Which Fire TV model is right for you? — Comparison of all Fire TV Stick, Lite, 4K, 4K Max, and Cube models

Whether you’re new to the world of Fire TV, looking to upgrade from an older model, or wanting to add an additional Fire TV, choosing among the five different models in Amazon’s current lineup can be a daunting task. You can’t just choose the newest model because there are advantages to the older models. You also can’t just choose the most expensive model because there are advantages to the cheaper models. If you’re on a tight budget you might be missing out on a lot by not spending a little bit more for the next Firestick model up. Here is a comparison of the Fire TV Stick Lite, the Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, and the Fire TV Cube to help you flesh out each ones pros and cons.

Comparison Chart

Bold = Better
  Fire TV Stick Lite Fire TV Stick Fire TV Stick 4K Fire TV Stick 4K Max Fire TV Cube
List Price$29.99$39.99$49.99$54.99$119.99
Prime Day 2022 Price$11.99$16.99$24.99$34.99$59.99
Original ReleaseSep 30, 2020Sep 30, 2020Oct 31, 2018Oct 7, 2021Oct 10, 2019
Updated Remote ReleaseDec 9, 2021Mar 23, 2021Oct 7, 2021NoneOct 14, 2021
CPU ModelMedia Tek
MT 8695D
Media Tek
MT 8695D
Media Tek
MT 8695
Media Tek
MT 8696
Amlogic
S922Z-2
CPU Speed4-Core 1.7 GHz4-Core 1.7 GHz4-Core 1.7 GHz4-Core 1.8 GHz6-Core 2.2 GHz (4x) & 1.9 HGz (2x)
GPUIMG Power VR
GE8300
IMG Power VR
GE8300
IMG Power VR
GE8300
IMG Power VR
GE9215
Mali G52 MP2
GPU Speed650
MHz
650
MHz
650
MHz
750
MHz
800
MHz
CPU Performance2,1252,1112,0122,5064,024
GPU Performance8068068031,2011,781
App Launch Speed114 sec110 sec98 sec63 sec56 Sec
Boot Up Speed46 sec44 sec53 sec36 sec28 Sec
RAM1 GB1 GB1.5 GB2 GB2 GB
Wi-FiWi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/acWi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/acWi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/acWi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Wi-Fi 6: 802.11 ax
Wi-Fi 5: 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Ethernet10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
10/100 External
(Sold Separately)
10/100 External
(Included)
Internal Storage8 GB8 GB8 GB8 GB16 GB
External StorageNative Support
via USB OTG
Native Support
via USB OTG
Unofficial Support
via USB OTG
Native Support
via USB OTG
Native Support
via USB OTG
Operating SystemFire OS 7
(Android 9)
Fire OS 7
(Android 9)
Fire OS 6
(Android 7.1)
Fire OS 7
(Android 9)
Fire OS 7
(Android 9)
Architecture32-bit32-bit32-bit32-bit32-bit
Video Resolution1080p @ 60fps1080p @ 60fps4K @ 60fps4K @ 60fps4K @ 60fps
HDR TypesHDR10,
HLG
HDR10,
HLG
HDR10,
HLG,
HDR10+,
Dolby Vision
HDR10,
HLG,
HDR10+,
Dolby Vision
HDR10,
HLG,
HDR10+,
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
H.265 (HEVC),
H.264 (AVC),
VP9,
VP8,
MPEG-4,
MPEG-2
H.265 (HEVC),
H.264 (AVC),
VP9,
VP8,
MPEG-4,
MPEG-2,
AV1
H.265 (HEVC),
H.264 (AVC),
VP9,
VP8,
MPEG-4,
MPEG-2
Audio DecodingStereo,
PCM,
Dolby Pass Through
Stereo,
PCM,
Dolby Digital,
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Atmos
Stereo,
PCM,
Dolby Digital,
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Atmos
Stereo,
PCM,
Dolby Digital,
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Atmos
Stereo,
PCM,
Dolby Digital,
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Atmos
Voice ControlRemote MicRemote MicRemote MicRemote MicRemote Mic,
Hands-Free
ExtrasNoneNoneNoneNoneIR Blaster
Remote
2nd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote Lite

