Beelink i68 Review: An RK3368-Powered Android 5.1 TV Box

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The Beelink i68 is a new Android 5.1 TV box powered by Rockchip’s newest 64-bit SoC, the RK3368. Capable of 4K playback and H.265 decoding, the Beelink i68 features 2GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage.

I want to say thanks to GearBest for providing a sample for me to review. Use coupon “GB68” via the button below to get the 2Gb model for just $72.99.

Check Price at GearBest

Beelink i68 Technical Specifications

  • Operating System: Android 5.1
  • Chipset: Rockchip RK3368
  • CPU: Octacore Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz
  • GPU:  PowerVR G6110
  • Memory: 1 or 2GB DDR3 (Depending on variant)
  • Internal Storage: 8GB eMMC + Micro SD card slot (up to 64GB)
  • Connectivity:  10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Audio/Video Output: HDMI 2.0, SP-DIF
  • Interfaces: 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x micro USB OTG
  • Power Supply: DC 5V/2A
  • Other: IR Sensor, Power button
  • Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 24mm
  • Weight: 640g

Beelink i68 Demo

What’s in the Box?

Beelink-i68-Box

Beelink have provided a solid set of inclusions inside the box:

  • 1x Beelink i68 TV box
  • 1x Power adapter
  • 1x HDMI cable
  • 1x IR Remote Control
  • 1x Micro USB OTG Cable
  • 1x English instruction manual

Beelink-i68-Inside-The-Box

Beelink i68 Design

The Beelink i68 isn’t about to set the world on fire with its design. It’s a minimalist black square that’s unobtrusive but doesn’t stand out against all the other black square Android players in the market.

Beelink-i68-Front

The back and side of the unit house all of the ports. On the back, from left to right, we have the power button, DC power input, HDMI, Ethernet and optical audio.

Beelink-i68-Back

Moving to the side, there’s a fullsize SD card slot, 2 USB 2.0 ports and a micro USB OTG port. Beelink have also added a couple of small vents to assist with passive cooling.

Beelink-i68-SideThe included remote is basic but does the job. It’s responsive and can power the unit on and off. It’s also got mouse control but only via the directional buttons so it’s not the best experience. I also would have loved to see some media playback controls on there.

Beelink-i68-Remote

Using It

To boot the Beelink i68, you use the power button located  on the back. Booting times are respectable at around 27 seconds, whilst resuming from standby is essentially instant.

On first boot, the resolution was correctly set to 1080p. I did need to fix the overscan in Settings however to get the image to fill the screen.

The Beelink i68 comes with Android 5.1 Lollypop and it’s essentially stock. Android runs really well, with animations feeling smooth and apps loading quickly.

Beelink-i68-Home

There are a couple of preinstalled apps like Netflix and a customised version of Kodi that features some preinstalled addons. Some of these addons were for adult content so I’d recommend you do a bit of a cleanup if you’re getting the unit for your kids. The Google Play store is pre-installed, making it easy to install your favorite apps.

I have to admit I’m disappointed that there’s not a TV-friendly launcher included like we’ve seen on other devices, as these tend to make it far more suitable for TV use than the stock Android launcher.

Beelink-i68-Apps

The Beelink i68 isn’t rooted out of the box so you’ll need to figure out how to root it yourself if you need this functionality.

Overall, the software was pretty stable. I only experienced 1 crash that needed me to reboot the device.

Beelink i68 Media Playback

Media playback was tested using both the preinstalled version of Kodi and MXPlayer downloaded from the Google Play store.

Beelink-i68-Kodi

Video CodecVideo Performance (Kodi)Video Performance (MX Player)
1080p 3D SBS H.264OKOK
1080p 3D ABL H.264OKOK
1080p30 H.264OKOK
1080p High Bitrate H.264OKOK
1080p60 H.264OKOK
720p50 H.264OKOK
1080i50 H.264OKOK
4K H.264OKOK
1080p30 HEVCOKWatchable (Occasional Skipped Frames)
1080p VP8OKOK
720p Hi10pOKOK
1080p Hi10pUnwatchable (Slow Video)Unwatchable (Decoding Issues)
1080p MPEG2OKOK
720P RMVBOKOK
1080p VC1No VideoOK

I was able to play the Sintel Bluray ISO in Kodi without any issues so those of you wanting to play unencrypted Blurays should be covered

Video playback was generally pretty good across the board on the Beelink i68. The usual codecs tripped up the RK3368, namely my 1080p Hi10p sample. However, hardware decoding for this codec is incredibly rare so I can’t be too critical here.

I did experience a rare but occasional skipped frame on my 1080p HEVC sample which caused the video to feel jerky when it happened. It was distracting but the video was still watchable.

External Storage Support

I was able to plug in my USB drive and 2.5″ HDD and play videos without any issues, with both automatically mounting when plugging them in. I really liked that Beelink added a “Safely Remove” button in the notification shade, making it quick and easy to remove connected drives.

