Intel's Compute Stick gets a powerful Skylake upgrade

Intel Compute Stick with Core M processors

Intel's compact PC-on-a-stick form factor will get even faster this year. Unlike the first generation Intel Compute Stick, Intel debuted a pair of Compute Sticks with its new Core M series processors based on the company's sixth generation Skylake chip architecture. While the Core M processor isn't as fast as the mainstream Core i series, it will offer a performance boost over the old model's Bay Trail-based Atom processor introduced a year ago at CES.

The first model comes with an Intel Core m3 processor and will be priced at $399 (£272, AU$564). The more powerful Core m5 version will be priced at $499 (£341, AU$706), and both versions will ship with Windows 10. The devices will feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity, 64GB of storage, 4GB of memory and three USB ports for expansion.

Intel hasn't announced a shipping date for either Compute Stick versions.

Upcycle your monitor and make your TV smart

The Compute Stick is essentially a Windows 10 desktop that's packed into the size of an HDMI dongle that's not much bigger than a large USB flash drive. The benefit of the device is that it doesn't take up any desktop space, and the solution is a convenient one for those looking on building a home theater PC (HTPC).

Essentially, plugging the HDMI connector into your existing HDTV will turn your existing television into a smart TV. Similarly, you can upcycle old displays and give it new life with this simple hardware add-on. The device is also easy to transport, allowing you to have a PC setup in a hotel room when you travel if you connect the Compute Stick to your television and add a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

In addition to the more powerful and pricier Core M Compute Sticks, Intel also announced a version with an Atom x5 processor. This model will utilize the Atom Z8300 processor and will be equipped with 32GB of storage and 2GB of memory for $159 (£108, AU$225). It will also come with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.

Intel's Compute Stick form factor is also adopted by other PC manufacturers, including Lenovo and Asus. Additionally, Asus also released a Chromebit, which utilizes the same form factor but swaps Windows 10 for Chrome OS.