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ECS LIVA ONE Review - A SFF PC with Muscle

By: Steven Bassiri | SFF PCs in Computer Systems | Posted: Feb 23, 2016 3:20 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: ECS

Here are key points about the LIVA ONE.

 

What's Hot

 

Speedy Yet Slim: The LIVA ONE is about a liter, NUC style devices range anywhere from half a liter to three-quarters a liter, and performance is about on par when we discuss the volumes of the devices.

 

The LIVA ONE's height is what makes it impressive. It's on par with the thinner NUC style devices. The LIVA ONE is slim enough to fit behind a TV, or, like ECS likes to advertise, in between books. The power of the device is also impressive, even with an Intel Core i3 and all of the supported features, ECS managed to build an ultra-slim Mini-ITX system. You can carry out any business or home task without much effort, with the exception of gaming.

 

 

Very Low Noise Operation: Since ECS isn't trying to shape the LIVA ONE like a cube, they were able to fit in a beefy heat sink and blower fan. The 35W i3-6100T isn't much of a match for this cooling solution, resulting is very low noise levels even with heavy load. You can place the LIVA ONE on your desk or behind your monitor, and it won't distract you.

 

Security is Strong: Many businesses these days utilize technologies such as BitLocker to help secure computers, and a Trust Platform Module makes that possible. The LIVA ONE might look like it's marketed towards home users, but it does have the right hardware for a business environment.

 

ECS uses a nuvoTon branded TPM module. While your data is digitally secured, there is still the possibility of sticky fingers finding their way into your computer. The LIVA ONE's Kensington Lock is not only securely attached to the aluminum chassis, but it also securely locks the only way in (the cover) when it is attached. I would say discretely getting at the internals of the LIVA ONE (especially the M.2 drive) is a challenge, especially when it is locked.

 

Even if you happen to get in, ECS has a case-open switch situated at the very top of the internals, it is very hard not to trip, and the UEFI won't stop screaming about it upon restart (there is a built-in buzzer speaker).

 

Extra Storage Option: A full sized 2.5" bay sits under the cover allowing for data expansion if needed. ECS also designed the unit so that installing an extra drive is simple and easy.

 

USB 3.1 Type-C with Type-A Capabilities: A few SFF PCs have come my way with USB Type-C ports, but they usually aren't USB 3.1 ports. Sometimes manufacturers will route USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 to a Type-C port. ECS added a USB 3.1 controller and added a Texas Instruments chip for proper fast charging. Don't have a Type-C device? No problem, ECS provides a Type-C to Type-A cable so you can plug in your normal Type-A USB devices.

 

What's Not

 

You still need an OS: The LIVA ONE is fully built on the hardware side, but you will still need to install the operating system (not included).

 

80GB is a bit low: 80GB might be enough for the OS and some programs, but many PCs require more than 80GB of storage. The price of the LIVA ONE isn't prohibitive, so you should take advantage of the 2.5" drive bay.

 

Wireless AC isn't the fastest: I have seen the same Realtek Wireless AC controller in much lower powered devices. Performance is decent, but I don't see the LIVA ONE on a strict power budget, so ECS could have used a higher power (and faster) Wireless AC solution.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

My first experience with an ECS SFF PC was with the LIVA X, and while it's a good value, it still had ways to go before I would consider it a good desktop replacement. The whole point of having a desktop is to increase productivity through faster processing power, larger screens, and expanded connectivity.

 

The LIVA ONE pretty much hits the nail on the head. The Intel Core i3 6100T might seem weak, but it's quite fast with Intel's latest Skylake microarchitecture and 3.2GHz clock speed. The LIVA ONE has enough RAM and fast enough storage to be considered an upgrade for the majority of desktop users.

 

One obvious downside of the LIVA ONE is that it cannot accept a graphics upgrade unless perhaps it is integrated onto a new CPU, but in many use scenarios this lack of a dedicated graphics adapter isn't such a big issue.

 

ecs-liva-one-review-sff-pc-muscle_68

 

I see the LIVA ONE as being quite good in a business setting. The price of the LIVA ONE is also competitive and because of the design, you won't have to replace the whole device if something happens to the CPU, memory, or storage. There are some competitors in the same price range with operating systems and similar specifications, but most of them have mechanical drives. If I needed slim and secure systems with enough power so my employees could not complain about waiting on their computer, I would probably pick the LIVA ONE for my business. LIVA ONE's feature set and slim form factor provide it the versatility to fit the role of a home, business, or discrete desktop.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance90%
Quality including Design and Build92%
General Features94%
Bundle and Packaging89%
Value for Money90%
Overall TweakTown Rating91%

The Bottom Line: The ECS LIVA ONE is a super slim mini-ITX based solid NUC-alternative SFF PC with the horsepower of a desktop at a reasonable price.

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