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Windows 10 PC Stick for Emulation?

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I have an idea to get a Windows 10 PC stick and dedicate it to running emulators. The stick would plug into my home TV, an older Samsung 55" 1080p unit. A wireless keyboard/mouse would be used to get emulation started and to load images. A number of wireless (Bluetooth) controllers would act like joysticks.

 

I understand the processing power in these sticks is limited. Is it enough though?

 

There isn't a whole lot of built-in storage but I would use a micro-SD card as a supplement. A 64 GB unit would seem to be enough.

 

Has anyone tried this? I would love to hear your feedback.

 

Thanks!

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The power on these is probably similar to the Windows tablets from a few years ago, which is to say they aren't amazing, but they should suffice for emulation of cartridge systems. Just like a Pi or Android system.

 

In my experience, the limiting factor in cheap windows system is usually the storage (esp if 32GB or less) and RAM (esp if 2GB or less).

 

What's the price on the PC stick you're considering? I have a feeling it won't be the best bargain.

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Thanks for the reply!

 

Looking through Amazon and using their filters I found two possibilities. Both of these have Windows 10 Pro, a 64-bit operating system, and they both have Bluetooth which makes me think I can have multiple wireless controllers one day. Imagine being able to play MULE with 3 other people. :)

 

ACE PC

https://www.amazon.com/ACEPC-Computer-4GB-64GB-Bluetooth/dp/B07MWZH4V3/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=stick+bluetooth&qid=1558298069&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011%2Cp_72%3A1248879011%2Cp_36%3A-20000%2Cp_n_condition-type%3A2224371011&rnid=2224369011&rps=1&s=pc&sr=1-1

 

Intel W5 Pro

https://www.amazon.com/Intel-Z8350-Windows-Computer-Support/dp/B07MB9TC33/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=stick+bluetooth&qid=1558298069&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011%2Cp_72%3A1248879011%2Cp_36%3A-20000%2Cp_n_condition-type%3A2224371011&rnid=2224369011&rps=1&s=pc&sr=1-4

 

I understand a real mini-PC may be more powerful and versatile but that seems a bit more bulky. A Stick PC seems so much more elegant and compact. Just plug it into an available HDMI port on the TV and off you go.

 

A Flashback 9 unit sounds fun but it is focused on 2600/5200/7800 console games.

 

A Stick PC could potentially run Stella, Altirra, Hatari, etc. It feels more versatile and it could potentially keep up with my every shifting interests. ;)

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The problem with a Windows based emulator is you're subject to the endless amount of Windows updates. By comparison, I setup a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie months ago and haven't to update the OS or RetroPie since. A Raspberry Pie boots in seconds, and has USB, Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth and the OS is free.

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Make sure any stick you consider buying you read the reviews thoroughly on them. I have heard and read that a lot of them overheat just doing basic work like browsing.

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The problem with a Windows based emulator is you're subject to the endless amount of Windows updates.

 

For Windows 10 you can go into the Network settings and turn on Metered Connection which blocks all updates until you choose to get the updates yourself.

 

Of course this also affects Window Defender and you won't get needed security patches that are needed.

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For Windows 10 you can go into the Network settings and turn on Metered Connection which blocks all updates until you choose to get the updates yourself.

 

Of course this also affects Window Defender and you won't get needed security patches that are needed.

 

If all you want it for is emulation you can turn off the network after you get it set the way you want and it can stay static. I haven't updated one of my RetroPie setups since I got it the way I wanted it. I turned off the network and I just use it as is. If something happens I can just re-image the backup ISO.

Edited by ClassicGMR
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The stick form factor is going to be limited and slow -- $170 seems too expensive for this IMHO when you could run a real "box" pc or a laptop foe the same money and have a lot more versatility. Remember the stick is going to need a power supply as well as video out so it's not exactly elegant to begin with.

 

I'd rather have a Pi and Linux, personally.

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It's plenty more powerfull and has more ram than a raspberry pi. If the operating system is an issue you can always install linux. A real PC might cost more than double but gives a better petformance return. If a raspberry pi can run hatari okay these intel sticks should be more than fine.

