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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  • Ryan Smith - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    No. That would be a terrible business strategy since it would undermine your trust in our reviews.

    We have run sponsored content in the past - which was clearly labeled - but that is always news/analysis and such; never reviews.

    Otherwise I direct you to our About page section on sampling.

    --

    The majority of what we review is provided directly by the manufacturer of the product. The product samples are delivered to our reviewers with the expectations of us providing a fair, thorough review. There is never any implicit guarantee of positive or negative, just that the review will be done as well as we can.
    In the early days, when we were a much smaller site, manufacturers would threaten to withhold future review samples in response to a negative review (not so blatantly as that of course). We have quietly lost and gained the support of manufacturers throughout the years based on reviews. I've personally had many arguments with manufacturers who dare attempt to either knowingly deceive our readers or use advertising dollars or product support to influence our reviews.
    Today, we are large enough to avoid these petty discussions of withholding review samples. Most manufacturers know that one way or another we'll get our hands on a product for review and don't try to play these sorts of games. Rarely we are faced with a manufacturer or advertiser who is looking to influence our content. We have a firm internal policy in place to deliver honest, balanced reviews to the best of our ability - regardless of external pressures. Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, we have been around long enough and are large enough to avoid this being an issue in the vast majority of situations.
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Huh... I may have use for a tiny, simple server at some point, and one of these would about fit the bill. Just need to add a USB Ethernet port and upgrade Windows 10 to Pro and it should work... Reply
  • bill.rookard - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    You might be better off getting some cheap hardware off eBay at this point until the pricing comes down. Pick up a Dell Optiplex SFF for $100ish (just got one for $90 myself), outfit it with a notebook drive for the OS and a big HDD for storage and run it with a Linux system with Samba. That would do the trick nicely. Reply
  • beginner99 - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Even 64 GB storage is on the low side. Common. 128 Gb would add $5 max to the BOM. Sell it to me for $30 more and I would take it over 64 gb. NUC sounds like a better investment and more flexible. Reply
  • Realvn - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Ofcouse that core m series are the best perform stick, fastest at it size, best perform per watt, best...

    But the price too high, very high of it class, very high compare to any NUC at p/p
    Reply
  • Sivar - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    The use of a tiny fan concerns me. It's often the little fans that die young. Perhaps building the enclosure from (admittedly expensive) aluminum would be sufficient to allow for a solid state design? Reply
  • Meteor2 - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    It only runs briefly, if at all. Reply
  • mostlyharmless - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Why 64-bit MS, with only 4GB RAM? Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - link

    Because 32-bit is dead and needs to stay that way. Reply
  • harijan - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Contrary to some of these comments. I love these reviews Ganesh. I have a bay trail computestick, and it runs OK for what I do with it. I loaded it with ubuntu and have it running multiple lxc containers.

    I think I'll skip this generation, although I can't wait for next years model, hopefully with HDMI 2.0. Once they have that, I think the next Atom, or whatever Intel use in this segment, based model will be a no brainer in most HTPC situations.
    Reply

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