FIREBAT T8 Plus Mini PC Running Linux: Multimedia

This is the fourth article in our series looking at a FIREBAT T8 Plus Mini PC running Linux. This machine has an Intel N100 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. It’s an extremely inexpensive machine costing little more than a Raspberry Pi 5 yet it’s much more powerful. It sounds like an ideal low cost machine to run Linux on the desktop.

For this article, we’re testing the multimedia capabilities of this tiny PC using Ubuntu 23.10.

Video Drivers

Modern graphic cards perform a variety of tasks. They aren’t just designed for gaming. Many cards help offload video encoding and decoding from the CPU. This helps to lower power consumption and free up resources for the rest of the system.

Like the vast majority of ultra small mini PCs, the FIREBAT doesn’t have space for a dedicated graphics card. Instead it relies on hardware decoding from its GPU.

Linux offers 3 main APIs that enable hardware video acceleration. They are VA-API, VDPAU, and NVENC/NVDEC.

VA-API (Video Acceleration API) user mode driver is supported on Intel, AMD and NVIDIA. It’s widely supported by software. The FIREBAT has an Intel onboard GPU and uses this API.

On Ubuntu 23.10 the intel-media-va-driver package is already installed.

Supported profile and entrypoints for intel-media-va-driver

The vainfo command shows that the open source driver supports hardware decoding and encoding of videos for a variety of codecs.


Let’s interpret the output. VAEntrypointVLD means the driver can decode a codec, and VAEntrypointEncSliceLP means the driver can encode to this format.

You’ll see that the iHD driver supports decoding of MPEG-2, H.264 (AVC), VP8, HEVC, VP9, and AVI codecs.

H.264 remains the most popular video codec although YouTube delivers much newer codecs VP9 or AV1, by default. AV1 was developed as a successor to VP9. Like VP9, but unlike H.264/AVC and HEVC, AV1 has a royalty-free licensing model. AV1 offers up to 34 percent higher data compression than VP9, and up to 50 percent higher than H264.

Next page: Page 2 – Video Playback

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Video Drivers
Page 2 – Video Playback
Page 3 – Music Playback

Complete list of articles in this series:

Part 1Introduction to the series with an interrogation of the system
Part 2Benchmarking the FIREBAT T8 Plus Mini PC
Part 3Testing the power consumption
Part 4Multimedia: Watching videos and listening to music
Part 5How does the FIREBAT fare as a gaming PC?
Part 6Windows Subsystem for Linux 2
Part 7Installing and Configuring EndeavourOS, an Arch-based distro
Part 8Installing and Configuring Rhino Linux, a rolling release Ubuntu-based distro
Part 9VirtualBox performance on the FIREBAT
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