NVIDIA SHIELD Set-top Powered by Tegra X1 Specs and Impressions

Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Finally, a SHIELD Console

NVIDIA is filling out the family of the SHIELD brand today with the announcement of SHIELD, a set-top box powered by the Tegra X1 processor. SHIELD will run Android TV and act as a game playing, multimedia watching, GRID streaming device. Selling for $199 and available in May of this year, there is a lot to discuss.

Odd naming scheme aside, the SHIELD looks to be an impressive little device, sitting on your home theater or desk and bringing a ton of connectivity and performance to your TV. Running Android TV means the SHIELD will have access to the entire library of Google Play media including music, movies and apps. SHIELD supports 4K video playback at 60 Hz thanks to an HDMI 2.0 connection and fully supports H.265/HEVC decode thanks to Tegra X1 processor.

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Here is a full breakdown of the device's specifications.

  NVIDIA SHIELD Specifications
Processor NVIDIA® Tegra® X1 processor with 256-core Maxwell™ GPU with 3GB RAM
Video Features 4K Ultra-HD Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps (VP9, H265, H264)
Audio 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound pass through over HDMI
High-resolution audio playback up to 24-bit/192kHz over HDMI and USB
High-resolution audio upsample to 24-bit/192hHz over USB
Storage 16 GB
Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.1/BLE
Interfaces Gigabit Ethernet
HDMI 2.0
Two USB 3.0 (Type A)
Micro-USB 2.0
MicroSD slot (supports 128GB cards)
IR Receiver (compatible with Logitech Harmony)
Gaming Features NVIDIA GRID™ streaming service
NVIDIA GameStream™
SW Updates SHIELD software upgrades directly from NVIDIA
Power 40W power adapter
Weight and Size Weight: 23oz / 654g
Height: 5.1in / 130mm
Width: 8.3in / 210mm
Depth: 1.0in / 25mm
OS Android TV™, Google Cast™ Ready
Bundled Apps PLEX
NVIDIA SHIELD controller
HDMI cable (High Speed), USB cable (Micro-USB to USB)
Power adapter (Includes plugs for North America, Europe, UK)
Requirements TV with HDMI input, Internet access
Options SHIELD controller, SHIELD remove, SHIELD stand

Obviously the most important feature is the Tegra X1 SoC, built on an 8-core 64-bit ARM processor and a 256 CUDA Core Maxwell architecture GPU. This gives the SHIELD set-top more performance than basically any other mobile part on the market, and demos showing Doom 3 and Crysis 3 running natively on the hardware drive the point home. With integrated HEVC decode support the console is the first Android TV device to offer the support for 4K video content at 60 FPS.

Even though storage is only coming in at 16GB, the inclusion of an MicroSD card slot enabled expansion to as much as 128GB more for content and local games.

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The first choice for networking will be the Gigabit Ethernet port, but the 2x2 dual-band 802.11ac wireless controller means that even those of us that don't have hardwired Internet going to our TV will be able to utilize all the performance and features of SHIELD.

Continue reading our preview of the NVIDIA SHIELD set-top box!!

Display connectivity is limited to HDMI - though it is HDMI 2.0 so you get support for HDCP 2.2 and 4K@60Hz panels. A pair of USB 3.0 ports allow for external device connections and the micro-USB port will let you side-load content from your laptop or PC, for example.

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For fans of the Logitech Harmony remotes - good news! The SHIELD includes an IR receiver on the front of it allowing for control through the very popular home theater universal remote systems. I'm curious how much of the usability is lost with that move though, especially with older remote models (which I own).

The operating system is Android TV which is currently in the Lollipop (Android 5.0.x) iteration, and you can expect frequent updates thanks to NVIDIA's direct control over upgrades. Users of SHIELD Portables and SHIELD Tablets will agree that NVIDIA tends to be very quick in that regard. The inclusion of PLEX means that you will be able to integrate the SHIELD with your media library if you have that configuration already running in your network.

Included with the SHIELD will be a SHIELD Controller, the same that was released with the SHIELD Tablet last year. You'll have to pay a little extra to get the remote controller and the vertical stand accessories.

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Probably the biggest focus from NVIDIA with the SHIELD is the inclusion of support for GRID and local network game streaming. Information and pricing about the final GRID product line was finally announced, including a GRID (720p) and GRID+ (1080p) streaming option that offers low-latency game streaming to your set-top box. In an interesting twist, if you buy a game on GRID you will also get a Steam key for that same game to use on your PC, a benefit that other players like OnLive were never able to offer. Yes, native Android games will still be more responsive, as will local network game streaming, but the flexibility offered by GRID is genuinely interesting, at least on the surface. We'll need to spend some time with it on our Gigabit fiber at the office very soon!

