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Roku Express vs Premiere (2021): Which Streaming Device Should You Buy?

If you’re looking for a reliable streaming device for your TV, Roku is certainly one of the top names that you should consider. They offer affordable streaming devices loaded with features and they have a very user friendly OS. The Roku Express and the Roku Premiere are two of their top streaming devices that fit that description. How do they differ? Which one should you buy? Below is a comparison of these top-selling Roku streaming devices.

Roku Express vs Premiere Comparison Chart

ModelRoku Express Roku Premiere
Dimensions1.5 x 0.75 x 3.0 inches1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches
Weight1.1 ounces1.3 ounces
Video Quality1080p1080p
Wireless Connectivity802.11bgn single-band wireless802.11bgn single-band wireless
Ports1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x Power
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x Power
Voice AssistantGoogle Assistant
Google Assistant
Apple AirPlayNoYes
Mobile AppiOS and AndroidiOS and Android

Streaming Quality

The Roku Premiere is capable of up to 4K video while the Roku Express can only output 1080p.

roku express vs premier streaming quality
The Roku Express (left) and the Roku Premiere (right) have different form factors but they have the same remote.

Aside from their appearance, one of the biggest differences between the Roku Express and the Roku Premiere is their video output capability. The Roku Express can output a Full HD or 1080p signal, while the Roku Premiere is capable of 1080p FHD and 2160p 4K. In addition, the Premiere also supports HDR10, so you’ll be able to enjoy movies with more vivid colors and better contrast ratio. Of course, you need to have an HDR enabled TV to enjoy this feature.

When it comes to audio, both streaming devices support Dolby and DTS pass-through via HDMI. For those that want to enjoy content with Dolby surround or DTS surround, both the Roku Express and Premiere will be able to pass the signal to your receiver or decoder.

OS and Content

The Roku Express and the Roku Premiere offer similar content and features.

roku express vs premiere os and content
You can stream HBO Max and other popular services with any Roku streaming devices, including the Roku Express and Roku Premiere.

The Roku OS is very minimalist and has a nice layout that’s very user friendly. You’ll have access to thousands of channels and several streaming services. On that note, the only difference here is that the Roku Premiere provides a snappier and more responsive experience since it has 1GB of RAM as opposed to the 512GB on the Roku Express. Scrolling and pretty much every action on the screen is a bit smoother on the Roku Premiere.

Aside from the slight performance improvement with the Roku Premiere, the two streaming devices are pretty much the same when it comes to OS and content. The OS comes with a very useful universal search bar which allows you to search for titles from different services easily.

Included with the Roku Express and Premiere are standard IR remotes that are also easy to use. There are just enough buttons to not be overwhelming and there are shortcuts for popular apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Sling.

Compatibility and Connectivity

You only need a single HDMI cable to connect either the Roku Express or Premiere to your TV.

roku express vs premiere compatibility and connectivity
At the back, the Roku Express (left) and the Roku Premiere (right) are essentially the same.

Both the Roku Express and Premiere connect to the internet wirelessly since they don’t have ethernet ports. It is important to note that if you have a 4K TV, you’ll need a fast internet connection since 4K content are much larger than 1080p content. You’ll also be able to download firmware updates directly to either unit if there is one.

Connecting either the Roku Express or the Roku Premiere to your TV requires just one HDMI cable. The Roku Express comes with a single HDMI 1.4 port and a micro USB port for power. Similarly, the Roku Premiere also has a micro USB port for power and a single HDMI 2.0 port, since it can stream 4K content. A requirement for the Roku Premiere is an HDMI input with HDCP 2.2 support, but you don’t have to worry too much about that if you are not technically inclined. Almost all modern TVs have that feature.


The Roku Premiere is an overall better streaming device than the Roku Express.

Since the price difference between these two models is fairly insignificant, you should get the Roku Premiere over the Roku Express. The only reason you should get the Roku Express is if you have an HDTV or monitor that only has a 1080p resolution. But even then, there are features that you’ll miss, such as Apple AirPlay support and the increased RAM, which makes the Roku Premiere snappier and more responsive. So you might still be better off getting the Roku Premiere instead.


๐Ÿ“Œ Which is better: Roku Express or Roku Premiere?

The Roku Premiere is better than the Roku Express since it is capable of up to 4K video output with HDR support. It also has better internal components, specifically, more RAM, for a more responsive UI.

๐Ÿ“Œ How much is Roku Premiere a month?

You don’t pay any monthly fee with any Roku devices. You only pay for individual streaming services that you are subscribed to.

๐Ÿ“Œ Do I need to have a smart TV for Roku?

No, Roku devices will work on both smart and “dumb” TVs.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is HBO Max on Roku?

Yes, HBO Max is supported on all Roku devices.

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Carlo Salvador

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about fitness, gaming and music.