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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  • jaydee - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Until this thing can get power over HDMI, I just can't see these going far. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    HDMI doesn't offer the power required to charge a phone, let alone peak usage from a Chromecast. I think you meant MHL/SuperMHL? Reply
  • lilmoe - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    My next TV will have USB-C ports, that's for sure. Fully featured ones at that. Reply
  • jaydee - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Just in general, until this type of device can drop the power adapter, I don't see how it's form-factor (sticking out of a TV) is that much of an advantage over something that sits on the desk. Whether it's HDMI or some other standard. Reply
  • Murloc - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    also sticking out of the TV poses various issues.

    I think it's a dumb format, if you have a power brick and cable laying around anyway, it doesn't make a difference to have it attached to the TV or lying on the floor.
    Reply
  • mkozakewich - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    They'll be USB C with DisplayPort passed through. Either the TV will act as a USB hub, or you could connect a USB hub between the dongle and the TV to get access to ports. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    "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."

    Then Intel canned Atom and that bright spot went away. The Atom compute sticks were already on the edge of affordability, these Core M models are more than twice the price and thus make exactly zero financial sense unless you absolutely need x86.

    RIP compute stick, we hardly knew you.
    Reply
  • Gunbuster - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Even the best atom was at the edge of "oh I think this performance might be okay this time around, and then you load it up in real world multi app workload and it slows to a crawl"

    If they moved Core M pricing into the world of sanity everything would be perfect.
    Reply
  • beginner99 - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    Yeah but that was probably due to only 2GB of ram and slow storage. 2GB is just not enough. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    I've got a Asus Atom powered T100HA with 4GB. Doesn't make a difference. Once you have a real workload like OneDrive, Dropbox, Skype, OneNote, Chrome, Outlook running is starts to lag. It's not pegging out the RAM or Storage, It just struggles that little bit in everything and it gets really frustrating. Reply

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