Best PC sticks 2023: Great picks for gaming, media server
Compute without compromising space with one of these great PC sticks.
PC sticks are instant computers; you only need to add a screen. The compromise is ultimately on performance, but they are extremely portable and useful when you need a little bit of computing power on the go.
We've put together a list of the best PC sticks available — whether you want a truly budget option or something with a few extra features — so you can take your computer with you wherever you go.
Why buy a PC Stick?
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The reasons you might want to buy a PC stick vary from person to person. PC sticks are extremely easy to carry around with you while traveling, and they make for easy hubs while staying in hotels. At their base, they're a great way to run full Windows anywhere as long as you have a screen available.
Better still, a PC stick is a great idea to use as a media PC or server plugged into the back of your TV. They're extremely low-powered and can be left on all the time.
- Small and extremely portable.
- Very power efficient.
- Perfect to use with a TV as a media machine or a small server.
- Limited performance for more intensive tasks.
- Limited connectivity options.
The best PC Sticks
The AIOEXPC has the same specs and design as our old top pick, the Terryza W5 Pro. It comes with a quad-core Intel Atom Z8350 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 128GB of eMMC storage, and Windows 10 Pro. It will stream all your favorite shows and movies, and it'll let you browse the web. The microSD card slot can be used to expand storage capacity — up to 128GB — making it easy to store any necessary files and apps. Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 allow for easy connection of wireless accessories, and there are two USB-A ports for wired devices.
The AWOW Mini PC stick comes with an Intel Celeron J4105 quad-core CPU, up to 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and up to a 128GB SSD. It has a microSD slot to expand storage, there's Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless connectivity, and it supports a 4K display via the HDMI 2.0 port. USB-C 3.0, two USB-A 3.0, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, and a Kensington lock slot round things out. It comes with Windows 10 Pro installed.
Pre-loaded with Windows 10 Pro, the Azulle Access4 Pro comes with 64GB of onboard storage and a microSD card slot that can use up to a 512GB card. Its dual-core Intel processor is enough to stream movies and get your email done, especially with 4GB of RAM. It has an Ethernet port, but it also has an attached antenna for better Wi-Fi 5 connectivity. Other ports include 3.5mm audio, USB-C, USB-A, microSD, and a Kensington lock slot.
The fanless PC stick packs in a quad-core Intel Celeron J4125 CPU, 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and 128GB of eMMC storage. A Gigabit Ethernet port is included, as well as an antenna for better Wi-Fi 5 reception. Bluetooth 4.2 is also there for wireless accessories. It supports Wake on LAN, PXE, and RTC Wake, plus its microSD storage can be expanded up to 1TB. Other ports include 3.5mm audio, USB-A, and a Kensington lock slot.
This option from Axon might be the best PC stick for those who don't want to spend a ton of money. It has Windows 10 Pro, an Intel Celeron CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of eMMC storage. The microSD card can handle up to 512GB of extra storage, and a flip-up antenna helps the Wi-Fi 5 connectivity. There's also Bluetooth for your accessories. Other ports include USB-A, USB-C, Ethernet, HDMI out, and Mini DisplayPort.
A pint-sized PC
Any of the options listed above will land you a portable Windows 10 PC for even less money than the best budget laptops. Having a small, pocket-sized PC that runs Windows 10 is a fantastic tool for anyone who finds themselves traveling a lot for work or pleasure. They can also be a great addition to a TV in a living room or garage, turning it into a media center on the cheap.
If you're wondering exactly where to start, the AIOEXPC is a well-rounded option that balances performance and price. It boasts a quad-core Intel Atom CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of eMMC storage with the ability to expand by 128GB through a microSD card reader. Connect with two USB-A ports, Wi-Fi 5, and Bluetooth 4.2. If you're looking for a general-purpose option, this is it.
If you're looking for a PC stick that has potential as a media hub, the AWOW NY41S PC with quad-core Intel Celeron J4105 is probably your best bet. With expandable storage via microSD, up to 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM, Bluetooth 4.2 compatibility, and both USB-C and USB-A ports, it's easy to make this stick into a portable media hub.
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Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
- Richard DevineManaging Editor - Tech, Reviews