Small and power-efficient computers in the form of NUCs and Compute Sticks have emerged as bright spots in the PC market over the last few years. The Compute Stick form factor is the x86 version of the popular ARM-based HDMI sticks. The first-generation x86 Compute Stick came from Intel and used a Bay Trail-T SoC. At the 2016 CES, Intel introduced a Cherry Trail version, as well as two Skylake Core M-based models. We reviewed the Cherry Trail version back in January, and it is now time for one of the Core M versions to be subject to our mini-PC evaluation routine.

Introduction and Setup Impressions

The Intel Compute Stick we are reviewing today is the Core m3-6Y30 model (STK2M3W64CC) that comes with Windows 10 Home (64-bit) pre-installed, making it ready to roll right out of the box. The specifications of our Intel STK2M3W64CC review configuration are summarized in the table below.

Intel Core m3-6Y30 Compute Stick Specifications
Processor Intel Core m3-6Y30
Skylake x86, 2C/4T, 900 MHz (up to 2.2 GHz), 14nm, 4MB L2
4.5W TDP (cTDP up to 7W, cTDP down to 3.8W)
Memory 4GB LPDDR3
14-17-17-40 @ 1866 MHz
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 515
Disk Drive(s) Kingston eMMC M52564
(64 GB; eMMC 5.0-compatible)
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
(2x2 802.11ac - 866 Mbps)
Audio Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 3x USB 3.0
1x micro-SDXC
Operating System Windows 10 Home x64
Pricing (As configured) $390
Full Specifications Intel STK2M3W64CC Specifications

The Core m3-6Y30 belongs to the Skylake Core M family. It is meant to target the fanless 2-in-1 market, but, in the Compute Stick, it is actively cooled.

The STK2M3W64CC comes with the OS pre-installed, but, it is suggested to update the drivers that ship with the system. Drivers and BIOS updates are available for download on Intel's website. In addition to the main unit, the other components of the package include a 21.44W (5.2V @ 2.2A Type-C + 2x 5V @ 0.9A USB 3.0 Type-A ports) adapter with a Type-C power delivery port that can also ferry data between the main unit and Type-A ports. The cable is more than 3ft in length. We also get a HDMI extender cable to help use the Compute Stick in recessed or otherwise inaccessible HDMI ports.

The gallery below presents a closer look at the chassis design of the Core m3-6Y30 Compute Stick and the packae contents.

We had a very difficult experience managing our previous mini-PC reviews with just 32 GB of eMMC storage and/or 32-bit versions of Windows pre-installed. Fortunately, the STK2M3W64CC comes with 64GB of eMMC and Windows 10 Home x64 pre-installed. We were able to set up the system with a 20GB internal partition after shrinking the partition on which the OS was installed.

The BIOS of the Core M Compute Stick has a lot of interesting features compared to the ones in the Atom-based units. One of the notable optons is the ability to completely turn off the fan. The default setting is to keep it off till needed, and speed it up based on the thermal load.

We also have a good deal of control over the behavior of the front LED from the BIOS. Bluetooth devices can be authorized in the BIOS to make them available even before the OS is up and running.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the Intel Core m3-6Y30 Compute Stick against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the Intel Core m3-6Y30 Compute Stick when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect Intel Core m3-6Y30 Compute Stick
CPU Intel Core m3-6Y30 Intel Core m3-6Y30
GPU Intel HD Graphics 515 Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM 4GB LPDDR3
14-17-17-40 @ 1866 MHz
4GB LPDDR3
14-17-17-40 @ 1866 MHz
Storage Kingston eMMC M52564
(64 GB; eMMC 5.0-compatible)
Kingston eMMC M52564
(64 GB; eMMC 5.0-compatible)
Wi-Fi Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
(2x2 802.11ac - 866 Mbps)
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
(2x2 802.11ac - 866 Mbps)
Price (in USD, when built) $390 $390
Performance Metrics - I
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  • Vaz - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    Product photography seems to have hit rock bottom in anandtech reviews. Reply
  • tamalero - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    The cheer size of the power block kinda makes the stick size useless, doesnt it? Reply
  • xodusgenesis - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    Can this handle software decode of H.265? Or does it stress the CPU too much? Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    There is hybrid decoding for HEVC 8b - I expect it will work ok for 24p content, even 4K.

    However, 4Kp60 or HEVC 10b will be a no-go.
    Reply
  • Kinematics - Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - link

    What about 10-bit h264?

    It's what's most disappointing in all this small form-factor reviews: At what point is this product *not* going to be useful to you? And all it ever does is cover stuff that I know already is going to work fine. Since I know that 10-bit won't be hardware accelerated (whereas everything that's tested is), it's impossible to even guess at how it compares in areas that you actually need a reviewer to look at.
    Reply
  • DonMiguel85 - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    I'm still waiting for that GTX 960 review Reply
  • nfriedly - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    I have one of these and one of the m5 versions and I pretty much agree with Anandtech's conclusions. They're the first compute stick that feel "fast enough" for basic office/browsing/htpc tasks. But they're definitely a bit on the expensive side.

    From what I've seen elsewhere and my personal experience the m5 version is a little faster for bursty workloads, but about on par with the m3 for anything sustained. The graphics might be a bit more powerful, though. Probably not worth the price difference.

    Also, on a different topic, Anandtech seriously needs to put some improvements into the commenting system. I had to get to page 4 just to find a single comment about the article... A way to collapse comment threads would probably be good enough, although voting or some kind of moderation might be even better.
    Reply
  • lhorror - Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - link

    core m3 version on video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWcULkwryH4 Reply
  • piasabird - Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - link

    I would like to see comparison of this to something like an STX system where you can use normal DDR4 Ram and a standard CPU, with an M.2 SSD drive, and also an ITX system. All this to determine if it is worth it and also what are the advantages to having a larger drive and more RAM. Reply
  • grand_puba - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    This website is going from bad to worse. There are few reviews and at least half of them are about cases and shit like that. I am going to remove you from my bookmarks. Reply

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