Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Lite Specifications Compared – 2021 Max model is the most powerful yet

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[Updated 09/12/2021]

Amazon Fire TV devices have been some of my favourite tech products in recent years. Even though I have shifted to the Nvidia Shield, these offer the best performance for the price of any streaming product I can think of.

For 2021, Amazon has launched a new flagship Amazon Fire TV Stick. which adds a new power chipset and WiFi 6. So, in theory, you should experience a faster interface with quick app loads and if you can make the most of WiFi 6 there could be less buffering.

As you would expect, this is the most expensive Fire TV Stick and you may be wondering if it is worth it. This largely depends on current discounts, but the 4K Max is only £5 more RRP than the older 4K, which makes it a bit of a no-brainer to me.

However, let's look at the options.

Amazon Fire TV vs built-in smart TV functions

With the low cost of these devices, I am a firm believer everyone should dump the smart TV functions of their TV and opt for a dedicated streaming device. You can even watch live TV on many of the streaming apps, such as BBC.

For all your streaming services, you are much better off with Amazon, or other comparable products. They are faster, with a better UI, upgradable and just less glitchy. For example, my exorbitantly expensive (when I bought it) Sony AF8 OLED has a shocking smart interface that is slow and just unpleasant to use.

A Fire TV will generally have more apps available than normal TVs and here you can find the best Fire TV Stick apps.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K

Being a tech geek, I could be biased, but for me, I'd only buy the 4K models none of the Sticks is very expensive and the price difference between the Lite or Standard vs the 4K models just doesn't seem to be worth it. Though I appreciate that not everyone has may feel the same about the price of these.

The big differences are:

  • New chipset that is slightly more powerful
  • More RAM, going up to 2GB from 1.5GB
  • AV1 decoding – This could be quite important
  • Upgraded to WiFi 6

Will WiFi 6 make a difference?

Yes, no, maybe. For a start, you need a WiFi 6 router or mesh system to make the most of it.

WiFi 6 does provide a significant boost to your WiFi speeds and will make it easier to achieve the maximum Internet speed that your connection is capable of.

However, most streaming services use efficient compression making it quite easy to stream 4K media. For example, Netflix currently states they recommend just 25Mbps for 4K.

If you watch movies locally using apps such as Plex, then a 4K HDR file may stream between 50 Mbps and 80 Mbps and these would be gigantic files that most normal people are unlikely to download.

With WiFi 5 more than capable of hitting over 400Mbps for local file transfers, it is quite capable of handling anything you might stream. WiFi 6 may be useful if the Fire TV stick isn't very close to the router and you have a relatively poor signal.

Personally, I just like to know I have the best connection possible, minimising any chance of buffering.

How do the chipsets compare?

Amazon state this is the most powerful streaming stick yet, which is certainly true. They claim 40% more powerful than Fire TV Stick 4K which seems like a stretch to me.

The new MediaTek MT8696 uses the same 4x ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores as the older model and there is just a 100Mhz increase in speed, a 6% improvement.

The GPU is likely where the majority of the improvements occur, but even that doesn't seem overly impressive when you look at it. The new IMG PowerVR GE9215 GPU appears to have essentially the same specification as the GE8300, it is just clocked higher. Imagination tech state the same processing power, and Wikipedia confirms this stating 20.8 / 41.6 GFLOPS when running at 650 MHz. However, the GPU is clocked higher at 750Mhz, which is a 15% improvement.

Why is AV1 decoding important?

While this is not mentioned much in the marketing material, it is likely the most important upgrade to the Fire Stick.

AV1 is an open, royalty-free video coding format that has been developed as a successor to VP9 by the Alliance for Open Media, which is used for most streaming services currently.

In 2020, Netflix began using AV1 to stream select titles on Android, providing 20% improved compression efficiency over their VP9 streams. It now also streams AV1 to many TVs and the PS4 Pro, I would expect they will do the same with the Fire Stick 4K Max.

This new codec is also being rolled out onto YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and Twitch.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is better than the 4K and worth the extra

While the overall difference may not be massive, neither is the price. I therefore thing the new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is well worth it over the standard Fire Stick 4K.

Furthermore, there is nothing on the market for streaming devices that can compete in terms or price/performacne.

