In this post, we will look at the five Fire TV devices available in the market presently – FireStick Lite vs. FireStick (3rd Gen) vs. FireStick 4K vs. FireStick 4K Max vs. Fire TV Cube. This article aims to help you choose the best Fire TV streaming device for your needs. Choosing a suitable device is easier with proper knowledge.
FireStick is one of the most widely used streaming devices across the world. The 1st generation FireStick was released in November 2014. Over the years, Amazon introduced several variants and new generation Fire TV devices.
As I write this guide, there are five Fire TV devices on the market:
- FireStick Lite (1st Gen) [marketed as Fire TV Stick Lite]
- FireStick (3rd Gen) [sold as Fire TV Stick]
- FireStick 4K (1st Gen) [marketed as Fire TV Stick 4K]
- FireStick 4K Max (1st Gen) [marketed as Fire TV Stick 4K Max]
- Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen)
FireStick Lite vs. FireStick vs. FireStick 4K vs. FireStick 4K Max vs. Fire TV Cube
In the following sections, we will evaluate the five devices based on:
- Speed and Performance
- Resolution and Video Quality
- Audio Support
- Alexa Integration & Voice Support
- Remote Controller Support
- Pricing and Value for Money.
I hope this comparative analysis helps you choose the best streaming Fire TV device.
1. Speed and Performance
|Device / Specs||Processor||CPU Width||RAM / Memory|
|FireStick Lite||CPU 1.7GHz & GPU 650MHz||64-bit||1 GB DDR3|
|FireStick 3rd Gen||CPU 1.7GHz & GPU 650MHz||64-bit||1 GB DDR4|
|FireStick 4K||CPU 1.7GHz & GPU 650MHz||64-bit||1.5 GB DDR4|
|FireStick 4K Max||CPU 1.8GHz & GPU 750MHz||64-bit||2 GB DDR4|
|Fire TV Cube||Hexa-core CPU 2.2GHz + 1.9GHz & GPU 800MHz||64-bit||2 GB DDR4|
Fire TV Cube includes a Hexa-core processor (2.2 GHz + 1.9 GHz) and GPU 800 MHz. This device has more processing prowess than the others. However, with the built-in Alexa Echo Dot, which is always listening, Fire TV Cube also has more work to do. Nevertheless, it is the fastest, and the difference is notable.
Next in line, FireStick 4K Max with a 1.8 GHz processor is slightly faster than the remaining FireStick devices, which are capped at 1.7 GHz. The difference of just 0.1 may not seem like much. However, do not forget that the 4K Max has a faster GPU with 750 MHz speed than the others with only 650 MHz.
FireStick 4K Max feels smoother with the same installed apps and settings.
On the RAM front, Fire TV Cube and FireStick 4K Max are clear winners with 2 GB memory each. However, due to the built-in Echo Dot, Fire TV Cube may be using more memory.
Fire Stick 4K has a slightly larger capacity RAM at 1.5 GB compared to FireStick 3rd Gen and FireStick Lite, which max out at 1GB. FireStick 4K is faster than these two.
Verdict: Fire TV Cube has superior specs compared to FireStick 4K Max. However, because of the always-on Alexa on Cube, the difference in performance is not remarkable (especially when considering the price difference of $65). Therefore, if you are not particularly looking for hands-free voice control (or more storage, which we will talk about later), I would recommend 4K Max.
I would also suggest buying FireStick 4K Max over FireStick 4K because Max costs you only$5 more but offers much better performance.
|FireStick Lite||8 GB|
|FireStick 3rd Gen||8 GB|
|FireStick 4k||8 GB|
|FireStick 4K Max||8 GB|
|Fire TV Cube||16 GB|
Regarding storage, there is nothing to choose between FireStick Lite, FireStick 3rd Gen, FireStick 4K, and 4K Max. They all offer a storage capacity of 8GB (almost one-third of which is reserved for the OS and preinstalled apps).
Storage has always been a challenge with Fire TV devices. Fire TV Cube does a little better in this department by extending the capacity to 16 GB. However, in my opinion, even that is not a lot.
You can increase the internal storage by attaching an external storage device. However, the process is slightly complicated as you must buy the storage device separately.
Verdict: Fire TV Cube offers the most storage with 16GB.
3. Resolution and Video Quality
|FireStick Lite||Up to 1080 (Full HD)|
|FireStick 3rd Gen||Up to 1080 (Full HD)|
|FireStick 4K||Up to 2160 (4K)|
|FireStick 4K Max||Up to 2160 (4K)|
|Fire TV Cube||Up to 2160 (4K)|
If you have a TV that supports UHD (4K) and are looking for a rich cinematic experience, you will want FireStick 4K, 4K Max, or Fire TV Cube. These devices offer up to 2160 resolution, while FireStick 3rd Gen and FireStick Lite support Full HD up to 1080.
But that is not all. Fire TV Stick 4K, 4K Max, and Fire TV Cube also support Dolby Vision HDR. This format offer ultra-vivid and crisper colors and overall dramatically better video quality.
Verdict: Buy FireStick Lite or 3rd Gen if your TV supports a max resolution of 1080. If you have a 4K TV or are planning to buy one, I recommend at least FireStick 4K.
