Intel Compute Stick (2016)

2nd Generation Tiny Computing Device Corrects Many Issues of Original

Intel Compute Stick (2016) Tiny PC

The Bottom Line

Intel's second generation computer stick corrects most of the problems of the originally making it much more functional and useful to consumers. With its low price, there are still a number of drawbacks that users need to be aware of but the ability to convert an old TV or monitor into a low cost PC or having something that can be used on the road at hotels when traveling make for some compelling uses.


  • Better Performance
  • Improved Wi-Fi Networking
  • Two USB Ports


  • Still Restricted by Just 2GB of Memory
  • Limited Internal Storage
  • Requires AC Adapter


  • Intel Atom x5-8300 Quad Core Mobile Processor
  • 2GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
  • 32GB eMMC SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • 802.11ac Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
  • One USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, MicroSD, HDMI
  • 4.44" X 1.5" X .47"
  • Windows 10 (32-bit)

Review - Intel Compute Stick (2016)

Feb 5, 2016 - Intel's original Compute Stick was a novel take on compact computing at extremely affordable prices. The design was held back by a number of design choices that Intel has addressed with their new second generation version. For instance, the device now features two USB ports, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 which helps address the issue of trying to connect both a wired USB mouse and keyboard. This did make the stick a bit longer at almost 4.5-inches in length but it is still quite compact.

The next big issue was performance with the Compute Stick. The original Atom processor and 2GB of memory stumbled except on the most basic of tasks like web browsing. The second generation version moves to a new Cherry Trail based z5-8300 processor that features four cores. Now this is a mobile processor that still has limited performance but it does a much better job that the original. It is still extremely limited when it comes to multitasking because of the 2GB of memory. A good example of the performance gains though is that it can output 4K video output decently which was not possible with the original.

Finally, the poor wireless capabilities of the original have been fixed with the inclusion of the newer and faster 802.11ac standards and having two antennae instead of one. The range has greatly improved as well as speed increases. This makes the device much better suited to being taken on the road and used as a temporary computer when hooked up to a hotel HDTV.

Not all of the issues were addressed of course. The small space does limit the internal storage and Intel has decided to stick with the 32GB eMMC solid state drive. This means that performance is still well below even most SATA class SSD drives found in laptops and desktops. With the operating system installed, there is very little space for applications or data to be installed. Thankfully there is a MicroSD card slot that allows for some extra storage to be added quite easily.

Overall, the best plans for using a Compute Stick is to convert an older TV or monitor into a low cost computer for basic computing usage or media streaming. After all, the Windows 10 operating system gives it a lot of flexibility in terms of what it can do compared to dedicated streaming devices. Sadly, it still falls short of what a low cost laptop for anywhere from $200 to $300 can provide.

Pricing for their 2016 Intel Compute stick is suggested to be $159 when it finally becomes available. This makes it slightly more affordable than the last version but they are not deeply discounted. Sadly, there is no lower cost Linux version planned but more premium ones with better processors and extra memory but at a much higher cost. Intel does not have much competition in this market segment with only the Lenovo clone of the original that has many of the same issues but less performance than this new model.