Amazon announces all-new Fire TV Stick 4K Max with improved performance and Wi-Fi 6

Amazon has just announced the all-new Fire TV Stick 4K Max as the successor to the much loved and top-selling Fire TV Stick 4K. This new streaming stick slots into Amazon’s Fire TV lineup as the most powerful Firestick ever released, thanks to a faster CPU and faster GPU, which Amazon says is 40% more powerful than the existing Fire TV Stick 4K. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max also steps up its connectivity as the first-ever Fire TV to feature 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6.

The existing Fire TV Stick 4K already checks all the top video and audio support boxes you could want, so, it’s no surprise that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max does the same. The new model supports 4K UHD video playback at 60 FPS and all the popular high dynamic range video formats, including HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision. Of course, audio support includes Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Atmos surround sound.

While the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Fire TV Stick 4K share most video capabilities, one additional video capability of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, that has been missing on all prior stand-alone Fire TV models, including the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube, is support for AV1 hardware video decoding. This is important because some streaming service providers, most notably Google via YouTube and YouTube TV, are heavily pushing the use of AV1 video encoding over H.265 HEVC, because it has a royalty-free license. Amazon has included AV1 support on some Fire TV Smart TV models already, but it’s great to see that it has now been included in a stand-alone Fire TV model with its inclusion in the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

Powering the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a MediaTek MT8696 quad-core CPU clocking in at 1.8GHz. Its graphics are rendered by an Imagination Technologies PowerVR GE9215 GPU clocking in at 750 MHz. These are similar, but notably faster, than the SoC in the existing Fire TV Stick 4K, which uses a 1.7 GHz quad-core MT8695 CPU and 650 MHz PowerVR GE8300 GPU. Another great improvement on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the inclusion of 2 GB of RAM, compared to only 1.5 GB on the existing Fire TV Stick 4K. The better SoC and the additional RAM of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max should result in a snappier experience, even though the existing Fire TV Stick 4K was already quite fast.

Amazon says the improved performance results in apps starting faster and more fluid navigation. What the Fire TV Stick 4K Max can also do with the additional power is display live doorbell and security camera feeds in a picture-in-picture window, which can be displayed on top of the movie or show being watched without pausing. This is done by saying “preview [camera name]” to the Alexa remote or can be configured to automatically appear when a Ring video doorbell is pressed. This picture-in-picture capability is currently only possible with the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube, due to the performance requirements necessary to stream two video feeds simultaneously.

As already mentioned, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the first Fire TV to support the latest Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax standard. This comes thanks to the inclusion of a MediaTek MT7921LS Wi-Fi 6 chipset, which is most commonly found on gaming phones and laptops. Amazon-owned Eero announced its first Wi-Fi 6 routers last year, the Eero 6 and Eero 6 Pro, so it’s nice to see the latest Fire TV model step up to match that connectivity. Wi-Fi 6 should result in greater than gigabit network speeds and lower latency, but, more importantly, for a streaming device, it should also provide a greater signal range to help reduce buffering issues. Of course, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is still backward compatible with older 802.11ac and other Wi-Fi 5 standards, if you haven’t upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 yet. Amazon notably points out that the only other popular streaming device that supports Wi-Fi 6 is the much more expensive at $179, which is the Apple TV 4K.

Another upgrade found on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is support for auto low latency HDMI mode. This, combined with the lower latency of Wi-Fi 6, will likely make the Fire TV Stick 4K Max the best device for cloud gaming through Amazon Luna. With Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Nvidia all seriously pushing their new cloud gaming services, it certainly seems like one of them will get the formula right and be in it for the long run. While most don’t officially support Fire TV devices yet, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max certainly checks all the right boxes for being an ideal cloud gaming platform, more so than past Fire TV models.

One, unfortunate, spec of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is that it still has only 8 GB of internal storage, like all other Firesticks that came before it. If you want more internal storage, you still have to move up to the much more expensive Fire TV Cube, which is the only model to include 16GB of storage. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max’s only redeeming characteristic, with regard to storage, is that it does support expandable external storage via a USB flash drive connected to an OTG cable. However, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max still uses a USB 2.0 micro USB connection for power and data. This means that you still can’t achieve wired Ethernet speeds faster than around 300-400 Mbps, even if you use a compatible Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max comes with Amazon’s latest 3rd-gen Alexa voice remote, which was introduced earlier this year and is currently bundled with the 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick. This remote features the same power, volume, and mute buttons as the Fire TV Stick 4K’s remote, which allows you to control your TV, soundbar, and/or AV receiver. You can also use the remote to control cable boxes and switch inputs using voice commands. The newer remote adds a channel guide button, which opens the live TV program guide built into all Fire TVs, and it adds 4 app shortcut buttons, which can be reassigned to open whatever you want using my Remapper app.

