Nvidia Shield devices have always occupied the upper echelon of hybrid streaming and gaming devices. But then comes the dilemma of choosing the redesigned Tube model or the beefier Pro model.
I have had both the newer Shield TV devices at my disposal, and though the disparity between these two devices may not be night and day, they excel and underwhelm in some regards.
To help you decide between Shield TV and Shield Pro, I made this comprehensive guide on the specs, design, price, and features of these two devices.
Nvidia Shield Pro offers boosted specs with an extra GB of RAM and additional storage space over Shield. The Pro model also comes with a couple of USB ports. Nvidia Shield features an all-new design compared to the cyberpunk-esque design of the previous version, which the Pro model retains in this iteration.
Let's now take a closer look at the analysis of Nvidia Shield vs Pro.
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NVIDIA SHIELD TV: Cheaper, Good Nonetheless
With each successive generation of a product lineup, a company strives to bring something new and innovate the existing attributes.
Nvidia, too, has brought forward radical changes in the design department with the new Nvidia Shield TV, aptly called the Tube.
The base model Nvidia Shield TV now features a tube design, redolent of a Toblerone, with its tubular form factor.
The internals, too, has undergone a massive upgrade with the all-new Tegra X1+ CPU, which also features on the Pro model.
Capable of implementing one of Nvidia's coolest features, AI enhancement, the Tube stands head and toe in this regard to the Pro model.
4K streaming, though not perfect, is available on the Tube model along with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
And for the gaming enthusiasts among you, the Nvidia Shield features several AAA titles optimized to work on the Android platform that the Shield devices operate on.
Coming at a price of around $125, the Shield TV Tube is a bargain for all your entertainment needs.
NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro: The Ideal Choice
As with every other electronic gadget in our current day and age, there is always something on offer that's better than the base model of a lineup.
The Shield TV Pro is the upgrade you might want to try before opting for the base model Shield TV.
Retaining the chocolate box model of the previous generation, the Shield TV Pro still regains the awe that the green accents on the device put forward.
Sharing the same Tegra X1+ CPU as its younger sibling, the Shield TV Pro features a 64-bit OS, unlike the 32-bit one on the base model.
Storage, too, has been upgraded on the Pro model with 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage.
Though the storage capacity on the Pro model is more than the base model, it has taken a dip compared to the previous gen Pro lineup, which featured a 500 GB model.
And when it comes to 4K UHD content streaming, the Pro model is the one you want to go for.
Gaming is far better on the Pro model, with minimal jitters and better framerates.
Featuring dual USB ports, the Nvidia Shield Pro is the perfect host for PLEX servers and NAS storage options.
Nvidia Shield TV vs Pro: A Comparison
And now, let's compare the two devices side by side and decide which suits best for you.
Though one may be prompted to assume the Pro model is the one to go for, the base model is virtually the mirror self of the Pro version, save for a few minor (not really!) upgrades.
The aspects that we take into account are the price, the features, the internals, video playback, gaming, design, and the port selection.
Without any further ado, let's start with the price:
Price and What Comes in the Box
While the Shield TV and the Shield Pro vary in quite a few aspects, the price may be the most apparent aspect of disparity.
Here's how much it would cost you to own one of these devices:
|Nvidia Shield TV (Tube)||$125 at Amazon|
|Nvidia Shield Pro||$175 at Amazon|
Launched for $150 for the Tube model and $200 for the Pro version, the devices have experienced a fair bit of depreciation in the past couple of years.
Moreover, these devices frequently go on sale come festive times and holidays.
For the price, you get the device, Pro or Tube, along with the new Shield TV Remote controller in the box.
The Remote now features a new design along with backlit keys. You also get customizable buttons for custom mapping shortcuts of your favorite apps and channels.
Shield TV also offers a gaming controller that has to be purchased separately.
But is it worth it to shell out the extra $50 for the Pro version over the base mode? Let's find out:
Design of the Devices
With the previous version (2017 models), there were no explicit design changes in the models.
Both Nvidia Shield models featured the selfsame design, which has become the cornerstone of Shield devices.
This time though, Nvidia opted for a more compact design for the newer base model Shield TV.
Departing from the rectangular box with green specular highlights, the base version Shield model now adores a cylindrical form factor resembling an elongated prism.
This design is much more compact and can be easily positioned next to the TV.
But this design change has a few drawbacks, specifically, the port selection. More about this later.
The Pro model, however, retains the old stylish design with visibly no changes.
Reasons for such a decision are various, ranging from port selection to heat management.
Nonetheless, either design has attained iconic status within the Nvidia community and the digital world in general.
Verdict: Choose the Shield TV if you prefer a compact streaming device that checks all the marks. The Pro retains the much-adored design of the previous version.
Next up, let's compare the tech specs these device offers.
This is where the real disparity comes into play.
