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7 Reasons Why You Should Buy a PC Compute Stick

Stick PCs have been slowly gaining in popularity, and if you're wondering what all the fuss is about, here are several excellent reasons you should consider picking one up.

1. The ultimate portable PC

Laptops and tablets have long been touted as the best portable computing option on the market, but Stick PCs take portability to a whole new level.

Most Stick PCs are not much bigger than your generic USB flash drive, and you only need a few things to set them up. You'll need a screen with HDMI port, a keyboard, a mouse, and of course a power source. The good news is because of its size a Stick PC so you can fit them anywhere. You can carry it in our pocket, purse, briefcase, or even on your keychain; you'll never be without a fully functioning PC again as long as you have all the necessary peripherals.

2. It's a much better media player than a Smart TV

Stick PCs have full versions of the Windows operating system onboard, which means you have more options for how you view or listen your favorite media. Whether you are a VLC Player person or a Windows Home Cinema fan, you'll be able to play pretty much any type of media. Plus, all streaming services are supported, because you can go directly to them. Not all Smart TVs have the same apps available, so this way you don't have to miss out on your favorite shows or movies.

3. The smallest media server you will ever own

You can have your very own media server! With a Stick PC plugged into your wireless router by running a program like Plex, you can have all your media stored and accessible all in something that doesn't weigh more than 300 grams; talk about convenience.

4. A great low-cost family PC

If you're looking for something that your children can use, monitor easily, and won't hurt your wallet, Stick PCs are a great choice. Some of the cheaper versions can cost only about $100, and since it's a full version of Windows, you can set up Microsoft Family Safety. Plus, since you need a screen with a HDMI port, you can always have it set up in plain sight, so your kids are never surfing the web without supervision.

5. Perfect for webcam calls

If you have a webcam and often make Skype or Google Hangout calls, there is no way around it: having your meeting on your 80-inch living room TV is pretty fun. Not too mention, it makes conference calls with large groups of people or sitting down with the family to talk to far away loved ones much easier to manage.

6. USB power supply

Depending on what model of Stick PC you have, you may not even need to power it with a wall outlet, sometimes you can power them with the USB port already on your RV. This makes Stick PCs even more travel-friendly. A lot of TVs and other monitors have USB ports, which means you can save space on your power bar and just plug the Stick PC right into the screen you intend on using.

One top of that, some of the Stick PCs that can be powered through a USB port can even draw from a power bank. The power bank has to be able to put out a minimum of 2.1A charging speeds, and will need a decent capacity to get you anywhere, so make sure you know the power requirements of your Stick PC and the specifications of your power bank before you attempt it.

7. Great low-cost IFTTT server.

If you're the type of person who uses a lot of home automation products, having a Stick PC around with an "If this, then that" program — like IFTTT Maker for Windows 10 — can make your life easier without breaking the bank.

Like what you've read?

Do you think you might want a Stick PC after all? Head over to our roundup of the Best PC Compute Sticks to learn more about what's on the market.

