Review | Tronsmart Vega S96 (Amlogic S912) Android TV Box


After a long hiatus, I am returning with Tronsmart’s latest and possibly last offering – the Vega S96 Streamer, based on the powerful octa-core S912 chipset from Amlogic.

My warm thanks goes to Jim at Tronsmart, for providing this latest review sample!

What do we get in the box?


The Tronsmart Vega S96, DC Power adapter with a changeable plug, HDMI 2.0 cable, a User manual, and a Infra-red remote control.

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Looks and design


Tronsmart Vega S96 is based on the same small box as the S95 Vega variants, and so offers quite a simple and elegant design. It’s made of black matte plastic, and contains plenty of ports – USB, Micro-SD, and SPDIF on top of the customary HDMI and power ports.

Specifications


Chipset
 Amlogic S912 Octa Core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU up to 1.5Ghz
GPU ARM Mali-T820MP3 GPU up to 750Mhz (DVFS)
Memory / Storage 2GB DDRIII / 16GB EMMC
LAN 10M/100M/1000M RGMII
Wireless Built in 2.4G/5G Support IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377
Bluetooth 4.0
OS Android 6.0
Video & Audio Output1 * HDMI 2.0, 1 * SPDIF
Power 5V/2A DC Power
Peripheral Interface
  • 1 * HDMI 2.0
  • 1 * SPDIF
  • 3 * High Speed USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 * SD Card
  • 1 * RJ45 LAN Ethernet 10M/100M/1000M
  • 1 * Power DC port
Packing Included
  • 1 * TV Box
  • 1 * IR Remote control
  • 1 * HDMI 2.0 cable
  • 1 * DC Power adapter
  • 1 * User manual

Benchmarks and Testing


All benchmarks have been repeated 3 times and results have been averaged to give a more accurate reading:

Antutu Benchmark


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The Antutu benchmark tests single core performance over multi-core as it is a better indication of the performance of one device over others in most situations. Vega S96 takes 5th place in this test, two places behind another S912 based box (Q912) – which is a little disappointing for a Tronsmart box.

GPU Mark Benchmark


GPU Mark tests 3d gaming performance and also provides a normalized score according to the used screen resolution (for a more accurate result). The test is quite short and should be taken as a supporting result to that of the more serious 3D Mark benchmark. Vega S96 shows strength here and takes 3rd and 4th place in different aspects of this graphic intensive test, staying behind Rockchip based competitors which still shows their advantage when it comes to 3d graphics performance.

A1 SD Benchmark


A1 SD Benchmark tests RAM and flash memory speeds. As can be seen in the provided graphs, RAM is much faster (by a factor of about 40) than flash memory – that is why it’s in smaller amount and is also volatile (does not keep its contents after a reboot). Vega S96 does not do so well in the SD card read/write portions of the test, and get only the 11th place.. However, not all is lost and its RAM copy speeds place it on 3rd place which is quite impressive.

PC Mark Benchmark


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PC Mark is a benchmark that tests several real-world aspects of android devices. Tests such as web browsing, photo editing, writing (copy, cut, paste) and so on. Vega S96 does quite poorly in this test, and gets placed on the 13th spot.. behind other boxes based on the S912 chipset and even behind one which is based on the weaker S905 chipset. I believe that more optimization and work on Tronsmart part may change this status.

3D Mark Benchmark


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3D Mark is a labor intensive 3D animation and gaming Benchmark. It runs a series of 3d heavy game and video animations. Vega S96 surprises here and shows its muscles as it climbs to the 3rd place in total. Very different than what we see in the GPUmark benchmark before.

Video Playback testing (Using KODI)


ResolutionVideo FormatLocal PlaybackNetwork (Wi-Fi/LAN) Playback
720p (1280*720)AVC (High@L4.1)Playing correctlyPlaying correctly*
1080P (1920*1080)AVC (High@L4)Playing correctlyPlaying correctly*
 2160P (3840*2160)HEVC (H.265) – 10BitPlaying correctlyPlaying correctly
4K (4096*2304)AVC (High@L5.1)Playing correctly
Mixed – some fine some stutter
4K TS HEVC filesHEVC (H.265)Playing correctlyMixed – some fine some stutter

* Some stutter was observed while playing some HD content off of local area network. Both over WiFi and Wired connections. Issue has been reported to the manufacturer.

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Network performance


Network performance has been tested using Speedtest.net Internet speed measuring app, in WiFi and in Wired mode. My Internet connection is 500 Mbit Symmetric Fibre connection. Performance is great for WiFi (AC/5Ghz standard is supported), but there is plenty of room for video playback optimization as it does not manifest as well inside Kodi:tronsmart,vega,s96,amlogic,s912,tv box,streamer,review,android,kodi,ultrahd,fullhd,internet,speedtest,network,5Ghz,2.4Ghz

 

Issues and Bugs


  • Occasional Kodi crashes to home screen during playback (about 1-3 times in an hour, but not with all files)
  • No “Shutdown” option (only sleep, and reboot) in shutdown menu
  • No Root option
  • Poor or mixed results for S912 based box
  • Dark picture issue manifests on this box as in some other S912 based boxes
  • Quite annoying and very directional remote control

 

Gaming performance


As usual, I test three games: Angry Birds 2, Asphalt 8 Airborne, and Walking War Robots.

Angry Birds 2, a popular 2d game. game played fine at first, and then would not respond to air mouse buttons.mk22,rikomagic,review,amlogic,s912,android,tv box,games,benchmarks,tests,speed,internet,kodi,4k,fullhd,ultrahd,1080p,720p,angry birds 2,game,gamebench

Asphalt 8 Airborne , intense 3d racing game, video quality and smoothness were mostly fine – but the air mouse did not respond in the game – aside from a button or two, I was unable to navigate.nexbox,a95x,streamer,amlogic,s905x,uhd,4k,review,items,remote,games,asphalt 8 airborne

Walking War Robots – an online 3d robot battle game, video was good and smooth, and game responded well to navigation though cannot shoot (same issue happens with the air mouse inside other boxes).mk22,rikomagic,review,amlogic,s912,android,tv box,games,benchmarks,tests,speed,internet,kodi,4k,fullhd,ultrahd,1080p,720p,war robots,game,gamebench

Vega S96 Conclusions


Vega S96 should and would be a great box, if Tronsmart will continue supporting it and cleaning out bugs as they did with previous models. As it is, it’s still a fast all-around box for a competitive price, but with issues that should not appear in a market leading company’s product.

The crashing issues, as well as the bad remote (I mostly opted to use a air mouse, that’s how bad it was) makes the box a disappointment after previous successful and competitive products that even rivaled the more established Minix.

Various sources report that this is Tronsmart’s swan song when it comes to android TV Boxes. Whether it is due to a saturated and highly competitive market, or switching to other more lucrative venues, it’s a real shame to see Tronsmart end things on such a low note – even with a powerful chipset.

Did I like it? I liked it, but with the crashes issues, and some gaming issues, I cannot fully recommend it till at least some of the issues are resolved.

Would I recommend it? Not until the main issue is addressed. The poor remote and gaming issues aside, crashing mid-playback is simply unacceptable.

I give it…  2.7/5 Stars – Failing marks, with hopes that future updates will correct some if not all the issues found.

So you’d like to buy this box? You can find it for a mere 65 USD right here: Tronsmart Vega S96 Android 6.0 Amlogic S912 4K TV Box 2G16G AC WIFI Bluetooth 1000M LAN KODI

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