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:
- US: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – $54.99
- US: Fire TV Stick 4K Max w/ Luna Controller – $99.99 (Bundle saves you $24.99)
- US: Fire TV Stick 4K Max w/ Eero 6 Mesh Router 2 Pack – $189.99 (Bundle saves you $64)
- UK: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – £54.99
- Germany & Austria: Fire TV stick 4K Max – €64.99
- India: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – ₹6,499.00
- Canada: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – $74.99
- Italy: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – €64.99
- France: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – €64.99
- Spain: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – €64.99
- Japan: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – ¥6,980
- Australia: Fire TV Stick 4K Max – Coming Soon