Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Which One Is Better?

Dan Price Updated 10-04-2020

The popularity of cord-cutting continues to gather pace. Collectively, cable TV companies are losing millions of subscribers every year, with no sign of that stopping.


If you have recently ditched your TV subscription, there’s a good chance you’re trying to decide between an Amazon Fire TV Stick and one of the many Roku devices.

In this article, we pit the Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku devices, determining which is best in order to help you decide.

A Complicated Comparison

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make a like-for-like comparison between all Amazon Fire TV devices and Roku devices.

Instead, we need to focus on two Amazon products: The Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick 4K. On the Roku side, there are three devices that can be thought of as Fire TV Stick competitors: the Roku Express, Roku Premiere, and Roku Streaming Stick+.

NB: The Roku Ultra costs $100 and is more of an alternative to the Amazon Fire TV Cube, so we will not include it in this analysis of Fire Stick vs. Roku.


Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Cost

Before we get into the features and the technical specifications, let’s deal with the elephant in the room—the cost of the devices.

Amazon’s entry-level Fire TV Stick costs $40. The 4K model will set you back a further $10, coming in at $50.

The cheapest Roku model is the Roku Express. At $30, it’s more affordable than the Fire TV Stick. At the other end of the scale, the top Roku model (Ultra excluded) is the Roku Streaming Stick+, which costs $50.

So, for the sake of simplicity we’re going to pit the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K vs. the Roku Express ($30), the Roku Premiere ($40), and the Roku Streaming Stick+ ($50)


Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Specifications

This is where things get confusing. Let’s try and make sense of all the different models on offer from the two companies.

First, the Amazon devices. The basic Fire TV Stick has a Quad-core ARM 1.3 GHz processor, 8GB of internal memory, and support for Bluetooth 4.1. It plays videos in 720p or 1080p resolution at up to 60 frames-per-second (FPS).

The 4K model is a notable improvement. You’ll find a Quad-Core 1.7GHz processor, support for Bluetooth 5.0, and 2160p video resolution. The internal storage stays at 8GB and there’s 1.5GB of RAM.

The Roku Express only supports 1080p resolution. The other Roku options support 4K.


Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Controls

All Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices ship with a dedicated remote control.

Both Amazon controllers support Alexa. If you want to control your Roku with your voice, you will need to buy a Streaming Stick+.

Roku and Amazon have both developed an accompanying remote control smartphone app.

And remember, if you have an Amazon Echo speaker, you can sync it with your Fire TV Stick and use it to control your content.


Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Interface

Image result for amazon fire tv home screen

Visually, the Amazon platform is more modern and feels more polished. However, critics have argued that it pushes Amazon’s own content too aggressively.

It’s a valid viewpoint. You’ll only see one row of your own apps at the top of the screen.

The rest of the homescreen is taken up by content from Amazon Prime Video. Even if you don’t subscribe to the service, you will still see it.

Roku’s interface is more customizable. All of your channels are displayed in a scrollable list and you can create shortcuts for your most-used channels. If you install third-party add-ons, you can even place your channels into groups for easier navigation.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: TV Shows and Movies

If you’re looking for a provider-agnostic device, Roku offers the best streaming sticks on the market. They’re not only better than Amazon Fire TV sticks; they’re also better than Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecasts.

You’ll find apps for just about every on-demand video and music streaming app, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio. Roku also offers its own ad-supported streaming channel providing access to a large number of free movies and TV shows.

Roku also offers a vast library of private channels 20 Private and Hidden Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now Here's how to add private channels to your Roku, alongside some of the best hidden Roku channels you can install right now. Read More . You need to enter a code in the Roku web portal to install them on your device. Be warned—many of the private channels reside in a gray area of legality.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick run a highly modified version of Android. Which means you can sideload any app as long as you have its APK file. There are several safe and secure APK download sites The 5 Best Sites for Safe Android APK Downloads Need to download an APK to your Android device without the Google Play Store? Check out the best safe APK download sites. Read More you can use. Just remember that most Google Play Store apps are not designed for Fire Sticks, meaning you will also need to install a mouse app.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Web Browsing

Only the Amazon products let you easily surf the web. Two Fire TV browsers are available—Amazon’s own Silk Browser and Firefox. You can control them both easily using the Fire TV remote. We’ve compared Silk and Firefox to find the best browser for the Amazon Fire TV Stick The Best Web Browser for Amazon Fire TV Stick: Firefox vs. Silk You probably already know that you can browse the web with Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick. But what's the best browser to use? Read More if you’d like to learn more.

