Nvidia Shield TV Pro review: setting the standard for media streamers

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is a streaming and gaming powerhouse

T3 Platinum Award
Nvidia Shield TV Pro
(Image credit: Nvidia)
T3 Verdict

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is going to become an invaluable part of your home setup, whether you use it to access your favourite streaming apps or to run the best games at the best quality from the cloud. It's powerful, it's intuitive, and it's very difficult to beat.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    AI video upscaling

  • +

    Built-in Chromecast

  • +

    Top-tier gaming

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No Google TV (yet)

  • -

    Unchanged design

  • -

    No bundled controller

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro (together with the plain old Nvidia Shield TV) is the latest and most powerful incarnation of the Shield TVs that have been with us since 2015 – they've always been great showcases for Android and Android TV, and this one's no different.

Over the years, these dinky devices have become more and more useful, not just as set-top streaming boxes but also as media servers and gaming machines – thanks to Nvidia's GeForce Now streaming platform, you can play the very best games on this hardware.

With GeForce Now getting better all the time – and streaming apps like Plex adding new features too – the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is a device that offers plenty of value. Read on for our full review, covering everything from the available apps to the integrated ports.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro review: design and setup

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Nvidia Shield TV design hasn't changed much over the years – aside from the non-Pro cylinder version that's currently on sale – and apart from the cool-looking glowing green light, we're not a huge fan of the aesthetics here: it's all very angular and retro looking. It's compact at least, and if you've never seen an Nvidia Shield TV device close up, it's not much bigger than a chunky smartphone. You can set up the box either flat horizontally or on its side vertically, though you don't get a stand.

The remote control was revamped this time around, and given a triangular shape for some unknown reason – and that means you can't lay it down flat. It feels like a quality device and is well put together, but it lacks the polish and elegance of the remotes you get with other devices like the Apple TV 4K or the Chromecast with Google TV. This is one area where Nvidia could do better, though to be fair the looks of the hardware are probably not a priority for a device like this.

Around the back of the Nvidia Shield TV Pro you've got an Ethernet port (useful for stable, speedy, wired connections), the USB-C power port, an HDMI out port, and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports – you can hook up external USB storage here, as well as connect peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse. Other accessories like gamepad controllers can be connected via Bluetooth, and you're going to need them if you're serious about using the box as a gaming console.

Setup is a breeze, and like a lot of devices these days, you simply open up a particular website on your phone or on a laptop and get connected that way. Your Google account is your route into Android TV, and you'll find a selection of popular apps already installed for you (including YouTube, of course). It doesn't take long to get others like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video installed, and then you're up and running.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro review: features and specs

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro comes running the impressive Nvidia Tegra X1+ processor with a 256-core GPU and 3GB RAM, and there's 16GB of on-board storage here as well (which can be expanded via those USB ports). The box is capable of playing 4K video at 60 frames per second, and there's support for Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10 and Dolby Audio here too. It is worth noting that the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard isn't supported, but 5GHz connections are.

There's support for Google Assistant here, as you would expect, but you can also use Amazon Alexa on the Nvidia Shield TV Pro too: you can use either digital assistant to turn the box on or off, control video playback, launch specific apps and plenty more, all using your voice. The voice control certainly comes in handy when you have to enter a lot of text (when searching for a particular movie, for example).

If you're watching content that's not in 4K, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro will scale it up for you, if you want. In our experience, this works seamlessly, and really well too: it even got some of our old 1990s television shows looking sharper and more detailed through the Plex app. For those of you connecting the Nvidia device to a 4K screen, it's well worth turning the feature on, at least to see how it handles the content you give it.

There is the standard, cylindrical Nvidia Shield TV to consider alongside this slightly more expensive Pro version: going Pro gets you more RAM, more storage space, and those two USB ports. The Pro model, unlike the standard one, can act as a Samsung SmartThings hub or as a Plex media server (if you don't know what those are, don't worry too much about it). If you're serious about Plex, SmartThings or gaming, definitely get the Pro – otherwise, it's a close call.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro review: interface and apps

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

(Image credit: Future)

From the very beginning the Nvidia Shield TV devices have been some of the best gadgets running Android TV besides actually televisions. Unfortunately this box hasn't received the new and improved Google TV interface yet, but Google and Nvidia are promising that it'll arrive before the end of 2021 – that will add a bit of visual flair to the interface, which at the moment is functional enough but very boring too.

