Review | Minix U9-H AMLogic S912 Android TV Box

Minix U9-H is Minix’s latest Android offering. Based on Amlogic’s most powerful S912-H SoC, it offers great video quality and good compatibility with Kodi

This review unit was sent to me courtesy of the nice people at Gearbest, so thank you all, and especially Patricia, for the review unit provided.

What’s in the Box?


Minix U9-H comes in the standard classy box embossed with the logos of supported standards such as 4k, HDR, Dolby and so on. Inside we find the TV Box itself encased in soft nylon and laid in a caveat inside a cardboard cover. After we lift that cover we find all the peripherals – HDMI 2.0 cable, Micro-USB and OTG cables as well as the DC power adapter, removable antenna, IR remote control and the Setup guide. U9-H itself uses the (by now) standard black minix matte plastic box with its plethora of ports.

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Looks


Minix box design has not changed over the last few years, making the production process easier, and keeping to the same slick design as ever.

Specifications


ChipsetAmlogic S912-H Octa Core Cortex A53 Processor (64-bit)
GPUMali-820MP3 GPU
Memory / Storage2GB DDR3 (32-bit) / 16GB eMMC 5.0 Storage(MLC)
LANRJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
Wireless802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Dual-Band Wi-fi
Bluetooth4.1 + EDR
OSAndroid Marshmallow 6.0.1
Video OutputHDMI 2.0 (4K/2K 60 FPS)
Audio Output / InputHDMI out, 3.5 mm Headphone Jack, SPDIF (optical), 3.5 mm Microphone Jack
PowerDC 5V / 3A
Peripheral Interface2 * USB Host, 1 * Micro SD card (TF card) reader, 1 * SPDIF, 1 * 3.5mm Headphone Jack, 1 * HDMI(A type Male), 1 * RJ45 LAN Port
Packing Included1 * Neo U9-H 1 * Adapter(DC 5V/3A), 1 * HDMI Cable ,1 * IR Remote Controller,1 * Quick Guide, 1 * Product Brochure

 

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. Minix U9-H performs admirably, and is placed number 3 in the list of TV boxes reviewed (the top place on this chart belongs to a Tablet). It is also worth noting that Minix U9-H is placed above any other Amlogic based box on the list.

 

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. Minix U9-H does not perform as well here as in the previous test and is placed 6th in the measuring of frames per second among the TV Boxes reviewed – below other Amlogic S912 boxes (Himedia A5, Tronsmart S96) as well as Rockchip and Realtek based boxes. It does even worse in the Average and screen normalized score as it manages only 9th place.

 

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). Minix U9-H manages to get 4th place in the RAM Copy Speed test, placing it under two Amlogic S912 based boxes as well as a Rockchip based one. In the storage Read/Write testing, Minix U9-H takes 5th place behind Realtek based box, two Amlogic S905 based boxes (!), and one Rockchip based box. It might indicate that Minix saved some cost on the built-in SD card reader and used a USB 2.0 based one (the Micro-SD card I used is rated at 100 MB/s and under performed in accordance with USB 2.0 speeds).

 

PC Mark Benchmark


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The PC Mark benchmark tests run several productivity tests and the Minix U9-H performed well in all of them, though experienced some screen garbling during some of the photo manipulation tests. It took 3rd place among the TV Boxes under another Amlogic S912 and a Realtek based box.

Here are also the results of the previous Work 1.0 tests, for reference (where it takes the 10th place):

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3D Mark Benchmark


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3D Mark benchmark is considered as one of the best ways to test 3d performance on Android (and other platforms). Minix U9-H takes 4th place behind one Amlogic S912 based box and two Rockchip boxes.

 

Bugs and Issues


  1. Not 100% stable (experienced a few Kodi crashes – less so after Kodi was updated to version 17.61)
  2. Garbled screen during photo filter tests in PCMark Work 2.0 testing
  3. Gaming with the Minix A2 air mouse proved problematic in Asphalt 8 Airborne (steering did not work)

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)Playing correctlyPlaying correctly
4K (4096*2304)AVC (High@L5.1)Playing correctly Mixed (some files Buffer)
4K TS HEVC filesHEVC (H.265) 10BitPlaying correctly Buffering, Audio Loss

Kodi was a bit more troublesome than in other Minix boxes I’ve tested. Partly because of me – I’ve updated it to 17.5 before even testing the version that came pre-installed. It was not a good idea as Kodi was unstable and crashed a few times. However, I managed to resolve this by manually uninstalling Kodi, and installing the latest night build of Kodi 17.61. Kodi proved mostly stable afterwards. Video performance is good, although local network streaming was less than perfect even though the WiFi performance measured very well outside of Kodi.

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Kodi add-ons were more difficult to test since the general state of kodi add-ons is “in the air” these days. However, I’ve tested a few live streaming channels and even though they load a bit slowly – they work quite well.

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Antutu Video Testing got mixed results: On one hand, U9-H played all the videos in the test. But on the other, the transition between video segments was very obvious (not smooth) and as can be seen in the results screenshot, some videos simply did not play properly (jerkiness, slow motion, audio loss and so on).

Network performance


I tested the network performance using the popular Speedtest.net application from the play store. I tested both WiFi (the fastest WiFi supported – in this case 802.11ac), and wired connection (in my case AV1200 Ethernet over power line). My home connection is a synchronous 500 Mb Fiber connection so it would not inhibit the testing (but the Ethernet over power line connection does) – Minix U9-H shows the strength of its MIMO antennas in the excellent WiFi performance, but less so with the LAN over Power-line connection:Minix,U9-H,u9h,neo,amlogic,s912-h,tv box,streamer,review,android,kodi,ultrahd,fullhd,internet,speed,test,ookla

According to the Speed test, the network connection (both wired and wireless) performs quite well. However, Kodi network connection performed less than great when it comes to high bandwidth 4K video.

Gaming performance


Minix U9-H is definitely suited for smooth gaming – as long as you have a proper controller with which to play:

Asphalt 8 Airborne – a 3d graphic intensive racing game. Loads and runs smoothly, though with the Minix A2 Air mouse I was not able to steer..

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Angry Birds 2 – a popular 2d action game. Game loaded fast and run smooth as butter. There is still the issue where it does not allow to click on the blue bird cage, but that seems to be due to a game bug with this and other TV boxes I tested.

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Walking War Robots – an online robot warfare game that requires a game-pad (I don’t have a game-pad). The game loaded relatively fast, run smoothly and fast.

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U9-H Conclusions


Did I like it? Yes. At first boot, U9-H required a series of firmware updates which included several reboots. This box continues getting updates from Minix which is always great.

Would I recommend it? Yes, even though I still believe there can be more optimizations made, Minix seems to take good care of it’s customers over time. Also, a Rooting solution is available so that is a definite plus!

You like it! Where can you buy it? It’s not a cheap box, but for 150 USD you can get it right here, and it includes the A3 Air mouse:

Minix NEO U9 H TV Box

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