Microcomputers can be different – really “micro” and slightly larger, not very productive and generally not suitable for anything, except for Internet surfing. To this species today is a whole mass of different devices with different capabilities and destinations, but it is not easy to find a model that is quite powerful in its class among the seeming variety. It is even more difficult to find such a PC in Russia. The models that are on the market today, for the most part, are suitable only for Internet surfing and watching movies with a far from high resolution. To correct the situation itself decided Intel releasing a microcomputer on the basis of a hardware platform of its own design. This is the platform Intel Bay Trail in the version of Intel Bay Trail-T, designed primarily for tablet computers, but is also successfully used in many other devices. In a new microcomputer, everything from Intel is both a design and a stuffing. Well, who, if not Intel, knows best, in what form-factor and with what functionality should there be a device on the hardware platform of Intel?
⇡ # Package Contents
The device is supplied in a compact corporate cardboard box-case for Intel blue. Inside, in addition to the microcomputer itself, the following accessories were found:
- HDMI cable;
- USB cable ↔ Micro-USB;
- power adapter with a set of four forks of different standards;
- a brief printed user’s guide;
- activation card for the annual subscription to the McAfee antivirus.
We will get acquainted with the purpose of accessories in a little while, but for now let’s consider the technical characteristics of the novelty.
⇡ # Technical Specifications
|The processor||Intel Atom Z3735F, 4 × 1.33 GHz (1.83 GHz), 2 MB L3|
|The graphic controller||Intel HD Graphics|
|Operative memory||2 GB DDR3L-1333 (667 MHz) (soldered on the board)|
|The data storage system||1 × eMMC 5.0 32 GB, Samsung MBG4GC|
|The connector of flash cards||microSDXC|
|Interfaces||1 × USB 2.0 type A
1 × Micro-USB (only power supply)
1 × HDMI 1.4a
|Wi-Fi||802.11 b / g / n|
|The sound of the||Intel High Definition Audio|
|Power Supply||Power adapter 5 V, 2 W;
|The size, mm||104 × 38 × 13|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1 with Bing, 32-bit|
|Official manufacturer’s warranty, months.||12|
* The average price of the “Yandex.Market” at the time of writing.
The microcomputer is available in two versions – with different operating systems: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Windows 8.1 with Bing . We got the second option for testing. Interestingly, the manufacturer slightly cheated the version of the microcomputer Intel Compute Stick running Ubuntu, providing it with smaller amounts of RAM and disk subsystem and making, respectively, cheaper. As for the second version of this device, which got to us in the test lab, its OS has a 32-bit kernel. But the word Bing in the title means little to the user, except that this is not the most popular search engine built into the Internet Explorer browser. Want – use it, and do not want – any other.
As mentioned above, the Intel Compute Stick’s microcomputer is based on the Intel Bay Trail-T platform with a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F, which already belongs to the second generation of processors for this platform, which were released last spring and developed on a 22nm architecture Silvermont. This processor is one of the most inexpensive in the line, and therefore has a minimum clock frequency, which in the nominal mode of operation is 1.33 GHz and can be increased to 1.83 GHz in turbo mode. The cache size of the second level is 2 MB. The processor belongs to very economical models. The SDP (Scenario Design Power), that is, the average power consumption level for everyday operation, is only 2.2 W for it. Obviously, most often an active cooling system for this processor is not required, but in the case of Intel Compute Stick it is still implemented.
In general, the family of Intel Bay Trail-T processors has many more interesting models. Why the manufacturer chose the Intel Atom Z3735F, which is distinguished by a number of serious limitations regarding RAM, video output and other interfaces, is not clear. Most likely, this is done for economic reasons, because a more productive device will cost more, which means that the consumer circle will be completely different.