73 Comments
  • Nice article.
  • Will wait for the GTX1080M version thankyouverymuch.
  • Unlikely, and pretty pointless. Streaming takes care of that, so effectively mine DOES use a GTX1080. And not the mobile version either. If I wanted to buy a second GTX1080 it would be better to put it in my desktop rig, then my stick PC would be able to use SLI 1080s for my Steam library. You are missing out by not using streaming. It's what these sticks excel at.
  • My apologies. I forgot to add the smiley face emoji to indicate A JOKE.
  • How is this statement A JOKE?
  • There is no GTX 1080m. There is just GTX 1080. But if next gen PC sticks come with usb type C, Maybe an eGpu will get that done (I don't know how eGpu works, Processor probably don't support enough PCI-E to get a good gpu to work). I think it would be a better product if they give someting like lap dock to make it a laptop.
  • Erm, okay Poindexter. Maybe there needs to be an "M" variant for a pooter stick. Besides, it was a "Joke".
  • The only JOKE I see is your name "signal-2-noise"
  • Great. Now you've made me cry.
  • Yes it was joke. And you made a mistake in joke too. And this statement is well within the realm of possiblity. You made that joke comment thinking its impossbile but I think it might be possible. EVE companies next project is suppose to be eGPU.
  • I'm waiting for the one with four usb ports. (Better include this...;))
  • I have a Roku stick. I also have a Lenovo stick PC (exactly the same as the lower powered Compute Stick but with a Lenovo logo at post). The Roku stick is simpler to set up, but the stick PC is so much better. I can even install Kodi on it. One more thing it can do, I can run Steam on it and stream all my PC games to the TV with my Steam Controller plugged in. If only W10 used the Windows remote control a bit better, really annoying that I can select an app on the start screen but 'OK' won't launch it. At least Kodi uses the remote control well. Get a stick PC for the ultimate, portable HTPC. Stick it in any TV around the house. Also, it is fantastic for connecting my phone, tablet or laptop wirelessly to the TV (more reliable than the Roku for that).
  • If one doesn't care about the portable aspect, is the XB1S the better device IYO? Esp. now with W10 unifying between "Desktop" & Xbox... I might consider a "stick" for other parts of the house LT...
  • I haven't priced the sticks, but aren't the X1S supposed to be getting a price cut (maybe it was just a sale I can't remember) so if you drop portability, I'd say yes, get that. You can always stream it to the sticks or another PC (especially with the bluetooth controllers) around the house.
  •   Depends on your needs. Like you can't install Kodi on xbox. For normal web browsing and media consumption from browser or available apps, Xbox is better. If you want to stream steam games, Pc stick(though xbox is better for playing games :D). Xbox have 4K capability and controller is better than keyboard/mouse for most media consumption. Both should be on sale for black friday and Xmas so make your decision keeping all things in mind.
  • Yeah think I'll stick with the: XB1S, PS4_Slim, & nVidia Shield. Have a bunch of 2-in-1's/Hybrids/UP's which can be our W10 "compute sticks". Also have some of the latest Chromecasts & Rokus etc... Then ofc is my HTPC/PVR build, a WIP that'll be running a mish-mash of *nix.
  • You can install mouse without borders on the stick pc, and also on your phone, then your phone acts as a trackpad and keyboard.
  • They have to make one with a microphone built in so you can let Cortana run it for you. This way there would be no need for a keyboard and mouse, and then I'll buy it.
  • I'm assuming you're meaning for a very specific purpose, right? 'Cause Cortana can't replace a keyboard and mouse in all scenarios.
  • I'm hoping Cortana will become powerful and interactive enough to enable full hands-free experience on the PC.
  • I mean technically there already is an option for handicap users but it's more obnoxious than practical 
  • I bought the Lenovo stick because of reason 2.
  • I have an Infocus Kangaroo and I m very very happy !
  • My kangaroo needs an eyeglass prescription.
  • Any smart TV or set top box is going to be much faster than this, since they don't need to worry about running an entire desktop OS. 
  • I'll have to disagree with you, I have a late '14 smart plasma TV, great for images but the smart features are beyond pathetic,this might be a good way for me to prolong the life of my plasma tv
  • You'd still be better off with a Roku. It'd be cheaper, and would be actually designed for TV use. 
  • You don't have to run Windows. You can run a light version of Linux and kick a Roku to the curb.
  • Does anyone know if there is a touch screen TV/Display that a PC Stick would work with?
