“Intel: Little Stick, Big Surprise.” How To Successfully Integrate A Computer In Your RV

compute stick

Long before I install solar in my RV, I have to think about power use of my electronics, that is the amps and type of voltage (12V/110V). Computer use in a RV has become easier since laptops became available. Battery use is always an issue in a recreational vehicle and certainly with computers that may use little, but are in use a lot. Trying to keep electrical demand to a minimum is always a priority, since it directly translates into a longer boondocking experience.

Intel developed the low energy Atom chip line used in the NUC’s (Next Unit of Computing) small form factor PC’s with a similar technology as what’s used in the so popular tablets.

Tiny, Sleek and Versatile

compute stickThe next generation that’s coming to market now, is Intel’s Compute Stick miniature PC. This candy-bar sized computer is essentially a fully-functional, low-power, Atom-based system with memory, storage, and an OS, that lends itself to be permanently integrated into the RV without substantial loss of space, connected to one of the USB 5V/2A outlets, that will be available around the van. In combination with a USB-powered display, this eliminates the use of a converter.

Some Drawbacks

A little cabling is required and perhaps an additional USB hub. The MicroSD card slot with up to 128Gb of storage may not be sufficient for long term RVing, so you may need to hookup an external USB harddrive for all your movies and music. If your display doesn’t have speakers, the audio would come through USB speakers and a keyboard and mouse can be facilitated via Bluetooth or USB.


With WiFi connectivity to other computer devices in the RV, the device could be hidden out-of-view, saving some storage space for other items. With it you can create a capable little HTPC with the free Kodi software media center for playing videos, music, pictures, games, and more (on both Windows and Linux OS).

At a relatively modest price of $150.00 for a 32Gb Windows version and better yet (to me) in a $100.00 8Gb Linux version, this may be the best and most affordable solution so far for a solid basic computer in a RV especially in combination with a tablet and/or smartphone.

Specifications & Features

compute stick dimensions

  • Intel Atom Processor Z3735F (Bay Trail)
  • 4 cores, 1.33GHz base, 1.83GHz
  • Turbo Intel HD Graphics
  • Windows
    • 2Gb memory
    • 32 Gb storage
  • Ubuntu
    • 1Gb memory
    • 8 Gb storage
  • Integrated WiFi 802.11bgn
  • 1 USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • MicroSD card slot (up to 128Gb)
  • Intel HD Audio via HDMI 1.4a
  • Dimensions: 4 in. x 1.5 in. x 0.5 in.
  • Power Requirements: 5V, 2A wall-mount AC-DC power adapter
  • STCK1A32WFC available now
  • STCK1A8LFC available June 2015
  • Price $99 – $149

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