All performance aside it is quite incredible that Intel was able to bring a PC to market in such a small form factor. I thought their NUC systems were small! This form factor has so many possibilities and since it is a HDMI stick it will work with any display that has an HDMI input. While the Compute Stick is extremely small the fact that you still need a power adapter does not make it super portable.
Compared to the 1st generation Compute Stick Intel has made some great improvements. First you get a better processor, the Intel Atom x5-Z8300. Intel has also added a second USB port, this time a USB 3.0 port. Having a second port is great. This means you won’t need a USB hub if you want to use a wired keyboard and mouse. The WiFi has also been upgraded to 802.11ac WiFi with a 2×2 antenna. Doing some research one of the biggest complaints about the original Compute Stick was the WiFi.
Now when it comes to performance this is not going to replace your main PC, not even an Intel NUC, which has many more advantages than the Compute Stick. The Compute Stick sits in its own category, I would call it a small form factor basic computing advice. What I mean by basic computing device is that you will be doing basic tasks like word processing, internet browsing, light media streaming, etc. On the business side you could use this for a small Skype machine, digital signage, kiosks, etc. I had no problem running Microsoft office and browsing the internet on the Compute Stick. Now start opening more than 3 programs or a handful of tabs and the Compute Stick will start to slow down. This is mostly due to the 2GB of memory, that really is not a lot.
When it comes to streaming services I was able to play YouTube videos at 1080p, while 4K content would stutter quite a lot. Streaming Netflix actually worked the best out of all of the streaming services that I tried. I was also able to watch games on NHL.tv and stream Amazon vidoes too. With that said if you are looking for a streaming device I would recommend something like the Amazon Fire TV stick. It is cheaper and does not have Windows 10 running in the background hogging resources. And it comes with a remote for easy navigation.
At the end of the day Intel has improved upon an already great device given its small size and low power consumption. If you need a basic PC this is a great low-cost choice. The model that we reviewed today (BOXSTK1AW32SCR) sells for $141.95 at my favorite online retailer. Now if you want something more powerful Intel does have Compute Sticks coming out with Core m5 and Core m3 processors with 4GB of memory, but we are not sure when they will be released.
Overall ThinkComputers gives the Intel Compute Stick (2nd Generation) a 9 out of 10 score.
– Incredibly small form factor
– Becomes preloaded with Windows 10
– Low power consumption
– An actual full-fledged PC able to do basic computer tasks
– Intel made improvements over the 1st generation Compute Stick
– 2GB of memory limits it
– If looking for a streaming device others are cheaper