The Tronsmart MK908 is like most movie sequels: take a known success, keep what works, tweak it a bit and put it out there for the world. The MK908 is based on the earlier MK808 design but makes a few very significant upgrades. Are they enough to put it over the top? Read on in our Tronsmart MK908 review.
- Android 4.1 (upgradable to 4.2 currently)
- Cortex A9 RK3188 Quad-Core CPU
- Mali 400 Quad-Core GPU
- Dual heatsink. Dual WiFi antenna
- 2GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB ROM. MicroSD slot available
- Bluetooth v4.0
- Wi-Fi support for 802.11 b/g/n
The MK808 is based on Rockchip’s model RK3066. This was one of the first dual-core Cortex A9 mini-PC’s on the market, and it was very successful. It used a 40nm manufacturing process and allowed for two cores of 1.6Ghz and a graphics processor (GPU) of 250MHz.
Fast forward one year to 2013 and Rockchip brings out the RK3188 chipset. This ups the ante by including a quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex A9 chip. The RK3188 is built using the 28nm manufacturing process and includes support for a 533MHz GPU.
What this means in simple terms is that there is twice as many processing cores and twice the graphics power in the MK908 then there was in the MK808. Double the power. Double the fun.
Before unboxing the Tronsmart MK908, take a moment to look at how nice it looks in its box. It is nice to see manufacturers pay attention to the design of their packaging instead of just throwing the item in a clamshell and calling it a day. Personally, it gives me a little bit more confidence that the product inside is going to be high quality.
The MK908 includes all of the accessories that you’d expect to find: USB cable, HDMI cable, power adapter and OTG/USB cable for power. Setup is very easy, just like the MK808 and most other Android products. Plug the MK908 into the HDMI. Add your keyboard or mouse plug into the USB port. Attach the power and it’s ready for first boot.
The setup for the Tronsmart MK908 is very easy, as you’d expect from an Android mini-pc stick or any other Android device. This unit is running Jelly Bean 4.1.1, but there is an update available that will take you up to Android 4.2. Custom ROM’s are also available which will add the ability to upgrade to Android 4.3.
The Google Play store is loaded by default, so adding apps to the MK908 is simple. The device is already rooted, so it gives you maximum flexibility to load apps straight from the Play store or custom ROMs from your PC.
Wireless has long been a concern on most Android mini-pc sticks. We have heard many users complain of poor Wi-Fi reception once they are out of the same room as the router. Tronsmart helped fix this issue by adding a dual wireless receiver to the MK908. This means that there is much better reception on the MK908 than on previous mini-pc sticks.
Our test unit was able to locate our router and other routers in the vicinity easily. As with any Android device, once connected to a wireless signal, the Google updates started rolling in.
The first thing you notice about the MK908 is that it’s fast. Not just quick to boot up (it is), but the responsiveness is amazing. In previous tests we’ve seen how the mouse response gets progressively worse as more and more apps are installed or live wallpapers are used. Not so with the MK908. Web pages seem to snap and scroll, and the mouse cursor sails across the screen like they would on a desktop PC. It almost made us forget that this was a mini-pc stick and not our PC.
The picture quality is also improved, due again to the improvements in the graphics processor. Resolution is full HD 1080p, as you would expect.
Video streaming is really where the new quad-core processor shines. Where we did our MK808B review earlier, it was good at playing shorter videos (YouTube clips and TV shows), but it tended to skip when streaming higher bit rate movies. The Tronsmart MK908 greatly improves upon those issues. Video playback was smooth on both small videos and long movies, although it still has to buffer very high bit rate videos. However, it has easily the best video playback of any Android mini-PC we’ve tested.
The Tronsmart MK908 is easily the best Android PC stick we’ve reviewed. It is worth repeating: this thing is fast. It made us forget we were running an Android device, which is not an easy thing to do. It had great Wi-Fi reception thanks to the dual antenna. It stayed cool thanks to the dual heatsinks. If you’re running more than a couple applications, or using your mini-PC stick as a media server, then the Tronsmart MK908 is definitely worth picking up.
For more of the best Android PC reviews check out our comprehensive guide!