The Intel Compute Stick is a full Windows PC, but it’s barely larger than a candy bar. For $150, you’ll get an Intel Atom processor, 2GB of memory, and a 32GB eMMC Flash Storage module built into a chassis that you can slip into your shirt pocket for truly on-the-go desktop computing.
The Compute Stick has a black, plastic, rectangular chassis measuring approximately 0.5 by 4 by 1.5 inches (HWD) and weighing a mere 1.9 ounces. The system sports with an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor, 2GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC flash storage (analogous to a solid-state drive). It runs a full copy of Windows 8.1. The Compute Stick comes with an AC adapter, an HDMI extension cable, and a USB cable for the AC adapter. You have to provide your own display, keyboard, or mouse, however.
Below is simple step-by-step guide to set up the Intel Compute Stick. You’ll be plugged in, powered up, and computing in no time.
The Compute Stick looks like a USB stick, but instead of a USB plug, the system has an HDMI plug on the end. All you have to do is line that up with a free HDMI port on your computer display or HDTV, and push it in. If there isn’t enough clearance, you can use the included HDMI extension cable.
The next step is taking the included AC adapter, and plugging in the USB-to-micro-USB cable, like you would on a smartphone. Find the micro USB port on the Compute Stick and plug the cable in. Then simply press the Power button on the device and you’re up and running.
Add a Mouse and Keyboard
You’ll need a mouse (or touchpad) and keyboard to interact with your new PC. The easiest way to do it is to get a keyboard with built-in touchpad like the Logitech Wireless All-in-One Keyboard TK820 or the Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard. Just plug the keyboard’s USB dongle into the Compute Stick’s single USB 2.0 port to get started. Using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse set is only slightly more complicated. It requires you to hook up a USB mouse to help pair the set to the system’s Bluetooth receiver, as the Compute Stick doesn’t immediately search for Bluetooth devices.
The Compute Stick’s 32GB of storage is whittled down to 19GB available, due to the Windows 8.1 operating system and the hidden recovery partition. You can supplement that with up to 128GB of flash memory via the stick’s microSD port. You can also use cloud storage from your favorite provider, whether that’s Amazon, Dropbox, Google, or Microsoft. If you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, then you can plug a USB flash drive or external drive to the USB port on the Compute Stick.