3rd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote

3rd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote

3rd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote

3rd-Gen Alexa Voice Remote
Basic Remote ButtonsVoice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play, RWD, FFWD, Channel Guide, App Shortcut (4)Voice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play, RWD, FFWD, Channel Guide, App Shortcut (4)Voice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play, RWD, FFWD, Channel Guide, App Shortcut (4)Voice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play, RWD, FFWD, Channel Guide, App Shortcut (4)Voice, D-Pad, Select, Home, Back, Menu, Play, RWD, FFWD, Channel Guide, App Shortcut (4)
Device Control ButtonsNonePower,
Volume Up,
Volume Down,
Mute
Power,
Volume Up,
Volume Down,
Mute
Power,
Volume Up,
Volume Down,
Mute
Power,
Volume Up,
Volume Down,
Mute

Fire TV Stick Lite

History: The 1st-Gen Fire TV Stick Lite was originally released in late 2020 alongside the the 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick. It was later re-released/updated to include a new remote in early 2022. The Fire TV Stick Lite remained the same with the update, but the new remote gained 4 app shortcut buttons that were not present on the old remote.

Key Features: The hardware of the Fire TV Stick Lite and the 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick is identical. The only difference between the two, apart from the included remote which I’ll get to in a moment, is that the 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick supports onboard Dolby decoding while the Fire TV Stick Lite can only do Dolby passthrough. For the vast majority of people, this will make little to no difference because nearly all TVs, soundbars, and AV receivers that are compatible with Dolby audio will be able to decode it themselves. The lack of Dolby decoding on the Fire TV Stick Lite does create a small disadvantage when talking to Alexa while a video is playing, which is discussed in more detail here. The main difference is the included remote because the Fire TV Stick Lite comes with the only remote that does not have TV power and volume controls on it, which all other Fire TV remotes do.

Who Should Buy It: If saving a few extra dollars is the most important thing above anything else, then buy the Fire TV Stick Lite. Otherwise, the convenience of TV power and volume controls on the remote included with the Fire TV Stick is well worth the extra cost.

Fire TV Stick

History: The 3rd-Gen Fire TV Stick was originally released in late 2020 alongside the the Fire TV Stick Lite. It was later re-released/updated to include a new remote in early 2021. The Fire TV Stick remained the same with the update, but the new remote gained a guide button and 4 app shortcut buttons that were not present on the old remote.

Key Features: The regular Fire TV Stick comes with a remote that has TV power and volume controls on it, while the remote included with the Fire TV Stick Lite does not. Both of the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick Lite are 1080p devices, so you’ll have to move up to one of the below models for 4K playback. Like all Fire TV models, the Fire TV Stick does support HDR10 high dynamic range video, but only the below models support Dolby Vision video.

Who Should Buy It: The Fire TV Stick should really be the cheapest Fire TV Stick that most people consider because the few dollars you pay for it over the Fire TV Stick Lite is well worth it to have TV power and volume controls on the remote. If you don’t have a 4K TV and don’t plan to buy one in the next couple of years, then the Fire TV Stick should be adequate. However, the below models do improve on performance due to better CPUs, GPUs, and more RAM, so it’s worth cosidering those, even if you only have a 1080p TV, for the performance alone.

Fire TV Stick 4K

History: The 1st-Gen Fire TV Stick 4K was originally released in late 2018. It was later re-released/updated to include a new remote in late 2021. The Fire TV Stick 4K remained the same with the update, but the new remote gained a guide button and 4 app shortcut buttons that were not present on the old remote.

Key Features: The stand-out feature of the Fire TV Stick 4K is in the name, which is its support of 4K video over the above Fire TV Stick models. It also adds support for Dolby Vision HDR, which the above models do not. One downside of the Fire TV Stick 4K, due to it being the oldest Fire TV model still being sold, is that it runs Fire OS 6 (based on Android 7.1), while all other Fire TV models run Fire OS 7 (based on Android 9). This makes very little difference in daily use, but it does mean that Dolby Atmos audio is not supported in Netflix and that the device does not officially support adding external storage, although it can be done through a slightly more complicated unofficial method.

Who Should Buy It: If you’re on a tight budget but have a 4K TV, then the Fire TV Stick 4K is for you. It’s not worth saving a few dollars for one of the 1080p models above when you’ve already shelled out for a 4K TV. The main reason to spend more for one of the below models is performance since those Fire TVs will feel noticeably snappier and faster than the Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Stick Lite, which all use similar processors.

Fire TV Stick 4K Max

History: The 1st-Gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max was released in late 2021 and has not been updated since. While it is currently the newest Fire TV model, that certainly doesn’t mean it is the best model.

