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ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Review


ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Closer Look:

Mini computers have been getting more and more traction on the playing field in the last few years. People want to have a decent, but small form factor computer that they can plug into a television and play or stream HD media to. This offers a relaxing way to enjoy surfing the web and catching up on that movie you wanted to see. Lately, we have seen a number of small form factor computers being pumped out from Intel, Gigabyte, and more. Some have even been as small as a large thumb drive. ECS has long been a rival in the computing industry, putting out great products with an elegant twist. The ECS LIVA X2 is no different. It uses a sleek design that blends well with most theater settings and uses unobtrusive lighting to ensure it does not distract from your media experience.

The LIVA X2 is tiny compared to most small factor computers. Measuring in at 156mm long, 83mm deep, and 51mm tall, it can fit just about anywhere, even your car glovebox should you wish. The tiny design and the 12V/3A power plug design would allow for easy installation into your car, giving you a powerful media experience anywhere. The LIVA X2 is light, weighing in at only 590 grams, or about 1.3 pounds. The casing is made of a tough plastic with a metal bottom. The colors mimic a pearl white, giving it that elegant look for your living room. On the top is the LIVA logo in a chrome finish and the bottom has rubber feet to keep the LIVA in place, as well as mounting holes for a VESA mount.



Flipping around to the front of the LIVA X2, we can see the power button to the left and right next to it is the power LED that glows a soft white when in operation. On the right-hand side, there are three USB 3.0 ports that support up to 5Gbit/s for blazing fast transfers. The right most USB port, colored yellow, is also an EZ Charger USB port. The EZ Charger port allows charging of mobile devices up to 5V/2.2A even when the LIVA X2 is powered off. If you forget your power brick for your cell phone at home while traveling, have no fear, the LIVA X2 will rescue you. Right below the power button and the EZ Charger port are two small holes. These holes are for the built-in dual embedded microphones that are designed to be used with Windows 10 and Cortana. Now you can control your PC by just using your voice. On the back side, from left to right, we have the power port for the included power adapter, an HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, the combined audio jack, and a VGA D-Sub connector. The HDMI and VGA can be used at the same time allowing for dual displays. Lastly, on each side is a series of holes that help with the heat dissipation from the heat sink we will look at in a bit.



The bottom of the LIVA X2 comes off really easily with four small screws. Once the metal plate is removed, you get your first glimpse of the massive heat sink that keeps the Braswell SoC cool with no fan. Remove the four screws of the heat sink and you finally make it to the logic board for the ECS LIVA X2 that houses the brains of the operation. I can say it took me a bit to figure out how to get the board and the components out of the casing. I did remove the two screws on the VGA port as usual, but this thing did not want to budge, and I was afraid of breaking the board. After tinkering with a plastic spreader for a bit, I finally figured it out. First, remove the two wireless card cables and pull out from under the card. Next, at the front of the case there is the metal bar that holds the two microphones; using a plastic spreader, slide that bar up and out from the retention clips, being careful with the cables. Once that is free, you can use the spreader now to lift gently up the PCB from the sides, and it will slide out. To put back, just reverse the steps.



With the board out of the casing, we can get a better look at the small size and how efficient the components are laid out to minimize the surface area needed. Everything is laid out neatly, which allows for maximum cooling. The Braswell-M SoC chip is the Intel Celeron N3050 processor clocked at 1.6GHz with a burst speed of 2.16GHz. The Celeron N3050 is a dual-core processor that's not HyperThreaded, so you only get two logical cores total. It sports a 2MB L2 cache, 64-bit instruction sets, and was manufactured using a 14nm process. In addition to the CPU, there is an integrated Intel HD Graphics GPU running at 320MHz with a burst speed of 600MHz. The GPU supports DirectX, OpenGL, Clear Video HT, and Intel Wireless Display.

For power, the Braswell SoC has a TDP of six watts and an SDP of only four watts. Next to the processor is the built-in wireless card in a dedicated M.2 slot. The card is an AzureWave AW-CB209NF, which uses the Realtek RTL8821AE chipset that supports a combo wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0 pair that offers WiFi speeds up to 450Mbps. On the reverse side, there is a second M.2 port for installing an additional SSD drive with higher capacity and faster speeds. This is optional for Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, but required for installing Windows 7. With only 32GB on the eMMC on this model, it is recommended regardless of OS.




The LIVA X2 comes in two configurations. You can get it with either 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC storage, or the beefier 4GB of RAM and 64GB eMMC. For this review, we received the 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC storage combo. The memory that runs the LIVA X2 is made by SK Hynix and is model H5TC4G63AFR, which is a DDR3L chip that runs at 1.35V and has a clock speed 1600MHz with timings of 11-11-11-28. There are four total chips that have a size of 4Gbit or 0.5GB each, totaling to the 2GB of RAM in this system. Remember when choosing your system for purchase that the configuration you order is what you will have for the life of that product. There is no way to upgrade the RAM after purchase.

The eMMC that is soldered to the board for embedded storage is made by Toshiba, model number THGBMBG8D4KBAIR. This chip is a NAND flash memory chip that runs at 3.3V and has a write speed of 90MB per second with a read speed of 270MB per second sequential. Unlike the RAM, you are not limited to only the eMMC; you can opt to install an M.2 SATA drive as well, as we saw above with the second M.2 port. Finally, of interest we have a Realtek ALC283 chip near the VGA port that powers the built-in audio, including the embedded microphones.



To keep the Braswell-based Celeron N3050 SoC cool, ECS decided to go with a combination heat pipe and heat sink design. The heat pipe is a solid piece of copper that has two plates in the center for the SoC and the memory chips. Connected to the heat pipes is a huge, heavyweight piece of aluminum, which is where a good majority of the weight for the LIVA X2 comes from. The plate has ridges on the bottom side for better heat dissipation. The base of the PC is a thin piece of aluminum to help with the heat exchange and has holes all over it to help with the air flow to wisp away that hot air. This design of the plate and the holes in the casing means good airflow, even when mounted on the VESA plate.



Now that we have seen all the inner glory of the ECS LIVA X2, how about we switch the pace and look at the included OS and programs.

  1. ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Introduction & Closer Look
  2. ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Closer Look: Continued
  3. ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Closer Look: Programs & Utilities
  4. ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Closer Look: The BIOS
  5. ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Specifications & Features
  6. ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Testing: 3DMark, CrystalDiskMark, Gaming
  7. ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Conclusion
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