Amlogic S905 vs Rockchip RK3229 - the battle of low cost H.265/HDMI 2.0 SoC's

Amlogic S905 is one of the most popular SoC's at the moment, mostly because of it's 4K @ 60Hz and H.265 capabilities. There are devices on the market that range from $35 to $150, but the SoC was intended to fill a need for low cost Mini PC's.

There's a new SoC on the market that addresses the same market segment: Rockchip RK3229.
Announced at CES 2016, Rockchip RK3229 is now making it's appearance and the first prices are unbelievably low for a H.265-capable device (see below).
In some respects, RK3229 is better than S905 and has a better price, but don't keep your hopes up until someone actually tests these devices.
On paper, RK3229 has some impressive video decoding capabilities for a spectacular price, but the lack of faster connectivity (USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac) might prove to be a troublesome.
One major drawback for RK3229 when compared to Amlogic S905 is the OS - the difference between Android 4.4 and 5.1 is not to be ignored.

So I thought that a comparison between the chipsets is in order.
The results below are based on my tests with the Nexbox N9 Mini PC (RK3229) and the Zidoo X5 (S905).
To make the tests even more relevant, I will update the results if the Zidoo X1-II Mini PC will get better results (review for it coming soon on Mini PC DB).

Amlogic S905 Rockchip RK3229
CPU Quad core Cortex A53 @ 2.02 GHz Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 @ up to 1.5GHz
GPU ARM Mali-450MP ARM Mali-400MP2
Ethernet Gigabit 100 Mbps (PHY)
OS Android 5.1 Android 4.4
Video output HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 1.4/2.2 + CVBS
Video decoding - 4K2K 10-bit H.265 @ 60 fps
- H.264 up to 4K 30 Hz
- 4K2K 10-bit H.265 @ 60 fps (up to 200 Mbps)
- 4K 10-bit H.264 @ 30 fps (up to 250 Mbps)
- 4K 8-bit VP9 @ 30 fps (up to 200 Mbps)
10-bit H.264 (Hi10p) Not supported Supported
Antutu 6.0 ~35000 ~21.000
AnTuTu Video Tester 928 points, 27/30 fully spported 928 points, 27/30 fully spported
Ice Storm Unlimited 7123 points 3114 points
Ice Storm Extreme 4643 points 2219 points
GeekBench3 (Single core) 580 points 352 points
GeekBench3 (Multi core) 1655 points 1153 points

So to answer the "is RK3229 as good as Amlogic S905" question - not quite. Although on the video tests were quite similar (including AnTuTu Video Tester), everything else is in favor of the Amlogic S905 SoC.

H.265 Mini PC's under $50

Here's a list with the cheapest H.265 Mini PC's, all using one of the two SoC's mentioned above.

  logo
  • 8GB
    ROM
  • 1GB
    RAM
  • 5
    GPU
  • 4
    CPU

Ki Plus

  • OS
  • Wi-Fi
  • LAN
    Gbit
  • CHIPSET
    Amlogic S905
  
Rating
4 - 1

Ki Plus

An Amlogic S905 device, Ki Plus Mini PC comes with a IR remote that has a few programmable keys.
It has 4 USB 2.0 ports and the classic 1GB of RAM/8GB ROM combo.

Currently listed for $36.89 on GearBest.

  logo
  • 8GB
    ROM
  • 1GB
    RAM
  • 2
    GPU
  • 4
    CPU

MX Plus II

  • OS
  • Wi-Fi
  • LAN
    100M
  • CHIPSET
    Rockchip RK3299
  
Rating
4 - 1

MX PLUS II

One of the first Rockchip RK3229 Mini Pc's to reach the market, MX PLUS II comes with 1GB of RAM, 8GB ROM, 3 USB 2.0 ports, optical SPDIF and SD card.
Curiously, there were two products with this name on GeekBuying, one with S905 and one with RK3229.

Currently listed for $34.99 on GeekBuying.

  logo
  • 8GB
    ROM
  • 1GB
    RAM
  • 2
    GPU
  • 4
    CPU

MXQ 4K

  • OS
  • Wi-Fi
  • LAN
    100M
  • CHIPSET
    Rockchip RK3299
  
Rating
4 - 1

MXQ-4K

Another recently announced Rockchip RK3229 Mini PC. Comes as an upgrade for the "MXQ" Amlogic S805 Mini PC (same casing, same size).
1GB/8GB combo, IR remote with learning, 4 USB 2.0, 10/100 LAN, AV and SPDIF.

Currently listed for $32.99 on GeekBuying.

Sunvell logo
  • 8GB
    ROM
  • 1GB
    RAM
  • 5
    GPU
  • 4
    CPU

Sunvell T95

  • OS
  • Wi-Fi
  • LAN
    100M
  • CHIPSET
    Amlogic S905
  
Rating
4 - 1

Sunvell T95

We have a small article about this Amlogic S905 Mini PC here, it's alluminum casing and the front LED panel being uncommon in that price range.

Currently at $46 on GearBest

Both Amlogic and RockChip are working on some SoC's aimed at high-end devices and Rockchip RK3399 vs Amlogic S912 will be the subject of one of our future posts.