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New Intel Compute Stick adds Core M power

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Intel M3 Compute Stick

Intel has announced the second generation of its Compute Stick HDMI port computer.

The first Intel Compute Stick launched this time last year, offering to provide a compact plug-in PC that could turn any modern monitor or TV into a computer. That was the concept at least. Unfortunately, a critical lack of power and ports made it a less-than-practical product.

Now, at CES 2016, Intel has unveiled a follow-up. It looks to be much-improved.

While the new entry-level Intel Compute Stick packs an underwhelming Atom x5-z8400 CPU backed by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, there are now also a couple of much more potent options.

It will be possible to spec out your PC-on-a-stick with sixth-generation Core M3 and M5 processors with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

This should prove far more capable for general PC tasks. For example, Intel says that the mid-range M3 model will be able to output 4K video at 30Hz.

What's more, while there's still only one USB port on the second-generation Compute Stick, Intel has managed to squeeze two more onto the power charger. You'll be able to plug in a keyboard, mouse, and one other device without resorting to Bluetooth, should you wish.

All models come with improved dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which addresses another criticism of the original.

Related: Guide to PC sticks

The M3 and M5 Intel Compute Sticks are expected to be in production in February, while the Atom model is said to be in production now.

The Atom model with Windows 10 will cost $149 (like the original), the M3 with Windows 10 will cost $399, and the M5 will cost $499 with no OS installed. That's quite a price jump for the Core M models, but the advantages should be clear.

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