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Intel Compute Stick Review

At CES 2015, Intel quietly announced its upcoming Bay Trail-based Compute Stick. Last week we got to check out a sample unit up close and personal.

Conclusion

Although we're on the fence when it comes to the Compute Stick's pricing, it might come in handy if you're looking for a statically placed device in your living room. However, if you're a mobile type of person, you're probably better off with a tablet that won't cost much more than the Compute Stick.

When we first saw the Intel Compute Stick at CES 2015, we weren't too surprised by it. We've seen computing devices get smaller every year, but none of them really have the power to take on the core i3, i5 and i7 computers of the world. So we look at these SoC devices and try to fit their limited abilities into our lives.

This isn’t a dedicated streaming media device. Nor is it a PC. Nor is it a tablet. It’s none of those, and yet a little bit of all of those. It can stream, it can perform lightweight computing tasks, and you can take it wherever you go. For the PC hobbyist, it might be fun, and at $150, it’s not a bad price to pay.

But our expectations for stick computing are going to stay low for now, and probably in the near future. Stick computers and other SoCs may contribute services around the Smart Home, or run specific tasks, but to put too much hope that the Compute Stick will replace your PC is a pipe dream.

Julio Urquidi is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Networking and Systems. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Corrections: Typos fixed regarding processing speed.


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  • John Philips
    Would like to see the Ubuntu stick performance...
    Reply
  • elbert
    I would like to see xbmc performance. I would also like to see if the stick can both run playon server and watch playon on this single device.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Thx for the review Tom's Hardware!

    No matter how slow that usb "PC" is, it's still amazing that you can run a computer off a single little thumb drive shaped device and doesn't have problems even overheating.

    I think this stick is designed more for demo purposes. Demonstrating that technology is advanced enough now that we can pack PC's in form factors unimaginable a few years ago.
    Reply
  • John Philips
    Probably it could be faster with Enlightenment Desktop.Or one day somebody can put Windows xp or anything else...
    Reply
  • americapat
    why a fan? Strange that the networking sooo slow, shouldn't be par with Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T? Price a little high too.
    Reply
  • Shankovich
    Can't use WiFi and Bluetooth at the same time...............................
    Reply
  • uzm
    Does it support uhd/4k tvs?
    Reply
  • mapesdhs
    "... single channel DDR3L running at 1333 GHz ..."

    Really? Can they put that in next-gen GPUs? ;)

    Overall, I don't see the attraction over a normal HTPC, and in time TVs
    are going to become more than quick enough to run general apps. Wouldn't
    surprise me if the next move with TVs is to integrate a small PC inside
    them somehow, assuming TV makers see a market for it.

    Ian.

    Reply
  • StarBound
    I'm curious as to the light gaming this can deliver.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    Pricey. The Linux version price is more logical yet it could have at least have 5Ghz WiFi.
    Only small business can appreciate this for signage/display purpose. For home, you're better off with a Windows based tablet with HDMI output.

    Reply