The ECS LIVA MINI PC Kit is a first generation product and with all first generation products there are issues that need to be worked out. The LIVA isn’t a bad product by any means, but there are several things we aren’t a fan of. More importantly we are having a tough time figuring out who ECS is targeting with this product. Who is the ideal customer when it comes to the LIVA? It doesn’t have the power for frequently run CPU intensive applications, it doesn’t have the graphics power to be a gaming system and it lacks remote functionality that HTPC users crave. So, from what we gather the LIVA doesn’t really cover any one specific niche, but we do find it being the smallest and possibly the lowest cost Windows 8.1 ready mini PC on the market. The million dollar question is though, are there enough people looking for something like that and are they willing to pay for it to make it successful?
Overall performance of the ECS LIVA was right where we expected it to be and it was similar to the Intel NUC DN2820 that we reviewed earlier this year with the older and now discontinued Intel Celeron N2806 processor. It is able to do normal web surfing, light gaming and general office productivity tasks with the LIVA and we’d classify it as an everyday system for the average person.
If you are concerned about power consumption and want an energy efficient system that sips power, the ECS LIVA does just that. At just 3 Watts idle and at most 12 Watts at load we must admit that we love the power characteristics of this system. ECS says that the LIVA uses less power than your average light bulb and they would be correct. It is also pretty neat to power the ECS LIVA with a portable battery pack, but don’t see too many users utilizing that feature in the future.
When it comes to temperatures the Intel Celeron N2807 has a tJunction rating of 105C. We were pushing 96C on our test system when it was put under heavy load thanks to Prime95 and Furmark, when we called it good enough. The little passive cooler does a very good job at keeping the system cool for general tasks and most people should see temperatures higher than 70C, which is acceptable.
The ECS LIVA is currently available with 32GB of eMMC memory with a black enclosure. ECS has plans to bring out a 64GB version in your choice of black or white in September. The price on the 32GB model at this time is $164.99 shipped, which isn’t too bad considering what you get in terms of hardware. ECS just started a week long promotion where you can get an extra $33 off, which brings the price down to just $131.99 shipped after the promotion rebate. The Intel Celeron N2807 Processor alone has a suggested list price of $107, so ECS certainly isn’t making a fortune by selling these at $165, let alone $132!
ECS plans to come out with an assembled version of the white 64GB LIVA later this year, but they don’t have pricing set on it. There are no plans to include Microsoft Windows 8.1 on the system, but we hope that ECS or one of their customers look into it. Big corporations can get Windows 8.1 licenses for about $15-$20, so if ECS could come out with this model assembled and with Windows 8.1 installed for right around $200 that would be pretty amazing. If you need to go out and buy a Windows 8.1 license on your own you are looking at spending another $100 and that drastically increases the total cost of ownership.
So, would we run out and buy the ECS LIVA? If the ECS LIVA looks like it will work for your specific application then we see no reason why it wouldn’t be a great solution. The things we dislike about the ECS LIVA Mini PC Kit is fairly long, but are any deal breakers for you?
Even with the list of gripes that we have above we have to say that ECS has managed to deliver a product that has a nice price versus performance ratio. For $132 shipped we can look over many of the issues that we ran across with the LIVA! You get an entire PC that is just missing the OS, keyboard/mouse and the display. That is a tremendous value and hard to pass up if you are looking for an entry level PC that won’t break the bank. No other PC Kit for Windows can come close to touching this system when it comes to price or performance down at this price point! If the ECS LIVA looks like it is enough for what you need it to do, then you should give it a try.
Legit Bottom Line: The ECS LIVA isn’t a perfectly designed system and certainly isn’t a powerhouse, but for what it costs we can overlook many of the issues we encountered!