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Intel Compute Stick gains needed upgrade!

The compute stick by Intel could have, should have, and would have been a great idea if it had been executed properly when first released. Unfortunately the original stick was an Intel Atom based processor and any system based on this cpu is going to be a tad slow. This could be forgiven if the other components were up to scratch, but, dodgy wifi connections, very inconsistent performance and a very clunky set-up process were not exactly ideal if the product was going to be taken up en masse.

On Thursday this week Intel showed off the next-gen of the Intel compute stick, and, thankfully, Intel have listened to the previous complaints and seemed to have hit it out of the park!

So, without further ado, there are three new versions to have a look at.

The bottom end of the three uses a Cherry Trail Atom CPU and is closest to its parent model of last year.

The other two however use the much more powerful Skylake Core M processors. One has a Core M3-6Y30 and the other uses a Core M5-6Y57 with Intel vPro management features enabled.

All of the above sticks share the same base design but the casing is very different when you consider the original was housed in a bulky plastic affair that seemed quite cheap whereas all the new models are housed within a softer, curvier looking case that looks and feels a much higher quality.

The Atom model stick includes a quad-core X5-Z8300, 2GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage. The largest upgrade is the wifi which throws out the realtek adaptor in favour of the Intel 7265 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 solutions.

Intel have added a second USB 3.0 port and it still has a micro SD card slot for expansion purposes, a power button and a lock slot. The only display adaptor is the male HDMI connector. Power comes from the micro USB, and, although INTEL say that power over HDMI is a possibility for the future, it is not currently feasible.

Going back to the Core M models; both the CPU and Intel HD 515 GPU’s are more powerful than their previous offering and Intel claim they can output 4k at 30Hz when attached to a compatible TV. They have also included a USB Type-C port, so the power adaptor doubles as a USB hub which is pretty shrewd of Intel.

Both sticks include 4GB of 1866MHz DDR3 RAM, which isn’t massive but should allow for better general computing performance than the 2GB in the original model. Storage is also upgraded to 64GB of eMMC.

The Atom version has an MSRP of $159 with an OS. The Core m3 version will cost about $400 with Windows and “closer to $300” with no OS. The m5 version costs $499 and is only being offered with no operating system, probably due to Intel believing this model will be loaded with custom OS by the owners. The Core-M versions should be available in February.

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