The new Fire TV Stick 4K Max is, in my opinion, the most exciting new Fire TV device since the release of the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube two years ago. While it certainly could be better (*cough* 8GB storage sucks *couch*), it seems to check a lot of the right boxes that you’d want in an upgrade to the original 4K Firestick. When the Fire TV Stick 4K was released in 2018, it was pretty groundbreaking since it was the first device at its price point to support all of the major video and audio standards, like 4K@60fps, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos. The new Fire TV Stick 4K Max seems to carry on that strength and adds several new improvements. Here’s a detailed comparison table between the specifications of the original Fire TV Stick 4K versus the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max, as well as why each improvement matters.
Device SpecificationsBold = Better
|Fire TV Stick 4K||Fire TV Stick 4K Max|
|Release||Oct 31, 2018||Oct 7, 2021|
|CPU Speed||Quad-Core 1.7 GHz||Quad-Core 1.8 GHz|
|GPU Speed||650 MHz||750 MHz|
|RAM||1.5 GB||2 GB|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/ac||Wi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/ac|
Wi-Fi 6: 802.11 ax
|External Storage||Unofficial Support|
via USB OTG
via USB OTG
|Operating System||Fire OS 6|
|Fire OS 7|
|Video Resolution||4K @ 60fps||4K @ 60fps|
|Video Decoding||H.265 (HEVC),|
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Digital Plus,
2nd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote
3rd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote
|Basic Remote Buttons||Voice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play/Pause, RWD, FFWD||Voice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play/Pause, RWD, FFWD|
|Device Control Buttons||Power,|
|Extra Remote Buttons||-||Channel Guide,|
App Shortcut (4)
CPU & GPU
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max uses newer and faster processors for the CPU and GPU than the Fire TV Stick 4K. The difference in clock speed of 100 MHz isn’t much, but the clock speed isn’t the only thing that matters for real-world performance improvements when it comes to processors. Amazon says that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is “40% more powerful” than the Fire TV Stick 4K. That certainly doesn’t mean that the newer Firestick will be 40% better in all benchmarks and comparisons. For example, Amazon says the Fire TV Stick 4K Max launches apps 15% faster than the Fire TV Stick 4K, not 40% faster. I’m sure you’ll notice a slight increase in speed and smoothness while navigating around the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, but I don’t expect it to be a night and day difference.
Just as important as the improved CPU and GPU of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the increase from 1.5 GB of RAM in the Fire TV Stick 4K to 2GB in the newer device. That’s a significant increase and where you’ll likely notice that the most is in re-launching apps. When you exit an app, it usually doesn’t close. Instead, it stays in RAM so that if you return to it, it will launch much more quickly. Having more RAM on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max means more apps will be able to stay in memory, which means more apps will launch quickly when they are re-opened.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the first Fire TV model to support Wi-Fi 6 (i.e., 802.11ax). While, yes, Wi-Fi 6 offers increased speed, that doesn’t really matter much on a streaming device, since most streaming services cap out well below what Wi-Fi 5 speeds are capable of. Where Wi-Fi 6 will make more of a difference is its lower latency and improved stability, especially at further distances. If your Fire TV Stick 4K Max is sitting right next to your router with little interference, Wi-Fi 6 probably isn’t going to make much of a difference over Wi-Fi 5. Where you’re more likely to see an improvement is if you have a central router with Fire TV Stick 4K Maxs spread out at different ends of your house, since most buffering issues are caused by range and interference, which Wi-Fi 6 improves.
Both the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire TV Stick 4K come with only 8 GB of internal storage. Not increasing the internal storage of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is easily the most disappointing aspect of the new model, as many people have pointed out. That said, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max does natively support external storage. What that means is if you connect a USB flash drive to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max using an OTG cable, you’ll be able to move some apps off of the internal storage and onto the USB drive. With the Fire TV Stick 4K, connecting a USB drive doesn’t give you the same option by default, but it is technically possible to hack your way to the same functionality if you’re comfortable making changes like that. Having it just work on its own with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is definitely much easier.
Fire OS Version
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max uses the latest version of Amazon’s operating system, Fire OS 7, while the Fire TV Stick 4K uses the older Fire OS 6. Functionally, the two versions are nearly identical, but where it matters the most is with 3rd-party app support. For instance, Netflix currently only supports Dolby Atmos surround sound audio on devices running Fire OS 7. So, while the Fire TV Stick 4K does not support Atmos in Netflix, it is very likely that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max will.
AV1 Video Decoding
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the first stand-alone Fire TV model to support AV1 hardware video decoding. Simply put, AV1 is a new format for streaming video that several companies are backing. Its main competitor is H.265 HEVC, which is supported on both the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Fire TV Stick 4K, and is the format that nearly all 4K streams use. A key difference between AV1 and HEVC is that AV1 is free, while HEVC requires licensing fees. Google, and YouTube specifically, are aggressively pushing AV1 adoption. So much so that it’s one of the main tension points between Google and Roku’s argument that got YouTube TV removed from Roku’s appstore. The inclusion of AV1 support on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max essentially means that Amazon is playing nice with Google’s requirements, so there shouldn’t be issues that get Google apps removed over AV1 support.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max comes with the newer 3rd-gen Alexa Voice Remote, while the Fire TV Stick 4K still comes with the older remote. The only difference between the two is the inclusion of a guide button and 4 app shortcut buttons on the newer remote. The guide button takes you directly to the live channel guide grid built into all Fire TVs. It’s a nice way to quickly browse live channels if you use any of the services that are integrated into the guide. The app shortcut buttons on the newer remote are more controversial addition because some see them as blatant advertisements. Initially, I felt the same way, but since it turns out they can be remapped to open any app using my Remapper app, they can be made useful if you don’t use the apps that they originally open.