Why don’t we put a computer on a stick? We will call it Intel Compute Stick (review)
4.0Overall Score
Price (RRP): $from 160-749 Manufacturer: Intel

Intel Compute Stick has been around for a few years. The concept is a complete computer on a stick. Plug the HDMI on one end into a monitor, TV or commercial signage and that is it!

Why would you want an Intel compute stick?

These are non-upgradable, specific purpose devices. You buy the power, memory and storage you need for the task.

I have seen them used in enterprise as thin clients. I have seen them used in commercial signage as the brains behind smart signage. And increasingly seen them in small business running things like a point of sale system or just streaming video and audio to speakers.

The Compute Stick Range (prices are current ‘street’ prices)

STK1A32SC $206.50

  • Intel Atom x5-Z8300 Processor supports 1080p graphics
  • 2/32GB Embedded Storage (19GB available)
  • Wi-Fi AC 7625 dual-band 2×2 and BT 4.2
  • 1 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0
  • No OS
  • 1-year warranty

STK1AW32SC $160

  • As above with Windows 10, 32-bit Home Pre-Installed Operating System (As reviewed)

STK2m3W64CC $499

  • Intel Core m3-6Y30 Processor
  • 4/64GB Embedded Storage
  • Wi-Fi AC 8260 and BT 4.2
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Windows 10, 64-bit Home Pre-Installed Operating System
  • 3-year warranty

STK2mv64CC $749

  • Intel Core m5-6Y57 Processor
  • 4/64 Embedded Storage
  • Wi-Fi AC 8260 and BT 4.2
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • No OS
  • vPro and TPM 2.0
  • 3-year warranty

All have a microSD slot (UHS-1), support HDMI 1.4b (1920x1080x120Hz), and use a 5V/3A USB charger. The Atom version can run off a 5V/1A power supply.

Intel Compute stickReview Intel Compute Stick STK1AW32SC

At A$160 (street price) this seems to be the sweet spot as it also includes Windows 10 32-bit Home.

You would rightly say an Intel Atom is underpowered and the 2GB/32GB of RAM/eMMC storage is a joke. But you are measuring it by traditional PC paradigms. Ask not what it can’t do but what it can do.

The four-core 1.44/1.84GHz Atom with HD graphics supports 1920x1080p. It will work as a media server (accessing network storage). In signage solutions its dual-band Wi-Fi should enable it to receive graphics updates up to 100 metres from a router. It can run Microsoft Office 365 and most Windows Store Apps. Apparently, there is quite a following in the grey-nomad market as well as a computing, email, internet and media device.

With 2GB RAM (shared with the GPU) it is no powerhouse, but it will get there.

Intel Compute stickSetup

As this is the Windows version lets skip the Windows setup.

  • Attach a USB-A keyboard and mouse (or a Logitech Unifying receiver keyboard/trackpad). You can’t initially set it up without these. Afterwards you can attach Bluetooth devices.
  • Plug unit into a 1080p monitor or signage. It will work with a 4K TV that upscales as well
  • Power up using the 5V/3A micro-USB adaptor (as stated you can go as low as 5V/1A and it still works)
  • You get the typical Windows 10 set-up screen.

Performance

Speed wise the eMMC drive is marginally faster than a microSD.