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

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Compute Stick Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The latest Intel Compute Stick (STK1AW32SC) features a low-power, quad-core Atom processor with integrated Intel HD graphics, 2GB of DDR3L-RS 1600 RAM, and a modest 32GB of internal storage. Throw a full-blown edition of Windows 10 into the mix and you end up with a functional PC that won’t be burning up any benchmarks but offers utility for mainstream computing tasks. We didn’t run our usual gauntlet of system-level tests, but the SANDRA scores, power, and CPU utilization data while streaming tell much of the story. The Compute Stick can handle everyday computing tasks and media consumption just fine, but it’s not meant for high-performance applications.

When you understand what the Intel Compute Stick is – and what it isn’t – it’s easy to appreciate what Intel has done here. This latest Compute Stick is a clear upgrade over the original in a number of ways. The newer Cherry Trail-based Atom platform provides slightly better performance, and the 802.11ac WiFi is a definitely upgrade over the original’s 802.11n, that enables things like mostly-glitch free Steam In-Home Streaming and faster network transfers. The new Compute Stick also adds USB 3.0 connectivity with an additional port, so connecting more than one peripheral to the device is now possible without using a separate hub.

compute stick tall

Despite the upgrades over the original, the new Intel Compute Stick for 2016 is arriving at only a slightly higher price point of $159. If you’re in need of an ultra-small, relatively affordable device that can essentially turn any HDMI-equipped display into a basic PC, and can get by with the performance offered by the Compute Stick’s low-power Atom processor, this device is absolutely worthy of consideration.

  • Super small fully functional PC
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • USB 3.0 + 2 ports
  • Expandable storage
  • Affordable 
  • Relatively low performance but within expectations

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