Lastly, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, like other recent Fire TV models, is running Fire OS 7, which is based on Android 9 Pie. In the past, Amazon has released a new version of Fire OS, based on a newer version of Android, about every 2 years. We’re now about 2 years out from the release of Fire OS 7, which arrived with the release of the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube in October 2019, so one might expect that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max would introduce a new version of Fire OS. My guess is that Amazon, like most other Android-based streaming device manufacturers, don’t see much benefit to Android 10 or 11 on a streaming device, so they’re probably sticking with Fire OS 7 and Android 9 until a new version of Android arrives that changes that.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is available to pre-order now for $54.99 and will be released on October 7. Amazon will continue selling the existing Fire TV Stick 4K for $49.99 alongside the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max. While, at a difference of only $5, it seems silly to even consider the older model, keep in mind that Amazon has been aggressively discounting the Fire TV Stick 4K to the point that it is now hardly ever priced above $39.99. So, in reality, the true difference in price is closer to $15.

Pricing & Availability:

See a detailed comparison between the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire TV Stick 4K here.

38 comments
  1. BobD says:

    Wow. Very nice article. So is my Pendent finally ready to be replaced? Would this new 4K Max stick finally be a worthy upgrade?

    Thanks!

    • Stuart says:

      I’m still running the 2nd Generation FireTV Box. Still going strong and I won’t upgrade till this dies. Showing major signs of weird issues is when watching a show and I exit back to the home screen I can still hear audio from the show I was watching

      • BobD says:

        Is it app specific? I notice some apps are pure junk. The Bravo Channel app is pure junk. The Paramount app sometimes will forget where you left off. The solution for all these apps is to go into Settings – Apps – force stop the app, then clear it’s cache and re start the app. Moronic that this has to be done in 2021.

      • P S says:

        They are actively killing the 2nd gen fire tv box. They could update it but are not. They could have allowed the newer remotes to be used but are not.

        I believe the recent glitches after forced updates and “optimizations” happening with the 2nd gen box are because of the 64 bit OS. This is the only device that they used (not sure about the first gen) a more proper 64 bit OS on the 64 bit device. They updated the 32 bit OS but not the 64 bit with 6 and the new home screen.
        The update’s that I received for the 2nd gen were down grades as they now glitch in ways they never did before and will probably never be fixed.

        I think they forgot how much we paid for the best dedicated streamer they ever put out.

        The weird thing was after they announced that they were not going to give it fire OS 6, basically killing it off, they still had refurbished 2nd gen boxes available on the site that they sold at almost $100 after tax. I was watching them in my cart. If they were not going to update them properly due to them being the only 64 bit OS they should have just trashed them and not continue to sell them and basically rip people off.

        Probably waste of time but I complained on Amazon’s forms about what they are doing with the 2nd gen box. They updated the crappy dongle that was out also at the same time why not the most expensive and best dedicated streamer they made? $$

        Perhaps we all should complain on the Amazon forum about it.

  2. clocks says:

    Nice! Sounds perfect other than the 8gb storage. Even the 8gb would be enough if not for the odd GBs phantom usage that myself and so many others have noticed. Hopefully Amazon fixes that bug soon, since it has been around for a good year or two.

  3. Angel Reyes says:

    Like I haven’t purchased enough firesticks already. Good article.

  4. tlp says:

    This is a good start. Now let’s see a refreshed Fire TV Recast that does ATSC 3.0 and streams at 4k to supported devices.

  5. Patrick says:

    Still no TrueHD atmos support?

    • Patrick says:

      Also… what is the TV guide button used for in the UK?

      • Brantome says:

        The Guide that appears on the On Now row on the main screen I.e. the guide for the apps/stations you have configured under Live Tv in the fire tv stick settings like My5, Pluto Tv and Tvplayer (although that’s shedding stations like dandruff). It’s not channels from Freeview, cable, satellite or what your TV itself might support.