There are web browsers that work on Roku devices The Best Roku Web Browsers to Use Here are the best Roku web browser options, plus a workaround that offers a better Roku web browsing experience. Read More , but they are not suitable for regular browsing.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Gaming

roku games store

Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV Sticks both offer games on their platform.

However, hardcore gamers might find Fire TV devices are more suitable for their needs. Generally speaking, Roku games are a bit “cutesy”. Sure, they’ll keep you entertained for half an hour, but they don’t offer longevity.

The games on Amazon’s devices are beefier. You’ll find titles such as Minecraft, Badland, and Star Wars.

Of course, if the ability to game on your streaming device is high on your list of priorities, neither a Roku or a Fire TV Stick can hold a candle to the Nvidia Shield. You can stream titles from your PC using Nvidia GameStream, download a host of local games from Nvidia and Google Play, and install emulators for classic consoles.

We have written about the best games on Amazon Fire TV The Best Free Amazon Fire TV Games There are a surprising number of free Amazon Fire TV games available to download. Here are the best we found. Read More and the best games on Roku 10 Amazing Roku Games You Should Be Playing Did you know that the Roku has a surprisingly extensive gaming catalog? Here are the best games you can play on your Roku now! Read More if you’d like more information before making a purchase.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Screen Mirroring

Roku devices have Miracast technology built-in. If you’re not aware, Miracast is like a wireless version of an HDMI cable. Most Android and Windows devices are Miracast-compatible. Apple devices are not.

Some older Amazon Fire TV models also support screen mirroring. Oddly, it’s not available on the Amazon Fire Stick or Fire Stick 4K.

Roku vs. Fire TV Stick: Which Is Best?

It’s really difficult to choose a clear winner between the Roku and Fire Stick. Much depends on how you plan to use your device, which gadgets you already own, and which streaming service you subscribe to.

All else being equal, we’d recommend either the Amazon Fire Stick 4K or the Roku Streaming Stick+. And remember, you could even buy a Chromecast or Android TV.

We have pitted the Chromecast vs. Roku Chromecast vs. Roku: Which One Is Best for You? There are many streaming media devices to choose between. In this article, we compare the heaviest hitters: Chromecast vs Roku. Read More  and the Android TV vs. Amazon Fire TV if you want to learn more.

Related topics: Amazon Fire Stick, Cord Cutting, Media Streaming, Product Comparison, Roku.

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  1. David Dart
    June 27, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Fire stick all the way, I can stream movies I want and new for free. You can't do that with the roku.

  2. Michael Dillingham
    May 5, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    This is a very interesting article but is too wordy. I think that they should get right to the point. I did like the article though.

  3. Fred K
    March 30, 2020 at 12:26 am

    You can't browse the internet with Roku ! Firestick has Silk browser for internet access. I couldn't give Roku away so I tossed it in the trash. Roku is a joke.

    • David Dart
      June 27, 2020 at 12:23 pm


  4. michel
    February 23, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Roku doesn't charge hidden fees for free channels, that's simply not true. They charge for subscription services like Netflix, but no one provides those for free. Tubi, for instance, is just as free on Roku as elsewhere. That said, the lack of a browser is a real limitation in Canada and the reason I don't recommend Roku, Just hook up an old pc.

