If you’ve ever shopped for a smart TV or streaming dongle, you know that there’s an overwhelming number of options including Google Chromecast, numerous Roku devices and arguably the most well known, the Amazon Fire TV. However, which is the best Firestick? Find out in this Firestick comparison.
We’ll be focusing on all of the Fire TV devices — including the Fire TV Sticks, original Fire TV and the rarely seen Fire TV Cube — to see which one is best for your needs.
- The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great way to update an older TV so it can stream content from practically any platform.
- Fire TV Stick models are differentiated not only by price, but also the streaming resolution and things like which HDR and sound formats you can use.
- The Fire TV Stick Lite is the most affordable option, while the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Fire TV Cube devices have the most features and biggest price tag.
Whether you’re looking for a top-shelf 4K HDR viewing experience or just a simple streaming device that lets you easily watch YouTube videos on your TV, one of Amazon’s half-dozen Fire TV models will most likely offer exactly what you’re looking for.
Aside from price, the biggest differences between the various models of Fire TV Stick are the video and audio formats they support. The lower models only support 1080p, while higher models start to include things like 4K, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Two models of Firestick were released in 2020, the Fire TV Stick Lite and the Fire TV Stick 3rd gen. The most up-to-date Fire TV Stick 4K was released in 2018 and supports higher resolutions and some other minor features, compared to the lower tier models released in 2020.
You can buy all the Firestick devices on Amazon.com.
Firestick Comparison: 5 Different Devices
Amazon offers a wide variety of streaming devices under its Fire TV product line, with the majority of these products being a variant of the Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick is a small rectangular dongle that plugs into an HDMI port on the back of your TV and remains hidden back there to do its job largely unseen.
Firestick Price & Features
|Model||Fire TV Stick Lite||Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen)||Fire TV Stick 4K||Fire TV Stick 4K Max||Fire TV Cube|
|Best For:||Cheap Fire Stick for essential streaming||HD streaming with TV controls||4K streaming with Dolby Vision support||High-performance 4K streaming with WiFi 6 support||Full features, hands-free voice contro|
|1080p Full HD|
|4K Ultra HD|
|Hands-free with Alexa|
|WiFi 6 Support|
|Live View Picture-in-Picture|
Every model of Fire TV device comes with a remote control, and most of the models have the same 8GB of internal storage for installing apps from the Amazon app store such as Hulu, Netflix and other streaming services. The exception to this is the Fire TV Cube, which doubles that capacity to 16GB.
Each model has various bells and whistles added to it as you move up the product line with things like improved resolution, support for more audio and video formats and added remote control functionality. Let’s look at the models in more detail and see what each one has to offer.
Fire TV Stick Lite
Best Firestick for Essential Streaming
Buy It On Amazon: $17.99
- Most affordable model
- Does not support 4K
- Included remote cannot control TV volume & power
Let’s start with the most affordable option, the Fire TV Stick Lite. As the name implies, the Fire TV Stick Lite offers the fewest features of all the available Fire TV Sticks and is designed to be the most affordable. That being said, this entry-level device still offers all the main features that someone would be looking for in any smart TV.
The Fire TV Stick Lite has the same processor as some of the higher tiers we’ll look at shortly, and is equipped with 1GB of RAM. This hardware allows it to stream 1080p HD video to any HD television with an HDMI port.
This streaming stick even supports some HDR formats such as HDR 10 and HDR 10+. Additionally, the Fire TV Stick Lite has access to the same apps and streaming services as all the other models.
There are two drawbacks to the Fire Stick TV Lite. The first is that it supports fewer sound formats than the other models. It can handle HDMI audio passthrough of Dolby audio, but lacks support for more advanced formats like Dolby Atmos, which we’ll get into shortly.
The second drawback of the Fire TV Stick Lite model is that it has fewer features built into the included remote. Although the Lite version still comes with an Alexa voice remote, it can’t control the power, volume and mute functions, so you’ll need to keep your original TV remote on hand. The other models can handle this through the Fire TV Stick’s remote.