I spent some time with the new NVIDIA SHIELD yesterday and the hardware is both impressive in its build quality and its implementation. Here are some of my random thoughts and information.

  • Voice control of the device, either with the remote of the controller, works great thanks o the Google Now voice recognition. You can browse media, load applications, etc. and it seems genuinely useful.
  • You can now support up to 4 of the SHIELD Controllers at the same time, a first for a SHIELD device. Bring on those coach co-op multiplayer titles!
  • You'll find the new SHIELD selling in the same locations as the SHIELD Tablet, etc. Think Newegg,, etc.
  • NVIDIA told me that the device uses 2 watts when idle and 5-15 watts when active. A 2 watt idle level is high for a tablet obviously but since this is not a battery operated device, that isn't an issue. And, running a game like Doom 3 at 15 watts is pretty awesome.
  • NVIDIA is bringing web cam support in a future update so you can use Skype/Hangouts and your SHIELD for video calls if you want.
  • streaming will be supported as well with the SHIELD. You'll need that web cam update to get your ugly mug included in the mix though.
  • The hardware looks good and the green glow gives the design an edge. Hopefully NVIDIA will offer a setting to disable that green light though for users that are sensitive to it.
  • Doom 3 played very well as a native OpenGL application and though I couldn't get hands-on, Crysis 3 lookd equally good. We are still concerned about developers drive to get games running on high-end Android consoles like this on their own, without work from NVIDIA, as that is what will be required to make that work in the long run.
  • NVIDIA should have included both the controller and the remote in the box with this. That's kind of dumb.

I was able to run a handful of benchmarks on the SHIELD and Tegra X1 processor and the results are dominantly in favor of NVIDIA's new baby.

  • 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
  • Overall Score
    • SHIELD (Tegra X1): 42,406 (+42%)
    • SHIELD Tablet (Tegra K1): 29,668
    • iPad Air 2 (Apple A8X): 21,541
  • Graphics Score
    • SHIELD (Tegra X1): 56,179 (+47%)
    • SHIELD Tablet (Tegra K1): 37,983
    • iPad Air 2 (Apple A8X): 31,419
  • Physics Score
    • SHIELD (Tegra X1): 22,823 (+15%)
    • SHIELD Tablet (Tegra K1): 19,837
    • iPad Air 2 (Apple A8X): 10,256

Clearly the Tegra X1 processor is not lacking in the GPU department - it bests the Tegra K1 by more than 45% in our quick testing. The 8-core CPU based on a big.LITTLE Cortex-A57/A53 is faster, but not substantially, than the previous flagship NVIDIA SoC.

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On the surface, the SHIELD is a high performance Android TV set-top box with the emphasis and focus on gaming. The real question will be if the market can stand the $199 price tag (steep, considering the competition) and if the GRID game streaming will live up to the expectations placd upon it. I'll have more in the coming weeks and expect a full review with the May release.

Video News

March 3, 2015 | 11:45 PM - Posted by juaney (not verified)

pc gaming for moms! nuf said

March 3, 2015 | 11:47 PM - Posted by Branthog

I tuned in 20m late. Did I miss the part where they talked about video cards? Or was it just non-stop presentations of this dead on arrival streaming (great idea, but I already have a 2,000 game Steam library, so no thanks) and SHIELD stuff?

I mean, the stuff was neat, I guess. Just . . . well, you can just kind of tell when something isn't going nowhere because of the market (not necessarily the quality of the product).

March 5, 2015 | 01:41 PM - Posted by Philmoeslim (not verified)

I want one specifically because I have a huge steam library but it is a pain in the butt to move my computer to a different tv to play. So I can plug this into my tv in my room and play my steam games on it. And I can stream 4k from my pc, nuf said.

March 4, 2015 | 12:02 AM - Posted by zgradt

I'll hold judgement until I see the Ouya 2 specs.

March 4, 2015 | 08:30 AM - Posted by alkarnur

"Ouya"! Oh my sides!

March 4, 2015 | 12:03 AM - Posted by Martin Trautvetter

I just don't see the market for a 200 dollar media and game streaming box.

But I guess when you can't find partners to employ your fancy chips, these sort of ego-projects are what you're left with.

March 4, 2015 | 12:57 AM - Posted by arbiter

Think of it this way, Instead of paying to upgrade you PC for games, you buy this and use nvidia grid for low price and can play all games no problem.

