Setting a new bar for small form factor PCs, ECS launched the Liva earlier this year, making comparable machines look oversized and overpriced. Weighing only 190g and measuring 118mm wide, 56mm tall and 70mm deep (0.46L volume), the Liva starts at a rather affordable $165.
Packing an Intel Bay Trail-M SoC, 2GB of DDR3L RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage, the system supports 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth along with USB 3.0. Display connectivity, HDMI and VGA (which can be used simultaneously for dual monitors).
Since its debut, ECS has updated the Liva with a 64GB option and now offers a white case (in addition to black). Although ECS has doubled the storage, we have only seen a mild price increase with the 64GB version currently selling for just $185.
On top of being inexpensive and compact, the Liva is efficient -- so much so that it can be powered by a USB power bank, as in the kind used to charge your smartphone or tablet in an emergency situation. Impractical maybe, but impressive nonetheless.
The machine's low power consumption has also allowed ECS to employ a fanless design that is said to let the Liva run in total silence while still being quick enough to deliver smooth 1080p playback -- precisely the sort of claim that grabs folks' attention.
Design & Features
The ECS Liva comes in a small box and inside is an even smaller computer. Oddly, the PC comes disassembled in the box, and while the build process is very basic, we are left wondering why the user must build the PC at all? The only possible addition the user can make is the operating system, as Liva doesn't come with one.
We will get to the assembly process soon. For now let's talk about the design and some of the features.
As we mentioned earlier Liva measures 118mm wide, 56mm tall and 70mm deep and weighs just 190 grams. Being as it is such a small PC there isn't a lot ECS could do with the design to make it more appealing. Moreover, the primary objective here is price, the lower the better.
Therefore ECS has gone with an all-plastic two-piece chassis that is now available in white as well as black. Both versions have an orange Liva logo on the front as well as a small rectangular power button with LED status indicator and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Actually this is a 3.5mm combo jack that supports both headphones and a mic, similar to the jack found on many tablets and smartphones. The only problem is ECS doesn't include the adapter to separate them, so you'll have to buy one yourself.
The top, bottom, left and right sides all feature ventilation as moving air through this small PC is crucial given its passive design.
Underneath there are four feet that raise the chassis roughly 10mm off the ground. Although the feet cannot be removed, without them the unit would measure just 46mm tall.
Around the back we have the DC input which is a micro-USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port, Gigabit LAN, HDMI and VGA. The USB ports are stacked very close to the DC input and HDMI port which will make using larger thumb drives difficult. That being the case, we would have preferred the USB 3.0 port to be mounted at the front of the case.
Complementing the network support is an internal WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n plus Bluetooth 4.0 card which uses the M.2 interface.