Specification Comparison Table

 Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MaxAmazon Fire TV Stick 4K
ProcessorMediaTek MT8696MediaTek MT8695
CPU4x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.8 GHz4x ARM Cortex-A53 1.7 GHz
GPUIMG PowerVR GE9215
@ 750Mhz
IMG PowerVR GE8300
@ 650 MHz
RAM2GB1.5GB
Storage8GB8GB
Picture QualityUp to 4K UHD (3840x2160)Up to 4K UHD (3840x2160)
Dolby VisionYesYes
HDRHDR10 / HDR10+ / HLGHDR10 / HDR10+ / HLG
Remote3rd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote2nd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote
Wi-Fi 6YesNo
Ethernet No - 10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
No - 10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
Live View Picture-in-PictureYesNo
OSFire OS 7
(Android 9)
Fire OS 6
(Android 7.1)
Video Decoding H.265 (HEVC),
H.264 (AVC),
VP9,
VP8,
MPEG-4,
MPEG-2
AV1
H.265 (HEVC),
H.264 (AVC),
VP9,
VP8,
MPEG-4,
MPEG-2
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0 + LE.Bluetooth 5.0 + LE.
Dimensions99 x 30 x 14mm99 x 30 x 14mm

Amazon Firestick & Cube Comparison – Older models

Fire TV (3rd Gen) Stick vs Fire TV Stick Lite

The actual Fire TV Stick is the same hardware, so the same chipset, RAM, storage, and the same 1080P video quality.

However, the Fire TV Stick Lite has reduced audio support, only stating HDMI audio pass-through for Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital+.

The normal Fire Stick offers support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+ surround sound and HDMI Audio pass-through for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+ and Dolby Atmos.

Then the remote that is included is different. The Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote has TV controls built into it such as power and volume (well worth the extra £10 in my opinion)

Fire TV (3rd Gen) Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite vs Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen)

From Amazon:

The Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen) is the successor to Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen). It features an enhanced 1.7 GHz quad-core processor that makes it more powerful than the previous generation while using less power.

The new Fire TV Stick delivers faster streaming in 1080p at 60fps with HDR compatibility. The dual-band, dual-antenna WiFi supports 5 GHz networks for more stable streaming and fewer dropped connections.

The Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen) also features Dolby Atmos for immersive sound with compatible content and speakers, and an Alexa Voice Remote with dedicated power, volume, and mute buttons for easy control of TVs, soundbars, and A/V receivers with a single remote.

The Fire TV Stick Lite does NOT support Dolby Atmos

MediaTek MT8695D (3rd Gen Fire Stick ) vs MediaTek MT8127D (2nd Gen)

The new Mediatek chipset is a quad-core Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.7 GHz with Imagination PowerVR GE8300 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.2. This is the same chipset as the 4K Fire Stick, so it has plenty of power and will made the UI far more responsive

The old MediaTek MT8127D was a quad core chipset running an ancient ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.3 GHz paired with a Mali 450 MP4 GPU.

Fire TV Stick 4K 2018

This Fire TV Stick 4K which launched back in 2018, is in my opinion, the best Fire TV Stick ever, and offers the best performance to price ratio of any streaming device on the market.

The underlying hardware is similar to the 3rd Gen Fire Stick, using the same chipset but it has more RAM at 1.5GB.

However, as the name suggests, this supports 4K, and not only that it supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, making it universally compatible with current HDR technologies across TVs.

Fire TV Cube 2019

The Fire TV Cube is the most powerful Amazon TV device to date, and it is superb, I did have issues with the way Ring notifications bothered me, but I think that is fixed now.

The chipset in this is far more powerful than the other devices, you also get more RAM at 2GB and double the storage at 16GB. So the overall UI and performance is quicker and smoother than the other models.

You then basically get an Amazon Echo Dot built into it, offering far-field and near-field voice support.

The only issue I have with this is that I don’t think it is worth more than double the cost of the Fire TV Stick 4K 2018. However, it has been as low as £80 and it that price I would 100% recommend buying it.

Overall

This post has now been updated for 2021. In my opinion and dependant on current discounts, the older Fire TV Stick 4K is largely redundant, you should just get the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. It will offer a smoother user experience and will be less likely to suffer from buffering when streaming 4K media.