  5. Custo481
    November 15, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Firestick is so much better. Everything free on Roku is free on firestick. The difference between the two is that firestick doesn't cost you unless you rent or buy something. Roku charges for free stuff. Roku is a bad idea for anyone. Roku should never charge you for services you can get free through the Google play store. Tubi tv is free and you can even get it on your phone for free. Meanwhile Roku charges you a monthly and you can use Tubi tv. Go look, Tubi tv is free for everyone no fees.

  6. Buck
    October 25, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    I would not give you 2 cents for any ROKU device. I have a ROKU TV and it sucks because if I want to add certain channels I have to pay a monthly fee. By the time I add 10 or 15 channels my bill is as high as my cable would be. Also, I use an IPTV service and I can't load it on the ROKU TV ..the only apps you can load on a ROKU are the ones that ROKU approved. I can side load any app on a firestick 4k and not pay a monthly fee. Firestick 4k has a way better wifi antenna, I have a 400Mbps service and the firestick consistently delivers 375 MBPS or more.

  7. George
    June 29, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Odd that putting in web pages is easy with firestick and nonexistent with Roku. Otherwise Roku is clear winner.

  8. Paul
    June 20, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    I just setup a Fire Stick 4K, so the most recent version and contrary to what the article states, Mirroring is supported and available, it just isn't very discoverable. To mirror, while on the Home screen, press and hold the Home button down on the remote.

  9. Matt
    May 12, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Sideloading is a way overrated feature on the Fire, because you can streamcast anything you want from your phone to your Roku very simply anyway. And in fact, it's a lot easier and more convenient than sideloading.

  10. Nick
    March 30, 2019 at 6:21 am

    I had been using Roku for a long time and that was my preferred option until I found out that the Fire TV supports VPN. That alone makes the Fire TV the way to go for anybody that travels out of the country a lot. So much more convenient being able to just log into the VPN and be able to access everything like back at home.

  11. gerald henrikson
    February 24, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Very helpful pretty objective
    Sometimes i like you guys to nake the decision lol
    Thanks gerry

    • Custo481
      November 15, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      You been lied to Gerry. Firestick is the way to go and absolutely free no hidden fees like Roku. If Roku can do it so can firestick but better.

      • NA
        June 12, 2020 at 9:53 pm

        What hidden fees?

  12. DJH
    February 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I have 2 roku-embedded TVs and 1 roku stick. The issue that we see is the time to load the streaming service into memory. I bought a 4k fire stick and a fire TV with 4k ultra. Both fire Amazon load the service faster. The challenge for me is the family won't let me replace cable/directv until the service like directvnow or psvue will come up as fast. And with Roku, this will not happen. Now, maybe the latest highest-brand Roku will do this, but I don't have them nor do I want to put a Roku device on my Roku-embedded TV.

  13. Tom
    February 5, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    While not a stick, the Roku Ultra is a great standalone little box that connects with an HDMI cable.

    Asides from programming, I'm not a fan of a big blob of plastic dangling from an HDMI port on the TV, very easy to ruin a perfectly good HDMI port on a TV if
    brushed by accident.

    Not sure what sideloading is, but there are tons of apps available to install on Roku. When you first set it up, the selections are sparse, up to you to see what's available and install onto your home screen.

  14. Brian
    January 22, 2019 at 11:05 am

    You forgot to discuss Wifi performance. Among the devices there are notable hardware differences in how well they pickup wifi. For example among the sticks the FireStick 4K and Roku Steaming Stick + have more advanced wifi attennas which could help avoid buffering - a common complaint among streaming.

  15. Mike
    January 1, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Roku is neutral. That alone will make it better. Apple, google, amazon all have a leg in the content game.

  16. Steve Zelinka
    December 6, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I recently switched from Fire TV to Roku because I was fed up with how much Amazon pushed it's own content. You always need to scroll past its banner to get to your limited real estate containing your preferred apps. On Roku I have a clean simple launch screen that only contains my selected shortcuts. Performance seems identical to me.

