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 best stick PCs at a glance
- The best stick PC: Intel Compute Stick
- The best stick PC under $100: Asus Chromebit
- The best portable stick PC: Awow PC Stick
- The best stick PC for streaming: Terryza Mini Computer Stick
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 is more than enough to be getting on with, but Intel’s range of chip options give plenty of versatility in the range.
Why you should buy it: For under $100 you get a perfectly functional stick PC with high-speed wireless access.
Who it’s for: Students, families who don’t mind Chrome OS.
Why we picked the Asus Chromebit:
Chrome OS isn’t just for the best Chromebooks any more. It can also form the basis for an affordable entry-point for stick PCs and Asus’ Chromebit is one of the best. It 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 RK3228C, a popular quad-core chip that’s paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC flash storage. As with every Chrome OS device, it also gets 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years.
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.
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 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.
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.
The Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity 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.
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