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The problem with a Windows based emulator is you're subject to the endless amount of Windows updates. By comparison, I setup a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie months ago and haven't to update the OS or RetroPie since. A Raspberry Pie boots in seconds, and has USB, Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth and the OS is free.

 

I'm not too worried about updates as long as they don't break what I have working and as long as I can control when they are rolled out.

 

I don't know a thing about Raspberry Pie. :? Looks like I have a research project ahead of me. :) Thanks for the tip!

 

Make sure any stick you consider buying you read the reviews thoroughly on them. I have heard and read that a lot of them overheat just doing basic work like browsing.

 

Yes, I have read some reviews where users were disappointed with their stick. I'm not sure if their expectations were just too high or if the stick was too weak.

 

 

If all you want it for is emulation you can turn off the network after you get it set the way you want and it can stay static. I haven't updated one of my RetroPie setups since I got it the way I wanted it. I turned off the network and I just use it as is. If something happens I can just re-image the backup ISO.

 

I wouldn't want to leave it completely disconnected because I would still want occasional network access to share folders/files between my machines and maybe even download a file or two.

 

The stick form factor is going to be limited and slow -- $170 seems too expensive for this IMHO when you could run a real "box" pc or a laptop foe the same money and have a lot more versatility. Remember the stick is going to need a power supply as well as video out so it's not exactly elegant to begin with.

 

I'd rather have a Pi and Linux, personally.

 

I'd like to avoid having another "box". The stick PC's seem to plug directly into a HDMI port on the TV. I was wondering if I could get power from a nearby USB port.

 

It's plenty more powerfull and has more ram than a raspberry pi. If the operating system is an issue you can always install linux. A real PC might cost more than double but gives a better petformance return. If a raspberry pi can run hatari okay these intel sticks should be more than fine.

 

I think I would be OK with something like Ubuntu. One of my computers at work is running Ubuntu 18.04LTS with the Gnome desktop. You planted an idea in my head. :) How much support is there for something like wireless keyboards, mice, and gamepads when used with an emulator? I know there's all sorts of tricky ways to install software and that makes me hesitant.

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It sounds like you're going for it. Please let us know how it turns out!

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Yeah, 4gb RAM and 64gb storage is bare minimum for Windows 10. My experience is that the TF card slots have really, REALLY bad performance. The onboard storage actually runs Windows worse than an external USB drive.

 

To make this usable you need a custom stripped down Windows 10 install. I used to use Nlite to do so.

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I like the Youtube channel linked below. It focuses on emulation and how to set up emulators on a variety of devices. This video shows how to load emulators on the Amazon Fire Stick 4K.

 

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Yeah, 4gb RAM and 64gb storage is bare minimum for Windows 10. My experience is that the TF card slots have really, REALLY bad performance. The onboard storage actually runs Windows worse than an external USB drive.

 

To make this usable you need a custom stripped down Windows 10 install. I used to use Nlite to do so.

I have a 14 year old PC running win7-64 in 4GB ram. While newer windows storage footprint might be bigger my understanding is memory management has improved. The cpu performance is comparable to the pc sticks. I can run golden age emulators, dosbox games from the early 1990s. And haven't seen a problem with any mame games I've tried. I do recommend disabling any unnecessary services and windows update is a pain in any version. I'd give the default os a shot before scrapping it.
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Fresh install of windows 10 sucks around 1.6 gig sitting at the desktop so 4 gigs is enough as long as you don't run anything high demand

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I have a 14 year old PC running win7-64 in 4GB ram. While newer windows storage footprint might be bigger my understanding is memory management has improved. The cpu performance is comparable to the pc sticks. I can run golden age emulators, dosbox games from the early 1990s. And haven't seen a problem with any mame games I've tried. I do recommend disabling any unnecessary services and windows update is a pain in any version. I'd give the default os a shot before scrapping it.

 

It might be the way I use Win 10. I hope people have better experiences then I have had with my Winbook, GPD Win, Compute Sticks and Atom based tablets. That being said, I'd take Win 7 over Win 10 any day of the week. Just too many weird processes slowing down my PCs and it constantly changes with updates. A customized Win 10 build reduces the resources and brings it closer to Win 7. But, that also requires a lot of know how to figure out what you can safely yank out. I sometimes forget that aspect :)

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I also have a newer but slow i3 with 4GB ram running win10-64. I've thought about upgrading the ram but really haven't seen a need for it except when windows update kicks in. You can try metred connections but you can't stop it completely. Windows update is the worst.

