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The best stick PCs for 2020

Stick PCs make our lives easier by reducing everything we need to one convenient, stick-shaped bundle. The best stick PCs can do everything your best PC or best laptop can, but without the bulk and weight. For ultimate convenience, stick PCs make all the difference.

The stick PC market has exploded in recent years, making it tough to wade through and find the best one. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up the top options, with stick PCs from all different operating system brands and at various price points. The Intel Compute Stick has broad storage options and has all of the quality you need.

The best stick PCs at a glance

The best stick PC: Intel Compute Stick

Intel Compute Stick Cherry Trail 2016
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Intel’s Compute Sticks helped launch the stick PC market and they’re still going strong today with some serious power inside.

Who it’s for: Anyone — just pick the right one for you.

Why we picked the Intel Compute Stick:

Intel launched the first iteration of the Compute Stick back in March 2015, and ever since, a number of other stick PCs have picked up on the Intel’s standard specs and carried them. There are several versions available today with a choice of 2GB and 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 USB-C, with one USB-A 3.0 port on the unit itself, and two more on the power adapter.

The big difference is in the processing power, though and that’s what swings the price tag North and South by large margins. You’ll find the entry-level, CS125 with an Atom CPU for not much north of $100, but there are much more powerful Core m3 and even Core m5 versions available if you’re happy to spend a few hundred dollars more.

For a basic PC experience, the Atom-equipped entry-level model of the Intel Compute Stick is more than enough to be getting on with, but Intel’s range of chip options give plenty of versatility in the range.

The best budget stick PC: AIOEXPC PC Stick

Why you should buy it: This affordable PC is still capable of 4K playback and the latest connections.

Who it’s for: Those looking to give their TV some PC properties on a budget.

Why we picked the AIOEXPC PC Stick:

Those looking for an affordable stick to convert a home TV or accomplish a similar simple task may be willing to trade in some performance for a lower price. We recommend this stick, powered by an Intel Atom Z8350 processor with 4GB of RAM, support for dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2. The Intel HD Graphics 400 technology is enough to support 1080p, and there is also support for a supplemental microSD card.

While the AIOEXPC PC Stick may not have the highest possible specs, there’s more than enough grunt for HD video playback and web browsing. You’ll still get smooth video with a good Wi-Fi connection, and it’s a great little PC for storing backups or reserving an OS for specific activities. Note that this model is fan-cooled, so it isn’t the quietest of the stick PC options.

The best portable PC: Awow Mini PC Stick

Why you should buy it: This stick is built for moving between workstations.

Who it’s for: Professionals or students who frequently move between rooms and venues.

Why we picked the Awow Mini PC Stick:

One of the best advantages of PC sticks is how easy it is to transfer them from place to place. But if you’re frequently on the go and moving between a variety of workstations and rooms, then it’s also important that your stick is durable, can pick up a signal reliably, and has enough power to act as a laptop alternative when necessary.

Awow’s stick does this and more, with an Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. It comes with Windows 10 Pro, includes dual-band Wi-Fi, and has a collapsible antenna if you’re in a spot where connectivity is hit or miss. It’s also made with a fanless design to help keep components cool no matter where you’re working or how often you’re moving around. If you’re keeping to one spot, there’s also Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for a better-quality connection.

We also appreciate the Awow Mini PC Stick‘s instant-on feature that boots up whenever you plug it in and turn on the display, which also saves some time when traveling around. Though it won’t hold a candle to our best laptops, you’ll still be able to get some serious work done.

The best stick PC for streaming: Terryza Mini Computer Stick

Why you should buy this: This speedy streaming stick is perfect for setting up a mobile entertainment center.

Who it’s for: Those who want PC power for streaming beyond the usual stick devices.

Why we picked the Terryza Mini Computer Stick:

For serious streaming, you need a stick that can keep up, and this Terryza pick is one of the best, with a four-core Intel Atom Z8350 processor and 8GB of RAM. With 4K support and dual-band Wi-Fi, it’s a great solution for those who want more than the usual TV streaming devices.

This stick also comes with both USB-A 3.0 and 2.0 ports, as well as support for HDMI, so you have plenty of connection options to use as needed. You can even expand the onboard storage with a MicroSD card if you find yourself filling the stick with files and apps. The Terryza also ships out with a full version of Windows 10 Pro, so you’ll get all the great admin features you need, like Bitlock encryption and remote access.

With Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, the Terryza Mini Computer Stick gives you plenty of options for connecting accessories based on your setup, too. However, note that it does not have an Ethernet port for a wired connection, so it’s intended to focus on wireless streaming specifically.

The best stick PC for the workplace: Azulle Access3

Why you should buy this: It’s a great speedy workplace stick that includes Windows 10 Pro.

Who it’s for: Professionals who want to enable a TV or bounce around between different workstations.

Why we picked the Azulle Access3:

Azulle’s Access3 has specs that fulfil all your office needs and supports Windows 10 Pro, an Apollow Lake N3450 processor, and 4GB of RAM. The Access3 also has a 64GB storage capacity and a microSD/XC card slot that will increase your storage capacity if you so desire. This device has a fanless design to prevent your device from overheating at all costs.

The model supports dual-band Wi-Fi (with an antenna to help overcome any signal issues) but also has a Gigabit Ethernet port for a faster cable connection when necessary. Streaming 4K video won’t be a problem, and ports also allow you to connect a wired keyboard or mouse with USB-A compatibility, plus Bluetooth support for anything else.

This combination of qualities makes the Azulle Access3 a useful accessory for projectors, conference rooms, busy open workspaces, kiosks, and more. This proves highly functional for long web conferencing, and you can also use it to administer digital signage.

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