Comparison of specs for the Fire TV Stick 4K vs the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max — Plus why they matter

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 Specifications

Bold = Better
  Fire TV Stick 4K Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Price$49.99$54.99
ReleaseOct 31, 2018Oct 7, 2021
CPU ModelMediaTek
MT8695
MediaTek
MT8696
CPU SpeedQuad-Core 1.7 GHzQuad-Core 1.8 GHz
GPUIMG PowerVR
GE8300
IMG PowerVR
GE9215
GPU Speed650 MHz750 MHz
RAM1.5 GB2 GB
Wi-FiWi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/acWi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Wi-Fi 6: 802.11 ax
Ethernet10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
Internal Storage8GB8GB
External StorageUnofficial Support
via USB OTG
Native Support
via USB OTG
Operating SystemFire OS 6
(Android 7.1)
Fire OS 7
(Android 9)
Architecture32-bit32-bit
Video Resolution4K @ 60fps4K @ 60fps
HDR TypesHDR10,
HDR10+,
HLG,
Dolby Vision
HDR10,
HDR10+,
HLG,
Dolby Vision
Video DecodingH.265 (HEVC),
H.264 (AVC),
VP9,
VP8,
MPEG-4,
MPEG-2
H.265 (HEVC),
H.264 (AVC),
VP9,
VP8,
MPEG-4,
MPEG-2
AV1
Audio DecodingStereo,
PCM,
Dolby Digital,
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Atmos
Stereo,
PCM,
Dolby Digital,
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Atmos
Remote
2nd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote

3rd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote
Basic Remote ButtonsVoice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play/Pause, RWD, FFWDVoice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play/Pause, RWD, FFWD
Device Control ButtonsPower,
Volume Up,
Volume Down,
Mute
Power,
Volume Up,
Volume Down,
Mute
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 perforamance 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.

RAM

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.

Wi-Fi

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.

External Storage

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.

Remote

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.

80 comments
  1. Hi – as always, I much appreciate your very insightful and sensible commentaries and reviews. Thank you.

    My question : Why would I still need either Amazon product these days? My Roku televisions seem to give me all the connectivity/access I need, and it is one less device, and stops what was becoming an increasingly complicated mess of different devices each trying to be “helpful” and control other devices too.

    I have an Amazon Fire 4K tv stick, and loved it, but my new Roku televisions seem to do everything. Am I missing something? I’d be delighted at an excuse to buy a new Amazon stick if there’s a reason to do so, but I’m really not seeing it.

    • Ghanshyam says:

      Does the Roku television support app sideloading? The old Roku I sold years back did not and also could not be jailbroken. With FireTV sticks and all generations, I am able to install any compatible android app. That’s a selling point for me and I love these devices. My 2 cents.

    • Nicholas Cannon says:

      A tv is a little difficult to stick in my pocket for trips

      • Itcbym says:

        This is completely 100% right. I always take my ftv with me when travelling especially use it in hotels without issues to get my usual apps and personalization.

    • Rik Emmett says:

      The fire tv has a browser that can be fully controlled with a remote so you can watch videos from websites that don’t offer an app.

    • Tom says:

      You can only load and watch what roku will allow you.Amazon and android devices allow you to download,install and watch anything you want.This is the biggest and most important difference and very awesome.

    • allegator says:

      What apps will I be able to move off internal storage and onto a USB drive?
      I wasn’t aware this was possible. With the Firestick 4k I’m constantly bumping up against the relatively limited 8GB internal storage space.

  2. Charlie says:

    Thanks for all the hard work. Definitely the stick to buy going forward. Still, I guess if you want the most umph you would get the Cube 2 if you are willing to spend a good bit more. That said, you can often buy a refurb that in my experience is just as good for 75.00.

    Exciting to see the upgrade. Now, if I could only trade in my Stick 4K ….

  3. clocks says:

    Nice comparison. I’d argue the old remote was better. I don’t like all those extra buttons.

