Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs. NVIDIA Shield TV 4K

Amazon's introduction of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max shows a new contender for the best streaming devices is on the block. NVIDIA's Shield TV has held the top spot pretty much ever since it was released, so how do these two streaming sticks stack up?

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs. NVIDIA Shield TV: A lot to consider

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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max with Alexa Voice Remote leaning on desk

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Before we get to the elephant in the room, let's check out how the Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs. NVIDIA Shield TV 4K stack up from a hardware perspective. 

Notably, both are small and compact, with Amazon's option plugging directly into your TV, while the Shield TV was designed to be placed out of the run. But the Shield TV still requires you to run a cable from your television to the tube and then plug it in. This may not be the best way to handle things if you're looking to cut down on the cables coming from your TV.

Under the hood, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is powered by MediaTek's MT8696 and 2GB of RAM, which Amazon claims is 40% faster compared to the "normal" Fire TV Stick 4K from 2018. The upgrade in speed is a big deal considering how old its predecessor is, but it's definitely the upgrade that was expected. On the other hand, the Shield TV uses NVIDIA's Tegra X1+ paired with 3GB of RAM and a 256-core GPU.

The NVIDIA Shield TV and Shield TV Pro

(Image credit: Phil Nickinson / Cordcutters)
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Header Cell - Column 0 Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MaxNVIDIA Shield TV 4K
ProcessorMediaTek MT8696NVIDIA Tegra X1+
Operating SystemAndroid TVAndroid TV
External storageNoYes
Voice remote includedYesYes
4K resolutionYesYes
Dolby AtmosYesYes
Dolby VisionYesYes
Voice ControlAmazon AlexaGoogle Assistant / Amazon Alexa
AI UpscalingNoYes

Both of these streaming sticks are equipped with 8GB of storage and support 4K HDR10 resolution, along with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Additionally, the Shield TV gains a point for providing some pretty great AI Upscaling, turning that old 1080p or lower video into something enjoyable on the best 4K TVs.

Amazon and NVIDIA also include voice-activated remotes with either model, with Alexa handling the heavy-lifting for the TV Stick. NVIDIA's Shield TV is rather interesting as it's powered by Google Assistant out of the box, but you can install and use Amazon Alexa instead, giving the Shield TV the upper hand.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max with Alexa Voice Remote on desk

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Jumping back to storage, the Shield TV has one more trick up its sleeve that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max can't match up with: expandability. As we mentioned, 8GB of storage is the default on both of these streaming devices. However, there is no way for you to plug in an external hard drive to expand the Fire TV Stick 4K Max storage. 

With the Shield TV, you have the option of grabbing one of the best microSD cards, thanks to the onboard slot. So you can quickly turn that 8GB into much more, while being able to also use it as a home theater system with the movies and shows you've downloaded and collected over the years.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max vs. NVIDIA Shield TV: Addressing the elephant

NVIDIA Shield TV (2019) with microSD card

(Image credit: Marc Lagace / Android Central)

Up to this point, it would appear as though the Shield TV is the clear-cut winner. Even with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max being the newer streaming device of the two, it just misses out on some of the most important features. However, there's one enormous point that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has in its favor, that the Shield TV simply can't match: price.

Amazon's Fire TV Stick lineup is extremely popular, as it provides a way to stream your favorite content without breaking the bank. And even though the 4K Max is the most expensive TV Stick available, it comes in at just $55. Comparatively, when it's not on sale, the NVIDIA Shield TV starts at $150.

Amazon Fire TV Omni Series - 65-inch

(Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

The Shield TV is arguably the more powerful device of the two and includes expandable storage, Android TV over Fire TV, and Google Assistant integration. But if we had to pick, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is "good enough" to save yourself some cash and use that towards a couple of family movie nights.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks and tablets

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.