Here's how it goes with the Shield TV and the Shield TV Pro with specs:
|Spec||Nvidia Shield||Nvidia Shield Pro|
|CPU||Tegra X1+||Tegra X1+|
|RAM||2 GB||3 GB|
|Storage||8 GB||16 GB|
And so, it's pretty clear that the Shield Pro is the clear winner in this category.
Even if both devices share the same CPU, the storage and the RAM is clearly boosted on the Pro version.
What does that mean? The Pro version has better load-handling characteristics than the base version, especially with 4K streams and gaming.
But that doesn't label the base version inferior to the Pro model. In fact, they are much more alike to each other than they differ.
For an average joe like you and me, you won't notice much of a difference on either device for day-to-day use.
It is only with the advanced stuff like 4K REMUX file streaming or playing Emulator games on Shield TV that the disparity becomes apparent.
The boosted storage space on the Pro model also makes it an ideal candidate for installing and storing files within the onboard memory.
The extra GB of RAM on the Pro version makes it a bit faster.
Verdict: The Pro version clearly soars over the base model with its boosted specs.
Features On Board
Both the Nvidia Shield models share a pretty similar feature list.
But the Pro version may have a slight edge over the base version with its support for Smarthome features.
Let's take a look at the various features on offer in the Nvidia Shield lineup:
|Feature||NVIDIA SHIELD TV||NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro|
|Dolby Atmos and Vision||✅||✅|
|PLEX server hosting||❌||✅|
|Google Assistant/Alexa||✅ (not as a Hub device)||✅|
One of Nvidia's interesting new features, AI upscaling, is available on either version regardless of the spec variations.
But this provision does come with a caveat.
AI upscaling on the base model Shield TV is limited to 30 FPS, whereas the Pro version support AI upscaling at 60 FPS.
Hence, not all content can be upscaled on the base version.
Other mainstay Nvidia features like GameStream, and GeForce Now is available on both devices.
But I confess, gaming is much smoother and optimized on the Pro version compared to the base model.
Another common feature on these devices is Dolby Atmos and Vision, which in itself is a bargain of a deal for such a price range.
The provision for USB ports on the Pro version makes it an ideal candidate for hosting PLEX servers and double as the hub for all your Smarthome needs.
Support for Samsung's Smartthings is a welcome addition to the Pro model.
Verdict: Even if there isn't much of a disparity between the two models in terms of features, the Pro triumphs yet again.
Video Playback and Gaming
Now the line between the far differences and similarities starts to blur.
Video and gaming performance on Nvidia Shield devices are pretty comparable, save for the hardcore stuff.
Video streaming on popular streaming services like HULU, Netflix, etc., which also happen to be some of the best apps on Shield TV, fare exceptionally well.
Gaming, too, on Shield devices is guaranteed to live up to their pedigree.
But when it comes to the more advanced stuff like 4K lossless content streaming and high FPS AAA gaming, the base model Shield TV begins to flaunt its shortcomings.
Frequent buffers and lags accompany such streams, and the games seem poorly optimized.
And that's where the Pro model comes into play. Smooth streaming and adrenaline-rushing gaming are a given with this model.
The additional GB of RAM does play a crucial role in this aspect. Also, better heat management impact this case a great deal.
Verdict: Both models fare well in this regard. But if you're a hardcore gamer or want a bit more, go with the Pro model.
Shield TV devices come with an Ethernet port as standard throughout the lineup. And that, too, is a Gigabit port.
So wired connections for stable streams and gaming are possible on the Shield TV.
A full-sized HDMI port that supports HDMI ARC and CEC comes on both models. Make sure to use only the appropriate HDMI cable, though.
The base model comes with an SD card slot for additional memory. Expandable memory forms an essential element of the Tube model since the 8 GB onboard memory can get you only so far.
Nvidia Shield Pro does not have an SD card slot. But it has dual USB 3.0 ports, which contributes as one of the leading differences between the two models.
With this provision,m you can connect various storage paraphernalia and other Smarthome devices. A possibility the base model lacks.
May it be a NAS device or a USB stick, you can directly stream high-quality content to the Shield TV without any intermediaries.
Verdict: The Shield Pro, with its dual USB ports, triumphs.
Finally, it's time to crown a winner from these two fantastic streaming devices.
Though the Pro model triumphs in almost all categories, the differences are slight, and it does without much flair or awe.
As a matter of fact, the base model Shield TV is comparable to the Pro model in more aspects than what they differ.
And so, is it worth it to shell out the extra $50 and get the Pro model? Well, yes and no. Yes, if you prefer the absolute best with little compromises.
If you prefer a streaming device with near-perfect fundamentals, go for the base model Shield TV. It's also very compact.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What apps does Nvidia Shield Pro have?
The Nvidia Shield Pro comes with all the stock Android apps along with a few bloatware. You can install more apps on your Shield Pro through the PlayStore.
How old is Nvidia Shield Pro?
The Shield Pro was first launched in 2015. Since then, Nvidia has come out with two iterations of the model, 2019 one being the latest of the bunch.