Review and Guide: HK1 Box

Last updated: 08MAY2021

Today we’re going to check out how to take a cheap Android TV box and set it up as a dedicated gaming device. For less than $50, this machine is the best value you can find for retro gaming on your TV.

Where and how to buy

Today we’re going to test with the HK1 Box, also known as the “Make Up Box” (or “MUB”). There are several models available that can run this same setup, the the most important thing is to buy a box with a supported chipset for EmuELEC. In general, I recommend looking for devices with the S905x3 chipset and with 4GB of RAM. You can usually find them for under $50, and this is the store that I recommend checking out.

If you want to get even greater performance, the most powerful devices that can run EmuELEC will have the S922X chipset. Expect to pay about $100 or more for these device. I recommend the X88 King (4GB model), which can generally be found right at that $100 price rang. You could also splurge on the premier S922X box, the Beelink GT King.

All of these devices are readily available on AliExpress, and with free shipping, but the ship time will take upwards of a month to arrive. If you want faster delivery, and don’t mind paying a bit extra for that convenience, here are some Amazon links:

HK1 Box (MUB)
X88 King
Beelink GT King

Finally, if you’re really looking to get the best TV retro gaming performance, you will want to try out the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro. This device will support smooth Dreamcast and PSP performance, but doesn’t have EmuELEC support. So you will be relegated to Android-based gaming. That being said, this is a powerful 4K TV box in its own rights, so if you’re shopping for something like a Roku box, Fire Stick, or Apple TV, this $200 device and replace those *and* perform as an insanely powerful gaming machine.

How to load EmuELEC on an Android TV box

To start, you will need to determine what type of device you’re actually running. The simplest answer it to check on CoreELEC’s device tree website and see if your device is listed. If so, make note of the device tree name associated with your device. If your device is not listed, look at other devices that have the same chipset, and find the most common device tree listed. For example, the HK1 Box isn’t listed on the website, but similar models running the S905x3 chipset, and they have the device tree named “sm1_s905x3_4g”. We’re going to go with that one.

Note: if you have trouble determining your device’s CPU and RAM information, I recommend installing the Aida64 app on the Android side of your device, which will then show you all the internal specs of your device.

Next, let’s download EmuELEC. Go to the EmuELEC releases page and download the most recent img file named “EmuELEC-Amlogic-ng.aarch64-4.1-Generic.img.gz”. Extract that zip file so that the file is an uncompressed .img file. Using an app like Rufus or Balena Etcher, flash this image to an SD card. I usually use a 128GB SD card, but you could use up to 1TB or beyond if you really wanted. Here are some recommended cards:

128GB cards:
SanDisk Extreme
Samsung EVO Select
Samsung Pro Endurance (more reliable but pricey)
SanDisk Ultra

256GB cards:
Samsung EVO Select
SanDisk Ultra

Once you have flashed the image to your SD card, a bunch of windows will pop up, one for every SD card partition. Just ignore all the warnings asking you to reformat the driver. Find the “EMUELEC” card partition, and within there, find the folder named “device_trees”. Inside, you’ll find a bunch of .dtb files. Find the one that corresponds to your device (remember, we’re using ” sm1_s905x3_4g” in this example), and then rename that file to dtb.img. Put it in the root directory of the EMUELEC card partition.

Start up the Android side of your device and insert the SD card. Download this LibreELEC app and then open it, which will then ask you to reboot into LibreELEC. Select “Aceptar” and you will then be booted into EmuELEC. Follow the prompts to get EmuELEC set up. Once you are in the main menu, you can go ahead and shutdown the system through the main menu, and eject the SD card so that we can load it up with games.

How to load games onto your EmuELEC SD card image

You will need to add your own ROMs (game images) to the SD card. When you plug the SD card into your device, you should see two partitions appear: EmuELEC and EEROMS. In the EEROMS partition you will find all sorts of game folders. Refer to this guide to see which gaming system each folder corresponds to, the required file types, and what emulator will run the games.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to load BIOS files, which are necessary for some systems, like Game Boy Advance, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and Sega CD. Refer to this page for a list of required BIOS files for each platform.

10 thoughts on “Review and Guide: HK1 Box

  1. Hi there,
    I’m new to this and love the look of the box but I was wondering if you could explain how you run the roms prior to installing EMUelec. Are there apps you download through the android store or am I missing something?

    Many thanks

    Mark

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  2. Hey what happened to your channel Retro Game Corps. When I search your for channel it basics doesn’t exist and when I click on your videos through here it says they are private. What happened?

    Like

  3. Hey what happened to your channel Retro Game Corps. When I search for your channel it basically doesn’t exist and when I click on your videos through here it says they are private. What happened?

    Like

  4. My RG3F1P came and I was excited to do the battert mod due to mine, I believe having a defective battery, and right as I was ready to order said battery I was going to watch your review to see if you mentioned any relevant details, only to see you’d privaized your channel. Curious as to why?

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  5. I flashed emuelec on a 64 GB micro SD card and copied the file from device trees and renamed it to the root of the folder ( dtb.IMG ) 4.1 version of emuelec. I used the app libreelec to boot into emuelec but it fails. Please what am I doing wrong!

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  6. I have followed the guide to the letter but when I get to the boot into Emuelec stage I get a pure black screen and nothing happens, any suggestions appreciated.

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  7. The LibreElec app you recommend does not seem to be appearing for me in the google play store. Is there an alternative app?

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