Intel Compute Stick PC Review: Tiny, Sleek, And Versatile

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Introduction and Specifications

We first got an official look at the Intel Compute Stick earlier this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In one of those “But wait! There’s more!” kind of moments common at trade shows, one of the good folks at Intel that was previously showing off a few upcoming NUC systems pulled a tiny device from his shirt pocket and revealed the diminutive Compute Stick.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Intel Compute Stick, it’s essentially a fully-functional, low-power, Atom-based system—with memory, storage, and an OS--crammed into a form factor not much bigger than a large flash drive. Though Intel has had their hand in similar devices like the MeeGoPad in the past, the Compute Stick we’ll be showing you here is an actual Intel-branded and marketed product that will be sold by the company in the U.S. and many other countries around the globe, similar to its NUC line of small form factor systems.

There will initially be two compute sticks made available, one running Windows (model STCK1A32WFC) and another running Ubuntu (model STCK1A8LFC). We’ve had the Windows version on hand for a while now and will be giving you our impressions on the pages ahead.

The ComputeStick's full specifications are listed below, along with some other pertinent details, for those interested in checking them out but let's show you it in action first...

compute stick angle
The Atom Powered Intel Compute Stick
Intel Compute Stick
Specifications & Features

Processor

  • Intel Atom Processor Z3735F
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT-x)
Graphics
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4a
System Memory
  • Windows: 2GB DDR3L, single channel
  • Ubuntu: 1GB DDR3L, single channel
  • 1.35V, 1333 MHz
Storage Capabilities
  • Windows: 32 GB eMMC device built-in
  • Ubuntu: 8 GB eMMC device built-in
  • SDXC v3.0 slot with UHS I-Support
Audio
  • Intel HD Audio via HDMI, supporting multi-channel digital audio

Peripheral Connectivity
  • Integrated 802.11bgn Wireless Connection
  • One USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Micro SD card slot
Dimensions
  • 103 mm x 37 mm x 12 mm
Power Requirements
  • 5V, 2A wall-mount AC-DC power adapter
Operating Temperatures
  • 0° C to +35° C
Storage Temperatures
  • -20° C to +60° C
Pricing

Before we dive in and explore the actual compute stick, we thought we’d show you what’s included in the box. We received a pre-production engineering sample, so the packaging isn’t retail-ready. But what was included is representative of final product.
intel compute stick 1
Accessories Included With The Intel Compute Stick

Along with the Compute Stick itself, you’ll find a short HDMI extension cable, a USB cable (A Male to Micro B, like most mobile device charging cables), and a USB power adapter with an array of removable tips compatible with the electrical outlets in various regions worldwide. The HDMI extension cable can be used to plug the Compute Stick into recessed HDMI ports where the device’s chassis may get in the way. And the USB power adapter and cable are for actually powering the Compute Stick. The Compute Stick DOES NOT get its power from an HDMI port and requires the power feed from the USB adapter, or another USB port.

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