Intel Compute Stick, a computer with windows anywhere is a reality

The dongles or HDMI sticks have been one of the most enjoyable for users of technology in recent times surprises in this very compact format has been possible to find all kinds of little benefit ago – we told you about the highlights 9 of the current market – and things got more interesting when Intel introduced earlier this year its Compute Stick.

The proposal Intel Compute Stick is even more ambitious than we had seen in products like the CC and other dongles intended for multimedia playback. In this case, we have all one miniPC with Windows 8.1 or Ubuntu to us, and we already have been able to test this new way of making our job more ubiquitous than ever. Do you answer the Intel Compute Stick to the expectations?

In our tests, we have discussed a preliminary version of Intel – based Windows Compute Stick. This issue is already beginning to be sold in the US and it can be found at prices around $ 150, but in June, a slightly different version appear. It will have 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage, but also will be based on Ubuntu 14.04 and its estimated price will be $ 110 when displayed for sale.

Intel Compute Stick

Specifications and design

Intel is not a company in which we see the speech in which the design is an essential factor of its products, and it shows in a spartan Compute Stick as few in that paragraph. True, the form factor of these dongles do not give too many surprises, but here it is clear that the format of the accessory is rather rough.

The plate on which all components are integrated is protected by a reflective black plastic housing on top and matte on the sides and bottom. In the upper housing, we have the blue LED on, a logo “Intel inside” and two vents that allow the hot air output generated by the internal components.

On the sides are the various connection ports: one of them has a Micro SD slot for expanding the storage capacity and a small ventilation gap, while on the other we have the USB port, the antitheft slot, the Micro port USB to power the device, another small vent, and a small button Unions and Union Parts.

“Almost nothing is missing in the data sheet of the stick given its design and dimensions”

The lower edge are the HDMI connector is the one we use to connect the Intel Compute Stick to a TV, monitor or projector compatible and here Intel has had the detail to provide a small HDMI extender 20 cm that allows that if we can have more accessible its connection ports, something that has been very well to facilitate access to them during our tests. In the box USB charger 10 W (5V and 2A) and a USB cable to Micro USB are also included.

INTEL COMPUTE STICK (STCK1A32WFC)
OS Windows 8.1 with Bing (32 bits)
Processor Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core 1.33GHz
22nm, 2MB L2 cache, 2.2W SDP
Memory 2 GB (DDR3 1333 MHz)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Storage 32 GB eMMC SSD (Samsung MBG4GC)
Connectivity WiFi 802.11n (Realtek RTL8723BS) + BT 4.0
Ports 1 HDMI 1.4a output, 1 USB 2.0, 1 MicroSD, Micro 1 USB (charging)
Size 103 x 37 x 12 mm
Weight 54 g
Others antitheft slot
Dimensions 325 x 218 x 16 mm
Price 150 dollars

 

The integrated processor is an Atom Z3735F of the Bay Trail-T family, a model with quad – core Atom Silvermont that was originally oriented tablet market and is a good choice for a device like this. Intel provides different device drivers on their support website, and it should be noted that one of the problems of using Windows 8.1 with Bing in this device (even though the micro is 64 bits, is editing 32 bits which are pre – installed) is the operating system space required: once started for the first time are about 17 GB after the first- of updates, more than 1 GB by numerous patches that have appeared in W8. 1- Stay at about 14.5 GB.

The Intel Compute Stick as desktop or HTPC

One of the clear guidance of this little device is to serve as a work in productivity tasks. To do this, yes, we need to connect a mouse and a keyboard, something that is easy thanks to Bluetooth connectivity but can also be solved with the USB 2.0 port.

We take this second way: use a USB HUB HooToo also provide three USB ports 3.0, which actually are limited by the port Compute Stick 2.0 for transfers provides a useful data – port Gigabit Ethernet RJ45. The latter is not as important tasks like web browsing, but as we will discover later it can be crucial in another key scenario Intel device: playing multimedia content.

“The form factor so comfortable to carry around another only has the disadvantage of continuous noise cooling system”

With the HUB connected could integrate our usual keyboard and mouse desktop and start working on that Windows 8.1 desktop that behaves surprisingly decent shape. When connected to our 1440p test monitor, yes, we had to settle for use 1080p resolution at 60 Hz. The control panel HD Graphics Intel does not provide higher resolutions even with other combinations of refresh rate (we have only 50 or 60 Hz, nothing 30Hz, for example), so that at least we were limited series by this factor.

