Small form factor PCs have been around for a while now. We have seen companies such as Asus and ZOTAC releasing small form factor PCs for years now and more recently Intel had released its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) as a compact form factor PC with an Atom processor. While the category is old, there hasn’t been much adoption on the consumer front in terms of sales. For most people a computer still means a desktop or a laptop at least.
Intel announced the Compute Stick earlier this year at Computex, which is basically an entry level computer on an HDMI stick. This is quite a unique form factor for a small form factor PC. At first glance it resembles any other media-player on an HDMI stick such as the Chromecast, but offers much more in terms of usability.
Intel’s Compute Stick comprises the Intel Atom Z3735F processor which is clocked at 1.33GHz with the burst frequency going to 1.8GHz. It is a quad-core non-hyperthreaded processor. It comes with Intel HD graphics. The processor is paired with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and also has 32GB of onboard eMMC storage. The Compute Stick comes in a 32-bit Windows 8.1 OS with Bing variant as well as in a Linux variant. On the connectivity front, you get Wi-fi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0. If you get the Windows 8.1 OS variant of the Compute Stick, then you naturally get the option to upgrade it to Windows 10 OS as well.
We got the Windows 8 version for review. When it comes to connectors and ports, on the right hand side you have a microSD card slot whereas on the left hand side there is the single USB port, a microUSB port for power and further down there is the power button. The Compute Stick will require USB power for it to turn on. You can either use the spare USB port on your TV or in case your monitor has a USB Hub. Else Intel bundles a external power adapter for the USB cable.
Considering the Intel Compute Stick is targeted more as a secondary or tertiary computing device, the raw performance numbers aren’t that great. For instance, Cinebench R11.5 gave a score of 0.8. The data transfer speed on the 32GB flash storage maxes out at 147 MB/s for sequential read and 45 MB/s for sequential write. In short, it is at par with Intel Atom Z3735 processor sporting devices such as the Micromax Canvas Laptab. But we are talking two completely different product categories.
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