We began this site in 2008 as a way to group and index media player products according to 'chipset'.
Modern media and computing products (media boxes / phones / tablets / HTPCs) are built around a single chip, containing the CPU, graphics processor (GPU), audio hardware and all other functions. This type of integrated design is called SoC (System on a Chip), or simply 'chipset'.
All products with the same chipset will have the same core performance and features. There will be some differences in terms of software (firmware) but these will be relatively minimal.
When we started in 2008 we concentrated on the specialist media player chipsets that were prevalent at the time. At around 2012 the market for media players switched to the Android operating system and the chipsets became ARM based. These same ARM chipsets are used in phones and tablets. At the start of 2015 a new breed of HTPC based on SoCs from Intel were launched running Windows, creating a viable alternative to Android.
This site lists all three types of chipset together in one index and has pages explaining chipsets for each category:
This section runs through the common Android chipsets. All products based on a chipset will be generally the same in terms of core performance and features. Click on the chipset name to see a list of all products in our database using that chipset.
We use rough Antutu benchmarks as an indicator of performance.
The Kodi column gives each chipset a rating of poor, average or good for Kodi features+performance. For newer chipsets the rating might change as firmware and/or Kodi are improved.
Ratings are updated regularly (last SEP-2015) and are a factor in the index ranking.
|Amlogic S912||2015 Nov||Octa-core 64bit ARM A53||H.265. 4K60|
|Amlogic S905||2015 Oct||Octa-core 64bit ARM A53||5-core Mali-450||H.265. 4K30|
|Rockchip RK3368||2015 Aug||Octa-core 64bit ARM A53||64-core PowerVR 6110||H.265, 3D ISO, 4K60||Average||39,000||4|
|Allwinner H3||2015 Mar||Quad-core ARM A7||Dual-core Mali-400||4K30||Poor||17,000||3|
|Allwinner A80||2014 Dec||Octa-core ARM A15||64-core PowerVR 6230||4K30||Average||36,000||3|
|Rockchip RK3128||2014 Dec||Quad-core ARM A7||Dual-core Mali-400||Average||16,000||2.5|
|HiSilicon Hi3798M||2014 Dec||Quad-core ARM A7||Quad-core Mali-450||7.1 Audio, 3D ISO, H.265, 4K30||Good||17,000||4|
|Rockchip RK3288||2014 Sep||Quad-core ARM A17||Quad-core Mali-T764||4K60||Average||40,000||3.5|
|Realtek RTD1195||2014 Sep||Dual-core ARM A7||Dual-core Mali-400||7.1 Audio, 3D ISO||Average||12,000||2.5|
|HiSilicon Hi3798C||2014 Oct||Quad-core ARM A9||Octa-core Mali-450||7.1 Audio, 3D ISO, H.265, 4K30||Good||25,000||4|
|Mstar MSO9180D1R||2014 Apr||Quad-core ARM A9||Octa-core Mali-450||HDMI input, recording||Poor||16,000||3.5|
|Amlogic S805||2014 Apr||Quad-core ARM A5||Quad-core Mali-450||H.265. 1080p||Good||17,000||3.5|
|Amlogic S812-H||2014 Nov||Quad-core ARM A9||Octa-core Mali-450||H.265. 4K30||Good||25,000||4|
|Amlogic S802-H||2014 Feb||Quad-core ARM A9||Octa-core Mali-450||4K30||Good||25,000||4|
|Amlogic S802||2014 Feb||Quad-core ARM A9||Octa-core Mali-450||4K30. No hardware 5.1 audio||Good||25,000||3.5|
|HiSilicon Hi3716C||2013 Aug||Dual-core ARM A9||Single-core Mali-400||7.1 HD-Audio. 3D BD-ISO||Poor||5,000||2|
|Allwinner A20||2013 May||Dual-core ARM A7||Dual-core Mali-400||Poor||5,000||2|
|Rockchip RK3188||2013 Apr||Quad-core ARM A9||Quad-core Mali-400||Average||20,000||3|
|Allwinner A31||2013 Feb||Quad-core ARM A5||Dual-core PowerVR SGX544||Poor||12,000||2.5|
|Actions ATM7029||2013 Jan||Quad-core ARM A9||Dual-core Vivante GC1000||Poor||12,000||1|
|Rockchip RK3066||2012 Aug||Dual-core ARM A9||Quad-core Mali-400||Average||9,000||3|
|Amlogic 8726-M6/MX||2012 Jun||Dual-core ARM A9||Quad-core Mali-400||Good||8,500||3.5|
|Allwinner A13||2012 Nov||Single-core ARM A8||Single-core Mali-400||Poor||2,500||2|
|Wondermedia WM8850||2012 Aug||Single-core ARM A9||Single-core Mali-400||Poor||3,000||1|
|Amlogic 8726-M3||2012 Apr||Single-core ARM A9||Single-core Mali-400||Good||3,000||2.5|
|Amlogic 8726-M1||2012 Feb||Single-core ARM A9||Single-core Mali-400||Average||2,000||2|
|Allwinner A10||2011 Nov||Single-core ARM A8||Single-core Mali-400||Poor||2,500||2|
Cortex A53, Cortex A17, Cortex A9, Cortex A8, Cortex A5, Cortex A7? WTF?!
You will often see ARM chipsets advertised as 'Cortex A8' or 'Cortex A9'. All this means is that the main processing part of the chipset uses either the A8 or A9 ARM core. In theory the Cortex A9 core is faster than the A8 but in reality it is not that simple. Other aspects of the chipset design are more important than the ARM core used.
1.5Ghz must be better than 1.2Ghz, right?
Clock speed is important in a chipset's performance but it cannot be used to make reliable comparisons. A quad-core RK3188 chipset running at 1.2Ghz will be many times more powerful than a single core WM8850 chipset running at 1.5Ghz. Manufacturers give misleading information regarding clock speed. Theoretical maximums are often quoted rather than the speed the device actually runs at on the default firmware.
What about the GPU?
The other major factor when looking at ARM based chipsets is the graphics co-processor (GPU). This is more important than the processing core for decoding HD video streams, and is completely separate from it. For GPU intensive apps it is important that the GPU is compatable with the app. So for Kodi you want a GPU supported internally for hardware decoding. Similar for 3D games. You'll need to do some research here for your chipset / app combination.
Which chipset is the best?! That's all I want to know!
Calm yourself. There isn't a 'best', they're all different. See the specific Android chipset listing above for info.
I want Kodi! Which is best for that?
Kodi support in Android is a lot better than it used to be. Most recent boxes will run Kodi capably as long as you're not pushing the boundaries with 4K, HD-Audio, or BD-ISOs. For the widest format support and best performance have a look at the table above. The chipsets rated 'good' are the ones to go for. But.. do your research! The Kodi forum has a hardware section which is a good place to start.
Manufacturing an Android box is actually fairly easy and hence many Chinese manufacturers are now doing it. Beware!, the vast majority of the products you'll find are basically junk. The hardware will be built badly so it will break, the manufacturers have no idea how to get the firmware running properly on the hardware, and the products will lack the legally required European (CE) or American (FCC) safety certification. We recommend sticking with the more well known manufacturers or reputable retailers operating out of your locality.
Android Chipset Links
Actions Semiconductor Wiki
Actions Semiconductor Official
Allwinner Technology Official