    December 5, 2018 at 3:52 am

    i've had firesticks for a couple of years now, but i'm having a hard time with wifi even though firesticks are placed next to wifi routers this is a frustrating issue.
    can roku's be "jailbroken"? i'm new to the cutting cable thing, i just want a device that i can setup and use anytime anywhere no lagging. maybe you all can help with this topic

  18. Syn
    December 4, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    How is this even a question? The Roku is very limited...yes private listening is great but most tvs can do that now you know what how to do so. As far as battery life who cares buy a pack of batteries ,or get rechargable one. You can also use the remote app and there are plenty of third party keyboard remotes that work with the firestick but not roku. You can’t sideload apps. The roku, I will say is better for elderly people or people who aren’t doing much besides watching a few shows. It should come with orthopedic shoes or crocs..

    • Flokki
      December 6, 2018 at 3:43 am

      lol so true

  19. Andrew
    December 4, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    FireStick 4K for the versatillity. The main reason is that the Fire OS is basically Android so you can run practically any Android app from the Google PlayStore and other Android app stores. Sideload is very easy with the FireStick. With App2Fire on your phone, you can install any app that is on your phone directly to the FireStick. So all those apps you use to stream movies and TVs, you can have also on your FireStick. You are not limited to Amazon content only. I just override the Amazon screen with HALauncher to just display my own apps. .

    • Jesse
      February 7, 2019 at 2:19 am

      I can’t even find the app2fire in Apple store. Can you tell me how to find it so i can download it to my iPhone to watch youtube tv? Thanks

      • Fred Blosser
        March 16, 2019 at 2:56 am

        It is on Google Play.

  20. Michelle Grandstaff
    December 4, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    My Roku tv stopped connecting to the internet...so, I bought a fire stick, refurbished for 19.99, so I could street on my TV. Disappointed by Roku.

  21. John Schubert
    December 4, 2018 at 4:06 am

    I have both a Roku Stick and the Amazon Fire Stick. Roku is far superior. Roku is more user friendly and it responds much quicker than the Fire Stick.

  22. Truth Provider
    December 4, 2018 at 2:35 am

    Roku is platform agnostic. That's all you need to know. Amazon will remove apps like Netflix and those of other competitors at the exact moment that it can get away with it.

  23. Frank
    December 4, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Roku, hands down. I've had Chromecast, fire sticks, and now Roku. Hated that the Chromecast required a phone and was laggy, and fire stick was just a big Amazon ad, and, no YouTube app.

  24. Georgia
    December 4, 2018 at 1:14 am

    I have both, but perfer the Firestick. The only advantage that my Roku has over my Firestick is the ability to use earplugs for private listening. Of course, the battery life sucks worst in the Roku when using earplugs.

  25. Al
    December 4, 2018 at 1:08 am

    One important point often overlooked in these reviews is the battery life of the Fire TV and Roku remotes. They both use up a lot of juice since they are designed to be on all the time and the batteries get depleted fast. I have both a Roku and a Fire TV connected to a Vizio TV that has a built-in Chromecast and my solution is to use a "smart" surge suppressor that cuts off the power to the peripherals when the TV is off. The Vizio remote can be used to control the Fire TV directly but it doesnt work on the Roku, however the phone and tablet apps work great for both streamers.
    I only wish they followed Apples lead and used long lasting rechargeable batteries in all of their Apple TV remotes.

    • Marcella Wright Scurry
      February 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      ? Can you use both my daughter watches you tube alot which 1 will provide that

  26. Daniel
    December 4, 2018 at 12:12 am

    I tried both top end models and preferred the FireTV.

  27. Alicia
    December 3, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    I have to go with fire stick. You cant sideload apps onto roku like you can with fire stick. The new 4k stick is amazing.

  28. Marc Jentzsch
    December 3, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    "It’s really difficult to choose a clear winner."

    Not generally if you are just looking for the best streaming device. I have owned multiple examples of both. The Roku is better in almost every meaningful way. The dated interface of the Roku is still better and easier to use than the Fire which is jumbled and repetitive and can't quite seem to stop falling over itself.
    The Roku is just more intuitive, simpler, cleaner.

  29. Ivan
    December 3, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Had to go with the fire stick because it can run JackBox