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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  • andrewaggb - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    pretty much sums it up. The atoms are just not fast enough, I have a couple quad core atom devices and it's just slightly too slow. I have a core-m 5th gen laptop and it's usable. I still think it's actually just bordering on too slow, but for the most part I'm ok with it. I certainly wouldn't want anything slower than that. Reply
  • woggs - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    "keep it off till needed"

    Till means to turn over dirt.

    "Drivers and BIOS updates are available for download [ ] on Intel's website."

    Is there supposed to be a link in there?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Thanks for the note. I have fixed the download link.

    As for 'till', the definition you provided is just one of the four possible meanings. Please refer: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/am...
    Reply
  • woggs - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Heh... Oxford has given up... Reply
  • watzupken - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    This would have been a great compact HTPC for its size. However, I think it is very overpriced for its performance to be honest. Reply
  • fanofanand - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    So close. The waiting game will continue, I just want a device that can be used for streaming and surfing the web, with a few super basic (low settings) games my kids can play. I want that but at $200 or less. My wife's laptop would beat the crap out of this thing (I know, different form factor) for 25% less $. Intel needs a seismic shift in strategy, the days of 70%+ margins are over. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link


    I'm seeing a common trend with the Skull Candy NUC. The hardware is interesting enough for me to want to toy around with, but the pricing just pushes them over the interest range. It looks like Intel is making these to try to push their margins up rather than try to gain significant self-built hardware marketshare.

    Actually, if partners keep screwing the pooch, they should pull a Surface (not the concept, but the idea of vertical integration) and make some great laptops and desktops.
    Reply
  • jwcalla - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Just out of curiosity... are any of the reviews here at AT paid for by the product's company? Reply
  • jihe - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    The Apple ones. Then again, given the fanboism of AT, they probably paid Apple double to review their products. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Nope. No review on AT has ever been paid for by anybody. Reply

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