Head To Head: Intel Compute Stick Versus Google Chromebit

Small Form Factor Showdown

As the personal computer market continues to face inherent struggles, companies are exploring ways to bend the rules with PCs by shrinking them to small form factor-based sticks. Within the past quarter, Intel and Google both released their renditions of mini PCs -- small form factor, power-efficient PCs wrapped into a candy bar-sized stick that fits comfortably in the consumer's hand.

Intel's Compute Stick, released last week, has earned the praise of both customers and the channel. However, some customers are holding off on buying the compute stick, as Google and hardware company Asus jointly announced the Chromebit, a mini PC to be released in the summer. Here's how the two mini PCs stack up against each other.

5. Ports and Plugs

Both the Compute Stick and Chromebit have the ability to plug into HDMI ports on televisions or monitors, giving them full-fledged PC functionalities.

Both mini PCs also feature a full-sized USB port on one end to connect to peripherals such as keyboards.

The Chromebit pushes its flexibility through featuring a hinged swivel design so customers can plug the dongle into almost any HDMI socket without the use of an extension cable. The Compute Stick, on the other hand, features a small HDMI extension cable to use if the stick doesn't neatly fit into the HDMI port.

4. Operating System

Intel's Compute Stick will boast two versions with separate pre-installed operating systems -- either Windows 8.1 or the Linux operating system. Meanwhile, the Chromebit runs on the Chrome operating system, which essentially crams a Chrome Web browser working with installed applications of Google's popular Chromebook into a small stick.

Most PC sticks, such as the CX-919 and Amazon Fire Stick, have typically run on Android, so these two newest products introduce an interesting alternative that drives various enterprise and vertical market functions.

3. Enterprise Function

Most other small form factor devices, including the Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast, are popular products for consumers, serving as media streaming entertainment devices.

The Google Chromebit and Intel Compute Stick contain better functions for business customers. The two products can plug into the HDMI input of televisions and transform them into entry computers with productivity apps, as opposed to entertainment and consumer-related functions.

2. Storage and Specs

The Asus Chromebit will contain a quad-core ARM Cortex A17 Rockchip CPU, as well as a quad-core ARM 760 Mali GPU. Intel's 4-inch Compute Stick, meanwhile, will utilize a 64-bit quad-core Atom Bay Trail CPU.

The lightweight Bay Trail SoC models family contain Silvermont Atom cores and typically target tablets, meaning that the stick won't be able to carry any detailed programs like Photoshop.

Google's Chromebit offers 16 GB of solid-state storage, while Intel's Compute Stick's Windows version offers 32 GB of built-in storage, and its Linux version offers 8 GB. Other additional features of both dongles include built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The Compute Stick additionally offers a MicroSD slot to expand external storage, while the Chromebit lacks this function.

1. Availability And Channel Opportunity

Intel's Windows 8.1 version of its Compute Stick recently became available globally last week, while the Linux version will become available later in 2015. Meanwhile, the Google Chromebit won't be available until later this summer, according to Google.

The Compute Stick's retail cost is around $150 for the version with Windows 8.1 and $99 for the version with Linux. Google stated that its Chromebit would cost under $100, but did not specify the price.

In terms of sales, the Compute Stick is available to be sold through the channel, according to Joel Christensen, general manager for the Channel Innovation and Solutions Division at Intel. Google representatives did not respond before publication time when asked what Chromebit's availability for the channel would be.