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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  • bill.rookard - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    That's somewhat debatable IMHO. If there's one thing that's usually true: people never complain about having too much power, proper thermal and power management usually keeps that all under control. They always complain though if it's not powerful enough. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    I have a use case for one of these...

    At home I have a Samsung 3D TV that I paid a fortune for, and other than the software / online side to the device, I'm very happy with. The issue is - after 4yrs, Samsung no longer updates their smart TV, and thus I cannot even finish a single episode of anything on iPlayer, without it rebooting. And the smart TV interface is painful to use.

    I think this device would bridge the gap, and allow me to keep this TV another 4 years.

    But that price...it won't convert well when it hits the UK shores...
    Reply
  • felang - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    Seems like a $50 Roku Stick might be just what you need. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    I hear that a lot. People jumped on the 3D TV and smart TV fads which are both are rapidly deflating markets making them unprofitable to continue to support from an OEM perspective. You're probably better off using a Roku or some other similar set top box. A compute stick seems like overkill for your usage scenario. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    Thanks for all your answers.

    However, I don't stream Hulu, or Netflix, but only from the BBCs iPlayer, in accordance with my non-license-paying laws.

    But I DO use Youtube, and have hated most every linux interface I've seen, so I really Need / Want a Windows user environment.

    At $200 this would be an insta-buy. At $300, I dunno, I guess I'd have to be stateside to really decide, but when it lands at 299 GBP, they can stuff it. (that is my price GUESS).

    I'll certainly be adding it to my Ebay 2nd hand search, just in case a fool dumps one cheaply...
    Reply
  • erple2 - Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - link

    Sounds like a Chromecast might work, too. BBC suggests that it should just work if you use the iPlayer app on your Android or iPhone. Reply
  • JackNSally - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    I currently have an Amazon Firestick.
    It works really good for Netflix, Hulu, etc.
    You can also put Kodi on it. It's not the most polished interface and experience but it does work.
    I think you can do more with it too, I just haven't figured it all out.
    Reply
  • Gunbuster - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    My takeaway is that 2in1's have the potential to not suck if Intel would make Core-M pricing reasonable. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Yes, but this is intel we are talking about here. Reply
  • bill.rookard - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    If Zen comes through with good cores at low enough power usage, we might see that pricing adjust somewhat. Reply

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