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ECS Liva Q Review

ECS Liva Q Review

ECS Liva Q review 02The ECS LIVA Q is the smallest computer that we’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s one of thesmallest PCs on the planet. And that’s not being hyperbolic – it really is tiny. The ECS LIVA Q weighs just 260g and is 33mm tall – so, no bigger than a box of matches. So, what sort of power do you get in a PC that you can fit in your pocket, and is it worth its £197/$250 price? Read our ECS LIVA Q review to find out more.

ECS LIVA Q Review – Design

We can’t overstate how small this PC is. Its weight of 260g means that it’s lighter than a can of drink, a sandwich or your PC’s keyboard. Its 33mm height makes it narrower than many gaming laptops, and it’s only 70mm wide and deep. It’s no exaggeration to say that your PC’s mouse will take up more space than the PC itself.

It is a ridiculously small computer.

Smart design bolsters the absurd dimensions. The top has the LIVA logo, and the entire machine is finished in two contrasting gunmetal tones. The edges are curved,the design is simple and slick, and the screws at the bottom have a rubber top so they can function as feet, too.

ECS Liva Q review 10A narrow row of slats runs around the machine, just below the lid, and at the rear of the machine those slats extend half-way down the LIVA’s chassis. That’s because the top portion of the ECS LIVA Q functions as this machine’s heatsink, and those slats are needed to help remove hot air from this entirely passive PC.

The system’s internals are connected to the top of the machine. The whole system lowers into the base, with screws coming up from the bottom to seal theLIVA Q together.

The LIVA Q’s impossibly small design is made possible by stacking its components onto two circuit boards rather than a single motherboard.

The board nearest to the top of the case has the processor and the memory. A couple of pads of heat-dissipating material sit on top of those in order to deal with the heat. The lower of the two circuit boards features the storage, the dual-band 802.11ac wireless controller and the system’s ports, along with the BIOS chip.

ECS Liva Q review 07It’s a remarkable bit of design. However, the LIVA Q’s absurdly tiny dimensions mean that the ECS machine does have a lot of limitations. The most obvious restriction on the outside is the selection of ports. On the front you’ve got a USB 3.1 and a USB 2 port. At the back, a Gigabit Ethernet connector and an HDMI output. On one side there’s a microSD card slot. And that’s it.

Bear the limitations in mind, though, and there’s a tremendous about that can be done with the minute ECS LIVA Q.

A VESA 100mm and 75mm mount is included in the box, so the LIVA Q could be attached to the back of any compatible monitor or TV. The LIVA Q could also be deployed in living rooms, cars and kitchens – wherever you’ve got a space large enough for this PC, in theory.

Click here to check out Zotac’s latest tiny PCs!

ECS LIVA Q Review – Components

Don’t expect the ECS LIVA Q to deliver stonking benchmark speed. Because this PC is tiny, the components inside are extremely modest.

ECS Liva Q review 05The machine we’ve reviewed has an Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor. It uses the entry-level Goldmont Plus architecture. It’s a full system-on-a-chip design – so everything the machine needs is on one bit of silicon that’s soldered to the LIVA’s circuit board.

The chip has a tiny 6W TDP and a correspondingly modest specification. It has four cores but no Hyper-Threading, which limits its multi-tasking ability. You won’t get much speed from this chip, either: its low stock pace of 1.1GHz uses Turbo to hit a peak of 2.7GHz.

4GB of memory and a 64GB eMMC storage drive accompany the chip. Graphics ability comes from an Intel HD Graphics 605 core. It’s a mid-range option from Intel’s embedded range, and it chunters along at clock speeds between 200MHz and 750MHz. It has eighteen processing units.

There’s no real competition between the LIVA Q’s hardware and the components you’ll find inside modest laptops and desktops. Those chips have full desktop architectures, more powerful cores with Hyper-Threading and much better clock speeds. Similarly, every desktop and mobile processor will have a better graphics chip.

The low-end hardware means that this PC is only capable of handling very basic tasks. It’ll handle web browsing and less intensive web apps, and it’ll run word processing and spreadsheet applications. It’ll cope with music and video playback, movies,and less demanding media server duties.

ECS Liva Q review 06It won’t be able to tackle tricky multi-tasking, tougher online tools or more intensive work applications. As long as you’re aware of that before taking the plunge,that’s fine.

