I for one appreciate a small form factor desktop. Intel has a new product called "Compute Stick", this takes the mini desktop concept as far as it can go. At 150 dollars with Windows 8.1 and 110 dollars for Ubuntu this stick isn't really a desktop in a traditional sense, it hangs off the back of your monitor instead of sitting on your desk. Even though it isn't very powerful it is one of the smallest Windows desktop you can buy right now.
The Intel Compute Stick is a black plastic boxy slab. there are vents on the top and sides that keep it cool and the bare minimum for ports and buttons. There is a tiny fan inside that cools the device, and the sound is barely noticeable. Inside the Compute Stick there is a Small HDMI cable you can use the stick to connect to a TV and it even has a micro USB power adapter to power the device. The Windows version has a 32 bit version of Windows 8.1 with Bing. The 32 bit version helps relieve the memory problems with just 2 GB ram. While this does limit the system performance most applications will run fine, but most applications do not have 64 bit support in the first place. The biggest downside to the to the Compute Stick for people is the system limitations- even though the CPU is 64 bit 64 bit windows will not install. Windows 7 won't install either because it will not see eMMC drives or able to boot from them. The Bluetooth adapter would be very laggy when the CPU is under a heavy load which is a big turn-off for at least me. Intel informs us that drivers are on the way to resolve this issue but we will see. The Compute Stick uses a Quad Core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Processor, 2 GB DDR3 ram and 32 GB of eMMC storage. It also has a plain Jane 2.4 GHZ 802.11n and Bluetooth connectivity to top it off. Graphics performance on the Compute Stick is not impressive either. The Bay Trail GPU is a slimmed down version of the Intel HD 4000 HD and is one third the power of a cut rate HD graphics GPU. You can plug it into a TV and it will handle most streaming services that are out today. Plug it in to a 1080p TV and your good to go. The good is it is 150 dollars, a very tempting buy on a whim type of a device. If Intel does put out better drivers for this the Compute Stick will be a decent piece of hardware in my opinion. The bad is Bluetooth being laggy can make wireless keyboard and mouse a pain to use. Performs well enough for what it does, but compared to other mini-desktops, it’s slow, Low RAM and storage, which is even worse in the Linux version. There is only one full-size USB 2.0 port, which limits the number of peripherals you can plug in at once, also there is limited official OS support. I for one would make the purchase, the uniqueness and the ability to compute from a small form factor is very appealing.
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