Intel Unveils $149 ‘Compute Stick’, Possible Mac mini HTPC Rival [CES 2015]

At CES 2015 in Las Vegas Intel has unveiled the Compute Stick, which is an HDMI stick that allows you to run Windows 8.1 apps on your TV.

Essentially, Intel’s new device is a full Windows PC with the form factor of a streaming media device, like the Amazon Fire TV Stick or Roku Streaming Stick. The PC-on-a-stick can be seen as a competitor to a traditional streaming media device like an Apple TV, however, it looks to be more of a competitor in the home theatre PC space.

Typically enthusiasts will setup a home theatre with a full PC, like a Mac Mini. While Apple’s $500 desktop computer is affordable for the capabilities it provides, there is still a price barrier for most people. Being able to run full Windows apps directly on your TV allows you to do certain things that a traditional set-top box won’t let you do. For example, the ability to browse the Internet or play your favourite PC games isn’t possible on a traditional streaming device, however it is possible with a fully functional PC.


Intel’s solution aims to bring a fully capable computer to your TV with the form factor of a conventional USB stick. The Compute Stick will come in a Windows 8.1 version and a less expensive Linux version.

The Windows version will run Windows 8.1 and it will include 2GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage. The Linux variant will only come with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage, which is made possible by the operating system’s smaller footprint.

Both devices come with a microSD card slot for expanding storage space, a full-sized and micro USB port, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The Compute Stick relies on the micro USB port for power, as opposed to other HDMI sticks that can be powered directly through the HDMI port.

The Intel Compute Stick will be available for purchase in March. The Windows 8.1 version of the device will cost $149 and the Linux version will cost $89.

A software engineer with a passion for creation and innovation using technology. To learn more about me, check out my personal website, which contains links to my projects. Email:

  • matt

    The Chromecast can let you browse the internet just by casting the screen wirelessly

  • True. But this stick runs Windows 8.1, so the possibilities go beyond the Chromecast. But the Chromecast is darn affordable!

  • matt

    I guess if its the full build of 8.1, then it definitely is more powerful 🙂

    So is this just a PC stick or can it run apps like the streaming sticks?

  • Looks to be a full-fledged computer on a stick. It’s like buying a copy of Windows but you get a pocketable computer too!

  • rvs007

    So take an Intel Compute Stick and install Plex Home Theatre for Windows for a cheap HTPC build?

  • Nick

    Seeing as it runs Windows 8.1 I don’t see why not. It should be able to run any Windows application.

  • matt

    This is gonna hurt windows’ sales of some of their other products

  • That sounds like the plan.

  • Tim

    how so? people are still going to buy tablets, laptops and desktop PCs. not everyone is in the market for a ‘computer on a HDMI stick’

  • Nick

    I don’t think it will impact too many of their tradition PC sales, but it may make an impact in the HTPC space. However, for those looking for a less expensive PC this would be a great option (no need to purchase an additional monitor).

  • matt

    Well in terms of trying to sell their own software, this would hurt that

  • rvs007

    Surprised the specs didn’t say what type of CPU it has. I assume the GPU would need to be able to drive an 1080p output, and how about the audio? Will it support 5.1?

  • Léon

    All good questions. I too would like to know these answers. Intel’s product page only mentions the processor: quad-core Intel Atom

  • Tim

    Someone should make a hackintosh with it.

  • Josh

    well they already have like those little 7-8″ HP tablets that run full windows 8.1, and they sell for $100, so they must be taking quite a cut on the cost of the OS in order to get it out there more.

  • rvs007

    That would be interesting… stick it in a LCD monitor and turn it into an iMac!

  • Chrome262

    This is going to going to hurt Chrome cast and Apple tv, pretty interesting. I think its great especially if you need a Pc for the kids and you don’t really want to spend more for another laptop or desktop.

  • rvs007

    Chromecast is cheap enough and feature-limited enough that its market won’t get affected. For Chromecast you still need a device to stream from. What this will hurt are media players like AppleTV, Roku, WDTV, etc. because it will be priced at around the same, and you can stream the same content on this Intel stick AND install your own apps on it to expand functionality. And as mentioned already, for those who want to build a cheap HTPC for a couple hundred dollars, this stick would be perfect and would cost sufficiently cheaper.

  • Nick

    Yup it does look like the GPU will support full 1080p HD, however it’s not clear it they support 5.1 audio. Personally, I hope they do since that would help it become a true HTPC.

  • Nick

    This could be a serious competitor for the Apple TV. It will be interesting to see what Apple does with its next generation set-top box.

  • rpgmaker

    This assholes should cut the crap and make a more expensive linux version (but cheaper than the windows one) with the windows version specs.

  • Léon

    Apps and more RAM at the least, it’s inevitable. More computing power and more flexibility in usage, not just a media consuming box as it is now.

  • Fred

    For those of you complaining about
    the specification differences between the windows and linux version, give it a
    little time. Someone out there will figure out how to “jailbreak” this device,
    or simply install linux on the windows version.