NVIDIA Shield Hacks: Make Your Shield TV Faster!


The NVIDIA Shield TV is already one of the fastest Android TV devices on the planet.

But if you’re like me, you always want a little more speed, right?

Then this article is for you.

I’ve been using the NVIDIA Shield TV as my main streaming device since it came out in 2015. I’ve got all three releases (2019 Shield TV, 2017 Shield TV, and 2015 Shield Pro).

Over the years, I’ve found a couple of tweaks and hacks that will help you get the most speed out of your NVIDIA Shield TV.

Best of all, these are all settings that you can change on your own. There’s no new apps that you need to install, and no need to void the warranty to try to root it or overclock it.

Let’s start with the two easiest settings to change: Processor Mode and Fan Mode.

Processor Mode

Processor Mode and Fan Mode are both found in the System section of the Device Preferences section of the Settings Menu.

By default, the NVIDIA Shield TV is set to an “Optimized” processor mode. However, the other option it gives you is for “Max Performance.”

What does each option actually mean? Which is better?

A few years ago, I ran a few tests on each processor mode to try to figure out the difference. I even reached out to the Shield TV community at NVIDIA to see if they could shed some light on the differences.

I was stumped. My benchmark tests returned very similar numbers and the power consumption was almost the same. It didn’t seem to matter which setting I used.

Finally, I got an answer from NVIDIA that was able to tell me what the difference was.

Optimized will throttle the CPU’s speed so it can strike a balance between speed and temperature.

Maximum Performance will keep the Shield TV’s CPU running at maximum cores and speed.

So what does this mean for you?

Changing this setting to Maximum Performance will increase the overall speed of your Shield TV. However, the device will run hotter, which will cause the fan to kick in more often.

Keeping it at Optimized will make your Shield TV slightly slower, but considerably quieter overall.

If you’re a gamer, change the Processor Mode to Maximum Performance. If you mainly use your Shield TV for streaming, leave it at Optimized.

Fan Mode

Fan Mode and Processor Mode go hand-in-hand. If you change one, you need to change the other.

Heat is the enemy of any computer. CPU manufacturers will build-in some safety features to their designs to make sure that they don’t overheat.

The more load you put on your CPU, the higher the temperature will climb. If the temperature gets above what the manufacturer deems ‘safe’, they’ll automatically throttle the speed so it doesn’t overheat.

That’s why we need to change the Fan Mode as well.

By default, Fan Mode is set to Quiet, which makes sense.

The last thing you want to hear during a suspenseful move is your Shield TV’s fan turn on. Talk about ruining the mood…

We’ve already talked about how hacking the Processor Mode will make your Shield TV run hotter. It’s going to need to use the fan more often.

If you changed the Processor Mode to Max Performance, also change the Fan Mode to Cool. Otherwise, leave this at Quiet.

Developer Options

The rest of the settings are found in the super-secret Developer Options menu that you don’t see by default.

There’s a trick to enabling this menu.

Go to the Device Preferences section of the Settings menu and click About.

Near the bottom will be a hidden button on the Build line.

You’ll need to press it repeatedly until a message pops up at the bottom of the screen that says You are now a developer!

If you head back to the Device Preferences menu, you’ll see a brand new menu at the very bottom.

Animation Scales

The first three settings that we’re going to look at are the Window Animation Scale, Transition Animation Scale, and Animator Duration Scale.

Full transparency here: Changing these settings doesn’t make your NVIDIA Shield TV faster, but it will feel faster when you’re clicking around the menus.

Let me explain…

Window Animation Scale

Window Animation Scale controls the speed of the animation when you open or close a new app. For example, when you click on an app’s icon, there’s a transition where the home screen fades and the new app appears.

A lower number will speed up that transition, making it feel snappier. A larger number will feel like it lingers on the transition a little more.

I recommend changing Window Animation Scale to 0.5x

Transition Animation Scale

Transition Animation Scale controls how fast the animation itself is drawn on the screen.

You’re probably thinking that sounds the same as what I said for the Window Animation Scale. And you’d be right.

The best way to explain this is with an example. If you’ve ever seen a PowerPoint presentation where the transition between slides takes several seconds. While it’s happening, you can see both images and one is drawn over the other?

That’s what Transition Animation Scale controls.

A lower number will take less time to draw that transition. A high enough number and you’ll be able to see the individual lines drawing on the screen.

I recommend changing Transition Animation Scale to 0.5x

Animator Duration Scale

Animator Duration Scale is the most straightforward of the three settings. It controls the smaller animations that occur when you press a button on the screen.

A smaller number will make those animations quicker, while a larger number will

I recommend changing Animator Duration Scale to 0.5x

NVIDIA Shield TV Hacks To Avoid

Vizzini: Inconceivable!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

-The Princess Bride

When I was exploring around the Developer Settings Menu, I came across a few settings that looked really promising.

It turned out that they really didn’t do what I thought they were going to do.

So here are two “NVIDIA Shield TV Hacks” to avoid.

Force GPU Rendering

The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is what draws images on the screen. So it makes sense to force the system to use the GPU for 2d drawing as well as 3d drawing right?

Well, not exactly.

It turns out that this setting is a remnant of much, much older versions of Android.

When GPU rendering was added to the Android API, there were just some apps that it wouldn’t work with. This setting was added into the Developer Options setting so that the developer could test the effects on their app.

Additionally, enabling this setting could actually cause a decrease in performance and an increase in power consumption.

Leave Force GPU Rendering turned off.

Background Process Limit

The Developer Options Settings let you change how many processes are running in the background? At first glance, this appears to be a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually stop apps from running in the background or change how frequently background processes happen.

This setting forces the system to stop a process as soon as it’s empty (no tasks in queue).

That means that each time a background process is set to run, instead of just waking up the process from memory, it has to reload the app from scratch.

If an app is scheduled to check to see if you got new emails, it’s still going to do that on the same schedule as normal. Only now, the app will have to load itself back into memory each time.

Keep Background Process Limit at Standard Limit

Conclusion

Sometimes, hacking your NVIDIA Shield TV to make it faster is about knowing what not to touch.

There are so many settings available on Android TV. Most of the ones that directly affect performance are hidden behind the Developer Options menu – and for good reason.

Still, we’ve gone over a few ways that you can tweak your Shield TV to squeeze out every last drop of speed that you can.

Tim Wells

Tim Wells got his first computer at the age of ten and hasn't stopped tinkering ever since. After discovering Android TV boxes in 2013, he created a popular Android PC Review website and guided it to over 8 million pageviews before selling it in 2018. After a brief hiatus from the industry he's back at the helm of AndroidTVNews.com to bring Android TV boxes to the forefront of the streaming world. When he's not writing, he spends as much time as he can with his beautiful wife and his bulldog.

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