When the ECS LIVA Windows Based Mini PC Kit came out in the summer of 2014 it was a pretty nifty little system that ran pretty good considering it only cost $135. Without breaking the bank you could purchase an ECS LIVA, assemble the included hardware and then put on the Windows copy that you wanted to run. It came with everything you needed to get up and running out of the box when it came to hardware, but the initial reviews and consumer feedback was that people wanted the units to be fully assembled and more powerful. ECS heard the feedback and answered with the ECS LIVA X 64GB Mini PC Kit just a few months later that was a larger, fully assembled system that just needed the OS installed. The ECS LIVA and LIVA X models are powered by the 22nm Intel Bay Trail-M SoC, which was a decent part when it came out, but those processors have been succeeded by the Intel 14nm Braswell SoC. Braswell is basically Bay Trail’s die shrink and has some new features sprinkled in along with improved efficiency, better thermals and much better graphics thanks to the inclusion of Intel Generation 8 graphics technology. The ECS LIVA series aren’t very powerful systems, so we are glad to see that ECS is staying current and putting Intel Braswell N3050 SoC’s into the latest LIVA system, the ECS LIVA X2.
ECS has two different LIVA X2 models to choose from and then you have the ability to get it with or without Windows 8.1 w/ Bing pre-installed. This is the first time that ECS has offered a LIVA series PC that is fully assembled and with Windows already installed. If you choose a model without Windows 8.1 installed please keep in mind that only Windows 8/8.1/10 can be installed on the eMMC storage device due to driver limitations, but Windows 7/8/8.1/10 can be installed to the optional M.2 storage drive if you add one to the system.
All of the LIVA X2 models feature an the Intel Celeron Processor N3050, a 14nm dual-core Braswell SoC with 2 MB of L2 cache, a 2.16 GHz top speed (processor base frequency is 1.6 GHz) and a 6 Watt TDP rating. The Intel HD Graphics inside the processor has 12 execution units that can range in frequency from 320 MHz to 600 MHz.
It should also be noted that while some of the models have Windows 8.1 w/ Bing installed you can update them to Windows 10. When you first setup the Windows 8.1 w/ Bing installation and perform an update check, you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free and Windows 10 is fully supported on the LIVA X2
The model that we were sent to review was the ECS LIVA X2 2GB/32GB Win 8.1 Bing Desktop model that runs $209.99 shipped. We are a bit skeptical about how a dual-core system will run with just 2GB of memory these days, but we’ll have to see how it performs in the benchmarks.
Inside the retail packaging you’ll find the LIVA X2, power brick, VESA Mount w/ screws, quick installation guide (not pictured), user guide and finally the driver disk (not pictured). 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 X2 you have the power button, LED activity light and three USB 3.0 ports. The port on the far right has EZ Charger technology that allows you to charge mobile devices witht he system powered off. The overall dimensions for the LIVA X2 are 156 x 83 x 51 mm, so the white PC with a stylish chrome accent ring is fairly tiny. If you looked closely at the image above you might have noticed two small holes on the front of the enclosure. One is located directly below the power button and the other is located below the farthest to the right USB 3.0 port. These are the embedded microphones that allow the LIVA X2 to be operated by voice control with Cortana if you are using Windows 10 on this system.
On the back of the LIVA X2 you’ll find the 12V DC_IN port, HDMI port, Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit Fast Ethernet port, Realtek ALC283 3.5mm combo audio jack (Line Out & Mic In w/ optional adapter) and finally the VGA/D-Sub port. You also have the ability to run 5.1/7.1 audio over the HDMI port if you like, so there are a couple ways you can do audio on this system. Please not that due to hardware limitations the audio combo jacks microphone is only compatible with Apple iPhones.
You can run two displays off the LIVA X if you wanted to, but chances are most won’t with the HDMI/VGA (D-Sub) output configuration that comes on the LIVA X2. Many of the readers here on LR will likely never use the VGA header, but there are many PC around the world that still have VGA displays and this is a direct replacement for those machines. ECS also noted that a DVI connector wouldn’t fit with the PCB layout design they used for this system and it would have added to the production costs.
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 X2. The part number on the adapter is WA-36A12 and is the same power adapter that was used on the older LIVA X series.
Air ventilation holes are located on both sides with one also having a Kensington lock for those that want to make sure no one walks off with their PC. On the bottom of the LIVA X2 there are four Philips screws that can be removed and replaced with the standoffs for the VESA mounting bracket. They are also the screws that need to be removed if you need to get inside the system to install a M.2 SSD into the storage slot. 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 BSW-MINI motherboard that is the heart and soul of the LIVA X2 mini PC.