Network Streaming Players

Streaming Box Wars: Nvidia Shield TV Pro vs. Apple TV 4K

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?

The Criteria

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
ProcessorTegra X1+ (64-bit)A15 Bionic Chip
Internal Storage16GB (expandable via USB and network storage)64/128GB (fixed)
ConnectivityWiFi 5, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5WiFi 6, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5
Output Resolution4K60, HDMI 2.0, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HGL4K60, HDMI 2.1, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HGL
Streaming Built-InGoogle ChromecastApple Airplay 2
USB Ports20
RemoteYes – customizable, backlit, non-rechargeable with voiceYes – non-customizable, rechargeable with voice
Warranty1 year90 Days

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!

FeatureNVIDIA Shield ProApple TV 4KWinner
GamingNVIDIA GeForce Now, Retro Emulation, SteamLink, App StoreApple Arcade, SteamLink, App StoreNVIDIA Shield
Lossless Audio PassthroughYesNoNVIDIA Shield
Plex ServerYesNoNVIDIA Shield
UpscalingYes -AIYes – StandardNVIDIA Shield
Frame Rate MatchingYes – BetaYesApple 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.

12 Comments on Streaming Box Wars: Nvidia Shield TV Pro vs. Apple TV 4K

  1. Erik

    Your review sux. The shield can handle x265 on the hardware, doesn’t matter the speed of the tegra chip is slower,it will still dirrect stream high bitrate media flawlessly. Even having the option to host a Plex server should be a clear indicator of the differece. If your reading this, read.4x more reviews and make up your mind afterwards!

    • Andrew

      Hi Erik,

      I think you are missing the point of the article. This is not a review of the boxes, but putting them head to head for most consumers looking for one box that checks most of the boxes. While I agree with you that the Shield is still a very capable box, when you put it against the new Apple TV 4K, and its new, much lower price, it gets hard to call it the overall champ. I own the Shield and I love it, and it was my main box for a long time. I wouldn’t be sad if you chose the Shield over the AT4K, but if I was going to recommend a new box to someone in 2023, I would point them to the AT4K for “most” applications. If you only concern was Plex, the Shield wins hands down and with both hands behind their back! If the rumors are true and we are seeing a new Shield in 2024, I will have a whole different opinion.

  2. GH

    What an incredibly stupid review….

    The Shield is better in all aspects that count. Only it’s older so has slower synthetic benchmark scores that count for nothing in real use when streaming.

    • Andrew


      As I stated to Erik, this is not a review, it’s a comparison. While you might be a power user like myself, not everyone is as comfortable with tech and as much as we might hate to admit it, the ATV4K appeals to those who want simple. If you want a review, I would suggest you check out my article here, where I state that the NVIDIA Shield is THE BEST box for the power user. I have one, I use it more than my ATV4K because I am accustomed to it. My wife prefers the ATV, and that’s fine.

    • Andrew

      Aside from Apple Music, every app I want is on both.

      But if you know how to sideload, you can add far more apps on the NVIDIA Shield than the Apple TV.

  3. Nicolai

    I think you could have mentioned how the Shield is still getting updated, I got the 1. Gen shield from 2015, and it is still fully up to date, something i highly doubt Apple would ever do… So it might be a little more expensive, but you aren’t forced to upgrade. It might not have the newest spec, but it is brilliant for everyday use.

    • Andrew

      Nicolai – thanks for that. And it is a very valid point. I currently have the 2019 model, but I understand that folks with the original model are still getting updates! That’s pretty amazing. And no, I don’t think that my 3rd Gen AT4K will be getting updates in 8 years time.

      That said, I still stand by my choice based on the price point for a new device. The 2019 is still selling at its original price tag, while the AT4K has dropped significantly. But if NVIDIA were to drop a 2023 or 2024 Shield Pro, I can almost guarantee that it would take the crown back, despite a higher price tag! It’s that good!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *