Beelink GT1 Mini TV Box Complete Review
Beelink GT1 Mini Description
Beelink GT1 Mini is a new budget TV box based on the Android 8 operating system. A lightweight and compact black console will fit into any interior and does not take up much space, it can be placed anywhere. Instead of remote control, an air mouse comes with an attachment (an airplane with a 6-axis gyroscope) that has voice control using Google Assistant. Also, note the extremely low power consumption.
The console uses the latest SoC – the quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 S905X2 SoC plus the Mali-G31MP2 GPU (Dvalin MP2) graphics. A new graphics accelerator markedly increased gaming performance. Declared video decoding in Advanced HEVC, VP9, H.264, as well as support for two dynamic HDR formats – Dolby Vision, HDR10 +. The media player is equipped with 2GB / 4GB DDR4 RAM. There are also two options for data storage: 32GB, 64GB eMMC flash. Memory can be expanded via the microSD card format.
The performance of the wireless network is greatly enhanced by using a 2.4G + 5.8G dual-band 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac module. There is the possibility of a direct cable connection via a Gigabit Ethernet connector. In addition, the Beelink GT1 Mini supports Bluetooth 4.0, conventional control panels and joysticks can be connected to the console.
Beelink GT1 Mini Design & Equipment
Consoles from the company Beelink is easy to recognize among analogs even in the box. In contrast to the budget “Chinese” here do not save on packaging and do not offer products in faceless gray or yellow boxes with the marking model and the lack of technical information. Beelink GT1 Mini is packed in an elegant cardboard box in black and red colors. On top of the image is placed consoles and behind the specifications.
The dimensions of the box itself hint at the compactness of the console (Mini), and inside the manufacturer managed to place all the accessories in a small volume. The Beelink GT1 Mini package bundle is not budgetary, but it doesn’t please with its completeness: set-top box, HDMI cable, remote control (there is a USB adapter under the cover), power supply and user manual in English.
TV set-top box is placed on the palm of your hand (size 77x77x18 mm), the case is made of black plastic with a matte top and glossy edges (prints remain). In the front there is a miniature white LED that is active only during operation. The bottom surface is painted red, equipped with air vents and a pair of strips of adhesive tape for mounting on the wall behind the TV or to the back of the TV.
A set of interfaces is standard for compact consoles, but for 2019 is not enough. On the right side, there are USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, as well as a microSD slot. Immediately, we note that there are not enough two USB ports – one will be immediately occupied by the adapter for the remote, the second by a USB flash drive, and even a banal mouse or keyboard can no longer be connected. A set of connectors at the back is sufficient for comfortable work: HDMI 2.0, 3.5 mm AV output for composite video and stereo audio, Ethernet and power.
Complete HDMI cable of decent quality, but in conjunction with premium QLED or OLED TVs, it is better to use something better. But the disappointment was the remote control. First, for its work, you will need to buy two AAA batteries, and their manufacturer did not consider it necessary to add to the kit. Secondly, the remote control is very simple and flimsy. This is an ODM version of the well-known G10 remote control, which works on IR and RF at 2.4 GHz through a special USB adapter. Of the benefits – a good grip. But a lot of cons. Flat buttons, frequent misses with a blind hit on them with big fingers, inconvenient to manage in Google Chrome. Plus, the back cover has “soft” plastic latches, which can be broken after 2-3 opening sessions. For comfortable control of the console, we recommend purchasing an aero console.
The heart of the console is the SoC Amlogic S905X2 with four Cortex-A53 cores and the new Mali-G31MP2 graphics. The new chipset made it possible to increase productivity by one and a half times in comparison with previous generation models, and this is noticeable not in bare figures, but visually in the process. Actual performance in everyday use corresponds to the Beelink GT1 prefix on the flagship (until recently) Amlogic S912 chipset. But at the same time, the new S905X2 is significantly inferior in terms of graphics.
All consoles on the Amlogic S905X2 have a powerful configuration. There are consoles on the market with 2 or 4 GB of DDR4 RAM and from 16 to 64 GB of flash memory (ROM). We believe that buying a lower version makes no sense. 2 GB of RAM will not be enough to work, and 16 GB – to install all the necessary. In our opinion, the optimal version of Beelink GT1 Mini is 4/32 GB. By the way, the back of the box shows 2/32, 4/64 and 3/32 GB, but in reality, the latter is not available.