  • I think you need Self powered USB hub for that, and any touch screen monitor with USB out from Dell should work fine.
    The hack consists on powering your Windows stick though usb port 1 of your hub and at same time let touch signals to be sent from user to usb out cable to USB in port 2 of your hub
  • This is why small tablet PCs are superior.
  • Hi everybody! Could anybody recommend me a mini PC to use it instead desktop PC? Is it possible to use it with wireless keyboard and wireless mouse (or keyboard with touchpad) for Internet, multimedia and Office Word? I'm not a gamer. Does a TV has to be smart, or the PC is making it smart? I am moving into one-room apartment and have to buy a TV and a computer. I don't have enough of space for table, computer, monitor and tones of cables. So, if anybody could give me some help... I'd be very grateful! Thank you! :)
  • There are a few options you could go with. First - do you want a Windows or Chrome operating system?  After you decide that, you can narrow down your options. Stick PC's are obviously the smallest, but their computing power can be very limited depending on which one you get.  The best ones still run in the $400-$500 range and still require you to plug them into a power outlet. Here's one that you would still need to install an operating system onto - either Windows or Chrome OS(free):  https://goo.gl/Bdha2b You could go with a mini-PC which will get you more computing bang for your buck, but would require you to plug the pc into your tv with an hdmi cable, but it would be faster and more powerful.  Here's one with an older but still fast i7 processor that runs Google Chrome that would be great: https://goo.gl/Djytdp I would look at Newegg.com and Amazon.com at Sticks and mini-PCs and read all the reviews and narrow it down to what you want.  
  • Wow... That's so, so, soo... expensive! :) I mean, for a little bit of watching movies over usb stick, Office Word, and a bit of internet browsing! Thank you for your suggestion!
    I just wanted to ask you one more thing (sorry for bothering you); could this kind of product work for me? https://www.amazon.com/Desktop-Computer-Windows10-Quad-core-Bluetooth/dp...
  • There are a whole range of powers and prices. My Lenovo Stick 300 was £50 on Amazon. I think for a main PC you'd need something a bit more powerful though. At least £150-£200 laptop if that's all you can afford. Less, and you will feel it.
  • Never heard of that company but that should work fine for your needs. You can add anything else you need through those 2 USB ports. I owned the Thinkpad Tablet 2 which basically had the same specs as that and used it for everything you mentioned.
  • The other guy doesnt know what hes talking. Just buy any 120 dollar 8 inch Windows tab (with hdmi out) and a 100 dollar TFT with an HDMI to VGA converter. Tab plus desktop ready in less than 250 !
  • LOL are you f-ing serious???? a $500 chromebox with an i7?? What's the point??? All chromeboxes are is the same chrome OS with WEB apps.....you could use a celeron CPU for that, why in the world would you need an i7?? Everything is streamed off the web....you can't play games, you can't install anything. the only things you can do is stream video and browse the web, which is anything that the $40 android sticks on ebay can do!!!
  • Hey
    I'd look for a tablet PC with at least 2gb of ram and 32gb storage for around 120 dollars. 8 inch is best size
  • The infocus kangaroo starts at $169 And is quite possibly one of the best mini pc's.. Runs Windows 10 and has a battery backup built in. Pretty sweet.
  • I have an HP Stream mini PC connected to my living room TV and I love it! At the time it cost me $190 at the Microsoft Store online. It has since then been discontinued by HP but you can still find them on Amazon for a little more money. It's about the size of 2 Roku set-top boxes stacked on top of one another; not much space at all. Mine has a Celeron processor and came with 2 GB of RAM and 32GB of storage which I upgraded to 6 and 128 GB respectively (the fact that you can upgrade RAM and storage is great). It also has 4 USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI and a DV port, an SD Card reader, audio-out port (headphone jack) and an Ethernet port (it also has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities). You also have a power port for the external power supply. I use a Logitech wireless keyboard with built-in trackpad. It came with Windows 8 but I took advantage of Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer. The upgrade to Windows 10 worked flawlessly. I eventually purchased an Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows so that I can play games with my Xbox One controller! It is perfect for streaming everything as you would expect from a PC. Netflix, Crackle, Kodi, Plex, YouTube, Pandora and of course Groove Music and Microsoft Movies and TV. You'll also enjoy running MS Office on a large TV if you have the right keyboard (if you are going to do heavy Office documents then I would recommend getting a lap-desk and a full size keyboard with trackpad). If you don't need the portability of a PC Stick, then I would definitely recommend a mini PC. Sorry for writing a book!
