If you thought choosing a new AV receiver was hard, wait until you choose a streaming box. Like AV receivers, there are many choices on the market, from ultra-budget to custom-built HTPCs (home theater PC) that can cost thousands. But which one is best for you, and how much do you need to spend to get a good one? In today’s Streaming Box Wars, we put two of the most popular streaming boxes head to head, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro (2019, $199) and the Apple TV 4K (2022, $149). Which will be crowned the winner?
In my Receiver Wars articles, it was easy to use a comparison tool and look at each receiver because it’s an apples-to-apples comparison. But in the case of streaming boxes, different processors, software, and other specs make this a bit more difficult. So for this one, I must get creative and think outside the (streaming) box.
Round 1 – Base Specs
Here is where my creativity is going to get tested.
|NVIDIA Shield TV Pro (2019)
|Apple TV 4K
|Tegra X1+ (64-bit)
|A15 Bionic Chip
|16GB (expandable via USB and network storage)
|WiFi 5, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5
|WiFi 6, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5
|4K60, HDMI 2.0, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HGL
|4K60, HDMI 2.1, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HGL
|Apple Airplay 2
|Yes – customizable, backlit, non-rechargeable with voice
|Yes – non-customizable, rechargeable with voice
Result – Winner – Apple TV 4K
This was a hard one to score. The Apple TV 4K has the latest A15 Bionic chip released in 2021. By comparison, the Tegra X1+ in the NVIDIA Shield was released in Q1 2017. Four years is a SIGNIFICANT difference when it comes to processing power. The benchmarks I used from CPU Monkey show that the A15 smokes the Tegra X1+ in every category.
The Apple TV is the clear winner here. But NVIDIA should be proud. Their 2019 box with a 2017 processor still hangs with the latest kid on the block. Not too shabby! Plus, with external USB support, you can add far more storage to your Shield when compared to the Apple TV 4K. So if you need lots of storage, the Shield still reigns.
Round 2 – Price
The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro (2019) and the Apple TV are considered premium products within the streaming box segment. Until the 2022 model, the Apple TV 4K was priced at $179 for the 32GB model. For 2022, Apple decided to slash prices and add storage. The 2022 model has two pricing models. The entry-level, WiFi-only model has 64GB storage and is $129! The WiFi/Ethernet Apple TV 4K gets a bump to $149 but gets 128GB storage! No brainer there.
The NVIDIA Shield Pro (2019) launched at $199 and has stuck there. Sure, it goes on sale throughout the year (as of July 2022, it’s $169), but $199 is standard, and they are always sold out!
Result – Winner – Apple TV 4K
The Apple TV 4K is the clear winner here. Starting at $129 for the WiFi/64GB version and topping out at $149 for the WiFi/Ethernet/128GB version, it’s $50-70 cheaper than the NVIDIA Shield.
Round 3 – Features
Price is important, but features are where it is at! Most people don’t mind paying a little more if they get enough value for their money. Let’s see how these two stack up against each other!
|NVIDIA Shield Pro
|Apple TV 4K
|NVIDIA GeForce Now, Retro Emulation, SteamLink, App Store
|Apple Arcade, SteamLink, App Store
|Lossless Audio Passthrough
|Yes – Standard
|Frame Rate Matching
|Yes – Beta
|Apple TV 4K
Result – Winner – NVIDIA Shield Pro (2019)
This round is not even close. The NVIDIA Shield Pro (2019) is the Jack Of All Trades and master of em all! There is a reason that the NVIDIA Shield is popular amongst enthusiasts. The lossless audio passthrough allows you to stream Atmos and DTS:X. Plus, if you are like me and have a large, ripped library of movies, you can have your Shield act as a Plex server. I have several 1:1 UHD MKV files that direct play flawlessly on the Shield. As a media server, it’s unparalleled. I have my network storage attached to my Shield and can access my entire ripped library of movies and music anytime.
The NVIDIA Shield can still hang with the Apple TV 4K regarding media capabilities. Not only can it direct play any CODEC you throw at it, including lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The Apple TV only got direct play of Atmos with the 2022 model and still can’t handle lossless DTS:X. While Apple has the most advanced processing, NVIDIA has the most capable.
And while I am not a huge gamer, I enjoy turning my NVIDIA Shield Pro into a retro gaming console with some easy-to-use software. Plus, with the GeForce Now and SteamLink apps, you can connect your cloud gaming to your Shield. But you better have a blazing-fast wired connection for that!
And the Winner Is – Apple TV 4K**
In Streaming Box Wars: Nvidia Shield TV Pro vs. Apple TV 4K, the Apple TV is the winner. But it wasn’t a cakewalk for the winner. Both streaming boxes are extremely capable and deserve their place as premium boxes for enthusiasts. But what solidified it for me was pricing.
When Apple TV 4K maintained a price point similar to the NVIDIA Shield, it was tough not to recommend it. But now, at $129 for the base model, and $149 for the Flagship, Apple is (I can’t believe I am saying this) a bargain. And for someone who wants something to work out of the box and not be complicated, the Apple TV’s TVOS is dead simple.
But because the Apple TV does so many things well and gets a lower price point, I recommend it to those who want one streaming box. Plus, if I am being honest, the 4K Dolby Vision menus look stunning on my OLED!
Who Might Buy the NVIDIA Shield?
But (and there is always a but!) if you want lossless passthrough for Atmos and DTS:X, or want a local Plex server, the Shield is the clear choice. I have an NVIDIA Shield Pro (Plex) and Apple TV 4K in my setup and use both regularly. As a Plex server or player, the Shield is my ONLY choice.
What do you think? Did I get it right? Let us know in the comments below, and let us know what AV receivers you want us to put head to head.
Credit : Source Post