On paper, HDMI 2.1 support is claimed, but in reality, the TV box only supports HDMI 2.0b.
Wireless network capabilities of the console are based on the controller Ampak AP6255 – dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n / ac (2.4 GHz + 5.8 GHz). There is also Bluetooth 4.0 and it supports network connectivity via cable over Gigabit Ethernet. Of the formal cons, we note the lack of support for Chromecast and Airplay.
Which buyer are the GT1 Mini and the S905X2 platform designed for? These are massive (but not budget-priced) TV set-top boxes with an emphasis on the consumption of all sorts of online content and undemanding games. In a sense, this is a long-awaited update (or replacement) of the entire bloated 905th line of chipsets.
System and Settings
When powered on, the GT1 mini automatically starts up and a white LED lights up on the front panel. The prefix is turned off with a button on the remote control and this is exactly the complete shutdown without a sleep mode and an active LED.
Smart console Beelink GT1 mini running the operating system Android 8.1. During the weekly test of the console, we were able to upgrade to OTA twice. Frequent updates since April 2019 are not so much fixing bugs as minor improvements of the functionality and it is twice as nice.
The installed launcher cannot be called another bad taste, but he does not cause enthusiasm. This is a proprietary interface with a pair of additional screens on the sides. There are weather widgets, a clock, cleaning RAM, browser icons, a conductor, a media center, an app store, and settings. In the right side of the main screen, you can add icons of favorite applications. It is possible to switch between running applications by double-clicking the “Home” button on the remote control.
The maximum resolution of the interface is limited to Full HD (1920 × 1080). That is, the interface and all applications run from 1920 × 1080 and simply scale to 3840 × 2160 (if you select the maximum resolution in the system). Real 4K Ultra HD can be obtained only in media players and a dozen toys.
There are some applications preinstalled in the TV box and it is not overloaded with useless garbage software. There is a full-fledged Google Play, AppInstaller, Chrome, Voice Search, AppMarket, Update, Bee Music media player and two file managers (standard and more complex with advanced functionality). In the app store in 15 minutes, you can find and install the necessary applications.
The Android settings menu extends from the right side. Localization is 80% complete – Russian or Ukrainian is fully present in the general system and native elements of the basic Android, but the Droid Settings fine tuning menu is not translated. This is where the resolution is configured, there is HDR control and HDR-SDR conversion, as well as features like CEC Control.
A weighty plus of Beelink GT1 mini is the presence of Root access. Many users will like the presence of the status bar above and the hidden navigation bar below. This functionality is especially in demand while working with the mouse, and is found in consoles less and less.
The bundled remote is equipped with a built-in microphone and by pressing the “microphone button”, you start a Google voice search. The recognition is fairly accurate, but in the basic implementation, you will be limited to searching only by Google and will not be able to use the function in applications. This is solved in the new firmware.
From the experience of regular work with consoles on Amlogic S905, S905x, S905W, and analogs from Realtek, it can be stated that the S905X2 will finally provide a normal level of performance for everyday tasks.
In Antutu, Beelink GT1 mini tv boxing scored almost 46,000, which is a little off the top of the S912 consoles (but they play in another league). True, we all know that in real work, it is not “parrots” that are important, but normal firmware and optimization. And with this, Blink is also doing well.
During the test, we have never been able to take more than 2.5 GB of RAM. On average, without launching toys, you will download 1.5-2.2 GB (10-12 programs), and therefore 4 GB of installed RAM will be enough for all tasks. It is clear that the old 2 GB consoles are occasionally lacking, but apart from the savings, it is difficult to explain the purchase of new boxes with a younger configuration.
32 GB of internal memory was enough for us to install all the applications. ROM-memory is fast here and even without measurements acceleration is felt one and a half to two times after the prefixes on the S905 (X) or RK3328. The difference is especially noticeable during the installation of applications.
I was impressed with the speed of work with USB drives – the interface capabilities in terms of reading are used almost to the maximum and you can get 250+ MB / s from a connected SSD disk. But the braked controller for working with memory cards has not been corrected and, like solutions in 2017-2018 consoles, it issues a maximum of 20 MB / s. In fact, you will not get any benefit from microSD cards – their speed indicators are 3-4 times higher than the capabilities of the SD controller, which became the bottleneck.
