The best PC sticks for when you're on the move.
Instant computer: Just add a screen! That's the general idea of the ultra-portable PC sticks, but it can be hard to know which one to get. Relax, we've got you covered.
We've come up with a list of the best PC sticks you can buy — and even included some budget options — so you can take your computer with you wherever you go.
- Intel Compute Stick CS325
- Intel Compute Stick (2nd Gen)
- Azulle Quantum Access LAN PC Stick
- Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300
Intel Compute Stick CS325
Intel had been promising better Stick PCs, and now it looks like they have delivered with the Intel Compute Stick CS325. However, You will pay for the upgrade: the Intel Compute Stick CS325 starts around $379.
The biggest change with Intel's newer model is its processor. No longer running on the Atom, the Intel Core m3-6y30 processor delivers a much smoother experience. The upgrades don't stop there, the CS325 also increased it's RAM to 4GB, giving you that extra speed you need to do all the browsing and streaming you want much more efficiently.
This version of Intel's Compute Stick runs on the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and also offers onboard storage of 64GB, making it easier to store more of your important files and documents on the go.
The CS325 has three 3.0 USB ports in total, one on the stick itself, and two on the power adapter, making it easy to hook in any devices or peripherals you deem necessary. On top of that, Bluetooth 4.2 is also included, which is perfect for pairing a keyboard and mouse to the Stick.
For those looking for even more power Intel sells a version with a Core m5 processor, which we recently reviewed and came away impressed despite the sticker shock.
Intel Compute Stick 2nd Gen
Intel's second version of its Compute Stick imagines a world with a computer in everyone's pocket.
Running a 32-bit version of Windows 10, the Compute Stick allows you to have a full desktop PC anywhere you have a screen with an HDMI port. It runs Intel's Atom x5-Z8300 processor and has 2GB of RAM, making it perfectly capable for streaming HD video from your favorite services. The 32GB solid state drive does offer limited storage space; however, the microSD card slot supports cards up to 128GB if you find yourself starved for space. Add in dual-band Wi-Fi and this tiny machine is ready to browse all your sites.
Intel has included two USB ports on the 2nd generation Compute Stick — one 2.0 and a faster 3.0 — so it's much easier to connect the peripherals you might need. Plus it has Bluetooth 4.0, so using a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse will free up those USB ports for other things.
It's worth mentioning that even though the Compute Stick does have a small internal fan, it will still get quite warm while running. Since you'll likely have it plugged into the back of a monitor or television, you probably won't even notice.
Azulle Quantum Access LAN PC Stick
The Azulle Quantum Access LAN PC Stick is powered by Intel's quad-core Atom Z3735F processor, making it powerful enough to handle most basic day-to-day uses, such as checking your email, browsing the web, or streaming your favorite media. With 2GB of RAM, this PC Stick is even good enough to do some very light gaming. The 32GB of internal storage isn't a lot, but you can expand the memory via the microSD slot, so downloading apps shouldn't stress you out.
It comes with Windows 10 installed, meaning you have a full working OS in a device that fits in the palm of your hand. It may only have one USB 2.0 port on its side, but the Azulle Quantum Access LAN PC Stick does carry an Ethernet port, which is handy in hotels or other locations where Wi-Fi is spotty or unavailable. As an added perk, there's no fan, making it completely silent.
Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300
The Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 is essentially a carbon copy of Intel's 2nd Gen Compute Stick on the inside.
Including the Intel Atom Z3735 processor, the Lenovo's stick also comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, meaning it will stream all your favorite shows and movies and let you browse the web just fine. Much like Intel's PC stick, the microSD card slot will allow you to expand your storage capacity, making it easy to store all the necessary files and apps you want.
Lenovo's connectivity is a little more limited due to having only one USB port; however, it's still compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 which means connecting the essential devices —such as a keyboard and mouse — will be no problem.
The greatest thing about the Lenovo stick is its price: it's $20 cheaper than the Compute Stick, meaning you can have a portable PC that is nicer to your wallet.
More on the way!
The PC stick market is just starting to heat up — companies such as ASUS, Intel, and Zotac are promising new models coming soon. They're expected to run on Intel's latest Atom chipsets, meaning we should see an increase in processing speed.
As these new products hit the shelves be sure to check back here to see if any of them are good enough to make the cut.