Intel Compute Stick with Atom x5 Processor is Now available for $150 in the US

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Intel unveils five new Compute Stick models last month, including three models with Core-M Skylake processors, and two models with Intel Atom x5-Z8300 processor: one with Windows 10 (STK1AW32SC), one without operating system (STK1A32SC). The Skylake model are not available yet, but the Windows 10 version can now be purchased for around $150 on Amazon, Newegg, and CDW.

Intel_Compute_Stick_Atom_X5The specifications have not changed since the announcement, but it’s always good to refresh once memory:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 Quad-Core “Cherry Trail” processor @ 1.44 GHz/1.84 GHz and Intel HD Gen8 Graphics
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L @ 1600MHz
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SDXC v3.0 slot with UHS I-Support up to 128GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4b
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi  and Bluetooth 4.0 (via Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x micro USB port for power
  • Misc – Power button, security notch
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – 113 mm x 38 mm x 12 mm

Intel_Compute_Stick_Atom_x5If you’d like to know how it performs before purchasing the TV stick, Liliputing reviewed the device, and unsurprisingly he found very little performance improvements over the previous model, except for WiFi which supports 802.11ac instead of only 802.11n. He found that the extra USB 3.0 port was also a nice addition, but felt use cases for that form factor are limited.

Now let’s say you are interested in this device, but you could not care less about Windows 10, and plan to run Ubuntu or other Linux distributions on it. There are two issues with that:

  1. The likely cheaper model without operating system is nowhere to be seen, so you are probably paying a little extra ($25) to get the privilege of deleting Windows 10.
  2. Unless things have changed since I tested Ubuntu in Tronsmart Ara X5, also based on x5-Z8300 processor, Intel Cherry Trail processor family is not fully supported in Linux, and features like HDMI audio are not supported, and graphics drivers did not work very well at all at 4K resolution.

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SteveRaymond Daypaul taranehRon Recent comment authors
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Ron
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Ron

I am quite sure that next week, at MWC, Intel would introduce Willow-Trail SoC – the successor of Cherry-Trail. It is the Atom version of Skylake.

Willow-Trail is the Soc that would power the future Windows Phones – the Surface Phone – that would be the next evolution for Windows phones: the move to x86 SoCs.

But if Intel released the Cherry-Trail compute stick only now, it means that there would be a long time until we would see a Willow-Trail compute stick or mini PC.

I really hope that Willow-Trail would have Gen9.5 graphics (like in Kaby Lake – the successor of Skylake, which would be launced in a few months). That would finally bring HDMI 2.0, true hardware decoding of [email protected], h265 10bit and vp9 10bit.
But I’m too optimistic. That would most probably not happen, and it would only have Gen9 graphics, that don’t have all the above features… We’ll have to wait to the next generation in 2017.

paul taraneh
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paul taraneh

Why do these units seem to be getting more costly? Especially with the chance of getting a non authorized version.

Raymond Day
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Raymond Day

@paul taraneh

They cost more because they are better.

Steve
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Steve

Presumably the big advantage over the previous generation Bay Trail Z-series sticks is that the GPU in Cherry Trail is far, far better to that in Bay Trail. (4 EUs in Bay Trail, 12 EUs in Cherry Trail)