The prefixes on the S905X2 are likely to solve all the old network performance problems. This conclusion is sent after a long-term acquaintance with the Beelink GT1 mini, as well as a quick test of X96 Max. Wired network – Gigabit Ethernet based on Realtek RTL8211F controller. In combination with a gigabit router, without any problems, they received downloads and returns of 900-940 Mbps, which is enough for any task.
If the very presence of a gigabit network is already the guarantor of normal operation, then problems with Wi-Fi speed have not recently allowed working with 4K UHD content. It seems that these times are over. The GT1 mini console (and many of its competitors) uses an internal antenna and a combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module – Ampak AP6255 (MIMO 1×1). Note that this is not a top solution and some TV boxes on the S905X2 can boast Ampak AP6356S (MIMO 2×2). We tested the work of Beelink GT1 MINI in conjunction with three 802.11ac 2.4 / 5GHz routers: the popular TP-LINK Archer C6, the clever ASUS RT-ACRH17 and the Linksys EA6900 from our last year’s tests. In any case, the work on 5 GHz within one room or through a thin wall allows you to forget about problems even in the situation with 4K UHD Blu-ray and Remux. Archer C6 showed a speed of 140-150, and with expensive models, they even got 170-190 Mbit / s for download. Through the concrete wall and at a distance of 8 meters, the speed drops to 100-120. But when connected via WiFi in the 2.4 GHz band, the results are weak – 45-50 Mbit / s.
The conclusion is simple. If you have an old router (or a budget one), then the Wi-Fi speed will still be missed. But if the router is relatively new and supports 802.11ac and two bands, then the wireless communication channel may become the main one. Even in a situation with regular streaming of heavy content, you will get 100+ Mbit / s in the apartment.
C Bluetooth is no problem – compatible devices connect easily.
Now there is spring outside the window and there is no summer stress temperature indoors, but even without this check, it became clear that the GT1 Mini is one of the coldest and most stable TV boxes. The thing is that the SoC S905X2 is manufactured using 12 nm technology and has a maximum power consumption of just 3.5 watts. In idle mode, the temperature is only 43-45 degrees, and when watching a video rises to 55-60 degrees. Only after a load of 4 hours in a row or the launch of heavy 3D games, the temperature rises to 65-67 degrees. In real everyday tasks like Youtube, IPTV, movies via Kodi – the prefix will be a little warm and no more.
Smart TV Box has been on the market for 5 months and regular firmware updates have solved major problems. The system works stably, which is good news.
Video & Sound Support
If you initially understand the purpose for which you created the Smart TV Box and where you intend to use it, then questions about its shortcomings disappear by themselves.
Prefix Beelink GT1 mini supports all key video formats. Just install MXPlayer or Kodi from the playlist with default settings and codecs and start consuming content. Even Youtube plays videos in 4K. There are almost no problems with viewing video over a network or from a disk, and incidents are possible only with rarely encountered 2160p60 video in H.264. VC-1 and H.264 are supported for 1080p, 4K HDR H.265, VP9 P2, and even 4K 60p (the same Remux from Billy Lynn’s Long Walk). In addition, fans of the dying 3D are not forgotten either – at least you can watch stereo pairs. But MVC in MKV and BD3D ISO images in the Kodi Media Center can only be played in 2D mode.
We checked over 30 files from simple HDRip from a network with 5 Mbit bit rates to Blurs and results in 4K Ultra HD. All mass content is played with a bang, and the question arises involuntarily – what can be checked in six months or a year in new generations of consoles? The limit for this TV box can be only test videos like Jellyfish, and then with a bit rate of 250 Mbit (this video was light friezes after 5 hours of continuous operation) or 350-400 Mbit with a normal check.
The smart set-top box only supports HDR10 (now no box works with Dolby Vision metadata even if the chipset supports something there). Problems on UHD Blu-ray, we have not seen. There is an HDR to SDR conversion for a situation with an old HD or 4K TV, and it works better than on players with Realtek (colors closer to the present).