The traditional Android TV layout is here, with your apps all neatly laid out in rows. There is some effort to put a 'continue watching' bar on the home screen, but it doesn't always work perfectly, and it doesn't support every app (we usually end up just going into the individual apps to pick up where we left off anyway). As you would expect, all the key video streaming apps are available, plus some music ones like Spotify and YouTube Music.

You get a limited number of settings to play around with on Android TV: you can, if you want, have the Nvidia Shield TV Pro remote control adjust the volume of your television and turn it on and off.  Google Assistant provides plenty of useful search functions as well, whether you want to look up the weather forecast, or find all the films that Tom Hanks has starred in across your various streaming apps.

Something we really like about the Nvidia Shield TV Pro and indeed any Android TV device in general is that there's Chromecast support built into the platform – if you can't find the app you're after, you can simply cast content over to the box from a phone or tablet. This means you can use the Nvidia Shield TV Pro with a whole host of audio apps (such as your favourite podcast player) as well as all the video apps supported by default.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro review: gaming and extras

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro excels as a media player thanks to the wide support for just about every app you need, the AI-powered upscaling, and the extra features you get like Plex media server support. However, it's also a fantastic gaming box, and that's for two reasons: support for Android games on the bigger screen, and the built-in access you get to the GeForce Now game streaming service.

If you're new to GeForce Now, it works like Google Stadia – you can stream top-tier games from the cloud to your Nvidia Shield TV Pro, playing them as if you've got a high-end PC sitting in front of you. The latest Nvidia technologies such as DLSS and ray tracing are supported on certain titles, and while you certainly can't play every game in existence, there's a decent selection of titles here – more than 800 at the latest count. Unlike Stadia, GeForce Now won't sell you games or bundle them in your subscription; instead it lets you play games bought through Steam, the Epic Games Store, GOG or Uplay, so you've got the local option as well.

We spent a good couple of hours playing Cyberpunk 2077 on the Nvidia Shield TV Pro through GeForce Now, and it really is a fantastic experience – as long as you have a decent broadband connection coming into your home (Nvidia recommends a minimum speed of 25Mbps to get a stable 1080p / 30fps streaming experience, though it can go up to 4K). It's also worth noting that while you can use GeForce Now for free, for the best graphics and gameplay sessions over an hour, you need to pay £8.99/$9.99 a month – and the games are extra on top of that (apart from the free-to-play ones like Fortnite).

Another extra worth mentioning is the support for a feature called GameStream: if you have a Windows PC running a compatible Nvidia GPU somewhere in the house, you can easily stream content from it to your Nvidia Shield TV Pro (perhaps if you want to game on the bigger television down in the living room). Again this works well, as long as you have a stable Wi-Fi connection running around your home.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro review: price and verdict

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

(Image credit: Future)

These Nvidia Shield boxes have always been great devices, and the new Nvidia Shield TV Pro just continues the trend: it's an awesome bit of kit for anyone interested in getting a media box put under their television, especially if you are going to make use of the additional features here like Plex media server support and the ability to plug in external USB storage (and input peripherals) on the back of the box.

The best part of the Nvidia Shield TV Pro experience is the gaming though – you can run games approved for Android TV of course, but there's also the GeForce Now streaming service that's getting better all the time. Pay up for the monthly subscription and it's like having a super-powerful gaming rig in front of you (the choice of games is more limited, but still). In other words, this is a device that excels in terms of both media consumption and high-end gaming.

It's not a completely perfect package: there's no HDMI cable in the box, and no bundled controller (something which has been included on previous versions of this device). As we've said, we're not completely in love with the design of the box either, and this is perhaps something Nvidia could look at for the next update. Other caveats include the need for a strong broadband connection for GeForce Now.

Overall, we can't recommend the Nvidia Shield TV Pro enough. Check out the widgets on this page to see the latest prices on the box from around the web, but at the time of writing you can pick this up for around £180/$200/AU$349.95. That's a lot more than a Chromecast, a Roku stick or an Amazon Fire TV dongle of course, but then you get a whole lot more back for your money as well. It's also roughly what you'll play for the latest Apple TV 4K.