  • One reason why not to: I had an Intel one and it failed after just a couple weeks.I got it replaced under warranty (took another several weeks), and that one failed almost immediately.    Into the trash it went.
  • I have 3, The first one was the STK1A32WFC & then I bought 2 STK1AW32SC. The first one has 1 USB Port so I use a USB HUB. I have used a portablt DVD player, a backup Sanmsung SSD, a Broadband to USB (in the hub on the first one & the on STK USB 3 on thelater ones. Also have a Logitech Camera & stero spearkers on it. I have tried to load ot down but so far it has not failed! On my main Desktop I am using a SAMSUNG 20" TV wit 2 HDMI ports. I have the TV on HDMI 1 & a STK1A32WFC on HDMI 2. That way if I have a long update running I can switch the Keyboard & Mouse wirleless dongle from the PC to the STK HUB & use the STK. The STK1AW32SC will take a 128GB Micro SSD card. Hows the for storage? I use a 64GB Micro SSD card because of the cot diffrence!
  • Will they run Windows 7 ? And have HDMI 2.0 output ? If so I would buy one... (Windows Media center machine)
  • I'll highly recommend you to try Kodi on Windows 10. Also, you can get Kodi from the Windows Store now.
  • No Cablecard with DRMed channels on Kodi.... worthless for my needs.... Thanks tho
  • I'm running Windows 10 on a Kangaroo PC (slightly larger version of these thumb drive sized units) and using the hacked WMC on it and several other Win 10 PCs. Works great and can watch all DRM channels, including HBO. Only thing you have to make sure of is that automatics updates is shut off and the Anniversary update is not installed. It killled off DRM. (SiliconDust HDHomerun Prime setup) 
  • I know the Hacked WMC very well (in the first 3-4 pages of the thread you will see me on there helping and testing.  I have a Ceton card and with the Anniversary version, no tuner any more. On my dedicated WMC machine, I run Windows 7, as it is the best OS for Media Center use... The hacked one can and has broken for a single update, Windows 7 version will just stay working as it's part of the OS.
  • Indeed, they do both.
  • I am using mine to stream games from my gaming PC using Steam. Works great. I might replace my Xbox with one of these soon.
  • What's cool as well is you can stream you Xbox to it so lets say your up stars your Xbox is downstairs you can simply stream it to your upstairs tv
  • I do the same thing! It's better than buying a second console or trying to run all my games through a steam or nvidia box.
  • Of course, the down side is that console games aren't quite up to the quality level of PC games and PC hardware is usually far better. If you don't have a gaming desktop PC then this is a great idea. If you do, then a console isn't much use anymore. Better experience streaming from desktop PC to stick PC. Consoles are great if you don't own a capable PC, but now are pretty redundant if you do.
  • If you got one of these then you don't 'so-called' smart tv...
  • I'd like to see an article about pros and cons of using Continuum vs a full compute stick.
  • I have just that Intel Stick (STK1AW32SC).. Truly nice, can be powered from the TV USB, although it comes with 3A poweradapter. "SmartTV" solutions are pure sh*** compaired to this. KODI Jarvis (16.1) in (even OPENElec version!!) and you never need anything more..
  • I got a Lenovo pc stick last year for £50 on a Amazon deal, free upgrade to Windows 10. I added a memory card & wireless keyboard / mouse combination which means my tv can now do basic computing task & make use of online catch up services.
    Yes a pc stick isn't that powerful but for basic everyday computing tasks it's a very viable option for a lot of people.
  • Just try a remote desktop connection to your desktop PC and then tell me it isn't that powerful. Time to think outside the box. Or PC case.
  • We bought 4 lenovo sticks for a project at work.  2 of the 4 have already failed.  However they only come with a 30day warranty so into the trash they went.  100 bucks for a small portable pc is great but only if they actually work.  We are going to try again but with something better than Lenovo.  (I never thought they should have bought Lenovo in the first place.  Every product I've ever used of theirs both professionally and personally was garbage)
  • Almost certainly because they updated Windows without applying the firmware update. It was a big issue for these sticks, but not for long. Should have tried to solve the problem before dumping prematurely. Oh yes, and Lenovo provide a full warranty with these sticks. The 30 day thing was probably with the store/provider. Bit of a mistake to chuck them before checking.