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boxpressed,

Thanks for the video above on running emulators on an Amazon Firestick. I did not know that was even possible.

Edited by Forrest

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Thanks for the reply!

 

Looking through Amazon and using their filters I found two possibilities. Both of these have Windows 10 Pro, a 64-bit operating system, and they both have Bluetooth which makes me think I can have multiple wireless controllers one day. Imagine being able to play MULE with 3 other people. :)

 

ACE PC

https://www.amazon.com/ACEPC-Computer-4GB-64GB-Bluetooth/dp/B07MWZH4V3/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=stick+bluetooth&qid=1558298069&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011%2Cp_72%3A1248879011%2Cp_36%3A-20000%2Cp_n_condition-type%3A2224371011&rnid=2224369011&rps=1&s=pc&sr=1-1

 

Intel W5 Pro

https://www.amazon.com/Intel-Z8350-Windows-Computer-Support/dp/B07MB9TC33/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=stick+bluetooth&qid=1558298069&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011%2Cp_72%3A1248879011%2Cp_36%3A-20000%2Cp_n_condition-type%3A2224371011&rnid=2224369011&rps=1&s=pc&sr=1-4

 

I understand a real mini-PC may be more powerful and versatile but that seems a bit more bulky. A Stick PC seems so much more elegant and compact. Just plug it into an available HDMI port on the TV and off you go.

 

A Flashback 9 unit sounds fun but it is focused on 2600/5200/7800 console games.

 

A Stick PC could potentially run Stella, Altirra, Hatari, etc. It feels more versatile and it could potentially keep up with my every shifting interests. ;)

 

So a stick PC for $170 you say? For that amount I think you could get one of these with a two-year extended warranty. But yes, it does take up a lot more space...

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It sounds like you're going for it. Please let us know how it turns out!

 

Well, not yet. :)

 

 

So a stick PC for $170 you say? For that amount I think you could get one of these with a two-year extended warranty. But yes, it does take up a lot more space...

 

I know, I know! :!: ;)

 

Let me describe how I got here. I started out thinking of finally getting a Flashback 9 unit and diving into console based games. There's a neat firmware update that allows users to load their own cartridge images. Some are even tweaking original games to optimize/fix them for the new Flashback 9 units (i.e. remove glitches, incompatibilities, etc). I balked at having another "box" or "thing" on a shelf with cables and the like. Poking around on Amazon, I bumped into a low end, 32-bit based Windows PC stick. How cool! No extra "box", no funky cables, no extra power adapter to plug into my electrical outlet. It all sounds very clean.

 

I understand the stick carries a bit of price premium and it's not for the performance. Performance was compromised for the packaging and it's the packaging I would be paying for. I suppose there's the added benefit of portability too. One of my questions asks has performance been so compromised that it is no longer adequate for running emulators?

 

@boxpressed posted a video highlight an Amazon Fire. That's also a "stick PC" except it's been tuned and tailored to run Amazon's customized OS and relevant apps. The Windows PC stick is probably a more generic implementation.

 

@Forrest brought up the idea of a Raspberry Pi system which I had never thought about.

 

So, I'm still kicking around the idea for fun and experimentation but I also don't want to waste money for nothing either.

 

Me knowing me, I'll probably come full circle and get a vintage 2600 system instead. :lol:

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Flashback is purpose built and I think the controllers are pretty faithful.

 

Raspberry Pi is super versatile and not much bulkier than the "stick PC"

 

The "stick" (more like a candy bar by most accounts) is going to need an extension cord to fit in most monitors anyway.

 

Who really looks at the hardware anyway?

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Who really looks at the hardware anyway?

 

first thing I do whenever I walk into someone's house is look behind the TV

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I like the Youtube channel linked below. It focuses on emulation and how to set up emulators on a variety of devices. This video shows how to load emulators on the Amazon Fire Stick 4K.

 

 

Absolutely love ETA's channel. Helped me so much when I was trying to get into RetroPie. :)

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