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by Nick Sullivan, Peter Symonds & Charina Warne | Nov 30, 2016
Intel Compute Stick – getting smaller and better!

Price: $179
  • Basic PC performance with mobile flexibility
  • Ability to run Remote Desktop Services
  • Low in price

The first generation Intel Compute Stick launched only 1 year ago in Q2 of 2015. Whilst the original Compute Stick was a very low performing and sometimes unreliable device, Intel have continued to develop it and have since released 2 more generations of the device.

The latest Compute Stick code named “Cedar City” and “Sterling City” brings to the table a much more powerful device with options from the low end Atom X5—Z8300 CPU up to  m3 and m5 variant CPU’s . No more is this device just for the home multimedia/theatre casting streaming type application (similar to a Chrome Cast or Apple TV) – this very much could be the computer of the future for your average business worker.

We tested the Atom X5-z8300 device in house. It was preloaded with Windows 10 and Bing, a comparatively stripped down variant of Windows to minimize space, and to include only the applications you need to get off the ground. Coupled with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash storage expandable with Micro SD cards, out of the box, I was actually surprised by the performance.

Whilst this isn’t intended to be a review of the device, because let’s face it there are far better ones here and here, the main thing we were interested in testing was its capability to replace some of the lower end machines in the work place to minimize power consumption. It would  provide that go to machine when there are more bodies than seats. It would perhaps help retire some of those extremely old PC’s that are pushing 6 and 7 years that don’t warrant the cost of a brand new machine. 

The term “thin client” may disappear for good now with the Compute Stick providing more than enough power for general Word processing, Excel, and graphics related applications whilst also working extremely well in a Remote Desktop/Citrix Style applications. With the right connectivity, you can add a second monitor by the way of USB video cards which even the Atom was happy to support. 

They work very well, achieving what we believe to have been Intel’s design objective, happily streaming 1080P video via 802.11 AC WiFi or a USB HDD plugged directly into the device. The bundled Intel remote keyboard works well, but we still preferred either a wireless or Bluetooth keyboard option. 

Keep in mind they do only run Windows 10 with Bing. That is considered a home style variant of Windows (cannot join a domain) and without expansion via the way of SD card, you are limited to about 11 GB of space after Windows – again targeting that multimedia or thin client type applications.

Overall though, at $179 for a power saving, space saving, money saving device that was only first released last year, they have come a long way. To think they are now also packing a mobile variant of the core i3 and core i5 (our core business machine specification), it can’t be long before we also see more flash storage, more memory, USB type C, and a whole lot more connectivity options for these tiny little power houses.


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Price: $99

  • 12 hour battery life
  • Compact at only 61cm
  • Easy wireless connectivity

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    Price: $99.95 (On Sale)
  • Advance ergonomic design
  • Separate number pad for flexibility
  • True comfort for lasting productivity
  • Easy wireless connectivity

    27” Samsung Curved Monitor
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  • Super slim curved design
  • 3000:1 contrast ratio
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