Beelink i68 Gaming Performance

To test gaming performance, I installed 2 games,1 2D and 1 3D title:

The Beelink i68 is the first Android TV box I’ve tested using the RK3368.  In their new SoC, Rockchip has opted for a PowerVR G6110 GPU and I was curious to see how it would stand up to other SoC GPUs.

Thankfully, the gaming experience was great. At 1080p, Jetpack Joyride was a pleasure and I didn’t notice any framerate drops. Similar, Beach Buggy Racing on maximum settings was consistently smooth and maintained a solid framerate.Beelink-i68-Beach-Buggy-Racing

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

I was able to pair my iPega PG-9025 Bluetooth controller to the Beelink i68 without any issue and use it to play Beach Buggy Racing.

Beelink i68 Networking Performance

Networking performance was tested using WiFi Speed Test. 100Mb of data is transferred between the device and a PC running the benchmarking server application. This is repeated 3 times for each direction and the average is taken.

Wireless Performance

The Beelink i68’s wireless performance was good, with download and upload speeds of 39.4 and 13.0 Mbps respectively.

Beelink-i68-Wifi

During actual use, I was able to stream 4K and 1080p video samples from an NFS share on my server without noticeable buffering. YouTube also streamed well to the unit via WiFi.

Ethernet Performance

Ethernet performance was close to the specifications, achieving download and upload speeds of 95.5 and 96.2 Mbps respectively.

Beelink-i68-Ethernet

Beelink i68 Android Benchmarks

Antutu 5.7.1

The Beelink i68 scored on 36306 on Antutu 5.7.1.

Beelink-i68-Antutu

Epic Citadel

Epic Citadel achieved 58.8 FPS at the 1080p High Quality setting.

Beelink-i68-Epic-Citadel

3DMark – Ice Storm Extreme

On 3DMark’s Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, the i68 achieved 5096. It’s clear that the PowerVR G6110 isn’t as powerful as the Mali T764 in the RK3288, but how much this impacts gaming depends on the games you play.

Beelink-i68-3DMark-ISE

RAM and Storage (A1 SD Bench)

Internal memory read/write speeds were around 21.7 and 16.3 MB/s respectively. RAM copy speed was one of the fastest I’ve seen to date at 2647 MB/s.

Beelink i68 Power Consumption

Power consumption on the Beelink i68 was pretty good, peaking at just under 6W during benchmarking.

OffStandbyIdleUnder Load
0W0.8W4W5.7W

Should I Get One?

The Beelink i68 is a fairly solid Android TV box. Whilst its design isn’t exciting, it does run the latest version of Android and handled both video playback and gaming well, apart from the occasional glitch during my HEVC sample. At it’s price point, it represents good value as long as you are aware of its flaws.

Getting One

You can purchase the Beelink i68 from GearBest. Use coupon “GB68” via the button below to get the 2Gb model for just $72.99.

Check Price at GearBest

Alternatively, it’s available from Amazon, BanggoodGeekBuying and AliExpress.

Additional Images

7
Beelink i68
The Beelink i68 is a fairly solid Android TV box. The firmware is stable, it runs the latest version of Android and both media playback and gaming were fantastic. I would have loved to see some a TV friendly Android launcher however.

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Wozza
Guest
Wozza

Had this for over a year – not really using it until this week when I found some new firmware (not on beelink website) and flashed it. Now it plays Netflix which it was supposed to from the box. Runs smooth. For some reason after several hours use the gig LAN cable has to be removed and plugged back in to fix a network connectivity issue.

Leslie Young
Guest
Leslie Young

Where did you find the firmware update? I can’t get anything to work anymore. Most of the links seem dead, updates fail & things wont connect to servers, etc.

Wozza
Guest
Wozza

chinagadget reviews blogspot search i68 firmware
they have a link to file on megashare
and you also need the factory tool and driver (for your PC) then connect the box via usb to the OTG port on the i68 (see Freaktab articles for these)

Leslie Young
Guest
Leslie Young

thank you!

SUGARSEYEZ
Guest
SUGARSEYEZ

I have a question. And I hope I can get some replies on this post. I have an i68 android box. I cannot get my TV to operate external speakers with the android unit. The sound will go to the TV speakers only. When I switch to external speakers it is silent. Not even the navigational tools clicking. The picture quality is OK, and the TV sould is medicore. I would really like to hook up sensurround sound but I am now trying to deal with this. And insight/suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Hi Sugarseyez,

You’ll need to connect the i68 up to an amplifier via HDMI or the optical output in order to use a surround sound setup.

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Hi Gluthy,

It depends your setup. There’s no HDMI input so you can’t record that way.

jesakos
Guest
jesakos

on any non-root firmware?

jesakos
Guest
jesakos

i just made OTA update..rk3368_box-user 5.1.1.LMY48Y eng.sz.20160114.145727 release keys the firmware is Rooted? how i can make it unrooted?

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Is SuperSU installed? If so, try using the Full Unroot option

Sandro B.
Guest
Sandro B.

I just want to bring up some issues with Kodi and DTS passthrough when playing 1080p mkv files.
You all can refer here: http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=235305&pid=2103088#pid2103088

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Thanks for sharing.

