When Intel revealed their miniature PC platform in 2012, the new “Next Unit of Computing” (NUC) was a tiny motherboard with a custom case, and admittedly very little compute power. Well, maybe not so much with the admittedly: “The Intel NUC is an ultra-compact form factor PC measuring 4-inch by 4-inch. Anything your tower PC can do, the Intel NUC can do and in 4 inches of real estate.” That was taken from Intel’s NUC introduction, and though their assertion was perhaps a bit premature, technology does continue its rapid advance in the small form-factor space. We aren’t there yet by any means, but the fact that a mini-ITX computer can be built with the power of an ATX rig (limited to single-GPU, of course) suggests that it could happen for a mini-PC in the not so distant future.
With NUC the focus was clearly on efficiency over performance, and with very low power and noise there were practical applications for such a device to offset the marginal "desktop" performance. The viability of a NUC would definitely depend on the user and their particular needs, of course. If you could find a place for such a device (such as a living room) it may have been worth the cost, as the first of the NUC kits were fairly expensive (around $300 and up) and did not include storage or memory. These days a mini PC can be found starting as low as $100 or so, but most still do not include any memory or storage. They are tiny barebones PC kits after all, so adding components is to be expected...right?
It’s been a couple of years now, and the platform continues to evolve - and shrink to some startlingly small sizes. Of the Intel-powered micro PC kits on today’s market the LIVA from ECS manages to push the boundaries of this category in both directions. In addition to boasting a ridiculously small size - actually the smallest in the world according to ECS - the LIVA is also very affordable. It carries a list price of just $179 (though it can be found for less), and that includes onboard memory and storage. And this is truly a Windows PC platform, with full Windows 8.1 driver support from ECS (previous versions are not supported).
Subject: Motherboards | October 12, 2014 - 01:27 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z97, PCI-E 3.0, mini ITX, M.2, L337 Gaming, intel i218v, haswell, ECS
ECS recently introduced the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE under its L337 Gaming series. This new motherboard is aimed at gamers and overclockers looking to put together a high end small form factor system based around Intel’s Haswell processor and Z97 Express chipset.
The Z97I-DRONE is a mini ITX form factor board measuring 170mm x 170mm. It is based around the Intel Z97 Express chipset and supports Haswell processors. ECS has integrated several features aimed at gamers including Sound Blaster Cinema 2 audio, PCI-E 3.0, and an Intel I218V NIC. Beyond that, the Z97I-DRONE also incorporates high end power management hardware that enables overclocking. ECS uses what it calls “Hybrid Power” technology on the new mini ITX board which entails a 5-phase PWM to manage stable power delivery to the processor and memory, dual MOSFETs (which are reportedly 90% power efficient), Nichicon Japanese capacitors, and Icy Chokes which ECS states are more stable and produces 13% less heat versus ferrite chokes.
The internal layout is unique, with the internal headers, PCH, and five SATA III ports placed along the top half of the motherboard and the LGA 1150 socket sitting in the bottom right corner. The right edge of the board hosts two dual channel DDR3 memory slots that support a maximum of 16GB clocked at 3000+ MHz when overclocked. The power management “Hybrid Power” hardware sits to the left of the processor socket. A single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot sits on the bottom edge of the board. Further, Morry will be ecstatic to know that the CMOS battery is vertically mounted on the opposite side of the GPU slot and sits directly to the left of the M.2 slot above the processor socket (to the right of the southbridge). The board has internal headers for two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. ECS is using a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel audio codec to drive the audio outputs and an Intel I218V Gigabit LAN NIC for networking.
Rear IO on the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE consists of the following ports:
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 3 x Video Outputs
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 1 x RJ45 (Intel I218V)
- 6 x Audio Outputs
- 5 x Analog Audio
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but if you are interested in this board keep an eye on this ECS product page.
