Intel’s Compute Stick Turns Your TV In A Linux Desktop Computer

Compute Stick Linux

Chromecast are so 2014. This is why Intel has unveiled a new ‘stick’ device at CES 2015, which is a lot more than just a streaming device. Say hello to Intel’s Compute Stick, a Chromecast like device that you can plug in to HDMI port of your TV/monitor and then use it as a full fledged desktop computer.

Compute Stick is available in both Linux and Windows versions. Linux version of it has a lower price tag of $89 than that of Windows one which is priced at $149. But lower price comes with lower hardware configuration for Linux version.

Hardware specifications of Compute Stick

If you look at the hardware specifications of Compute Stick, it can be compared to that of a standard tablet hardware. It comprises of an quad-core Atom Z3735F processor. The RAM would be 1 GB for Linux and 2 GB for Windows. It has most of the standard connectivity with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, one HDMI port and one USB port. There is a micro USB port also for power input.

The on device storage is 32 GB for Windows and 16 GB for Linux. Don’t despair, there is also an additional microSD card slot for your storage need. A quick summary of the Compute Stick hardware specification is as following:

  • Quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F
  • 1GB RAM (Linux), 2GB RAM (Windows)
  • 16 GB (Linux), 32 GB (Windows)
  • 1 HDMI out
  • 1 USB 2.0 port
  • 1 micro USB port
  • 1 microSD slot
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.0

Worth a try?

Well it depends how much you value $89 (and additional cost of Wireless keyboard and mouse, perhaps). I have little doubt that Compute Stick really does not intend to replace your desktop Linux. It’s for the hobbyists and DIYers who would like to have a “more powerful Chromecast”. If I have to give myself a reason for buying Compute Stick, I would use it to replace my Raspberry Pi media server with it.

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What would be your reason for buying Compute Stick, or for not buying it?


  1. To me this mini pc is a lot more interesting “Kangaroo Mobile Desktop Computer KJ2B#001-NA Intel Atom X5-Z8500 (1.44 GHz) 2 GB LPDDR3 32 GB eMMC Windows 10 Home” It is currently being sold in the US at NewEgg dot com for only 99 USD and it includes the Kangaroo Dock. The easily removable Kangaroo Dock gives you a full sized HDMI port, one USB 3 and one USB 2 ports along with a power input port. I think I will order one right after posting this, they use to be more expensive but for 99 dollars it would be interesting to play with. If I get one I will let you know if I succeed at installing Linux on it.

  2. Again, Linux users gets lowballed, Intel could have just as easily placed Linux on the higher priced version of this device & shave the $10 or so for Windows 8.1 licensing off the price. Or charged the same, it doesn’t matter to me, it seems like Intel has joined other OEM’s in treating Linux users as 2nd class users.

    I won’t be purchasing this device in protest of equal treatment of all computer users.

    • I would say to look at positive side. Linux version is cheaper in price. Has low configuration but it is indication that Linux should take less resources.
      Moreover, I think that we can install Linux even on the Windows version.

      • I tried to look at the positive side……am an Advisor on major computing forum. 1GB RAM isn’t enough to run a full fledged version of Ubuntu or Linux Mint. Maybe the Xfce versions, but why pay $89 for that? Consider that the graphics will consume some of that memory.

        Secondly, at this price, even the $149 one, am not impressed with this ‘quad core’ CPU. Not in this small of a device.

        Finally, not enough detail yet, but if these are ARM type devices, one may have troubles installing another OS onto the stick. Example, most all Windows 8 or 8.1 ARM type tablets are locked in to the OS. No installation of Linux nor Windows 7 possible.

        • Some of your concerns are actually correct.

          As I had mentioned, it’s expensive than Raspberry Pi and Chromecast but definitely, it can do better than both devices.

          P.S. Hope I am not comparing oranges and apples.

  3. This would be awesome for tvaddons if it can run 1080 or netflix for some people. My most concern is, will it overheat and shut down? How long will it run before overheating?

      • I totally agree. I’ve only been using Ubuntu for about 9 months and I know 1GB RAM is not enough. I’m loving Ubuntu so much, I can’t believe I used Windows for so long. I feel dirty.

        • Don’t feel dirty……just not informed. Microsoft has the market cornered to where the big computer OEM’s are shipping Windows. While Dell is one exception with introducing Ubuntu powered computers (this makes their 2nd try), they’re also bound by an agreement with MS to produce a limited amount of these for retail sale. One has to manually search for these computers, they’re not on the front (or any) page of Dell promo flyers, nor does big time retailers such as WalMart or Costco carry these models.

          Ubuntu is a great OS, so is Linux Mint, a near drop in replacement for Windows. However, neither of these will run on 1GB RAM, one needs at least 2GB for decent experience. Unless this 1GB RAM is one of the newer DDR4 options (for $89 it’s not), no way is the OS going to run acceptably.

          My other concern, I still have, this device could have an ARM type CPU, making clean installs of an OS that’ll run impossible. Intel won’t be getting $89 out of me for this device, though I love their upper line CPU’s.

          One of the main things that’s holding Linux back is, the OEM’s (all of them) aren’t doing their part to support it better. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to install a GPU & the drivers needed for optimal performance. This includes all of the huge OEM’s, not just Intel. AMD is in a bad position, they could seize the moment & support Linux, but it doesn’t look like it’s happening.


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