Introduction and Setup Impressions

Over the last couple of years, mini-PCs in the ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) have emerged as one of the bright spots in the troubled PC market. ECS made their entry in the market through the LIVA. Despite being an innovative product in the mini-PC space, it did suffer from a few questionable devisions with respect to the chassis design. The placement of the USB ports was not user-friendly, and the unit didn't appear sturdy either. ECS has iterated fast and put out an updated version (with a different chassis and motherboard design as well as a few tweaked internals) in the form of the LIVA X. The following gallery from ECS provides more insight into the LIVA X, and the picture that follows compares it against the LIVA.

Gallery: ECS LIVA X

Note that the USB ports in the LIVA X are in a more accessible location compared to the LIVA. We also have an additional USB 2.0 port, which is definitely welcome. On the downside, the unit is no longer powered by a micro-USB connector. Instead, we have a wall-wart rated for 36 W (12V @ 3A). The presence of a mSATA slot as well as an additional USB port drive up the maximum possible power consumption, justifying a more powerful adapter.

The specifications of our ECS LIVA X review configuration are summarized in the table below.

ECS LIVA X Specifications
Processor Intel Celeron N2808
(2C/2T x 1.58 GHz, 22nm, 1MB L2, 4.5W TDP, 3W SDP)
Memory 4GB DDR3-1333
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Disk Drive(s) Toshiba THGBMBG9D1KBAIL eMMC 64 GB
Networking 1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x1 802.11n/Bluetooth mPCIe
Audio Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Operating System Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 8.1 Pro x64
Pricing (As configured) $250
Full Specifications ECS LIVA X Specifications

The ECS LIVA X kit doesn't come with any pre-installed OS, but does come with a CD containing the drivers. It would be nice to have a (read-only) USB key instead of the CD.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the ECS LIVA X against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the ECS LIVA X when we come to those sections. A point to note is that all the PC configurations listed below are completely passive solutions.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect ECS LIVA X
CPU Intel Celeron N2808 Intel Celeron N2808
GPU Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics
RAM DDR3 4GB
9-9-9-24 @ 1333 MHz
DDR3 4GB
9-9-9-24 @ 1333 MHz
Storage Toshiba THGBMBG9D1KBAIL eMMC 064GE2
(64 GB; eMMC v5.0-compatible)
Toshiba THGBMBG9D1KBAIL eMMC 064GE2
(64 GB; eMMC v5.0-compatible)
Wi-Fi Ralink RT3290
(1x1 802.11n - 150 Mbps)
Ralink RT3290
(1x1 802.11n - 150 Mbps)
Price (in USD, when built) $250 $250
Performance Metrics - I
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  • ozzuneoj86 - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - link

    Seems a bit expensive for its capabilities. A 1.58Ghz Bay Trail is pretty slow for a non-mobile device. Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - link

    They run the CPU at 2.25 GHz (max. turbo speed) throughout the time the CPU is loaded. At this point of time, CPUs with such clocks are more than enough for thin-clients and basic browsing / word-processing [ well, that is what the market reception to the original ECS LIVA signified to ECS :) ]

    In the end, it is all a matter of 'horses for courses' - what fits the requirements of one person might be an overkill for someone else (isn't that why tablet PC sales have caused a decline in shipment of low-end notebooks / PCs?)
    Reply
  • ozzuneoj86 - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - link

    I see, I missed that about it running at its max turbo since it isn't limited thermally.

    I guess I just have trouble picturing the target market being anyone who actually knows what they are getting vs. what they need. Most of the places that I've seen thin clients used could easily just use a small ITX-sized desktop PC that is significantly faster, and (as is the case with this LIVA X) you generally pay a price premium for a thin client sized system. When you factor in the OS price, it seems unlikely that cost has anything to do with the purchase of a system like this, so that leaves size as the only real reason to get one.

    My workplace replaced several Core 2 based itx-sized HP desktops a few years ago with these awful little WYSE thin clients. Everything takes longer, runs slower and now there is a tiny bit more desktop space for people to clutter paperwork that shoudn't be left out in the first place. I'm sure there will be some power savings, but it can't be much in relation to the cost of installing a bunch of new equipment, and they are already at their limit as far as capabilities. I give it another year before we have some new application that is too much for them to handle.

    Obviously this LIVA system is faster, but it just doesn't seem like that many places are so constrained for space that PCs of this size are actually necessary, and for those that are, there are cheaper and faster alternatives, even at this price point (mostly due to the OS not being included).
    Reply
  • kgh00007 - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - link

    They need to sell a Windows 8.1 with Bing edition of these, the windows Licence increases the cost of the device by 1.5 times!!

    That's the biggest barrier to these cheaper mini PC's for me and for recommending them to anyone like family members!
    Reply
  • Teknobug - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - link

    hmm only dual core? I've been liking those Bay Trail Z37**'s. Reply
  • powerarmour - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - link

    If a 59'C case temp isn't hot to touch, you probably need to visit the doctor!, 100'C core temps are ridiculous also, terrible design. Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - link

    The Zotac C-series with the Core i5-Y CPUs had chassis temperatures of the order of 75C. This is definitely much better.

    As for the 96 C core temp prior to throttling, there was a thermal pad placement issue in the media review samples. Seeing how this is similar to LIVA in terms of CPU performance and the fact that the material used for thermal protection is far superior, I have no doubt the units reaching the end user will have much lower core temperatures under *power virus* loads.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, January 18, 2015 - link

    The temp is running furmark and Prime95 at the same time, which is a way higher load than normal. I've had computers that would crash while running that test, but were otherwise rock stable no matter what else I did. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, January 19, 2015 - link

    Exactly. Who is ever going to use one of these for anything like that sort of load. It's bogus. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - link

    I think the point of including an unrealistic scenario like furmark + prime95 is to stress the system in a way that induces a worst possible case situation. While most end users won't ever have that sort of thermal load on their hardware, doing this kind of testing in a review exposes potential flaws that wouldn't otherwise be discovered. I'd much rather someone does that kinda thing for me and uncovers a problem than having to figure it out for myself after I've made a purchase and have put it to use. Reply

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