.

  11. @jan-ivar Andresen
    Have you tried Kodi coz only in Kodi i have problems with that image now im on the same image than you so im try to figger out whats wrong inside Kodi .Have you tried any benchmark ?

  12. @jan-ivar Andresen the fault i found in Kodi was in every darkblue og dark side it looks like there were not enough power in the powersupply or the powerregulater inside Rbox couldt manage so much power so i went back to original firmware again again

  13. Hi there must be problem Kodi 17 beta when I have the best picture I’ve seen with this new software CSA93 Q6330 07/11-2016 Netflix, Showbox etc.
    has not tested Kodi yet.

  14. Hello,

    I need some expert advise.

    I have updated the firmware with usb burning tool. I have the correct a-a usb cable and already updated the box twice succesfully.

    But now the box never rebooted.

    Problems are:

    Pc does not recognise the r-box (have used all burning tool versions and usb drivers)
    The sd card method (with the reset button pressed than power on) does NOT work (i have used all
    image files from the first to the last and also all burncardmaker programs)

    So what is next ? Is there any other way to burn (or replace) the firmware on this box ?

    Please advise.

    I have read on a forum that a recovery image could maybe be succesfull. Is somebody here who has this recovery image file for this device ?. I tried the unpack the images for the r-box but without succes.

  15. @theo

    Hi I have the same problem as you i used the latest firmware from Shomari 29/11/2016 firmware
    Box is not run now and usb port not work

  16. Hi, I need help, My R-box working properly but after a few hours begins problem with sound: Echo and noise for 3-5 minutes after it works normal until next time
    I tried some of players and various sound sources and the same problem exists

  17. I check heat of CPU its 42-45 . I think is normal and sound problem have other reason .May be anyone know what could be done?

  18. I purchased a month ago R-BOX Pro Amlogic S912 Octa Core 3G / 16G Android 6.0 Marshmallow
    From http://www.geekbuying.com/
    The device works fine, but I have a problem with sound: No matter which player and a source of sound – or youtube film or TV, every two hours sound goes wrong, appears Echo and noise for 3-4 minutes and then returns to normalcy and each time it comes back
    Is there something to do with it

  19. @Vlad

    Have you spoken to geekbuying over your problem?

    I recall there have been several firmware update for this box. This from back in October aml_s912_q6330-R-BOX_PRO-ota_v0-20160819_mac

  20. Hello all. First post here, but do not buy an R-BOX Pro if you expect to use KODI for HDR10 and/or Dolby Vision. However, it may be a value if you don’t have a older generation 4K TV that doesn’t suport these latest standards.

    Forget about Kodi 17rc/16.1 supporting HDR10 and Dolby Vision to a TV because of the Amlogic S912. In fact, avoid this chipset if you are serious about 4K streaming through KODI, as there is NO LibreELEC Kodi support (4K SUHD HDR10/ Dolby Vision Kodi dream build), which is required for the proper pass through.

    I made a big mistake buying this, and also had a bad customer service experience at geekBuying.com, but that’s another story. If you bought an R-BOX Pro, to get the most of it, uninstall the buggy Kodi beta, and download SPMC 16.5x, as at least it sees you have a 4K TV, unlike Kodi 17 RC3.. Again, avoid Amlogic S912 boxes if you have a newer SUHD 4K TV that supports HDR10 and/or Dolby Vision. I spent good money to get an OLED set that had both, only to be limited by the R-BOX Pro.

    Oh, and did I mention the lack of manufacturer support? No official forum, horrible record of people searching for firmware all over the internet with little success. And the wireless update on the device hasn’t found any firmware update since November 18, 2016. They certainly have a lot to do if they are going to release firmware that allows KODI content to pass not just as 4K, but HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

    Regards,
    Janx

  21. Kodi works great for me. I don’t have a 4k TV so I don’t care about all the 4k crap. Only I can’t get to work is YouTube. YouTube app from the playstore won’t play videos. It just keeps showing the round loading circle and never loads the videos. Same thing when I go into the google chrome browser and load YouTube, videos still won’t play. The YouTube app that came preloaded with the device works fine, but I would prefer the official google YouTube app. Any suggestions on how I could get this to work?

  22. @Ed Janx
    @Blamm
    Everybody has different requirements and equipment with TV boxes, so one that can work well for one person, may be a disaster for another. With regards to HDR, the technology is quite new, and don’t know the status on Amlogic S912, but I would not be surprised if it would work with some HDR TVs, but not others.

  23. Hi guys .
    The box support is bad. But if you make your own firmware the box run fine )
    Thx for great infos to make my own german coustem firmware rom.

  24. @Ed Janx
    I have a s912 Soc. Alfawise s92 and have had at least two OTA updates, I still use official software, while some use a ROM custom firmware produced by FT Developer Superceleron. Never used it but seen it mentioned on Freaktab.

    Try Kodi, Spmc, or lightweight Kodi version CEMC by SP Programming, off Google play.

  25. I am stuck in restricted mode. How do I disable it? I can’t click on security and restrictions and there is no option to enter pin code.

  26. How does it (H96 Pro+) compare to Beelink GT1 Ultimate? I mean build and cooling solution’s quality.

  27. Thanks for your quick response, cnxsoft.

    Already tried option 1: i just keep getting the BaiduNetDisk. Option 2: very exotic in my opinion, and I have no Linux distro up and running. Also tried with JDownloader, but i can’t get a valid link, just Java-script (void).

    A mirrored file on Mega (for example) will do the trick.

  28. Thanks for your efforts, cnxsoft, it’s on my Mega drive now.

    For all of of you who own a R-Box Pro 3G with q9377 board: this image (and the previous one, 20170420) can be installed on your device. It will give you a nice Android 7.1.1 tvbox/android mini-pc.

    LED-buttons won’t work (on 20170420) and the issues with usenet (download) decoding remain, also on 20170420. I just installed the 20170424 version (has a new start screen) and have to do some testing with it. I will get back on it later.

  29. @CurvedAir
    My R BOX PRO is with q9377 board.
    I flashed 20170424 today you mentioned, it seems like everything is OK & stable
    But i didn’t test kodi due to there’ no good plug well in my country.
    Thanks for your sharing.

  30. Already got the KDMC version on my box, but video playback is still jerky. Maybe I’ll try the XGO version later, but I don’t expect much difference.

    @ Rynax: I suppose KDMC and XGO are the same Android firmware (7.1.1), but with different versions of Kodi.

    For now, I think the hardware is fine, but the firmware still needs some tuning. At this moment in time, video an audio playback works better on my old WD TVLive media player.

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