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
CPU Intel Celeron N2808 Intel Celeron N2808
GPU Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics
9-9-9-24 @ 1333 MHz
9-9-9-24 @ 1333 MHz
Storage Toshiba THGBMBG9D1KBAIL eMMC 064GE2
(64 GB; eMMC v5.0-compatible)
(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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  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - link

    I'm not saying the test isn't interesting, but it's not particularly practical in this case. The only thing it does is let people know that if they want to run Furmark and Prime together they need to introduce some active cooling or a low ambient temperature. That's fine. There's nothing wrong with knowing that. However, it's not very high on the list of practical information.
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, January 19, 2015 - link

    "32 GB is not enough once a couple of Windows updates get installed."

    False. I have a 32 GB model and it has around 6 or 7 GB of free space with a fully updated Windows 8.1
  • random2 - Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - link

    "...(UCFF) have emerged as one of the bright spots in the troubled PC market."

    Someone needs to do a study on the sales volumes seen in the PC component industry. There are a lot of people building these days rather than buying pre-made units from manufacturers like Cyberpower, Dell and others.
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - link

    Thanks for posting idle and load power consumption numbers and addressing some reader concerns about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of delta charts where wattage is concerned.
  • djfourmoney - Friday, July 3, 2015 - link

    I like these tiny PC's. I was interested in the first Liva but it's shortcomings I knew would be addressed if I waited.

    As for case use -

    Small HTPC. I have a Llano HTPC currently with a great ANTEC case with six drive slots not to mention the I can put two SSD's in it's 2.5 slot (no floppy) and replace the 5.25 slots with hot swap cages.

    In other words it would make a very nice, fairly low draw server that can easily trans-code, among other things.

    There was a time when I thought I would use the HTPC for more PC games, which is why I got the Llano but as time goes on, I use it more for console emulation when I do play games and I have PS2 and PS3.

    Plus I can mount something like this on the back of a LCD and run everything else off a power USB 3.0 hub.

    That said my Cable CARD tuner has to be hard reset every so often because it drops both tuners, I guess I could go with a network tuner but then I would need another cable run to where the router is.

    Anyway, beyond that downgrading my HTPC seems to make sense to me. My original target was the Gigabyte Brix but only two AMD sku's are offered and the least expensive model might be discontinued and is hard to find.

    m-ITX is an option but cost is off-putting.

    Just thinking out loud I suppose.

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