March 4, 2015 | 01:13 AM - Posted by larsoncc

Or use literally any device capable of streaming, including the PC you don't upgrade, or a $60 Winbook tablet, or Chromecast or phone or whatever. If the purpose is game streaming the point is you don't need a GPU in the box. And if the purpose is the GPU for local play, than get one worth having on a device with the ability to store a few games locally.

March 5, 2015 | 01:23 AM - Posted by arbiter

In threoy maybe, but need the power to play 1080@60 smoothly and that is not so easy.

March 4, 2015 | 02:10 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

zero logic in there, you must have a lot of nv stock

March 4, 2015 | 10:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Lots of stock, or a paycheck, or BOTH. The paid Shill is strong in this one, it is.

I'm no looking forward to any cloud except a home based streaming cloud, with the server in the house, and the connections private. Sure there may be some advantages to online stuff, until they start inserting ads, that can not be stripped out of the stream. I can just imagine it: "get great deals on Viagra, just shoot this target with your atomic blaster to find out Now!".

March 4, 2015 | 02:41 AM - Posted by Martin Trautvetter

Thing is, no part of your scenario (however unlikely) requires this device, or the Tegra line entirely, to exist.

Why are they still developing it, then? Nvidia missed the boat on phones. They missed the boat on tablets. They are at a point where their last refuge is developing custom devices around their dud SOCs.

Who wants to take a stab at the price Xiaomi paid for their limited Tegra K1 run? I'm guessing less than the engineering support Nvidia had to provide to develop it.

Tegra is financial insanity.

March 4, 2015 | 03:11 AM - Posted by HeavyG (not verified)

The Tegra portion is still operating at a loss, but they are showing growth year over year. It may take some time, through marketing and product development to find a product that sticks.

They should still diversify. They have control of the majority of the GPU market, have been getting into the portable/mobile market with emphasis on graphics and gaming, and they have shaken up the display market with Gsync. Some of these products may be huge wins, some may be failures, but they have to diversify.

Either way, the company is doing great, financially speaking. They can afford to have some products fail.

March 4, 2015 | 12:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

When AMD gets its K12 custom microarchitecture ARMv8A ISA running APUs in 2016, Nvidia better have all of the Denver core's reworking done. Jim Keller's team is doing much work towards getting AMD some very powerful custom microarchitectural engineering IP into AMD's custom ARM based APUs, so this does not give Nvidia much more time to vacillate. AMD's Keller has mentioned many times that there is a lot of cross pollination of Ideas among the K12(ARM) and Zen(x86) engineering teams. Nvidia is relatively new to the custom SOC design market, AMD has much more time in this side of the market, even Apple needs to keep a watch out for any of Keller's projects. The entire market of ARM based makers(Custom, and Reference based) needs to keep an eye on Imagination technologies MIPS base line, there are options for SMT on some of the RISC MIPS products/designs, and there are new SOCs MIPS/PowerVR designs that will be available targeting the same types of systems/platforms. Get your Linux/Linux based driver/graphics APIs Ducks in order all SOC makers, things are beginning to heat up!

March 4, 2015 | 06:43 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

AMD's K12 is hitting quite a bit higher power target than nVidia's current stuff, aimed at desktops and notebooks.

Otherwise I agree, Denver was not such a big hit, and using stock ARM cores does not differentiate nVidia on CPU side from MediaTek/Rockchip.

March 4, 2015 | 12:10 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Have fun with your latency filled games while using Grid! but oh wait, it has Nvidia's name on it, then that latency has to be good for me, right?

I want you to follow your own advice and get one of these devices, then get a 4k tv, NEVER UPGRADE YOUR HARDWARE EVER AGAIN BECAUSE YOU WILL BE ENJOYING YOUR NVIDIA GRID LATENCY GAMING EXPERIENCE!

March 5, 2015 | 01:43 PM - Posted by Philmoeslim (not verified)

I stream my games from my desktop in my living room to my tv in my room using my laptop sometimes and i never get lag...

March 5, 2015 | 02:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Game streaming is to nVidia's server. Unless the server is physically located at your ISP, the input lag will make anything requiring reaction time ... at the very least difficult to play.

March 5, 2015 | 04:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

OK everybody is focusing on grid streaming and fine I except that most ppl will experience some lag; but since the shield handheld they've given us in home steaming with our gaming pcs ,as long as you have an Nvdia card in your rig. i can see this now I'll buy this and just keep upgrading my PC never will i buy another console again.

March 4, 2015 | 12:10 AM - Posted by larsoncc

16GB... Holy crap. That's hilarious. I must've missed that during the presentation. So, you can spend $30 to get 64GB more, which makes the system have 1/2 the storage of a PS3 - at $70 more.

And heck, the PS3 plays 3D Blu Rays.

