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Ditch the desktop and hit the couch with our favorite stick PCs

Ever since Intel first released the Compute Stick, we’ve seen a rush of tiny PCs built into HDMI dongles. Some take advantage of the free-to-manufacturers Windows with Bing offering, while others use more traditional operating systems such as Android and Linux. While a number of stick PCs use Intel’s reference design and specs, there are also unique options from third-party manufacturers, but the good news is there’s room for all under the stick PC tent.

Intel Compute Stick ($132)

Intel Compute Stick Thumb 2016

Intel launched the first iteration of the Compute Stick back in March of 2015, and ever since, a number of other stick PCs have picked up on the Intel’s standard specs and carried them. The most recent version of the Compute Stick is powered by an Intel Atom Z8300 processor, 4GB of RAM, with 32 or 64GB of eMMC storage, and a MicroSD slot if you need a bit more space. As for connectivity, it attaches to a TV or monitor via HDMI, is powered over Type-C, with one USB 3.0 Type A port on the unit itself, and two more on the power adapter.

The Intel Compute stick comes in a few other flavors as well, including a top-end version kitted out with an Intel Core M processor, so you can actually get a stick PC that might be a little faster than your laptop. That model will run you $485, though, but for all that horsepower it could be worth the cost.

Read our full review here

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Asus Chromebit ($85)

If you’ve used Chrome OS recently, you know it has become a robust and utilitarian operating system with a large variety of uses. The Asus Chromebit puts all of the functionality of the OS into a small dongle that plugs right into your HDMI port for less than $100. The Chromebit is powered by a RockChip RK328, an increasingly popular quad-core chip, and connectivity is bolstered by Wi-Fi, built-in Bluetooth, and a USB port. Chrome OS makes for an excellent portable computing solution, the cloud-based nature of which can’t be rivaled.

Read our full review here

Buy one now from:

Amazon

InFocus Kangaroo Mini PC ($170)

While not technically a stick PC, the Kangaroo’s tiny form factor renders it perfectly suitable for many of the same uses as the other systems on our list.

While the specs under the hood are fairly standard — it houses an Atom Z8500 CPU and features a couple different RAM and storage space configurations, the Plus or Pro models.

The Plus model features 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of on-board storage space, while the Pro model features 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage space, and comes with a stationary dock which increases the number of ports available. The Pro Dock features three additional USB ports, and an Ethernet port.

Both retail for around $170, so there’s something here for everyone, depending on your needs.

Read our full review here

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Azulle Quantum Access LAN PC Stick ($130)

azulle-quantum-access

The Azulle is a take on the original Intel Compute Stick, and has most of the same hardware, right down to the Intel Z3735F quad-core processor. However, unlike the Compute Stick, this particular model of the Quantum Access has an Ethernet port. That’s a handy extra, particularly if you’d like to use your stick as a lightweight media and file server. Also, unlike a lot of other Compute Stick variants, this particular model ships with Windows 10. It’s free to upgrade from 8.1 anyway, but it’s nice to have that taken care of beforehand.

Buy one now from: 

Amazon

Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 ($100)

Lenovo’s response to the Intel Compute Stick isn’t as much an improvement as it is almost a carbon copy. The IdeaCentre Stick packs in the same internal components – including the same Atom Z3735 processor, with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It’s also available for $20 less than the Intel offering, with an optional bundle that includes a keyboard-and-mouse remote control. It’s not the most exciting stick PC but it represents a solid option close to the reference design.

Buy one now from:

Lenovo