If we evaluate the overall image quality, then the new VPU (TruLife Gen8) really contains a number of improvements and the GT1 mini deserves an estimate of 8 (or even 8.5 out of 10). The color rendition is better than on consoles based on all old S905 (*) or Rockchip RK3328. We remind you that we take the Oppo UDP-203 Blu-ray player or Panasonic top players as a standard.
The answer to questions that have become “warring” with AFR and the elimination of interlacing – does not work in a box of the box. If you understand what it is about and this is important to you, then be prepared for games with firmware or installing scripts. In particular, the issue of auto-frame for MX Player, YouTube, etc. is solved by a script on all S905X2 consoles. Kodi has its own personal plugin. Deinterlacing works in a pair of SPMC + Amcodec, but an official and alternative firmware improve (for example, we really liked the Android TV build) there are chances to get a good media player.
Owners of AV-receivers and everyone whose system is slightly more than “set-top box + TV” is also an important issue with the output of HD-sound (HD audio passthrough). It’s simple – Beelink GT1 mini only supports Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio over HDMI. For DTS-HD MA and TrueHD 7.1, Dolby Atmos or DTS: X there is no direct audio output over HDMI to Kodi.
Online content, IPTV, games
GT1 mini only supports basic DRM (Google Widevine L3) and does not offer advanced certificates or HDCP. As a result, legal VOD services (Amazon, Netflix, HBO) with 4K HDR, Atmos, and other buns simply cannot work here. You are limited to accessing content with reduced resolution and stereo sound (720p for Google Play Movies HD and 540p for Netflix).
Some films and TV shows can be found through the applications of the Russian-language video services Megogo and IVI. But if you can not view the desired legal content, you will have to look for alternatives
Ideal – online cinema HD Videobox. It is a stable and solution for watching movies online. To play torrents directly, you can use Ace Stream or TorrServe in conjunction with any player. Playback on Full HD content goes smoothly, fast rewind works. There are only problems with UHD Blu-ray / Remux, but it’s unclear whose fault is in minor sticking. For 4K content, a much smaller number of siders is still characteristic and this may be the cause of problems.
To watch TV channels, you can use both torrent-TV services and channel playback using IPTV applications and a playlist from the provider. Working with services like EDEM is identical to all the old consoles and there are no new nuances. In the case of torrent tv, they do not work periodically or lag some channels. And the issue of de-interlacing and auto-frame are relevant here.
The Beelink GT1 Mini has a new GPU Mali-G31MP2 installed, but it will impress only the owners of the old budget boxes. Yes, now the $ 70-80 console allows you to run most Android games and there are no compatibility issues. But playing heavy games is still unrealistic, and in a number of games like PUBG or GTA: San Andreas even small artifacts have met. It is quite possible to play “Tanks” on medium graphics settings, but in some network shooters, it is often better to reduce the settings to the minimum because fps sags.
For the most comfortable game, connect to the console a wireless Bluetooth gamepad. There are no compatibility issues and everything works fine.
Compact body, good build quality;
Good memory configuration, high performance;
Fast work on the network;
Support for modern video formats;
Presence of Root, lower navigation and top panel;
Frequent updates, the best firmware among the models on the S905X2.
Only 2 USB ports;
The quality of the complete remote control.
One and a half dozen consoles on the Amlogic S905X2 can already be found on the market, but it is the Beelink product that has all the chances to be a bestseller and “works well out of the box”. It has the best firmware and really working software updates, which is not the case with OEM consoles. Models like the Mecool KM9, X96 Max or T95Q are also worthy of attention, but lose out in the basic form.
The TV box Beelink GT1 mini pleased us in many ways, but there are a few important changes with the prefixes of 2017-2018. The system performance has increased and, thanks to the cold processor, you can forget about overheating.
You can buy GT1 mini as the first TV Box or upgrade to this model from old consoles for the sake of these improvements, but do not expect any increase in functionality. Before you are a solution for undemanding tasks but on a new element base. Youtube, HDVideobox, AceStream, TorrServe, IPTV, simple toys – here is a “gentleman’s set” for an ordinary user. Alternative firmware and a few hours spent can and solve the problems of auto-frame and the correct operation of voice search, but many useful functions like legal VOD services with 4K content are not meant to be launched here. Perhaps the situation will change by the autumn of 2019 when the updated TV boxes on the S905X2 with the Android TV 9 system will enter the market.