The Wintel Pro CX-W8 is another in the long line of inexpensive "TV boxes" available from various re-sellers. What intrigued me about this particular model was the Intel Z8300 Quad-core processor and the fact that it was running Windows 10 instead of Android. And, of course, the price, which is normally around $90 USD. Having the full Windows Kodi experience at that price point would be pretty nice. With the Wintel Pro CX-W8 you can get it, but only if you're willing to put up with some major quirks and limitations.
The first thing you'll notice about the CX-W8 is the no-frills presentation. My review model arrived in a plain brown box that said nothing but "Wintel Box" in the upper right corner. There's a sticker on the back with a list of specs. I'm not sure if this is a true representation of the retail packaging but it made me feel like I'd just ordered some obscure porn magazines from overseas. Not that I've ever done that. I just heard about it somewhere.
The box itself is very compact. At about 4" square and 3/4" tall the Wintel should tuck nicely under a TV or anywhere you may choose to hide it. I wouldn't recommend hiding it too well, though, due to the amount of heat it produces. While the unit never really got "hot" to the touch it does run a little warmer than I'd normally be comfortable with. That being said, I didn't nee any negative effects as a result so the internals must be protected well enough.
The front of the box sports nothing but a power button. Other reviews have mentioned that the click button has a cheap feel to it but I didn't find it to be unusually clicky or anything. You press it and the box turns on or off. What more could you ask for? It works. The left side contains two USB ports and a MicroSD slot. Around back are the headphone, network, HDMI and power supply ports. The rounded bottom reveals some small holes, assumed to be for ventilation, and small rubber dot feet. It does not appear that you can open the unit and take a look inside. If you were hoping for some photos of the internals I'm sorry to disappoint.
Upon booting the CX-W8 you're greeted with the normal Windows 10 setup screens, in both English and Chinese. Like them or hate them, they are pretty straightforward and should get you set up quickly and easily. It would appear all of the necessary drivers and whatnot are already pre-installed so the entire process shouldn't take but a few minutes. Once you've entered all the necessary details and arrive at the desktop, things take a somewhat startling turn. The copy of Windows 10 supplied by Wintel is not activated. Hopefully you have a spare Windows 10 key or don't mind sailing the high seas in search of Windows Toolkit to activate the install. The resolution was automatically set to match my display, which is 4k. As expected, everything looked nice and crisp but this proved to be both a blessing and curse. More on that later.
The system showed 2gb of RAM. This should be enough for most general tasks but don't expect miracles out of this thing. I was able to watch 1080p YouTube videos without fuss but that was with nothing else running. Open a few tabs and you're likely to see major performance drops due to the RAM limitations.
Now on to the main show, Kodi. The box ran all of my test videos over a wired network connection without issue, including some 4k footage. 4k 60fps seems to be where the Wintel draws the line. That 2gb of RAM just isn't enough to handle both the increased resolution and framerate. There isn't much 60fps 4k content anyway but keep that in mind if it's something you require.
The major issue I had with the CX-W8 was that I could not get Kodi to properly change resolution automatically. Usually, I achieve this by setting "Adjust display refresh rate to match video." With my desktop set to 1920x1080 for normal daily use, this normally changes the res and framerate automatically. For example, if I play a 4k video it changes the display to 4k and then back to 1080p when finished playing. On the Wintel, the resolution refused to change. Because the box automatically set my resolution to 4k, any footage of lesser resolution appeared as a box in the middle of the screen. Of course, I could just change the Windows resolution to 1080p and play them normally, but there seems to be no way of having Kodi do this automatically as usual. I suspect is related to the pre-installed Intel Graphics drivers supplied with the unit.
Speaking of drivers, Wintel warns against making any changes to the Windows install or BIOS settings, since everything has already been pre-configured at the factory. This, in my estimation, is the major downfall of the CX-W8. You can't just go ahead and install your own version of Windows either. You're stuck with the hacked in version they've already installed. As a result, I find all of the benefits of going Windows to be useless here. You're probably better off with the Android version of this box or investing in a more expensive setup that comes with a standard Windows install (or Linux if you're a techy).
THE SECRET WORD: All in all, the Wintel Pro CX-W8 doesn't quite deliver on the promise of having a full Windows 10 TV box. If you're expecting the full Windows 10 desktop experience I'd suggest looking elsewhere. If you intend to use it for basic tasks, such as web browsing, YouTube or Kodi content up to 4k, however, it is certainly a serviceable product at an attractive price point.