Uncle Bob
Guest
Uncle Bob

For the 1080p Hi10p test using Kodi, you
can also try it with Hardware decoding turned off. If there is no Hardware
support, then Kodi can do it via software if the CPU can handle the load from
the software. I tested some on a Nexus Platyer and it struggled, an Nvidia
Shield was able to play it smoothly.

Please let us know if Netflix is HD on these Android 5.1 boxes, as this was not possible on the older ones. Good to know if that was the limiting factor.

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Hi,

My 1080p Hi10p sample played back without any artifacts unlike what I saw in MXPlayer, suggesting that Kodi was in fact using software decoding. It was just too slow to be watchable.

Uncle Bob
Guest
Uncle Bob

Hardware decoding will be turned on by default, you would
have had to turn it off intentionally for software decoding to be occurring.

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Hmm… According to the Kodi Wiki, it will automatically use Software decoding for Hi10p: http://kodi.wiki/view/Android_hardware#Common_codecs_currently_without_hardware_decoding_in_Kodi

Uncle Bob
Guest
Uncle Bob

It doesn’t actually say it will use software to decode, it
just says there is no hardware decoding.

My tests on two devices showed massive differences in
playing H.264 Hi10P with Kodi in default (hardware
decoding turned on) and then after I turned it off. The Nexus Player went from barely
playing to playing back poorly, and the Nvidia Shield TV went from playing back
poorly to playing back 100% fine. This conversation led to Koying stating he
will add a specific hardware exclusion for Hi10P so you don’t have to manually
disable hardware decoding, but this is yet to be included as of Kodi 15.1 Maintenance
release.

Home Theatre Life
Guest

I’ll check it out when I have a chance, although I did note that in MXPlayer the video played fine but had decoding artifacts, whilst the image was perfect in Kodi but decoded too slowly.

Dan Danson
Guest
Dan Danson

I got mine from Gearbest. Netflix does not work at all. It shows “Loading” with the swirling red circle animation, and does not get past that when playing back a video. From what I read you need to do a firmware update. This is very bad, because you need to research and be tech savvy to upgrade.

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Hi,

Yep, this was fixed in the latest firmware. Assuming you have to 10/100 Ethernet version, have a look here for the firmware update: http://freaktab.com/forum/tv-player-support/rk3688-devices-aa/beelink-rk3368/519909-i68-tv-box-firmware-update

Dan Danson
Guest
Dan Danson

Thanks!

I have this one with 1Gbit http://www.gearbest.com/tv-box-mini-pc/pp_211700.html

Also, that download link cannot be taken seriously as I don’t understand Chinese, and I don’t want to download some software to get the file. Is there seriously no official, proper download link with English text?

Home Theatre Life
Guest

That’s the official link. I’d contact GearBest and they should be able to provide you a better link or have a quick look on Google to see if there’s some out there.

I’ll be putting up some guides on updating the firmware so stay posted.

Dan Danson
Guest
Dan Danson

Not very professional I’d say. I commented on the youtube channel in the QR code. I would say these kind of products are not suited for amateurs! I also submitted a ticket to Gearbest and said that I will return the unit if Netflix doesn’t work. I as a consumer would assume that it is broken.

Thanks for the review, it was very good by the way :)

Home Theatre Life
Guest

Yeah, I wish they’d use better file hosting than Baidu as you need an account which is ridiculous.

Generally, some of these devices are more suited to technical minded people but more and more companies are implementing OTA updates making it much easier.

Thanks for the feedback on the review. Glad it was useful!

Dan Danson
Guest
Dan Danson

Yeah. So there is no fix for the beelink with gigabit? :(

Home Theatre Life
Guest

There’s a good chance yours is actually 10/100 like mine is and the firmware will work. Apparently the first batch were only 10/100. It happened with the Tronsmart R68 too: http://blog.geekbuying.com/index.php/2015/08/26/how-to-distinguish-gigabit-and-10100-mbps-version-of-r68/

Dan Danson
Guest
Dan Danson

Hm, well that’s not the product I ordered which warrants a return!

Home Theatre Life
Guest

I’d double check first. Mine’s 10/100 but there’s a chance yours is Gigabit. Maybe try doing some Ethernet bandwidth tests?

Dan Danson
Guest
Dan Danson

I will read the serial number when I get back home, and connect it to a NIC which forces 1gbit :)

Dan Danson
Guest
Dan Danson

Only 10/100 it seems like. The switch only indicates 100 mbit, not 1000 The S/N also starts with 3 and no Z3. It indicates as 100 mbit version according to http://blog.geekbuying.com/index.php/2015/08/26/how-to-distinguish-gigabit-and-10100-mbps-version-of-r68/ . Maybe I should return it? Will you return yours?

Home Theatre Life
Guest

I’m going to hold onto mine. Personally, if I wasn’t going to exceed the 100Mbps, I wouldn’t return it. If I was, I’d look at my options.

Also, have a look here for the new firmware: http://freaktab.com/forum/tv-player-support/rk3688-devices-aa/beelink-rk3368/519909-i68-tv-box-firmware-update