4. Audio Support
|FireStick Lite||Dolby HDMI Passthrough Only|
|FireStick 3rd Gen||Dolby Atmos|
|FireStick 4K||Dolby Atmos with 7.1 surround sound|
|FireStick 4K Max||Dolby Atmos with 7.1 surround sound|
|Fire TV Cube||Dolby Atmos with 7.1 surround sound|
FireStick Lite supports Dolby Audio HDMI passthrough with no surround sound. On the other hand, the other four devices offer a much superior Dolby Atmos technology with up to 7.1 surround sound.
You won’t notice a lot of difference if the audio output is just your TV speakers. However, if you have a better audio system, say a home-theater with Dolby Atmos support, Fire Stick 4K, 4K Max, 3rd Gen, and Fire TV Cube offer an appreciable difference in the audio experience compared to FireStick Lite.
Verdict: If sound quality is non-negotiable, you may rule out buying FireStick Lite.
5. Alexa Integration and Voice Support
|FireStick Lite||Yes||With Alexa enabled voice remote and Fire TV app (free to download on iOS, Android, and Fire OS)|
|FireStick 3rd Gen||Yes||Same as FireStick Lite|
|FireStick 4K||Yes||Same as FireStick Lite|
|FireStick 4K Max||Yes||Same as FireStick Lite|
|Fire TV Cube||Yes||Same as Firestick Lite + Hands-free, Near-field and far-field voice support with built-in Echo Dot|
Alexa integration is part of every Fire TV device. You can command Alexa to show you the weather report, find the restaurants nearby, open any app you obtained from the Amazon Store, play movie titles, help you with your shopping list, and even ask her to tell you a joke.
The Alexa-enabled remote is included with all five devices. You need to press and hold the remote’s Alexa (mic) button to start voice support.
However, Fire TV Cube takes the voice capabilities a few notches up. Fire TV Cube clubs Echo Dot and the regular streaming hardware into one. In addition, it comes with near-field and far-field support. It means you can give hands-free commands to Alexa without lifting the remote. And, Echo Dot will hear you even over loud noise.
Furthermore, you can control your smart devices with Echo Dot, including smart lights, your TV, and many other devices. Echo Dot in Fire TV Cube also works with IoT (Internet of Things) gadgets.
Fire TV Cube also has a built-in speaker allowing you to use it independent of a TV.
Verdict: If enhanced voice support is your thing, go for Fire TV Cube.
6. Remote Controls
|Device||TV Controls||Preset App Buttons|
|FireStick 3rd Gen||Yes||Yes|
|FireStick 4K Max||Yes||Yes|
|Fire TV Cube||Yes||Yes|
FireStick 3rd Gen, 4K, 4K Max, and Fire TV Cube remotes come with TV controls. You can turn the volume up or down, mute the TV or soundbar, and turn your TV on or off. The FireStick Lite remote does not include TV controls.
All five devices have the standard Navigation Ring, Select/OK button, Back, Home, Menu, Rewind, Play/Pause, Forward, and TV guide buttons. Additionally, they all include the preset app buttons. At the time of writing, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu are the four preset buttons.
If you lost your remote or it stopped working, you could buy a new one for $29.99. Yes, that’s pretty steep for a remote. But that’s what it is.
If you are looking for something cheaper, there are plenty of third-party remote controllers on Amazon. However, in my experience, your Fire TV device works best with the Amazon controllers.
You can also use your mobile or tablet as a remote controller with the Amazon Fire TV Remote app. This app is free for Android, iOS, and Fire OS devices. Remember that the Remote app does not feature TV controls.
Verdict: TV controls on the remote are a great convenience. You don’t need to juggle between the FireStick and TV remotes. So, if your remote must include TV controls, FireStick Lite is not for you.
7. Pricing and Value for Money
|FireStick 3rd Gen||$39.99|
|FireStick 4K Max||$54.99|
|Fire TV Cube||$119.99|
If your TV does not support 4K (or you are not interested in 4K), you would like to consider either FireStick Lite or FireStick 3rd Gen. Both devices offer the same specs (processor, RAM, and storage) and hence equal performance. However, FireStick 3rd Gen has Dolby Atmos and TV controls on the remote if you are willing to pay $10 more.
If you have a 4K capable TV or planning to buy one, remember that FireStick 4K Max costs $5 more but offers superior performance than FireStick 4K.
Fire TV Cube is a different league altogether. It is the costliest but offers a hands-free Alexa experience with Echo-Dot and has the best hardware.
Which one should you buy?
If I were to pick one, I would go for FireStick 4K Max.
Especially if you are struggling to choose between FireStick 4K and FireStick 4K Max, the latter is a clear choice.
For a price difference of $5, you get a faster processor, better GPU, and larger RAM. The superior hardware can spell the difference between an average and exceptional cinematic experience.
I recommend Fire TV Cube only if you are into advanced voice support and AI. You can control smart devices and use the built-in Echo Dot independent of a remote controller or TV. If that’s what you want, Fire TV Cube is a clear choice.
On the other hand, if all you are looking for is basic streaming and 1080 Full HD seems good enough, FireStick 3rd Gen is a reasonable middle-ground between the lineup from FireStick Lite to Fire TV Cube.
Finally, if you want the most pocket-friendly option trimmed down to provide essential streaming, you may go for FireStick Lite.
I hope I was able to help you choose the best streaming device. Of course, you can buy any or all of these devices from Amazon.com. And don’t forget to bookmark our blog FireStickTricks.com for all your cord-cutting and troubleshooting requirements.
More interesting topics:
- How to Jailbreak a Firestick
- How to set up and use a VPN on Firestick
- Best apps for Firestick
- Best tips for Firestick cord-cutters
- Important Fire Stick settings you should know
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