Over half a year ago ECS ELITEGROUP introduced the LIVA Mini PC Kit, which was marketed at the time as being the world’s smallest Windows based mini PC kit. The ECS LIVA Mini PC Kit came with all the hardware you needed to build a mini PC, but you still had to assemble it and load the Operating System. Legit Reviews has seen the original ECS LIVA 32GB Mini PC Kit priced below $125 with rebates and for that you get an Intel BayTrail-M SoC (Intel Celeron Processor N2807), 2GB 1333MHz DDR3L memory, 32GB or 64GB of eMMC memory and a M.2 form factor combo wireless card that supports 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 4.0. Once you assembled the system you could then install either Windows 8/8.1 or Linux that you needed to source on your own. You could not install any other version of Windows since there was no storage driver available for the SanDisk eMMC storage solution. The ECS LIVA 32GB Mini PC Kit was solid for the price, but the non-expandable storage space, paltry 2GB of RAM, no VESA mount, the need to assemble it and limited choices on the OS were enough to cause some people to steer clear of the LIVA. Last week at CES 2015 ECS released the second generation of the LIVA family, the LIVA X.
Over the past six months ECS has been gathering the feedback of the original LIVA users and has made what they think is a much improved PC. For starters it now comes fully assembled and you don’t need to assemble everything! The ECS LIVA X will be also be available with 2GB or 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3L memory and 32GB or 64GB of eMMC memory. The big change with regards to storage on the LIVA X is that there is now a mSATA slot for SSDs and that means you can finally install Windows 7 on a LIVA PC! That is very big news as the LIVA X is finally a full fledged Mini PC that supports more than just Windows 8 and Windows 8.1! ECS also went with the slightly more powerful 22nm Intel BayTrail-M SoC (Intel Celeron Processor N2808) that has a burst frequency of 2.25GHz versus the 2.16MHz found on the original LIVA. The Intel HD Graphics also got a speed bump and now runs at 792MHz versus 750MHz before. A 90MHz increase on the CPU and 42MHz increase on the GPU clocks won’t greatly impact performance, but they are improvements.
Today we’ll be taking a look at the ECS LIVA X with 4GB of RAM and 64B of eMMC for storage needs. This model runs $229.99 shipped and will be widely available by the time you read this article. ECS is currently using the Intel Celeron N2808 22nm dual-core processor, which has a base clock of 1.58GHz and a turbo clock of 2.25 GHz for this kit. This processor just came out in Q3 2014 and is a solid little 4.5W TDP processor with Intel HD Graphics that can support dual displays and even Intel Quick Sync Video. The original LIVA came in a box that was made from environmentally friendly materials with soy ink used for the color. ECS combined the words ‘living’ and ‘life (Viva)’ to come up with LIVA and hopes that this product will help you live a better life. It looks like they are no longer pushing that on the marketing front as inside the box on the LIVA X it reads ‘Xpress Incredible’. So, forget about the whole living and life crap and get ready to express your incredible self!
Inside the retail packaging you’ll find that LIVA X, power brick, VESA Mount w/ screws, the quick installation guide, user guide and finally the driver disk. Please note that the 12v, 36W power adapter does come with US, EU and GB plugs and that we are just showing the US plug installed on the adapter.
Along the front edge of the ECS LIVA X you have the power button, LED activity light, two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port. The original ECS LIVA has one USB 2.0 port and USB 3.0 port, so the LIVA X gives you one extra USB 2.0 port. We see this as a good thing as a keyboard and mouse are usually occupied by two ports and it would be nice to be able to use the third USB port for an external storage drive, wired printer or for an optical drive if needed.
On the back of the LIVA X you’ll find the 12V DC_IN port, HDMI port, Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit Fast Ethernet port, Realtek ALC283 3.5mm combo audio jack (Line Out & Mic In w/ optional adapter) and finally the VGA port. The original LIVA had an Micro USB header for the power adapter, which has been deleted for a traditional power adapter. You can You can run two displays off the LIVA X if you wanted to. Most of our readers are more than likely cringing at the sight of a VGA header, but ECS wanted to ensure they were able to fulfill the needs of emerging markets where VGA is still a popular connector. That and the fact that a DVI connector wouldn’t fit with the PCB layout design they came up with on the LIVA X.
The included AC power adapter is made by Asian Power Devices Inc. and can output up to 36W of clean 12V / 3A DC power for the LIVA X. The part number on the adapter is WA-36A12 and is easily able to handle all the power this system will be demanding.
A Kensington lock was missing on the original LIVA, but that is not the case on the LIVA X. There is a Kensington lock on one side of the LIVA X and there are air ventilation holes on both sides of the mini PC.
Let’s move along and take a closer look at the ECS BAT-MINI 2 motherboard that is the heart and soul of the LIVA X mini PC.