7 Best Mini PC Sticks | March 2017

We spent 32 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Just when you thought computers couldn't get much smaller, along comes these mini PC sticks. Not much bigger than a thumb drive, these tiny devices let you take your processing power anywhere in your pocket, then plug them into any TV or monitor to run Windows applications, stream media, surf the Web and more. Skip to the best mini pc stick on Amazon.
7 Best Mini PC Sticks | March 2017


Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Overall Rank: 5
Best High-End
★★★
Overall Rank: 6
Best Inexpensive
★★★
7
The Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 comes with a clean Windows 10 Signature Edition OS. This allows you to run it to its full potential without having to worry about unwanted bloatware slowing down its processes in the background.
6
The Asus ChromeBit CS10 runs the blazing fast and incredibly responsive Chrome OS. It is powered by a 1.8GHz Rockchip SoC processor and comes for a great low price. For those who want all the functionality of Windows 10, though, check out the Asus VivoStick at our #2 slot.
5
We actually find the Intel Compute Stick CS525 to be the best option out there when it comes to stick-based PCs, but only for technically inclined buyers. It has a super fast m5 processor, but the average user won't appreciate having to install their own OS.
4
The Azulle A-1063 is a fanless model that comes in a 4GB or 2GB option. It offers dual-band Wi-Fi for fast and stable internet speeds, is the only stick computer with an Ethernet port, and can support MicroSD cards with up to 128GB of storage space.
  • bundled webcam package available
  • doesn't come with any bloatware
  • tends to get very warm
Brand AZULLE
Model A-1063-AAP-1
Weight 6.4 ounces
3
The Intel Compute Stick CS125 runs on the Atom x5-Z8300 processor and features 2GB of RAM, which makes it suitable for handling most tasks, but not as powerful as the CS525 or CS325. To store your files and programs, it has 32GB of eMMC memory, which is faster than an HDD.
  • has a microsd card slot
  • internal cooling fan
  • intel hd graphics processor
Brand Intel
Model BOXSTK1AW32SCR
Weight 14.4 ounces
2
The Asus VivoStick TS10-B017D can turn any HDMI monitor or TV into a fully functioning Windows 10 PC. To control it, you can either download the Asus VivoRemote app to your smart device, or buy a USB or Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.
  • opens and closes apps quickly
  • works great for streaming videos
  • boots up in just 10 - 15 seconds
Brand Asus
Model TS10-B017D
Weight 12 ounces
1
Coming with international adapters, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of onboard memory, and a fast m3-6Y30 processor, the Intel Compute Stick CS325 is literally ready to go anywhere and do anything. It also supports the quickest 802.11ac wireless networking standard.
  • total of three usb 3 ports
  • bluetooth enabled
  • runs 64-bit windows 10 os
Brand Intel
Model BOXSTK2m3W64CC
Weight 15.2 ounces

How Mini PC Sticks Are So Small

Looking at a small, seemingly unimpressive PC stick, one might be fooled into thinking it is just another thumb drive, but they are so much more. Manufacturers are now able to pack fully functioning PCs into a case the size of a standard USB storage drive. This is possible because of a number of factors.

Moore's Law, which was formulated by co-founder of Intel Gordon E. Moore in 1965, essentially states that "the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years." This means that every two years, it is possible to reduce the size of hardware like microchips and microprocessors by 50%. Since his findings in 1965, this has proven to be accurate.

Looking at some vital components of a PC, we can see this process in action. The motherboard was the first source of major innovation that led to a reduction in size of computers. Between 2000 and 2007, VIA Technologies, a hardware manufacturer, made notable breakthroughs in miniaturizing motherboards. First the standard ATX was reduced to the Micro ATX, which was then followed by further size reductions to the Mini ITX, Nano ITX, and finally the Pico ITX.

At the same time motherboards were being miniaturized, manufacturers were also focusing on integrated peripherals. These are PC components that were previously add-ons, but were now being integrated directly into the motherboard. Components like modems, Ethernet ports, audio output, and Bluetooth no longer required separate devices to be included within the computer case. Everything was handled by the motherboard.

Combining CPUs and GPUs into a single chip is another factor that has helped manufacturers miniaturize PCs. A new chip known as the APU is able to perform the tasks of both a CPU and a GPU, while using less power. For the average computer user's demands, an external graphics card is no longer needed.

The exclusion of optical media drives in most computers has also allowed for additional size reduction. CDs and DVDs are no longer commonly used as a means to transfer and store data. Instead there are a number of more efficient alternatives, like USB drives and cloud storage.

Making The Most Of A Mini PC Stick

As nice as it sounds to replace a full-sized desktop with a mini PC stick, the technology might not be ready just yet for most of us. For those who don't demand much more from their PCs than web browsing, media streaming, and running some light programs like Skype, a mini PC stick may actually be the perfect desktop alternative.

Streaming media from a mini PC stick is easy and convenient. They are smaller and more portable than the average media streaming device, plus many come with a full windows 10 operating system. They are also easy to use and don't require one to carry around extra cables to connect them to a big screen TV. Just plug the PC stick directly into any TV's HDMI port and start streaming movies. Most also have a microSD card slot allowing users to watch stored movies or view pictures.

For frequent travelers, mini PC sticks are a dream come true. Instead of carrying a laptop on trips, one can just bring a PC stick, a foldable keyboard, and a mouse. With these trusty devices in hand, any hotel TV becomes an impromptu workstation. Users can work on Word documents or PowerPoint presentations without the hassle of lugging around a laptop. Since mini PC sticks have Wi-Fi, users will also have access to any of their cloud storage services like Dropbox and OneDrive.

Choosing The Right Mini PC Stick

When it comes time to pick a mini PC stick, one of the foremost considerations should be the operating system. Often picking the right operating system will dictate how user friendly the device is, thereby dictating how often you will use it.

As nice as mobile operating systems like Android and iOS are on smartphones, they are ideally suited to touchscreen applications. This is no surprise when one considers they were first developed for use in smartphones. Because of this, most users will find mini PC sticks with a desktop-based operating system like Windows or Linux the most user friendly. Another option is to choose a PC stick that offers both a mobile and desktop operating system.

Storage space can also make a big difference in a PC stick's usability. Ideally one should look for one that has a minimum of 32GB onboard storage, and a microSD card slot. This gives you enough space to install a programs that you want to be able to use, while still leaving some space leftover for important files like pictures and documents. The microSD card slot allows you to add a lot of additional storage space by inserting a 128GB microSD card. This effectively gives a PC stick 160GB of storage space.

If you want your PC stick to be able to accomplish some light computing like running Microsoft word, Skype, media players, and browsing websites without lagging as you scroll, then a model with 2GB of RAM should be chosen. Anything less and you may run into problems when trying anything more than media viewing.



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Last updated: 03/22/2017 | Authorship Information

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