Key Features: The standout feature of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is its performance as it is the most powerful Fire TV Stick Amazon has ever released. It will launch apps faster and generally feel snappier than any of the above Fire TV Stick models thanks to its better CPU and GPU. It also has 2GB of RAM which helps when jumping in and out of multiple apps frequently, compared to 1.5GB on the Fire TV Stick 4K and 1 GB on the other Fire TV Stick models. That said, the performance of the Fire TV Cube is still superior, however, the Fire TV Cube doesn’t have the Fire TV Stick 4K Max’s other big feature, which is WiFi 6 (802.11ax). As the only Fire TV model with WiFi 6, you may see fewer buffering issues with it compared to other Fire TV models if you have a WiFi 6 capable home router.

Who Should Buy It: The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the one to buy if you want killer specs/performance and the best bang-for-your-buck without breaking the bank on the Fire TV Cube. While the Cube is still the performance king, it comes at a hefty price compared to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Even then, the Max still has features, like WiFi 6, not found on the Cube. If spending just a little more over the other Fire TV Stick models isn’t an issue, you won’t be disappointed going with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and you’ll be set for a long time thanks to it being the newest model, its great performance, and its impressive set of feature.

Fire TV Cube

History: The 2nd-Gen Fire TV Cube is the flagship model in Amazon’s Fire TV lineup and it was originally released in late 2019. The Fire TV Cube was later re-released/updated in late 2021 to include a new remote. The Fire TV Cube remained the same with the update, but the new remote gained a guide button and 4 app shortcut buttons that were not present on the old remote.

Key Features: The standout feature of the Fire TV Cube is its hands-free capabilities. Like an Amazon Echo, it has a microphone array and a built-in speaker that allow you to issue Alexa voice commands without using the remote. Combining that with a built-in IR blaster that can be used to control other home theater equipment, like your TV, soundbar, and/or AV receiver, the Fire TV Cube gives you true hands-free control of your TV. Even if that doesn’t appeal to you much, the Fire TV Cube is still worth considering because of its top-tier performance that easily beats out all other Fire TV models. The Cube is also the only Fire TV model that comes with 16 GB of internal storage, compared to 8GB on all other models, and it is the only one that comes with an Ethernet adapter included, which is a $15 extra cost for all the models listed above.

Who Should Buy It: If you want the best of the best and don’t mind spending more to get it, you should buy the Fire TV Cube. The performance of the Cube is unmatched by any other Fire TV model and having twice the storage as all other models means you won’t be swapping apps in and out. The only thing it lacks is support for WiFi 6, which the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has, but that’s not reason enough to choose the Max over the Cube if the Cube’s cost isn’t a major factor.

6 comments
  1. Frank says:

    Thinking about picking up another fireTv stick for my projector that I use in the backyard. It’s just a cheap projector with an HDMI connection. I use for Halloween but now doing a few summer movie events in the yard. I feel like the Lite should be fine. Thoughts?

    • If you can control volume via IR (e.g. projector’s built-in speaker or external speakers) I would spend the extra for the regular Fire TV Stick. Otherwise, you’ll need to keep 2 remotes on you while in the backyard. If changing the volume isn’t a factor, then the Lite is perfectly fine.

  2. Paul says:

    A great post, thanks.

    I still have a 2nd Gen Fire TV Box which seems to be showing its age now. Is it worth upgrading to one of the above? Or hold off until later this year when new devices typically come out (not always)?

    • Since you’ve already held off this long with the 2nd-gen box, I would definitely hold off until later this year. For someone upgrading from the 2nd-gen Fire TV, I would say the Cube is the way to go and the Cube is the most likely model to get updated at the end of this year.

  3. Romanjdr says:

    Is the Fire TV Stick 4K Max the only device that supports the AV1 video codec? And the Fire TV cube does not because AV1 requires hardware?
    How much do you think it matters as a purchasing decision for a new main tv with surround sound?

    Thank you for your website.

    • You can see the list of Fire TV streamers and Smart TVs that support AV1 here: https://www.aftvnews.com/list-of-fire-tvs-fire-tv-sticks-and-fire-tv-smart-tvs-that-support-av1-video-decoding/

      Basically, it’s the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and all Fire TV Smart TVs from mid-2020 and newer that support AV1.

      I don’t think it matters much at all as a purchasing decision because none of the streaming services are going to require AV1 for a very long time, if ever. They will happily stream AV1 when possible to avoid paying licensing fees for other codecs, but they’ll certainly just fall back to HEVC if the device doesn’t support AV1.

      Fire TVs didn’t start supporting HEVC (H.265) until Gen 2 in 2015 and there are millions of Gen 1 2014 models still being used that are still working just fine with only AVC (H.264) support. The same will be the case for the literal tens of millions of Fire TV devices that already exist that do not support AV1.

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