Beelink GT1 is the lower cost version of the popular GT1 Ultimate model from the same company. We reviewed the “older” GT1 model with similar specs but Google’s Marshmallow version of Android. A lot have changed since then with the arrival of the Nougat version this unit is equipped with. The remote is different too. Let’s see below how it performs.
Packaging – Specifications
Packaging is nice with all the extras being inside dedicated slots/boxes.
Inside you will find the media box, an HDMI cable, an IR remote, the wall type adaptor and a quick start guide. No batteries are included.
Specifications are pretty much the same with the GT1 Ultimate with the exception of RAM and ROM size.
The Amlogic S912 8-core CPU with Mali T820 GPU still ensures fast processing, 4K (H.265 HEVC decoding )/ HDR compatibility and good 3D performance in games.
2GB of RAM and 16GB or ROM, are the only difference compared to its bigger brother (3GB RAM/32GB ROM).
Connectivity is identical with 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x S/PDIF out, HDMI 2.0 (4K and HDR support) and SD slot (up to 32GB)
For wired network connections an RJ45 with Gigabit LAN is the best available option and the same applies for wireless connections with dual band Wi-Fi AC and BT 4.0.
Android 7.1 is the selected operating system.
Media Player – Remote
The media player is exactly the same with its predecessor. Small, rectangular, black in color with a textured top. The good plastic build was never a concern before for Beelink products and the same applies here too. It does get hot after hours of heavy use (4K decoding, 3D gaming) but nothing to worry about.
1 x USB port and the SD slot are on the side which means that cable management will be required if you want two USB HDDs connected. (Remember that there is still 1 USB port located at the back). If you use a wired LAN, things are much better since all the needed ports will be located at the back (power, HDMI, RJ45).
The remote is “upgraded” and now is the same as the one we saw in GT1 Ultimate. It is made of plastic with a good grip and an easy to learn layout. The range is acceptable and that is also the case for the feel when pressing the keys. A numeric keypad is included as well.
The remote can be programmed (learning mode) with the instructions on how you can do that found on the back.
Menus – Settings
The GT1 model shares the same graphical user interface with its bigger brother.
The main gray theme provides a very pleasant look. Big icons beautifully designed are there for all the popular options and apps (fork of KODI, Play Store, Web browser, File manager and settings) while a very nice clock/weather widget adds a nice touch to the left side.
At some point we do expect from Beelink to use o more modern launcher since this one is starting to look old in comparison to other devices (Android TV boxes, Tanix TX92).
At least the settings menu is the Nougat based one appearing on the right side of the screen adding a more refined experience.
An OTA update system is included and we received one during our tests (make sure you install it since it solved some minor 3D compatibility issues).
We wouldn’t expect the lesser RAM/ROM to have any impact to GT1’s playback capabilities and that was the case during our tests.
As expected, playback of all popular stereo audio files (mp3/FLAC) was an easy task.
KODI was not installed so we chose the latest version from Play Store. UHD 4K/HDR video files had perfect playback, even the ones with higher bitrate. 24p motion was handled nicely and the same applied for 1080p Blu Ray backups/Remuxes.
Auto frame rate switching is not supported which means that you will have to switch it every time manually when the source material has a different frame rate that the one chosen.
Android Nougat brought proper HD Audio pass-through and this one is no different. You will be able to see the DTS:X and ATMOS indicators blinking on your A/V receiver and you will also experience proper stereo down mixing if you connect it directly to your TV set.
Wi-Fi performance was enough for streaming of 1080p material of average bitrate. Make sure you have an equally capable access point/router.
Gaming performance is very good and only intensive 3D titles can cause the frame rate to drop. You will still be fine with the majority of the available titles.
Internal ROM’s performance is just average with ~30mb/sec write speed. Clearly lower than the performance of eMMC’s flash ROM we found in GT1 Ultimate. At least RAM performance appears to be well above average.
The “only” 2GB of RAM installed are still capable for an almost lag-free and enjoyable menu browsing experience of the Nougat operating system.
Nougat is the standard operating system for all new Android TV Boxes. Play Store is pre-installed so that you can install any application you want from Google’s never-ending catalog.
HD Netflix is not supported due to lack of proper licensing. 1080p You-Tube was perfect if that provides any comfort.
Hardcore users will be happy to see that the device arrives pre-rooted with Super user not installed (you can install it manually in no time).
After the first boot you will find ~11GB of free space.
It doesn’t matter that RAM and ROM size are decreased compared to GT1 Ultimate. You lose nothing in the playback capability section. The extra RAM would assist with better multi-tasking and the extra ROM would allow you to install more applications and games, but if you are not a hardcore user, then the Beelink GT1 will perform exactly the same with file playback and casual gaming.
It costs considerably less since with seasonal offers/coupons the GT1 can get as low as 45$/38€ completely eliminating the rest of S912 SoC based competition and providing better performance than the similarly priced S905X based devices. Regular price is only slightly cheaper than the GT1 Ultimate, so look out for offers since for a 10$ difference the Ultimate version is probably preferable.
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