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ECS LIVA Z Plus Review

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Category: Prebuilts, Small Form Factor
Price: $400-600
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ECS LIVA Z Plus (7300U) Introduction:

Today we take a look at the ECS LIVA Z Plus which pushes the boundaries and definition of what Ultra-Compact means for the consumer in 2017. Right on the heels of my last review covering the newest iterations of the LIVA series, comes the Z Plus model which packs a punch for a device no wider than a Compact-Disc. The LIVA Z Plus comes in a variety of configurations that either comes with Windows 10 pre-installed or as a barebones unit giving the buyer the option to install any OS they choose. With everything all said and done, ECS has provided me with the i5 7300U version for review, so let's get to it.

 

ECS LIVA Z Plus (7300U) Video Review:

Below is a direct video link to our Overclockersclub YouTube Channel. If you are like me and don't always have time to read on the go, I have you covered. The video review talks about everything in this article. If you still need a refresher on the topic in more detail you can always read the full review at a later time. As always, video reviews are still fairly new and we are always trying to improve, so please leave a comment to help us make our videos better and help the community grow!

 

ECS LIVA Z Plus (7300U) Closer Look:

So here it is, back to the ECS LIVA Z, specifically the Plus model as indicated in the bottom left. The box itself is what you come to expect from any company; a picture and a bit of information on the side. Once the slip cover is removed and the box is opened it is apparent how small the actual device is. That is considering the rest of the box houses the power brick and wires. Not much more to talk about, ECS did its job of keeping the device secure to avoid damages in shipping. Not that much could happen, but it still nice to see they put the effort into it.

 

 

Moving on to the exterior you can see from the pictures that ECS has included the major types of ports found on computers today. Similar to the LIVA Z, the Plus has the same layout externally, and subsequently internally (mostly). It saves time and money to only have to drop in a different PCB board or SoC CPU, memory, and SSD. That being said, if you do not like the layout or see a potential problem for your particular setup, then move on to a different brand. ECS may be the first to the market using the newest Intel technology, but will not be the only ones by the end of this year.

Once past this discrepancy I can talk about the many connections themselves. The front consists of three USB 3.0 Gen1 Type-A Ports and a USB-C port with transfer rates up to 5 Gbit/s. Similar to the LIVA Z, these are not USB 3.1 Gen2. It gets even more complicated by the fact that USB names have changed over time. Whereas it used to be called USB 3.0 with SuperSpeed USB transfer rate, now it is named USB 3.1 Gen 1. It is important to understand the difference, because Gen 2 supports 10 Gbit/s which is known for USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, and USB 3.1 (Gen 2). This unit only has a standard USB port in C-Port form, not the ultra highspeed 10 Gbit/s ports. Whether it is named USB 3.0 or 3.1, if it claims to have transfer speeds of 5 Gbit/s then it falls under the 3.1 Gen1 category. This isn't a bad thing and I don't blame ECS for this, but it is getting harder to distinguish between names that do in fact use the same underlying data protocols.

 

Flipping the unit around to the backside it gets less complicated, but stranger at the same time. The Plus model shares many of the same issues I identified in the review of the LIVA Z. I'm still not sure why ECS included two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back without having any USB ports. I believe the intent of the ECS R&D team was for the user to take of advantage of the built-in Bluetooth support for Mouse and Keyboard. At the same time, it would have been really nice to include at least one USB port on the back for those that don't have that kind of setup.

 

For size comparison I put a Blu-Ray on top of the unit to showcase the sheer technological marvel of being able to cram an entire computer into a small form factor like this. The LIVA Z Plus is 2" tall (33mm) and roughly 4" wide (117mm) for those who like raw numbers more than pictures. The specifications page covers everything in detail, but I'll cover the basics. ECS made opening and upgrading it as easy as possible. It just takes four Philips head screws to remove the bottom cover. Once inside, you can see the WiFi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.0 card which is hidden below a M.2 2242 slot. On the other side are two slots for laptop memory. This particular model uses DDR4 memory. Finally, below the memory slots are mini SATA and Comms ports, neither of which is used on this unit.

Unlike the LIVA Z base model, the Plus does not include any eMMC memory, but instead populates the M.2 slot with multiple configurations. The unit I received came with a 128GB M.2 SSD. CystalMarks speed test provided insight into the type of performance to expect. Speeds were very reasonable, topping out around 500MB/s for sequential read and 200MB/s for write. It closely resembles most modern SSD with ACHI in M.2 or 2.5" form factor. Having an NVME M.2 drive would be impractical for this type of device.

 

 

Last up is the VESA mounting plate, which is a nice bonus ECS has included with its' LIVA Z Plus. For those who are new to mounting TVs, VESA mounts are essential for any display if you want it off the stand. It has four screws that go through the mounting plate and into the monitor. I don't have much more to say about this because it's straight forward. However, the wire situation I talked about earlier becomes a factor here. It will become an ugly mess unless you have an attack plan ahead of time. I suggest Bluetooth Keyboard / Mouse and Wi-Fi to avoid filling up all the ports with unnecessarily long wires hanging off the back.

 




  1. ECS LIVA Z Plus (7300U): Introduction & Closer Look
  2. ECS LIVA Z Plus (7300U): Specifications
  3. ECS LIVA Z Plus (7300U): Testing & Conclusion
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