Intel Compute Stick Review

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.


One of the first things we wanted to check out about the Compute Stick was how it handles web video. Surprisingly, watching movies and shows on Netflix and Hulu was a great experience and YouTube videos played with no delay. The streaming was smooth and the Compute Stick's built in sound, coming out of the TV, was clear. When video was playing using Netflix it did produce some lag as you moved the mouse across the screen, yet there was no effect on the streaming content as it played. This is usually a problem when the mouse is used further out than 10 feet, which is somewhat expected. However, we were only about eight feet away from our office's 54 inch LCD when this happened.

We also tried to use Remote Desktop on the Compute Stick and tried to connect to a computer over Wi-Fi. Initially, we ran into some delay as the Compute Stick connected and logged into the PC for the first time. We typically don't see such a lag when using Remote Desktop, but taking into account that the Compute Stick's Wi-Fi isn't 802.11ac, and that we're working with an SoC, running a Remote Desktop session may be more than the Compute Stick could initially handle. The load time did improve after the first session and we also saw similar response times using a 802.11ac USB NIC on the Compute Stick.

  • John Philips
    Would like to see the Ubuntu stick performance...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • John Philips
    Probably it could be faster with Enlightenment Desktop.Or one day somebody can put Windows xp or anything else...
  • 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.
  • Shankovich
    Can't use WiFi and Bluetooth at the same time...............................
  • uzm
    Does it support uhd/4k tvs?
  • 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.


  • StarBound
    I'm curious as to the light gaming this can deliver.
  • 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.