By experimenting with formats computing Intel introduced Ultra platform Compute Stick. A full-featured PC with quad-core processor, wireless LAN controllers, internal memory, and Windows 8.1 on board is designed as a large fob. What is this, a bold experiment of the manufacturer or the birth of a new format of computer systems? Let’s look at what to expect from such a PC.
Compact system, similar in size to the largest flash stick are no longer big exotic. These platforms based on ARM chip architecture and operating system Android / Chrom OS for some time on the market. But this PC form factor x86 processor and operating system Windows 8.1, we do see for the first time. It is not surprising that such a solution is proposed to the company Intel, which in recent years have actively develops miniature calculators.
Intel Compute Stick: Package
The system comes in a neat compact enough box.
Included invited external power supply 10W (5V, 2A) with a set of adapters for different standards of electrical outlets, extension HDMI (20 cm), Quick Start Guide and a coupon for a one-year subscription to McAfee AntiVirus Plus.
Intel Compute Stick: Design and layout
So, Intel Compute Stick has dimensions of 103 × 37 × 12 mm. The system is offered as a complete solution. Everything you need for a PC – the screen with HDMI & Peripherals to manage (keyboard / mouse).
System housing is made of black plastic. The upper panel has a glossy finish. Of course, in this case, the eye clings to such nuances of external decor, but exactly the same make and fingerprints that are inevitable on such a surface. Special design frills here. Often, this computer will be hidden from the eyes of the owner, because even in the external design of the system in the first place everything is subordinated to the functionality of the device.
The top panel can be immediately divided into two zones with bars to display the heated air through one of which can be seen a miniature fan. In the central part is a large and well-read logo Intel Inside. Closer to the top edge of the activity indicator is lighting up in blue during operation.
The left side “stick” is the power key, micro-USB connector for connecting an external power supply, as well as full-port USB 2.0, which can be used to connect any peripherals.
The right panel is a slot for Micro SD memory cards of up to 128 GB.
On the back of Intel Compute Stick there are no elements. Almost the entire panel holds sticker with supporting information.
The bottom panel is the connector HDMI.
All you need to do to connect Intel Compute Stick – connect it to the port of the monitor / TV. Because of the shape of the case, it is clear that not all devices will be connected directly to a PC. In such cases, it is useful to complete a flexible extension cable HDMI. Unfortunately, the video interface can not provide power Compute Stick, because for the system needs an additional external source. For these purposes the 10-watt power supply (5V, 2A) with the usual connector micro-USB. USB cable from the PSU has a length of 95 cm, because it is desirable that there was within the reach of a free electrical outlet.Theoretically, the system can even be powered by connectors USB, arranged on a TV / monitor, but only if these ports can provide the necessary power.
Intel Compute Stick: Platform
The Intel Compute Stick installed processor Intel Atom Z3735F family Bay Trail-T. This quad-core SoC model with a base frequency of 1.33 GHz, which is under load can accelerate to 1.83 GHz.
These chips use Silvermont architecture and standards produced by 22-nanometer process technology.TDP CPU – less than 4 watts, with SDP is 2.2 watts. Overall, this is a typical model used for tablets based on the platform Intel. Just over a high-speed version of the family also applied for the available models of compact notebooks.
Integrated Intel HD Graphics videyadro includes 4 execution units, while the GPU frequency can range 311-664 MHz.
The memory controller Intel Atom Z3735F allows 2 GB single-channel mode (DDR3L-1333). This is the amount of RAM installed in the considered modification Intel Compute Stick. The system is also equipped with a built-in eMMC flash storage capacity of 32 GB (Samsung MBG4GC). For wireless networking controller responds Realtek RTL8723BS, establishes a Wi-Fi 802.11bgn (1 × 1, 150 Mb / c) and Bluetooth 4.0.
In a modification of Intel Compute Stick preinstalled operating system Windows 8.1 c Bing, which obviously can be safely upgrade to Windows 10 since its announcement. It uses a 32-bit version of the OS, which is logical, considering the amount of available RAM.
Intel Compute Stick: Productivity and nuances of Use
Obviously, the performance of the system in this case determines the used processor. In general, we have repeatedly considered the possibility of PCs and tablets on the basis of a family of chips Intel Bay Trail. As the manufacturer of one of the slogans used to Compute Stick, «we have reduced the size of the system, but not its performance.” And so it really is. First, some synthetic tests.
The results are to be expected. Yes, speed characteristics do not strike imagination, especially in terms of graphics capabilities. In this regard, I would very much like to see Compute Stick-based 14-nanometer chips Chery Trail, which have become more economical, productive and just got integrated graphics 8th generation (Gen 8) with 12 compute units and support DirectX 11.2. Unfortunately, these SoC company introduced in March, while the Inte Compute Stick has been announced at the January CES 2015. Surely we will see the new processors in the “computing sticks”, but the next generation.
Opportunities of the current system is sufficient for a fairly wide range of tasks. There is no problem in order to open a few heavy pages with complex layout. Although here, too, especially zealous not worth it.Browsers require an increasing amount of RAM, and in the presence of 2 GB of RAM, it is necessary to restrain the appetite. Otherwise, system responsiveness is reduced. Compute Stick confidently cope with office applications. Severe volume projects are unlikely to have an idea to handle on such a system, but a relatively simple documents can be edited quite comfortable.
Game ability Intel Compute Stick small. Integrated graphics core will provide a comfortable level of staff / c only in simple casual projects. Where a compact PC looks confident of a universal media player.