The Ice Storm Unlimited numbers place it in the low end laptop range (Intel IGP), right? So this runs at 15 watts but it's not actually portable.

I'm sure it'll sell to someone, I'm just trying to understand the market for it.

March 4, 2015 | 12:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So much for local storage 16GB.

They should have called it Nvidia Shield X1 required GRID service $$$ set-top box.

March 4, 2015 | 12:50 AM - Posted by larsoncc

BTW - Kotaku just called this "one of the worst press conferences in living memory." You folks' write ups are positively glowing with enthusiasm relative to others in the media.

Didn't you take polls during the conference measuring 75% - 85% negative / uninterested? Ouch.

I was really hoping for some positive PC news out of this Presser. What a bummer. NVidia delivered a walled garden of a service, on top of a proprietary chipset, in a box with no hope for expandability or customization, requiring a 5 year R&D effort.

Change gaming forever... Not the way PC gamers want, I think. And that's in addition to the product missing the mark.

March 4, 2015 | 01:53 AM - Posted by pdjblum

Awesome prose in the third paragraph. I don't give a shit what anyone else says about it, your summary was too beautiful to dismiss.

March 4, 2015 | 09:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

NVIDIA just got 360 nosc0pd!

March 4, 2015 | 01:15 AM - Posted by Ophelos

All these kinda products are just major rip offs of the Phantom Console that was ment to come out back in 2004. So Nvidia welcome to what should have been in over 11 years ago.

March 4, 2015 | 02:51 AM - Posted by HeavyG (not verified)

Except the shield devices simply work well for what they do. The controllers are of the highest grade, and the hardware build quality is top notch. You can either look at it as a rip off, reinvention, or a polishing of a similar product. If Nvidia 1) makes a high quality product and 2) has a market for it, then I say you can't really knock them for it.

March 4, 2015 | 02:16 PM - Posted by Shortwave (not verified)

The 5 rma's I had to deal with in three months beg to differ. I had to tuck my tail between my legs and give up.

Needless to say I stopped buying 4 nvidia gpu's a month now.

I even begged to take a loss and take a portable instead.
They're hardly english speaking copy paste support couldn't compute.
And I even got stuck with hidden fedex fee's weeks later after having to shell out gas money each trip to rma.

In the end of the day it cost me over 500 dollars.

March 4, 2015 | 02:21 AM - Posted by JohnGR

It will probably be very successful with... fanboys, like every Shield device until today. Everybody else will use a smart TV, or a android USB stick that costs 1/5 of the price, in combination with an HTPC, an Xbox One, or a PS4.

March 4, 2015 | 02:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Remember this quote

The answer is no, it does NOT require NVIDIA technology on the decode side and in fact NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsen Huang said "just about any decent H.264 decoder will work."

Just about any tablet will do then.

Who is actually providing the gaming service?

March 4, 2015 | 02:18 PM - Posted by Shortwave (not verified)

Nvidia does, thankfully tons of new more open solutions will be coming out fast. If you're into that anywho.

March 4, 2015 | 02:47 AM - Posted by HeavyG (not verified)

I have two Shield products, both the portable and the tablet. I really enjoy both devices. The portable is one of the best travel companions I have ever owned, and the Tablet just just simply top notch (although a bit more expensive).

I don't think their products are for everyone. Being a PC Gamer with two GTX 980s sitting in my rig, it is hard for me to want to game on ANYTHING but that when I am at home, but once I hit the road, that is a different story.

I do like the idea of having a dedicated set top box in my bedroom that can stream games and media from other devices. This might make sense to some people that just want a $200 solution to add a low power foot print device in a room without a gaming/media device.

March 4, 2015 | 02:56 AM - Posted by Ophelos

Also i would get Onlive over this thing, they got a much larger supported games list.

March 4, 2015 | 03:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Those 3dmark benchmarks are very misleading as the A8x chip runs at a way lower power usage. Heck this thing uses a 40 watt adapter. No wonder it has almost zero presence in the mobile space.

March 4, 2015 | 02:19 PM - Posted by Shortwave (not verified)

There charts were hilarious to look at.

March 4, 2015 | 05:28 AM - Posted by Shortwave (not verified)

Everything about this is misleading and already dated. It ran the easiest to render mp level with two players and the frames were so bad they had to melee each other to death and it took like 20 tries.

Cherry trail is what this wishes to be.

PS thanks for tricking shield tab owners into being beta testers.
The five I had to go through before giving up will likely remain my most regretful an wasteful purchase of my entire life.

Total douches.
Please don't support this criminal company any longer PCper.
I know you have families to feed but if you continue to back these goons the damage to your name may stick.