Yet the behavior of the Intel Compute Stick was really remarkable. The only really noticeable discomfort is what produces the sound of ventilation, which is practically constant in this area. This constant buzz can be tiresome, but here Intel wanted to make sure that the temperature was under control and the device dimensions forced to use active ventilation which unfortunately has this drawback.

In our tests, we open multiple browser windows (both Internet Explorer as an increasingly demanding Chrome) with multiple tabs and able to work smoothly. Although they occur slight delays in opening applications or new tabs and loading pages and Web services, those times are not worrisome and certainly are perfectly acceptable for extended work sessions.

The team’s performance is very decent broadly but bewares: we are talking about a miniPC with a very modest hardware configuration. We have executed benchmarks show that neither the processor, nor its integrated graphics or internal storage are especially noteworthy: the Intel Compute Stick allows working with conventional productivity solutions, but not recommended and asks to rely more on the account. The performance data are as follows:

HP STREAM X360 (INTEL HD GRAPHICS) SURFACE 3 (ATOM X7) INTEL COMPUTE STICK (INTEL HD GRAPHICS)
3DMark Ice Storm 16,097 20,894 9,056
3DMark Cloud Gate 1,272 2,112 982
PCmark Home nd 1,667 1,031
Creative PCmark nd 1,933 1,125
CrystalDiskMark nd 111.1 / 34.56 MB / s 149.9 / 78.25 MB / s
Geekbench 3.0 nd / nd 971 / 3,271 776 / 2,181

One of the possible uses of this team would be to use it for playing multimedia content. In our tests first play YouTube content with the 1080p resolution was smooth and the processor load was not excessive -less than 25% – and the same was true when playing content stored on local or network with applications like VLC or Media Player Classic. Although these technologies have not Atom encoding and decoding hardware – Intel accelerated QuickSync, Intel Clear Video playback HD – was again remarkable consumption without being fired.

“Thinking about its use as a media player, where he is serving, Intel has committed a serious error: I do not give it better Wi-Fi connectivity”

The main limitation is not in that SoC chosen by Intel. Even in the noise generated by the fan, which is the distance to which one is placed on the TV is completely hidden behind the sound of the content itself. The problem is 802.11n WiFi connectivity with the chipset and the format of this device was particularly poor. If you pretend to access content stored on the network, the better you to profit an Ethernet connection as you provide HUBs as we have mentioned, because otherwise “heavy” content can be put into many troubles in the modest Intel Compute Stick.

Here we also have the option to store content locally, and although the internal storage space is not too much we can always take advantage of the MicroSD slot that supports cards up to 128GB. The performance here will vary with the card but in our tests with Class 10 cards we read and write rates that were around 25 MBps, sufficient for that smooth playback of content that does not rely on a wealth of data on wireless networks. Here it should be noted that it does not seem that the slot takes standards such as UHS-I and UHS-II of some cards last generation, and those are the theoretical maximums reached despite that those standards can be achieved peaks up to 312 MBps.

Intel Compute Stick, the opinion

$150 its costs this issue make clear that this device is far more ambitious than most miniPCs the market. Here it is inevitable not to mention proposals like those of the Raspberry Pi 2 although not comply so as solvent as a work team, significantly less powerful but much cheaper and certainly can meet solvency tasks reproduction video. Although Intel emphasizes that reproduction of content as one of the possible options, we believe that there is a much more noteworthy alternative in this section.

Where it really wins this whole device is in its ability to become our job. All Windows 8.1 to reach such an attractive format like this can save us from more of a problem and can be an interesting companion on visits and meetings. Obviously here always we need access monitor, keyboard, and mouse, but if we move in scenarios with these resources, the Intel Compute Stick can be a very important ally.

Intel’s ambition is clear: in view of market realities PC company is trying to inspire new types of scenarios in which their processors and components to make sense. The Intel Compute Stick is a very interesting bet facing that access to a team where we need it, but I cannot help thinking that you are going out very serious competitors with those future smartphones based on Windows 10 in which Microsoft promises to deliver the interesting convergence. They will be considerably more expensive devices, but much more in line with the reality of many users.

With everything and that, Intel’s solution can meet different needs and in fact, might just be the first iteration of a concept in which there is sufficient margin improvement. Perhaps in a second review see micros Intel Core M -no ventilators- or much better wireless connectivity, one of the great;  meanwhile, sure that this unique HDMI dongle attracts a large number of users.