Fire TV Stick (3rd Generation)
The Best Firestick for HD Streaming & TV Controls
Buy It On Amazon: $19.99
- Support for Dolby Atmos sound
- Voice remote includes TV controls
- Does not support 4K
As far as the hardware specs are concerned, the Fire TV Stick Lite and the Fire TV Stick are essentially twins. They both use the same MT8695D processor, which is a competent quad-core CPU that clocks up to 1.7 GHz — an impressive feat considering the Fire TV Stick has no fans or active cooling. The models also share the same graphics processing unit, called IMG GE8300, and the same 1GB of RAM.
To add to the similarities, the Fire TV Stick is limited to 1080p resolution and has the same HDR options as the Lite model. HDR improves the range of luminosity that can be displayed and requires a TV that supports HDR. The benefit is noticeably more detail in scenes that are dimly lit and a greater contrast between bright and dark areas.
The Fire TV Stick fully supports Dolby Atmos audio. This is a relatively new audio format that allows your sound system to know the actual position of an object or sound it’s producing, for more accurate and spatial audio. Dolby Atmos even supports things like sounds passing overhead and behind you, rather than just the standard left and right channels or 5.1 surround.
The other major difference is with the remote. The included Alexa voice remote that comes with the Fire TV Stick, and all other models except for the Fire TV Stick Lite, has built-in TV controls for power and volume.
Fire TV Stick 4K
The Best Firestick for 4K Streaming & Dolby Vision
Buy It On Amazon: $24.99
- Supports 4K resolution & Dolby Vision
- Compatible with Dolby Atmos
- Same CPU & GPU as lower models
The Fire TV Stick 4K is where we start to see some small but meaningful differences on the spec sheet. The 4K model has the same CPU and GPU as the previous two options, but with 1.5GB of memory rather than 1GB like the standard and Lite versions.
As the name would suggest, the key difference of the Fire TV Stick 4K over the lower models is that it can handle 4K UHD streaming.
Just like the standard Fire TV Stick, it also supports multiple sound formats including Dolby Atmos as well as HDR video. On top of that, this model can also use Dolby Vision, which is similar to HDR but is able to deliver more vibrant colors as well as sharply contrasting high-range bright and dark areas on a Dolby Vision–compatible screen.
Finally, the Fire TV Stick 4K comes with the same remote as the third-generation model. This means that it has Alexa voice control and TV control buttons that allow you to turn your TV on or off and change the volume.
Fire TV Stick 4K Max
The Best High-Performance Firestick
Buy It on Amazon: $34.99
- More powerful processor
- Support for 4K, Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos
- Same storage capacity as lower models
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the newest member of the Fire Stick family. It comes with an improvement in hardware that is much more significant than the previous models we’ve looked at, which all share the same GPU and quad-core CPU.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max bumps the processor up to an MT8696, which improves the peak clock speed from 1.7 GHz of the lower models to a marginally better 1.8 GHz. In addition to this, the RAM is moved up to a whole 2GB, which is half a gigabyte more than the standard 4K model. The GPU is also moved up from a 650 MHz model in all the other Fire Stick options to a 750 MHz IMG GE9215.
These enhanced specs are mostly geared toward use with Luna, Amazon’s cloud gaming service. The boosted hardware offers smoother gameplay at a higher and more stable frame rate. Aside from this, it’s almost entirely the same as its standard 4K predecessor, with the same Alexa voice remote controls, 4K HDR streaming and Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision capabilities.
Fire TV Cube
The Best High-Performance Fire TV Device With Hands-Free Control
Buy It On Amazon: $79.99
- Most powerful hardware of the Fire TV lineup
- Support for hands-free Alexa control of your TV & streaming
- Most expensive Fire TV device by far
The Fire TV Cube is the most powerful Fire TV streaming device but, as a tradeoff, is much larger than any of Amazon’s streaming stick options we just looked at. Rather than being a small dongle that hangs behind your TV unseen, the Fire TV Cube is 2.99 inches tall and has a square base that measures 3.38 inches wide (meaning, it’s technically not a cube).