One of the most important limitations of the Intel Atom Z3735F processor is that it has a single-channel memory controller, the maximum amount of which is not four, as with other processor modifications, but two gigabytes. This is how much is soldered on the Intel Compute Stick. The DDR3L-1333 module is used, that is, the maximum possible frequency for the Intel Atom Z3735F. The amount of RAM in the microcomputer is small, but its modification with Ubuntu is even smaller – only 1 GB.
The Intel Atom Z3735F processor has an integrated Intel HD Graphics graphic engine with four executive devices running at a base clock speed of 311 MHz and capable of overclocking up to 646 MHz if necessary. We have already got acquainted with this video adapter, but it has different operating frequencies for different processors, therefore it will be possible to speak about the performance and capabilities of Intel HD Graphics only after testing. Let’s just add that in this case the video adapter works with a resolution of no more than 1920 × 1080 pixels, that is, Full HD, while other processors of the Intel Bay Trail-T family can display an image with a resolution of 4K.
The disk subsystem of the microcomputer is represented by Samsung MBG4GC eMMC with a capacity of 32 GB (29.0 GB available). The disk is represented by one working partition with a capacity of 22.55 GB, on which the operating system is installed. The remaining volume is given under the service information and the recovery partition. As in the case of RAM, there is an acute desire to increase the capacity of the built-in disk subsystem of the Intel Compute Stick at least twice, but, alas, this is not possible. Well, the modification of the microcomputer with Ubuntu has an eMMC-module with a capacity of only 8 GB. In this case, nothing but a video player and a couple of utilities, this disk just can not fit. We will have to use flash cards, because there is a microSDXC reader onboard the Intel Compute Stick.
A single USB port is provided to connect external storage devices and other devices on the microcomputer board. The fact that the port is the only one, is easily explained by the lack of free space on board the novelty. In addition, the manufacturer has posted a full-size version of the Type A USB port. If necessary, it will be necessary to use a USB hub, which, incidentally, can be played by the video panel itself, to which the Compute Stick will be connected. But the fact that the USB interface of the Intel Compute Stick has a specification of 3.0, but 2.0, should be considered as a disadvantage in which again the used processor is to blame. While other models from the Intel Bay Trail-T family have a built-in USB 3.0 controller, the Intel Atom Z3735F processor works only with the 2.0 bus.
A set of wireless communications from the Intel Compute Stick is common. On board the Realtek RTL8723BS module is installed, which provides Wi-Fi communication standard 802.11 b / g / n and Bluetooth 4.0. As for the sound, it is broadcast on the HDMI-interface – there are no separate connectors in the device. Power is provided via USB, for which there is an additional Micro-USB port that can be connected either to one of the USB ports of the video panel or to the power adapter included in the delivery.
⇡ # External appearance
Looks Intel Compute Stick as a regular flash drive, just not too compact and with an HDMI interface instead of USB. The device without problems is placed in the pocket, so if you want you can use one computer and at work, and at home, and at the cottage, and with friends. That’s only on the road to work with him will not work – do not carry the same monitor with you.
The body of the novelty is made of black plastic and consists of two halves. The lower part and side faces have a rough surface, but the top panel is made of lacquered. Naturally, it instantly attracts fingerprints and dust, and then the first scratches appear on it. Extremely impractical solution of the manufacturer the user can compensate only by not taking off the glossy protective polyethylene film or sticking his own.
The main interface of the device – HDMI video output – is located on one of the narrow side faces. Since the microcomputer body is still not quite “micro”, without a short extension cord from the delivery set it can be very problematic to connect it to the video panel.
All other Intel Compute Stick interfaces are located on long side faces. On the one hand are USB 2.0 and Micro-USB ports, a power button, and a hinge for attaching any lanyard or rope that secures the device if the video pane is placed with it in a public place. On the other side of the case, there is only a microSDXC memory card reader. As for the top lacquered panel, there is a blue power LED on it and two large ventilation windows, one of which shows a miniature fan. Small ventilation openings carry side faces as well.
If you notice an error – select it with the mouse and press CTRL + ENTER.