    • hdmkv says:

      There is (and has been w/current gens) EAC3_JOC (Joint Object Coding) ATMOS support, which is the compressed version used by streaming providers like Netflix, Amazon, D+ and HBO Max. We’ll like never get Blu-ray/UHD TrueHD/ATMOS passthrough support on Fire devices.

  6. Joe says:

    going to be any trade in options for my 3 fire 4k’s i wonder?

  7. Robert says:

    AV1 support is nice! Maybe it’s time to replace my gen1 cube. Weird they’re still using micro-usb. Nice that I can still use my existing ethernet adapter but I also wouldn’t mind an update so I’m not limited by the usb 2.0 bandwidth.

    • Nice catch. Trust me, AV1 is supported. I’ve let Amazon know about the mistake so it’ll probably be added soon.

      They also incorrectly list the GPU model on the main product page, which I pointed out and they’re correcting soon.

      • Lance says:

        are you sure about this? they list the device as being based on android 9, AV1 support was not introduced till Android 10.

        • Yes, I’m sure. Without a doubt. The Android version doesn’t matter here, since Fire OS is so customized. Case in point, several Fire TV Smart TVs support AV1 already and none of them are using an Android 10-based OS.

  8. Nate says:

    Great write up, Elias!

    This device seems to tick all of the boxes I was hoping for in a new streaming stick, despite the smaller than hoped for storage. I am really looking forward to getting my hands on one! With the focus on cloud gaming coming to many platforms, I think this will force all competitors to up their game in the hardware category. A win for consumers all around.

    This really does give me hope that we will see a very beefed up 3rd-generation cube, too. While the Shield still reigns supreme in the spec category, I am happy Amazon is making the conversation interesting with cheaper, but still decently powered, devices.

  9. hectare says:

    When can we expect to see a new version of the Benchmarks including this release?

    And like others, this gives me hope for Gen3 Cube

    • As soon as I get a chance to run benchmarks, I’ll update that list with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

      • ricklar says:

        Happen to know the Codename for the CPU, Motherboard, or Device codename?

        Maybe during development a 4K-Max was benchmarked with Geekbench5 already…

        Looking through the MediaTek recent July scores on Geekbench.com,the “mediatek innocomm_sb35” stands out for being similar performance to the Chromecast w/GTV, not saying that it is the same chip, but the specs seem oddly similar.

  10. Jon says:

    Should we expect an upgrade to the Fire TV Cube any time soon? I’m in the market to get a Cube, but was waiting to see if a new one was announced this month.

  11. tlp says:

    Still holding out for the…
    Fire TV 4k Max Extreme Pro Platinum Plus III Anniversary collectors Edition ;)

  12. Matt says:

    I was still using my good old but very reliable FireTV Gen 1 until June this year (2021) when I bought a Sony 900H 4K Android TV.

    Now I’ve full control of my TV and I only see 5 App on my main screen (that’s the way I wanted all along), no BS, no ads and not even Google voice/seach.

    1) VLC (excellent for playing video files from my network PC)
    2) ETV/IPTV Classic
    3) ETV/IPTV New (Can record live streams)
    4) Cx File Explorer (excellent for copying/moving files to/from network PC)
    5) NewPipe

  13. Steve Rock says:

    8GB is a joke – as a current Fire Stick 4k owner, it is a non-starter for an upgrade. This will be a great stick for new users, but it is seriously disappointing for an existing 4k owner.

    I have been through several generations of FireTV hardware, but I see no reason to get this one until it has 16Gb minimum.

  14. Jack says:

    Shameful, 8GB storage. On first boot what does that leave free – 5GB or less? 8GB, not in 2021!

  15. Vulcan_On_Earth says:

    I don’t care about the specs- the experience is what counts and in that department their current FTV4KS falls behind in one important way – when I start a 4K HDR stream from Amazon Prime on my Apple TV 4K, the video resolution almost instantly revs up to 4K. Whereas on the FT4K the delay is very noticeable. Both devices are on gigabit fiber internet backbone.
    Will the Max version fix it?

  16. Jack says:

    I’m waiting for Elias to provide a link for a $5 purchase!

  17. Wade N. says:

    Any info on what OS it uses or widget support?

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