The added size gives the Fire TV Cube room for much stronger hardware compared to the more discreet Fire TV Stick models. It comes with a hexa-core processor that clocks up to 2.2 GHz, an 800 MHz GPU and a full 2GB of RAM. The Fire TV Cube also has an advantage in storage capacity, with 16GB of space for apps — double the 8GB of the other models.
You can use the Fire TV Cube hands-free with Alexa voice controls, rather than holding down a button and speaking into the remote like you do with the other models. The Fire TV Cube can even be networked with other devices like the Amazon Echo so that you can control your TV from anywhere in the house.
The Fire TV Cube can also easily be set up to control your cable box and other devices with voice commands and has its own built-in speaker so you can use Alexa even when the TV is off.
Fire TV Omni Series
Buy It On Amazon: $409.99
- Fire TV hardware built into your TV with no dongle required
- Hands-free Alexa voice control
- Streaming hardware cannot be moved from one device to another like with Fire TV Sticks
The Fire TV was the original Amazon streaming dongle. Originally, it was a small square rather than a rectangle like the Fire Sticks we have today, but the product has been phased out in favor of the Fire TV Sticks which have better specs and performance.
However, Amazon continues to use the Fire TV name for televisions with built-in Fire TV hardware. While there are third party options from manufacturers like Toshiba, who will integrate the Fire TV hardware into their televisions, Amazon actually offers an official line of Fire TVs called the 'Omni Series.'
These TVs come in sizes ranging from 43-inch all the way up to 75-Inch and are full 4K resolution. In addition, the screens are HDR 10 compatible for more vibrant colors and come with hands-free Alexa controls like the Fire TV Cube. This is a great option if you were planning to upgrade your TV and want something streaming capable right out of the box.
Fire Stick Cost Comparison: Fire Stick vs Fire Cube vs Fire TV
The Fire TV Cube is by far the priciest option, coming in at $79.99, thanks to its doubled storage capacity and much beefier specs. The recent price drop has made the Fire TV Stick 4K model an excellent value for the features it offers, and the Fire TV Stick Lite is a great entry-level option for streaming straight to your TV.
- Cheapest Firestick: Fire TV Stick Lite ($17.99)
- Best Value: Fire TV Stick 4K ($24.99)
- Most Expensive Streaming Device: Fire TV Cube ($79.99)
- Most Expensive of All the Devices: Fire TV Omni ($409.99)
Is There a Monthly Fee for Amazon Fire TV?
The Fire TV itself does not come with any kind of recurring fees. However, to get the most out of the device, you will probably want to consider some monthly streaming services if you’re not already subscribed to some.
Fire TV can stream from practically any service you can think of including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and hundreds of other streaming service options.
Which Fire Stick Should I Buy?
Each of the devices within the Fire TV lineup offers different strengths and weaknesses. The Fire TV Stick Lite is an affordable option for upgrading an old TV, while the Fire TV Stick 4K offers superb high-definition and HDR viewing for newer televisions that don’t have a smart TV already built in.
The Fire TV 4K Max is a great choice for those interested in game streaming from Amazon’s Luna service, while the Fire TV Cube is a tempting tool for power users who want Alexa integrated throughout the house. Which device is best for you will depend on your needs and how you’ll use the device.
If you’ve ever wanted to stream content from pretty much any platform straight to your TV, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great way to do it, with models ranging in price and features. While the lineup might be a bit bloated at this point, many people will still appreciate the variety of choices.
We have a Fire Stick setup guide you can use once you’ve chosen the model you want.
Can your current TV stream content? Have you used or even heard of HDR before? Have you tried a Fire TV or another streaming device? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.