Intel Compute Stick Cherry Trail Review: Pocket-Sized Windows 10 PC

Introducing The New Compute Stick

We dug the original Intel Compute Stick that launched last year. If you recall, the original Compute Stick was a tiny, Atom-powered device that could turn any HDMI-equipped display into a basic PC. The low-power nature of the Compute Stick meant it was ideally suited for every-day, less-demanding computing tasks, and wasn’t a replacement for a full-on PC or notebook, but it was a relatively capable device given its ultra-small form factor.

The original Compute Stick wasn’t without its issues, though. Last year’s model featured dated 802.11n wireless connectivity built in and had only a single USB port, which meant using a hub and/or dongles, should you want to connect multiple peripherals to the device or boost its wireless capabilities. Intel seems to have listened to the initial feedback on the first-gen Compute Stick, however, and recently launched a new model that addresses the shortcomings many took issue with in the original, and incorporated some newer technologies too.

Here we present to you the latest Intel Compute Stick for consumer applications, model STK1AW32SC. This new Compute Stick features Intel’s newer Cherry Trail Atom platform, with 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi, and USB 3.0. There’s still 2GB of RAM in the device, along with 32GB of storage, but Windows 10 Home now comes pre-installed. Take a look at the full specifications below and we’ll dig in a little deeper on the pages ahead...
compute stick style
The Cherry Trail Powered Intel Compute Stick For 2016
Intel Compute Stick
Specifications & Features


  • Intel Atom Processor x5-Z8300
  • Quad-Core, 1.44GHz - 1.83GHz, 2MB Cache)
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b
System Memory
  • 2GB DDR3L-RS, single channel
  • 1.35V, 1600 MHz
Storage Capabilities
  • 32 GB eMMC device built-in
  • SDXC v3.0 slot with UHS I-Support
  • Intel HD Audio via HDMI, supporting multi-channel digital audio

Peripheral Connectivity
  • Integrated 802.11ac 2x2 Wireless Connection
  • One USB 2.0, One USB 3.0
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Micro SD card slot
  • 113 mm x 38 mm x 12 mm
Power Requirements
  • 5V, 3A wall-mount AC-DC power adapter
Operating Temperatures
  • 0° C to +35° C
Storage Temperatures
  • -20° C to +60° C

Although we received a pre-production sample for testing and evaluation, retail-ready Compute Sticks should include an accessory bundle similar to what’s pictured below...
compute stick 2016 1

Along with the Compute Stick itself, a short HDMI extension cable is included in the box along with a micro-USB charger / power adapter. 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 is 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 adapter to function. Last year’s Compute Stick included a USB cable (a male to micro USB, like most mobile device charging cables) and a separate charger, should users want to power the device from a separate USB port on a TV or other display. You could still technically connect the new Compute Stick in this way (provided the port outputs enough power), but you'll have to provide the cable this time around.

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