The LIVA Q isn’t just available with the Pentium Silver N5000 processor. Pentium N4200 and Celeron N3350 models are also available. The Pentium N4200 is older and weaker than the N5000. The Celeron N3350 is weaker, too, with an older graphics chip and only two cores.

However, all three chips will be capable of handling the same basic operations. We’d also recommend that you look for both LIVA Q and LIVA Q2 machines – they have different names but their specifications are all very similar.

None of these machines come with an OS, which goes some of the way to explaining the low price.

The ECS LIVA Q is a unique machine with a host of interesting potential uses. However, it’s always worth seeing what else you could get if you spend its £197/$250 price elsewhere. You’ll certainly be able to find laptops with similar specifications – and, of course, those machines will have screens, keyboards and batteries, too.

Interested in an AMD Ryzen build? Check out our in-depth guide to AMD AM4 motherboards – and our top recommendations for every budget and form factor!

ECS LIVA Q Review – Performance

The low-end specification means that the machine in our ECS LIVA Q review doesn’t exactly impress in benchmarks.

ECS Liva Q review 04In Geekbench’s single- and multi-core tests the ECS returned scores of 1,979 points and 3,679 points.

That former result is just under half as quick as the Core i7-8750H, which is a laptop part that’s used in many machines at the moment. The Pentium is still more than 1,000 points behind first-generation Ryzen chips in this single-threaded test.

That single-threaded score is not awful. Most high-end and mid-range mobile and desktop chips now score in the same sort of range in the Geekbench test –because single-threaded speed is less volatile than multi-threaded ability. And, while the ECS LIVA Q’s pace is undoubtedly slower than anything else we’ve tested, it’s not ruinous. There’s enough ability here to handle web browsing, word processing and other tasks where single-threaded speed is important.

Sadly, the LIVA Q’s multi-core Geekbench result of 3,679 is more disappointing. That’snot a surprise because the Pentium Silver N5000 chip only has four cores and no Hyper-Threading. The LIVA Q’s result is several times slower than anything else here. In fact, the last machine we reviewed to score less than 10,000 points in this test was the PC Specialist Vanquish Striker Zen. That machine was an affordable gaming desktop with a low-end,first-generation AMD Ryzen 3 1200 chip – and it still scored 9,887 points.

The LIVA Q’s low multi-core result means that it will only be able to handle modest multi-tasking. If you want to ruin more complex applications then you’ll have to look elsewhere.

ECS Liva Q review 13Don’t expect any gaming ability from this machine, either. The LIVA Q’s 3D Mark Fire Strike score of 401 points is around 600 points behind Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 620 core. And, not surprisingly, it’s many times slower than even modest discrete GPUs.

The LIVA Q will run media duties and the market’s least demanding casual games – but that’s it.

Click here to read the latest tech headlines – perfect for staying informed!

ECS LIVA Q Review – Conclusion

Our ECS LIVA Q review shows that this machine is not fast, then, but it makes up for its understandable lack of speed in other areas.

It’s the smallest PC that we’ve ever seen. It may well be the smallest PC in the world. It’s an incredible piece of design, with silent operation and the components divided between two tiny circuit boards. The ECS LIVA Q looks excellent, and it comes with a VESA mount. That makes it incredibly versatile, because it’ll fit into so many spaces where other systems just wouldn’t reach.

It’s only got enough power to basic media, server or computing duties, but that will be enough for many people, especially when many buyers will want to jam a PC into a tiny gap to fulfil a more static and reliable role.

The price of £197/$250 certainly reflects the computing abilities of the ECS LIVA Q – but that’s not the point of this machine. It’s odd and restrictive in some ways, but fantastic in others – and so, if you’re looking for a unique and tiny PC, it doesn’t get better than this.

The ECS LIVA Q costs £197 in the UK and $250 in the US.  Discuss our ECS LIVA Q review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading the ECS LIVA Q review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The GoodRecommended Award

  • Impossibly tiny
  • Solid, clever design
  • Relatively affordable

The Bad

  • Very slow in benchmarks
  • No real upgrade potential
  • So small you might lose it

The Specs
CPU: 1.1GHz Pentium Silver N5000
Memory: 4GB DDR4
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 605
Storage: 64GB eMMC SSD
Dimensions: 70 x 70 x 31mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 260g

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
ECS Liva Q

About Author

Mike Jennings

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