I feel very bad for those team nvidia d00ds... Everyone could see how painful it was for them to smile and pretend they care, it was doritos all over again...

March 4, 2015 | 06:20 AM - Posted by praack

snnnnzxzz - huh? press conference over? ok - sorry - fell asleep there......

the whole" it supports 4k" thing yet you still need to buy a 4 K TV size display sort of sunk it for me.....

March 4, 2015 | 07:25 AM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

Features are nice but I just don't know why I would pay $200 when something half the price offers all the features.

March 4, 2015 | 07:58 AM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

The android playstore for these x64 devices is almost non existent...only a handful of aps

The plex app requires you to buy plex pass, which is a ripoff.

March 4, 2015 | 09:19 AM - Posted by alkarnur

Nvidia needs to stop skating to where the puck has been, mobile, and start skating to where it will be, VR.

Besides, this Shield console nonsense will not succeed because it's a glorified OUYA except it also locks you into Nvidia's hardware.

What will probably succeed is Steam Machines because those offer greater openness, not less as the Nvidia Shield does.

March 4, 2015 | 10:45 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Is that opening a fan intake/exhaust or is it passively cooled?
Is the bootloader locked?

March 4, 2015 | 02:21 PM - Posted by Shortwave (not verified)

If they learned anything from tab beta testers..
A fan. But I doubt they learned anything.

March 4, 2015 | 11:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Jen-Hsen Huang has got Ad slinger aspirations written all over both of his Two faces! That and a little off of the top of the action on each gaming purchase/transaction, among other future vendor/ecosystem lock-ins and milking.

March 4, 2015 | 11:52 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

When I predicted and then saw this device, my initial reaction was "meh".

The only feature that I'm interested in is the game streaming and even then only from my local pc. GRID cloud gaming? lol,no thanks to latency! Until internet infrastructure is good enough to support latency free cloud gaming, and/or there is a Grid farm close enough to where someone lives, then cloud gaming just isn't an option. Even the Nvidia name can't make that problem seem less than what it really is.
video streaming apps and 4k video streaming? again - 'meh'. I've watched 4k videos on a 4k tv, while it is nice looking, it just isn't that impressive to me. The jump from SD to 1080? HUGE IMPROVEMENT! 1080 to 4k? it's better, but nothing to the point where I JUST HAVE TO RUSH OUT AND buy a new 4k tv, and even then, that new smart tv will have a ton of apps in it, so why need an external device to do that?

I know this next point is preference, but android gaming? 'meh' i play android games while waiting in line or taking a shit-break, but play those on my tv? no thanks

so overall, this new shield device is just too late to the game and just 'meh'

March 4, 2015 | 12:27 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No video perspective? :(

March 4, 2015 | 05:54 PM - Posted by DocACE911 (not verified)

So why get this vs the $49 steam box and a $39 XBOX 360 wirless controller? The steam streaming latency is incredibly low (on ethernet) and hardware encoding (NVIDIA 970) with newest updates pretty damn impressive - even for borderlands 2 like experiences.

So is the GRID thing really going to do it for them? Again, good streaming tech, on an LAN, with Ethernet is IMHO viable. We can see how little overhead is happening (press XBOX button and Y in steam streaming - really impressive).

But for $129 less then a XBOX one, games at best 360 quality, who is buying this over a steam streamer?

I much would rather have a NVIDIA branded "streamer" and maybe more optimzied encoding to beat steam streaming.

Oh well. NVIDIA will sell 10k of these and black friday them at $99.

March 4, 2015 | 09:57 PM - Posted by Kenny (not verified)

How are they installing games natively on this? Is this something a regular consumer can do? And what are the steps?

March 7, 2015 | 02:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"In an interesting twist, if you buy a game on GRID you will also get a Steam key for that same game to use on your PC, a benefit that other players like OnLive were never able to offer."

This statement is incorrect. When OnLive relaunched back in March they introduced a service called CloudLift. On this service you link your Steam account to your OnLive account which allows you to play certain games over the Cloud (as long as OnLive supports them). All game purchases through OnLive's site are now Steam keys that get you a local copy and also allows you to play over the Cloud with a subscription (all save data is synced to your account so you don't lose progress whether you're playing locally or on the Cloud).

March 7, 2015 | 04:35 PM - Posted by TeamShadowXGP

Not worth it!
1. if you have Bad Internet connection
2. Family or friends using your internet (leads for Big latancy & quality drops
3. for $150 more you can get an Xbox or PS4 that has way more power then this
4. having another subscription not good

that is just me thinking because i don't have Money to be Spending on a Device like this
if i manage to save up money i would make sure to make it count!

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