Of course,e if you are on a strict budget then the Fire TV Stick Lite is still a good choice and perfectly capable of streaming 1080P HD content.

Specification Comparison Table

 Fire TV Stick 3rd Gen /
Fire TV Stick Lite
Fire TV Stick
2nd Gen
Fire TV Stick 4K Fire TV Cube
Year Launched20202016
Updated 2019 with new remote
20182019
Price£29.99 (Lite)
£39.99 (3rd Gen )
£39.99£49.99£109.99
ResolutionUp to 1920 x 1080 (1080p) - 60Hz720p and 1080p up to 60fps2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps
HDRHDR10+, HLGNoneDolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLGDolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG
Video CodecsH.265 (HEVC). Hardware-accelerated up to 1080p @ 60fps, 20 Mbps, Main 10 Profile Level 4.1, Color space 8-bit and 10-bit input with HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG.

H.264. Hardware-accelerated up to 1080p @ 60fps, High Profile up to Level 4.

VP8. Supported up to 1080p 30fps. Baseline profile, non-secure

VP9. Hardware accelerated up to 1080p @ 60fps, Profile 2 up to 20 Mbps
H.265 (HEVC). Hardware accelerated up to 1080p @ 30fps, 25 Mbps, Main Profile Level 4.0, Color space 8-bit support

H.264. Hardware accelerated up to 1080p @ 30fps or 720p @ 60fps, 20 Mbps, High Profile up to Level 4

VP8 & VP9 is not listed
Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision support for Profile 4-MEL, 5, 8, 9. (Up to Level 9 for profiles 5 and 8. Up to Level 5 for Profile 9.)

H.265 (HEVC). Hardware accelerated up to 3840x2160p (4K) @ 60fps, 35 Mbps, Main 10 Profile Level 5.1, Color space 8-bit and 10-bit input with HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG.

H.264. Hardware accelerated up to 3840x2160p (4K) @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps, or 720p @ 60fps, 20 Mbps, High Profile up to Level 4.

VP8. Supported up to 1080p 30fps. Baseline profile, non-secure

VP9. Hardware accelerated up to 1080p @ 60fps, Profile 2 up to 20 Mbps
H.265 (HEVC). Hardware accelerated up to 2160p (4K) @ 60fps Main Profile Level 5.1

H.264. Hardware accelerated up to 2160p @ 30fps or 1080p @ 60fps, 20 Mbps, High Profile up to Level 4

VP8

VP9. Hardware accelerated up to 2160p @ 60fps (with limitations)
AudioDolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+ surround sound (not on Lite model)

HDMI Audio pass-through for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+ and Dolby Atmos.
Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound
2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass-through up to 7.1
Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound
2ch stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1.
Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound
2ch stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1.
SpeakerNoNoNoBuilt-in 1.6'' (40 mm) speaker
Voice ControlYesYes, with Alexa Voice Remote or paired EchoYes, with the Alexa Voice Remote or paired echoFar-field and near-field voice support
ProcessorMediaTek MT8695D
Quad Core
4x ARM Cortex-A53 @1.7GHz
32-bit
MediaTek MT8127D
4x ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.3 GHz
MediaTek MT8695D
4x ARM Cortex-A53 @1.7GHz
Amlogic S922X
Hex-core
4 x Arm Coretex A73 - 2.2 GHz
2 x Arm Coretex A53 - 1.9 GHz
GPUIMG GE8300Mali 450 MP4PowerVR IMG GE8300 Mali G52-MP6, 800 MHz
Storage8GB8GB8GB16GB
Memory1GB, DDR41GB1.5GB2GB
Wi-Fi802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi - dual-antenna802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi - dual-antenna
Ethernet No - Ethernet adaptopr limited to 10/100No - Ethernet adaptopr limited to 10/100No - Ethernet adaptopr limited to 10/100
PortsHDMI, Power, Micro USB, Wired Infrared supportHDMI output, micro-USB for power only.HDMI output, micro-USB for power only.HDMI, power, micro-USB, wired infrared support
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 4.1BT 4.2 and BLEBluetooth 5.0 + LE.

[Updated 09/12/2021]

[Original Post 26/12/2020] Originally posted in 2020 when the Fire TV Stick Lite was launched. This post has been updated for 2021 to take into account the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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