    • Rik Emmett says:

      There is a button remapper app that allows you to repurpose the extra buttons to launch other apps.

      • clocks says:

        It doesn’t matter. I have no use for them. And the more buttons they add to these remotes, the less ability I have to use them without looking at the remote to see what I am pressing. Compare the original FTV remote to the latest version. There are like over 2x as many buttons now. It also makes it hard in the dark. Maybe they need to start selling a backlite option.

  4. Tenderfoot56 says:

    I use a couple of SiliconDust Dual Tuner devices to stream ATSC TV over my network. Some of our major networks output 1080i “Interlaced” signal while the others output 720P. The FireTV 4K Stick has the ability to do “Hardware Deinterlacing” which looks great. Does anyone know if the new FireTV 4K MAX has the same capability??? (The FireTV 1st and 2nd Gen Sticks as well as the 1st and 2nd Gen FireTV Boxes do not have this capability, but the 3rd Gen Pendant FireTV device and the FireTV 4K Devices do.)

  5. Matt says:

    I’m looking forward to the update, already sending in the tradein, 20% off plus 3 bucks for a rental.
    Agree on the low storage, but nice you can do external.
    As for why I would want Firestick over Roku, you just need to do a quick search to find out how many issues Roku devices have with audio sync. My TCL TV certainly does, it’s unusable with the Roku stuff built into it, the lip sync issues are just unwatchable. I plugged in my firestick to my Denon receiver and completely eliminated the well-know Roku audio lag issue.

  6. Manuel O'Kelly says:

    @Elias: based on history, we should expect a meaningful price drop on the Max this Black Friday, which will likely be worth the wait…

    Correct?

  7. hectare says:

    I don’t get the desire for more app / function specific buttons, especially when you can use voice commands.

    Definitely an improvement and glad to use there is still progressive movement with the product line. My sticks are primarily used when traveling (so not often) and bedroom TVs while the Cube Gen2 is the nucleus of the home theater, so I’m really looking forward to further development with the Cube…still some nice new features that will improve performance

    • oasis_001 says:

      App specific buttons are not a ‘desire’ for the vast majority of users. They are a way for streaming services to advertise and a way for Amazon and Roku to reportedly receive $1 per button from these services. $4 per device times millions of units is a nice way to defray the cost of hardware.

  8. Jeff says:

    I run a FS Lite with a 128GB micro SD added, no ADB Shell app needed like a 4K, such a tedious pain, This new Max looks like it will be as easy to add rom as the FS Lite. A huge plus, I will get one and try it out.

  9. Dan says:

    How does this new ‘Fire TV Stick 4K Max’ compare to Google’s latest ‘Chromecast with Google TV’ device?

  10. Matt Taylor says:

    Can you use the OTG cable along with the hardwire adaptor?

  11. acker says:

    not enough memory – should be 24 gb

    not enough ram – should be 6 gb

    too slow of a processor – should be 2.4 ghz

    too slow of gpu – should be 1.1 ghz

    and too olf of an android system – should be using 11

  12. acker says:

    i typed these in sperate lines – why is it all crammed together ? —-

    guess i will be waiting till 2024 and their next stick – cause this is under powered —-

    maybe a better cube one is coming out soon

  13. acker says:

    still underpowered — i hope the next in 2024 finally gives a robust one — unless the fire cube has a new fully powered one coming out soon

    • Bonnie says:

      Why more power? With a good internet connection all video and audio works perfectly using the 4k stick the cube and 2020 3rd gen stick

  14. Rik Emmett says:

    Will Google reciprocate the AV1 support by allowing their apps to be integrated into the Amzaon guide interface?

  15. Rik Emmett says:

    Will the AV1 codec be added to older firetv devices?

  16. Jack says:

    Does the Max support ‘adoptive storage’?

  17. Tom says:

    You can only load and watch what roku will allow you.Amazon and android devices allow you to download,install and watch anything you want.This is the biggest and most important difference and very awesome.

