Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: which should you buy?

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Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick 4K Max looks a lot like the popular Fire TV Stick 4K … just a little bit more to the maximum. And since we just posted our full Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max review, we thought it was time to go head-to-head against its physically identical sibling.

Aside from the remote, the differences between the two Sticks aren’t noticeable at first glance, but you’ll find an interesting set of benefits once we get into this Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV face-to-face. Stick 4K. One difference between the two Fire Sticks is that only one is on our list of the best streaming devices. But which one is it? Let’s find out.

When we wrote our Fire TV Stick 4K review, we never saw performance as a flaw in the streaming stick. But over time, as this model came to a halt and other competitors got faster, it wasn’t hard to see that Amazon’s UHD streaming device could use a bit more speed.

Let’s see how they stack up:

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Specifications

Fire TV Stick 4K Max Fire TV Stick 4K
Starting price $ 49.99 $ 54.99
Resolution Up to 4K UHD at 60 fps Up to 4K UHD at 60 fps
Processor Quad-core 1.8 GHz (750 MHz GPU) Quad-core 1.7 GHz (650 MHz GPU)
Wireless Wi-Fi 6, 802.11a / b / g / n / ac / ax 802.11a / b / g / n / ac
Dimensions 4.25 x 1.18 x 0.55 inches 4.25 x 1.18 x 0.55 inches
Colors Black Black
audio Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound, 2-channel stereo and HDMI audio up to 5.1 Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound, 2-channel stereo and HDMI audio up to 5.1
Video HDR10, HDR10 +, Dolby Vision HDR10, HDR10 +, Dolby Vision
From a distance Alexa voice remote control with Live TV and App buttons Alexa voice remote
Picture in picture live Yes No

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: price and value

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max costs $ 54.99, which is just $ 5 more than the $ 49.99 Fire TV Stick 4K. These prices are far from permanent, as Amazon often puts its own material for sale. Right now, the Fire TV Stick 4K costs $ 33.99.

As we’ll explain throughout this article, you get small perks in exchange for that extra money. If the price difference is closer to the $ 5 price tag of their regular MSRP, we would assign that category to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Right now, the Fire TV Stick 4K is the best deal. But that could change any time Amazon’s sales adjust.

Winner: Prize draw (depending on the day)

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Audio and Video

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire Stick 4K are exactly the same when it comes to the sound and picture of the shows and movies you’ll watch. And because of that, we expect many to simply go for the cheapest option.

Both sticks stream in 4K UHD at 60 fps and both support high-end video quality Dolby Vision, HDR 10 and HDR10 + formats, which should ensure stronger and more vivid colors.

The Midsommar movie on an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

The story remains the same on the audio output. Both 4K Fire TV sticks support the Dolby Atmos sound standard, which seeks to give you a spatial audio experience where the sounds of the shows you’re listening to are meant to surround you.

To this end, both Fire TV Sticks support 7.1 surround sound speaker setups, 2-channel stereo, and 5.1-channel audio via HDMI audio pass-through.

Winner: To attach

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: performance

Okay, here’s where the differences come in. And while Amazon claims the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is “40% more powerful,” you won’t see much of a difference in every department. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max’s new processor is one of its improvements, with a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor and a 750 MHz GPU (the normal Fire TV Stick 4K has a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor and a 650 MHz GPU).

That said, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max offers faster menu navigation, which has always been a problem for me when it comes to Amazon devices.

Fire TV Home Screen on Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

To try and test them in similar situations, I tried loading apps from a new restarted state. Disney Plus loaded in 8.87 seconds on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, losing 34% of the Fire TV Stick 4K’s 13.47 second load time. My stopwatch wasn’t exactly needed for this test, as the animated “Disney +” logo stuttered on the Fire TV Stick 4K, not the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Likewise, Netflix loaded in 1.38 seconds on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and in 20 seconds to load on the Fire TV Stick 4K.

The YouTube app was another story. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max loaded the program in 5.64 seconds, just over a second faster than the normal 4K stick’s 6.91 time.

Live TV Screen on Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

In fact, watching content is a dead end, as I saw when I clocked the time it took to start the Black Widow movie on the Disney Plus app. The retro comics of the Marvel Studios logo appeared at 8.89 seconds on the 4K Max and 8.41 seconds on the Fire TV 4K, and since those times are particularly close, I’m willing to attribute this one to a difference. in how fast my fingers can press my stopwatch.