  • Actually, all updates were done and the problems were attempted to be fixed.  Also the 30 day warranty is Lenovo not the store.  "bit of a mistake" to make comments when you don't actually know as much about the situation as you think you do.
  • The brand doesnt matter. All PC sticks are almost same. Naive Users mostly end up frustrated due to Win 10 firmware and updates issues, which has got nothing to do with hardware and could happen with any PC u buy.
  • Just installed OpenElec 6.0.3 generic to my STK1AW32SC Intel Stick PC. All is well, BUT it seems that HDMI-CEC is nowhere to find? Does the HW even support this? All RaspberryPi devices does! INTEL C'moon!
  • How in the world would you accomplish #5? Do they have ports for webcam support?
  • http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/compute-stick/intel-compute-stick...  
  • Sorry if this is a dup reply, the comment editor is always wonky on my systems. All of them! Check out the example shown:  http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/compute-stick/intel-compute-stick... SSUSB port, for instance. Many compute sticks offer at least one port.
  • Ahh..very interesting, I totally did not imagine USB ports on them. Thanks for the info :)
  • You shouldn't..... you should get and apple TV  
  • Now that's a very educated comment. Good one champ!!!
  • What's that?
  • They talk here about a full function PC not an device that runs limited apps.
  • Nice
  • Hey all, If there is any person who believes the new generation Intel sticks are even in the same class as Apple TV, or ANYTHING for that matter(a feature filled Blue-ray player, Chromecast*, a new Samsung WiFi enabled Smart Curved 2160p LED 4K HD TV with HDR and the preloaded apps) then that person lacks imagination. The newest Gen Intel Compute stick model CS525 comes with 64Gb of eMCC storage embedded and while that end needs improvement to a pure Flash Drive, the size need not be any larger, since these sticks have only two uses. However, the eMCC is a step up, and moves along at about 250 MB/s R/W and has an embedded SATA3 AHCI controller and YES, that means the newest model comes with no OS. 4GB of DDR3 1,866 MHz, Memory and an m5-6Y57 at 2.8GHz, there are two uses for the Stick (BTW the video is 4k) and no product on the market unless custom built with an SSD in an enclosure, and embedding a WiFi chip, which is a pain in the neck.  Using it with your TV (like mine the Samsung I described above) and ignore the horrible Aps. Does anyone here enjoy running Netflix or YouTube on a BD Player, or Apple TV? Or anything else, except maybe Chrome, using what is a mirror of your phone? As for the number of USB ports, you only need two, until they fix the power issue, 2 gens away. Their one issue is the power problem, a 3-4-hour battery would be nice and would fit, but drive the price up right now. So, 1 USB to install, the OS (use a bootable USB) and the other for power and if needed (although I can’t think of a reason why, plug an external drive into the second one). The only way anyone would need to plug a watered Keyboard and mouse into the Stick if if they do not own a Windows, Android or iPhone. Visit the app store of your choice and search for “Intel Compute Stick Keyboard and Mouse,” no cost, free, and works with the 4.0 Bluetooth built into the stick. Then consider the difference of searching for movies or YouTube Vids, or whatever on your Notebook, or Workstation and how easy and fast they come up and imagine that on a 65” TV, with a fully operational OS. That nice TV I mentioned above is what I use the Stick for when streaming Netflix, YouTube and if I want to look at a big Calandra (to see how busy you are) or check email whilst laying on the couch, or type your next novel, install Office 365 and you’ll have plenty of storage left over. NOW a very real benefit, cost reduction and major risk reduction for some of us: Because part of part of what my business offers to our clients, I've deployed these sticks to 4 of my team members as well and we imaged them with what is called Kali Linux (Debian, it is NOT limited to Ubuntu). At a client site, we simply use the HDMI port of our Notebook Monitors and our Phones as a WiFi Hotspot, thus isolating the WiFi built into the stick. This is obviously accomplished by the way the Hotspot is deployed on our phones. So, we can be working a client who needs simple Pen testing, or being more a bit more offensive (depending on the situation) allowing the attacker to believe they grabbed 250K credit cards, which record and transmit for about a week and at the right time, let the offender know someone will be knocking at his or her door, as they watch their rig melt. Better than playing with a Pi 3, no?  : - ) Keep smilin'