  18. Keith says:

    The only complaint I have about my fire stick 4K is the low storage. 8 gb makes it a headache if you have a Kodi install (I replaced it with Plex, but still don’t like the idea of needing an always on server just to watch movies and tv). Even without Kodi, if you’ve got kids that want to play games, plus a few streaming apps, you’re gonna run low on storage.
    They didn’t remedy this so I’m not interested in paying for a little more speed which wasn’t an issue anyway.
    ***Btw is there an updated guide anywhere to store Kodi data on USB?

    • Bonnie says:

      Buy a micro usb otg apdater cable from amazon 7 dollars and a 128gb usb thumb drive plug it in to the firestick.now any apps you download,or anything you record will go on the thumb drive and not the FS internal storage.Problem solved,works great

      • Keith says:

        I already do that. It’s easy to mount the drive but a lot of apps won’t let you store it on external. Kodi can move some data to external but it’s very limited. There was a guide on this site but it’s been like 4 years I don’t think it’s still applicable.

        • Bonnie says:

          Do you mean the apps that came installed with the fire stick? I use mostly third-party apps and all of them stored on the external storage

    • Ghanshyam Lohar says:

      Did you ever get Kodi to use the external sd card? I gave up after multiple attempts on my FTV Gen2.

      • nate says:

        Been running Kodi since 17 + 18.9 on Fire TV2 (box)with 32 gig SD card. Use external memory fine. Total size 551MB, Cache 48.37MB, Application 140 MB, Data 411MB. On card storage 238MB.
        Works fine for me…?

        Please note, I’m using 64 bit version of Kodi. Only Fire Device that uses 64 bit OS

        • GL says:

          Nope. In Kodi configuration in the some file (documented in their Wiki), you can change path to the data folder with SD card device address and path. You should copy the data and configuration to external SD card and point this path to that folder in the file as per instructions. Kodi just crashes after that, but if I change it back to its default, starts working. Note that this is not same as FTV2 saying move to SD card, which does not work for Kodi majority of data. (I had tried this in 17.x and even 18.x with same results)

          Try that and let me know if it works.

  19. Bonnie says:

    Iptv,thousands of apps,tools,addon’s,3rd party all sports,all movies,XXX,catch up,series,vod,and basiclly everything you cannot find cannot get on roku and for free or very low cost.The options are endless.

  20. Scott says:

    Any chance you could compare the new max stick vs the 2nd gen Fire tv?

  21. Lopez says:

    Unbelievable. What a crap.

    not enough memory – should be 16GB
    not enough ram – should be 4GB
    cpu – should be 2 Ghz
    gpu – should be 1 Ghz
    Android – why not 10.0?

    Not this time Jeff. Rather I’ll buy much powered Shield Pro this time and have a normal Google store access without a boring magic

    • Corey says:

      Lol! After listing all those specs you say you’d rather by the Shield Pro. Well the Shield Pro is about 4x more expensive. The Shield Pro does not have 4GB ram (it was 3GB). The Shield Pro does not have Android 10 (Android 9). The Shield Pro does not decode AV1 (the 4k Max does). The 4k Max is more comparable to the Shield Tube which is costs about 2x more. Review the specs on that device and you’ll see how they compare. I have the Shield 2017 and love it. I didn’t feel the 2019 Shield Pro was worth the upgrade. I will purchase the 4k Max for the AV1 decoding alone. It will complement my 2017 Shield until Nvidia offers AV1 decoding.

      • Lopez says:

        4x more expensive? Naahhhhh. Ok, you’re right. It is too expensive but from time to time you can buy it much cheaper than a retail price. Anyway 8GB in 4K Max it’s a joke. A really big joke. And why no one is complaining that still it doesn’t support 64-bit apps. Moreover I’m fed up with apps sideloading.

        • 666 says:

          Lol you want specs no box have on a stick that often will be at just $40!? Specs 95% of the potential buyers can’t care less about because the specs on this stick allow them to run virtually everything? Astounding lack of notion on your part.

