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Amazon Fire TV Stick comparison: How they stack up to each other

There are four Amazon Fire TV Sticks available, but which one should you choose? We break down your options to help you choose the best one for your needs and preferences.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Fire TV Sticks
Amazon | ZDNET

Even though most new televisions are already smart out of the box, adding a streaming device to any non-Fire TV, like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, can elevate your viewing experience. 

The Fire TV Stick is a Wi-Fi-enabled device that connects to your TV's HDMI port to let you stream content from your favorite subscriptions, such as Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu. 

Also: The top video streaming services compared

Considering there are four to choose from with different features and prices, there's sure to be one for all TV-watching needs.

Fire TV Sticks compared


Fire TV Stick LiteFire TV StickFire TV Stick 4KFire TV Stick 4K Max
Price $30$40$50$55
Alexa remote 2nd Gen, no TV controls3rd Gen, TV controls3rd Gen, TV controls3rd Gen, TV controls
Video quality 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps1080p and 720p up to 60 fps2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps
Supported formats HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264, Vp9HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264, Vp9Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264, VP9Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264, VP9, AV1
Audio quality HDMI passthrough of Dolby-encoded audioDolby AtmosDolby AtmosDolby Atmos
Connectivity Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and BLEDual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and BLEDual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and BLEWi-Fi with Wi-Fi 6 support, Bluetooth 5.0 and BLE
Storage 8GB internal8GB internal8GB internal8GB internal
Memory 1GB1GB1.5GB2GB
Processor Quad-core CPU 1.7GHz, GPU 650MHzQuad-core CPU 1.7GHz, GPU 650MHzQuad-core CPU 1.7GHz, GPU 650MHzQuad-core CPU 1.8GHz, GPU 750MHz
Picture-in-picture --YesYes

You should buy a Fire TV Stick Lite if...

Fire TV Stick Lite attached to the back of a TV
Amazon

1. You prefer a more affordable option

The Fire TV Stick Lite is Amazon's most affordable streaming device; nothing more, nothing less. It's priced at $30, but very often on sale for $20 to $25, so if a low price is a big deciding factor for you in choosing a Fire TV streaming device, then the Lite version is probably the one to go with.

2. An everyday streaming experience is all you need

Because the Fire TV Stick Lite is the bare-bones version of the Fire TV Stick, it's best suited for everyday streaming rather than as the backbone of a full-blown home theater. 

The simple version will still give you access to the same operating system as the more expensive options, with all your favorite streaming services just a push of a button away, but the remote doesn't come with TV controls. So you can't program this remote to control your TV's volume or turn it on or off. 

Also: You don't have to break the bank for a great TV with these budget picks

Another difference in the Lite version when compared with the other three versions is that it doesn't support Dolby Atmos, which can provide better audio clarity and a more immersive TV experience.

You should buy a Fire TV Stick if...

Fire TV Stick remote in front of a TV

The remote included with the Fire TV Stick features TV controls.

Amazon

1. You prefer an all-in-one remote control

Though this version isn't all that different from the Lite model, the Fire TV Stick features the third-generation Alexa remote, which has volume and on or off buttons that can be programmed to work with your television. This makes it so you'd only need the Fire TV Stick remote most of the time, so you don't have to worry about keeping both the Alexa remote and your TV's remote controls handy.

The buttons can control your TV, soundbar, and receiver.

2. It's for a 1080p television

If you don't need 4K support, then there's no need to get the more expensive versions of the Fire TV Stick, as the basic Fire TV Stick will do the job. The 4K versions require a 4K television to display ultra-HD content, so anyone with a Full HD 1080p-resolution TV can still enjoy all their favorite streaming subscriptions with the standard version, and it also supports Dolby Atmos.

You should buy a Fire TV Stick 4K if...

Fire TV Stick 4K plugged into the back of TV
Amazon

1. 4K streaming is more your speed

If you have a 4K television and want to add a Fire TV Stick to either give it smart capabilities or because you prefer Fire OS, then the Fire TV Stick 4K is a great choice. Because the Fire TV Stick and Stick Lite versions only support up to full HD 1080p resolution, the Fire TV Stick 4K stands out if you're looking for better, cinematic picture quality.

Also: Roku vs Fire Stick: Which one is better for your needs?

2. You want a 4K version but don't need Wi-Fi 6

The Fire TV Stick 4K is priced at $50 and, like other models, sees frequent discounts in price. This is only $5 cheaper than the Max model, which supports Wi-Fi 6. But if you know you won't be making the upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 anytime soon, then the Fire TV Stick 4K is a great option for high-quality streaming.

Also: The best 4K TVs: Which TV brand is most reliable?

This version supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio, as well as HDR for crisper images. Compared with the Fire TV Stick and Lite models, the 4K version features 1.5 GB of memory, making for faster load times and snappier performance. 

You should buy a Fire TV Stick 4K Max if...

Fire TV Stick 4K Max remote on a living room couch with TV in the background
Amazon

1. Wi-Fi 6 support is a must

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a future-proof version streaming device thanks to its support for Wi-Fi 6. If you've already upgraded to a Wi-Fi 6 router, then the 4K Max is a seamless fit, and you'll benefit from faster speeds and more streams. 

2. You want the fastest Fire TV Stick available

Both 4K versions of the Fire TV Stick support 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision and Dolby Sound, built to provide a high-quality, almost cinematic experience. But the Fire TV Stick 4K Max features a faster processor and 2GB of memory, which makes for a smoother streaming and gaming experience and improved speed compared with the 4K version.

Also: The best Wi-Fi routers

It retails for $55, and is the highest-performing, most powerful Fire TV Stick available.

Alternatives to consider

If you're still looking to check out other options, these are some worthy alternatives to the Fire TV Stick lineup:

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