Amazon has also upgraded the Fire TV Stick 4K Max’s wireless modem to support Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11a / b / g / n / ac / ax. To see the differences, you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6 router (which doesn’t seem essential yet, although it’s something we’ll likely have sooner or later).

Winner: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Apps and Software

FireTV Apps screen on TV turned to Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

No matter what Fire TV device you buy, you get the same apps and interface. This means that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire TV Stick 4K have the same 12,700+ apps.

This includes the best streaming services, such as HBO Max, Netflix, and Hulu, as well as Disney Plus, Plex, Paramount Plus and more.

Both devices also have the same version of the Fire TV operating system.

Winner: To design

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: design

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max (top) and Fire TV Stick 4K (bottom)

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

In a week, after I haven’t seen those Fire Sticks in my hand, while the Max is still tucked away behind my TV, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to tell you which Stick is which. As you can see above, these are rectangular dongles of the same shape and size (4.25 x 1.18 x 0.55 inches), with HDMI ports.

The only thing that sets them apart (aside from the fine print with their respective model numbers) are the logos. The older Fire TV Stick 4K only has the Amazon “smile arrow” logo, while the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has a smaller version of this “smile” with the “fire tv” branding above it.

Winner: To attach

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Features

Live View image in picture mode on Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max, with the feed of a delivery guy in the corner of a yoga routine video

(Image credit: Amazon)

A new feature sits between the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and its slightly more affordable sibling – and that’s no bargain for the “streaming” we think of when we talk about the best streaming devices.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max lets you check the feeds from your connected home security camera around your home with the Live View Picture-in-Picture feature (formerly exclusive to the Fire TV Cube).

Another smart home feature (which isn’t available yet, but is coming soon) for the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the ability to wirelessly connect to the best Alexa speakers for “immersive audio” (in the words of from Amazon).

Winner: Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: remotes

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Fire TV Stick 4K remotes

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire Stick 4K have very similar Alexa voice remotes, but Amazon has added five new buttons for the Max’s remote. The value of these buttons may vary depending on the services you use.

Cord cutters will probably love the Live TV button (just below the fast forward), which gives you access to the Live TV guide (which you can connect to the live TV service of your choice under Settings> Live TV> Sync sources> select your source).

The Live TV Screen on Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

The other four buttons are dedicated app buttons that you might have seen on Roku remotes. It doesn’t matter if you don’t subscribe to Hulu, Disney Plus, Netflix, or Prime Video (although that’s surprising, considering it’s an Amazon device), you get buttons for those apps, and you cannot remap these to other programs. We think these buttons are kind of a slightly sneaky way to advertise services (Amazon probably gets paid a ton by these companies). That said, if you do use these services (and they are popular), you probably aren’t offended by their presence.

Oh, and they changed the Alexa button from a black button with a microphone logo to a blue button with the Alexa logo. It’s not a huge change, but it helps this button visually stand out.

Winner: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs Fire TV Stick 4K: scoreboard and verdict

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Price and value (15 points) 12 12
Audio and video (20 points) 20 20
Performance (15 points) 14 11
Remote (10) ten 8
Applications (10 points) ten ten
Features (15 points) 15 13
Design (15 points) 15 15
Total (100 points) 96 91

This dashboard shows that the difference between the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire TV Stick 4K is, in academic terms, an A- versus an A +. The original Fire TV Stick 4K is still good enough, but the 4K Max is just a little better in several ways.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max has the advantage of speed (although it’s not as big as we’d hoped), a few more buttons on its remote, and a few new special smart home features. And if the price difference between the two is only $ 5, we’d say use the Fire TV Stick.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max and remote control alongside the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and its remote

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

But if Amazon drops the much lower-priced Fire TV Stick 4K and widens the gap between them, you might want to go with the Fire TV Stick 4K. When it comes to streaming shows and movies, it’s just as good as its counterpart (unless you have a Wi-Fi 6 router).

What about those debating upgrading? Well, we’re not sure if the smart home camera and speaker support, a little more speed and this new remote seems to be worth $ 55 when you already have a good streaming stick. The choice is yours.

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