List of video formats, which supports hardware decoding, quite convincing. With the support DXVA system easily handles the stream having the bit rate up to 100 Mb / c.
When using the Intel Compute Stick should be a rational approach to the selection of a software application and a list of tasks that are put in front of the system. Here, in general, operate the same approaches and principles as for mobile systems with base productivity. You can try to work with layers in Photoshop and start to mount a video, but it is a thankless task. Each task has its own instrument.
This version is equipped with the Intel Compute Stick eMMC storage capacity of 32 GB. In this part of the disk is allocated for the backup section needed to be able to restore the system. A significant portion of the drive initially takes Windows 8.1 Bing. After the first run, to update the operating system and install additional applications at the disposal of the owner of the system is approximately 19.5 GB of free disk space. Practice shows that the volumes involved are very fast. Disk subsystems can be expanded further by setting flash Micro SD card up to 128 GB.
Regarding the performance of the internal drive, his speed performance rather expectable for eMMC – not very fast, but quite bearable, especially for the disc in the PC such a compact format.
To connect additional peripherals Intel Compute Stick offers a full-port USB 2.0. On the one hand, it has great that it basically has such dimensions on the platform, the other – one USB connector inadequate for many situations. Examples start with the usual inability to connect wired mouse and keyboard. It is obvious that in this case it is necessary to take care of the wireless set. Although, even here, not without nuances. For the set with a radio module must be connected to an external receiver system, which actually takes only USB-connector. Peripherals, connected via Bluetooth, in this case, perhaps, is preferable. But it is important not to sell too cheap – the most affordable mouse / keyboard with Bluetooth often suffer mediocre responsiveness in the process.
Radically issue with connecting peripherals are USB-hub solves 4-8 additional ports. It is also worth considering that the USB-port on the Compute Stick provides a current of up to 500mA, that is, the total capacity of the connected consumers must not exceed 2.5 watts. Connect to a hub, several external hard drives and wired peripherals fail. For such a body kit need an active USB-hub with an additional power supply. Such an arrangement is fundamentally solves the problem, but it requires another electrical outlet, and in general, in this configuration, topology changes for several platforms. Instead of a simple compact solution we get an extensive system with a mass of additional wires required to operate three available sockets.
Intel Compute Stick: Energy consumption, noise and heat
In idle mode “pipsqueak” with installed USB-connector of the wireless receiver set consumes about 3-3,5Vt. If you do not load the cooling system works in passive mode, and the SoC is heated to 45-50S.After some activity when the CPU temperature reaches 60 degrees, the fan runs. The speed of rotation known utilities could not register. Subjectively feels that speed changes within a certain range depending on the heating of the processor. During peak load computing cores, CPU temperature rose to 70 degrees.
The level of noise emitted by the fan is low, but in a quiet home environment, if the stick is connected to a working monitor, it is not difficult to hear. If the system is connected to the TV set at a distance of 2-3 meters from the user, the fans just do not be confused. The same is true for working in an office environment. Of course, the ideal situation would be to use a passive cooling system, will remove all the issues with the level of noise emitted. But, as we see, Intel opted for efficient heat dissipation and safe operating temperature of the system.
Under the load on the CPU and GPU units power consumption is about 8-9 watts, whereas while watching HD-video consumption Compute Stick at 5-6 watts. It’s not that require 20-30 watts of Class NUC. The difference is very noticeable, but this is what we expect from such a compact PC form factor and cost of the hardware platform.
Intel Compute Stick: Price
Intel Compute Stick will be available in two versions. The version with 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage and the operating system Windows 8.1 with Bing in the US market has offered for $ 149. Model with Linux Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will cost $ 110, but this version will be equipped with 1 GB of RAM and an internal disk capacity of 8 GB. The price is relatively low, but at the same time it is not ultrabudgetary solution. In the emerging segment of computing “sticks” the cost is of great importance. The order price is different and $ 20-30 – that’s a significant difference. To the cost of the device should also be added the amount needed to purchase a set of mouse / keyboard, and if you are going to use more actively the periphery, then without buying USB-hub is not necessary.
Intel Compute Stick: Results
Intel Compute Stick allows you to turn any TV or monitor with HDMI-output to a full system suitable for the job. With a familiar operating system and a set of necessary applications. When making a similar Intel Compute Stick, particularly felt the progress of computing systems. Features PC which not so long ago needed a classical system unit, is now implemented in the key fob is lost in a shirt pocket. Yes, of course, such a “stick” not fully replace a desktop or laptop and to be the only computer in the house he just does not apply. However, at relatively low cost it can transform a large TV in another calculator that handles everyday tasks and network activity, and allows you to view various video formats and a bit casual games to entertain themselves.
Intel Compute Stick – this is the first iteration of the manufacturer in this segment. The platform is not perfect, at least has a well-defined parameters, which would like to improve. Of course, as a compact solution has its own nuances use, but if you live in the spirit of technical adventure, then this PC will be very curious, even as the subject for experiments. However, the simplicity of the connection and the original system is ready for use allows not to limit the range of potential owners of Intel Comppute Stick only enthusiasts.
+ Very compact size
+ Performance sufficient for everyday tasks
The presence of full-length + USB port
+ Slot for flash memory cards Micro SD (up to 128 GB)
+ HDMI extender included
+ Operating system Windows 8.1 with Bing
I did not like
– The modest integrated graphics capabilities
– Active cooling system
– A small amount of internal storage
– One USB 2.0 port