          • Lopez says:

            Jeeezzz.. What are you talking about? Nowadays for 100-120$ you can buy mass produced chineseshit Android phone with much, much better specifications and at least with 32GB memory storage but also you get a touch screen, GSM module, a battery, SIM and a card slot and so on. But still it is a really crappy phone. Here you’ll have to spend almost 55$ for a stick with not 8GB but so so free 4GB storage.

          • Tom says:

            Exactly,no one needs a sheild to watch iptv or videos.The newest FS’s have more than enough specs to do so,except for storage perhaps.A simple fix.sheilds are for gaming and just too expensive and not needed to watch tv.spend your money on a good iptv provider instead and you then have every thing you possibly need to enjoy watching tv, F**k cable tv

        • Keith says:

          Agree on the storage. 8GB, and what? Nearly half of that is spoken for before you even plug it in? I refused to buy a pixel last year because they max out at 128GB. I know you typically need a lot more storage on a phone but this is ridiculous. 8GB wasn’t enough even when the fire tv was first released in 2014.

  22. Matt says:

    Curious how this hooks up OTG storage.

    Amazon’s description shows:

    HDMI ARC output, micro USB for power only.

    Where will one plug in this storage?

  23. ADRIAN KEMP says:

    Several music videos on You Tube already attempt to play back in AV1 and lack of codec results in choppy audio on STube app. Affected content is usually complete album renditions.

  24. clocks says:

    After looking at these specs again, the come off as a bit disappointing. After three years since the last version, for the most part all we got is a slight speed bump, have a gig of ram, and better wifi. And to make things worse, is the pricing. Tech usually comes down in price over time, and the four app buttons are likely giving Amazon revenue. So again, after 3 years, we got a minor spec bump and a more expensive device. Seems tech advancement has mostly plateaued for streaming devices in recent years.

    • Dan says:

      Yep, I agree. In fact, after thinking about it… I just ordered the “old” 4K Fire Stick due to the discounts currently available. It’s on sale for $34.99 but the promo code (along with a previous promo) brought the price down to $14.99 plus tax. I figured ‘What the heck, why not’ and pulled the trigger.

  25. EmoBrianEno says:

    The first Fire TV released in 2014 had 8 gb of storage. During that time cell phones had about the same. Today, the best Fire TV still stores a measly 8 gb while cell phones are at a minimum of 128 gb.

  26. Gulfam says:

    I recently bought the Cube 2nd gen and overall it’s far better than the sticks till I turned on the VPN – and every time I do the fire cube brings up the yellow unable to connect to server light of the cube itself even though the internet connection is working fine with vpn turned on. Does anyone have a solution?

  27. Darryl G says:

    Love my Cube but before I buy (unless dirt cheap) another they’ve got to fix a few issues I have with them. Specifically an inability to play Netflix 4K on my Cube (where it plays 4K on other apps) and the storage capacity either going up or staying the same after erasing apps.

  28. Jason says:

    I’ve been waiting for an upgrade and was about to buy another brand… but will get this if I can confirm it will actually play 10 or 12 bit color. I can’t get anything better than 8-bit now. I only have an HDMI 1.4 into my projector, but my BluRay player plays 4K 12-bit 24fps HDR no problem and also streams 4K 60fps 12-bit SDR. The 2018 4K stick looks really bad on night scenes and underwater scenes as the 8-bit limitation causes bad “banding”. Also no one will answer the Q&A on Amazons page if this can deliver lossless audio (192kHz 24bit)… can it?

    • Benny says:

      Firestick have been able to play 10bit or more for awhile now at least since the Firestick Lite.

      • Jason says:

        From others running into this same 8-bit limitation issue, it may be an hdmi 1.4 or Epson projector compatibility issue with the 2018 4K fireTV stick. But since every other device I have will do 10-bit color, it’s obviously something that could be fixed. I guess there aren’t enough people in this situation for it to be addressed. I’m just hoping the new 4K max addresses it or I will have to switch to something else.

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