ECS Liva SOC Mini-PC System Review

by - 5 years ago

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

With the 32GB black version retailing for $165 and the white at $185 you certainly do get good value for money. Stock is a little tricky in the UK, but there are some resellers with prices around £200. I would wholeheartedly recommend spending the extra for double the storage and the minor CPU upgrade, especially when the price difference is so small. Considering there is everything here to just install the OS and begin using without having to buy extras such as RAM or an SSD helps keep costs of getting it up and running to a minimum. I see this as sitting in the market alongside NUCs and Brixs as a viable alternative that is at a lower price point but can still compete in terms of performance versus cost.

Overview

When it comes to using the Liva as a workstation there are a couple of things to note. The unit itself does not come with an OS pre-installed (so if you’re planning on using Windows that could be an extra cost to consider), and that due to UEFI restrictions it is not possible to install Windows 7 or earlier iterations. This may be problematic to those with a disdain of the Marmite that is Windows 8.1, but with Windows 10 round the corner this may be less of an issue. With Microsoft making versions of Windows free for low-cost systems, this is possibly something ECS could look into in providing the customer with a subsidised OS so they can hit the ground running.

It sounds obvious, but be sure to go to the ECS website and get the latest drivers as Windows does a pretty poor job of drivers outside of the generic LAN ones. I find in general drivers on supplied discs tend to be outdated, and a few of the ones supplied on disc here were in fact outdated, hence the mention. I also found turning off Windows Defender real-time scanning helped return some of the valuable resources to the system. Power consumption sits at just under 6w when performing a task such as playing YouTube videos and even at 100% load we didn’t manage to topple it over the 12w draw point. This represents a huge potential power savings for replacing an office full of desktop PC’s with Livas, or even as a home mini-server that you could leave on 24/7 without worrying about a massive hike in your electricity bill. I was staggered by how little power this uses, I do not doubt ECS’s claims that you can easily run this for hours from a USB battery bank.

In the promotional material ECS point out that the Liva can save you money with how little power it consumes, with a diagram of someone putting a coin into their Liva vent like a money-box. Don’t try this at home kids!

The Liva is a likeable little box of tricks with plenty to offer, and with a small amount of tweaking could offer so much more in the face of stiff competition. The addition of a VESA mount base and couple of extra USB ports would instantly put this as a considerable candidate for basic office workstations, with the cost being low enough that they could almost be classed as disposable. Performance is pretty decent all round when doing daily tasks such as email, browsing or working on office docs; the Liva performs solidly as you would expect without too much in terms of slow down. Although there is only 2GB of RAM available as long as you keep the amount of simultaneously open apps to a minimum you shouldn’t experience much lag at all, overall I found it quite a pleasant system to use.

Pros

  • Insanely low power consumption
  • Tiny form factor
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Only 2 USB Ports
  • Not VESA mountable
  • Not expandable

Neutral

  • No OS
  • Fair value for price point – though could easily be tweaked for better value
ECS Livi Mini-PC Review

Alpenföhn Brocken Eco CPU cooler

Thank you ECS for providing us with this information.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A Closer Look
  3. Test Procedure
  4. System Performance - PCMark 8
  5. CPU Performance - Cinebench and SuperPi
  6. SSD, HDD and USB 3.0 Performance
  7. Networking Performance
  8. Noise, Power Consumption and Temperatures
  9. Final Thoughts
  10. View All

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