Install an aftermarket operating system on the Intel Compute Stick and you’ll void the warranty

Intel Compute Stick top angle
Intel’s Compute Stick, the tiny HDMI enclosure that houses an Atom-based computer, is compact, quiet, and inconspicuous, but a little less than the sum of its parts. The Compute Stick’s lower-end hardware struggles to keep up with the modern competition, and it suffers from an acute lack of ports and storage (32GB). And it’s now become clear that even its price — $109 for the Linux-based model — has a caveat: if you migrate from the preinstalled operating system, you’ll void the warranty.

That’s according to language spotted on the Intel Compute Stick support site by Softpedia. “Operating systems other than the ones listed” — either Windows 8.1 32-bit or Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit, depending on the model of Compute Stick — “are not supported and do not have drivers available,” the page says. “Installing a different operating system voids the Intel Compute stick warranty.”

While this policy could be seen as a way to discourage buyers from opting for the cheaper, Linux-based Compute Stick and installing Windows (the Windows model costs $149), Intel’s purpose might be less odious. The cheaper variant ships with the absolute minimum amount of RAM (1GB) that Microsoft recommends for Windows 8.1 installations and half (8GB of storage) the required hard disk space. Even so, these limitations probably won’t stop some foolhardy owners from attempting the install anyway. So it could be said that Intel is just covering its bases.

But the warranty-voiding clause is concededly broad as written (it encompasses lightweight Linux distributions, too), and may not even be legal. The Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act, a 1975 United States federal law, prohibits companies from requiring that “only branded parts be used with [their] product[s] in order to retain warranty.” That’s not to say Intel’s required to support all aftermarket alterations — as the company notes, it doesn’t provide official drivers for third-party operating systems — but it’s likely bound to continue offering warranty replacements to owners who make customizations.

If nothing else, the Intel Compute Stick’s warranty implies that it’s intended to be minimally tinkered with. While its legality may be subject to a court challenge, the state of the dongle’s drivers pretty much relegates the Compute Stick to the “set it and forget it” category of computers. (We found it best for media streaming.) In other words, hardware hobbyists need not apply.


The U.S. government plans to drop $500M on a ridiculously powerful supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced plans to build a $500 million exascale supercomputer by 2021. The project, known as the Aurora supercomputer, is expected to boost research efforts in fields such as public health.

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.

USB4 will be the fastest and most uniform USB standard yet

USB4 is on the horizon and alongside a massive boost in speed it's also unifying with the Thunderbolt 3 standard to help finally create a singular wired connection protocol that all devices can enjoy.
Product Review

4K and 144Hz? Yup, the Acer Predator XB3 will max out your gaming PC

The Predator XB3 isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you have a system that can push over 100 frames per second in 4K screen resolution, this monster of a monitor might be the perfect match for your overpowered gaming rig.
Buying Guides

Apple has powered up its iMac lineup, but which one should you opt for?

With new processors and graphics cards for both the 4K and 5K models, the iMac feels like a good option for creatives again. But which should you buy? Here's our guide to choosing the right Apple all-in-one for your needs.

HP spring sale: Save up to 58 percent on laptops, desktops, printers, and more

From now until March 23, the HP spring sale lets you take as much as 58 percent off of a huge range of laptops, desktop PCs, printers, and more, potentially saving you more than $1,000. We’ve rounded up a dozen of the best deals right…

Yes, Apple’s new iMacs look great, but they do have one glaring problem

With processors ranging up to the eight-core Core i9, the 2019 iMac update looks like a pretty solid upgrade to Apple's classic all-in-one. But hidden in the details of the product page, there's one outdated component Apple is holding onto.

Grab 1 terabyte of SSD storage for just $100 with this sale on Amazon

If you're looking for an excellent opportunity to pick up a 1TB SSD at a low price, Amazon has you covered with Samsung's 860 QVO 1TB 2.5-inch SATA III Internal SSD. It is an excellent offering for both multimedia enthusiasts and gamers.

The iMac finally got updated, but how does it compare to the Mac mini?

Apple announced a long-awaited update to the Mac mini. Thanks to the updated specs and increase in price, it's begun to creep up to the base model iMac. In this guide, we now put up the specs on the newest refreshed Mac mini against the…

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.