Also read: ECS 2014 Press Event: LIVE, LIVA, LEAD, L337 @ PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2014 - 01:59 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: windows 9, video, TSV, supernova, raptr, r9 390x, podcast, p3700, nvidia, Intel, idf, GTX 980, evga, ECS, ddr4, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #318 - 09/18/2014
Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980 and R9 390X Rumors, Storage News from IDF, ADATA SP610 SSDs and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:33:48
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Allyn: Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces goodness (updated features)
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 18, 2014 - 02:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: LIVA, ECS, case mods, case mod contest
ECS USA is holding a competition for North American users to design mods for the LIVA mini PC kit. The contest consists of three phases and round one, whose winners will advance to the second phase, ends on September 30th. If you want to enter in the contest, you will need to submit your first phase entry before then to be eligible for the second phase. Check out Morry's post for a second opinion.
What are the phases?
Round 1 (Ends September 30th): You will need to publish the "soft copy" of your design draft to Facebook. This will consist of six illustrations: Front, Rear, Left Side, Right Side, Top, and 45-degree 3D illustration. See the image below for an example. The top ten participants, based on Facebook likes, will be provided with a white LIVA mini PC kit to modify in Round 2.
Round 2 (Ends October 31st): The winners of Round 1 will, using the provided LIVA kits and your design draft, implement their customizations. Photographs of these modified cases will be sent to ECS (I assume by Facebook) for a team of judges to rank them first, second, third, or runner-up.
Round 3 (November 7th): Sit back, relax, and wait for the judges to select winners. The Champion will receive $1000 USD for their trouble, second place will get $500 USD, and third will get $300 USD. The honorable mentions will get various swags.
The contest is open to residents of the USA and Canada. Do it fast! It's less than two weeks and, as I understand it, the later you enter, the less time you will have to accumulate Facebook likes.
ECS hosted a press event in the third week of August to unveil its new product lineup and corporate direction. The press event, named "Live, Liva, Lead, L337", lays out the important aspects of the "new ECS" and its intended market direction. They introduced the LIVA mini computer with integrated 32GB and 64GB integrated SSDs, their Z97-based product line-up, and the North America LIVA design contest.
Their naming of the event was apropos to their renewed corporate vision with the first two terms, Live and LIVA, referencing their LIVA mini-PC platform. ECS developed the name LIVA by combining the words Live and Viva (Life in Spanish), signifying the LIVA line's aim at integrating itself into your daily routine and providing the ability to live a better life. Lead signifies ECS' desire to become a market leader in the Mini-PC space with their LIVA platform as well as become a more dominant player in the PC space. The last term, L337, is a reference to their L337 Gaming line of motherboards, a clear reminder of their Z97 offerings to be unveiled.
ECS seeks to consolidate its product lines, re-focusing its energy on what it excels at - offering quality products at reasonable prices. ECS seeks to leverage its corporate partnerships and design experience to build products equivalent to competitor lines at a much reduced cost to the end user. This renewed focus on quality and the end user led to a much revised Z97 board lineup in comparison to its Z87-based offerings. Additionally, their newly introduced mini-PC line, branded LIVA, seeks to offer a cheaper all-in-one alternative to the Intel NUC and GIGABYTE BRIX systems.
Subject: Systems | August 22, 2014 - 01:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, sale, LIVA, htpc, fanless, ECS
The ECS LIVA is currently on sale at NewEgg for $165 after instant rebate and you can knock another $33 of that price until August 31st with the code LIVADISC.
This tiny little machine contains a Bay Trail-M N2807 @ 1.58GHz, 2GB of DDR3L and 32GB eMMC storage with 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 thanks to the NGFF card installed in the M.2 slot. As you can see below it has both HDMI and D-Sub ports which can be used simultaneously and has onboard stereo audio thanks to the Realtek ALC282. It only draws 15W and is completely fanless, making it a perfect HTPC. You can get the full specs from ECS here.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ECS
The Z87H3-A3X is ECS' latest release in their L337 Gaming board line. Similar to the A2X Extreme board, ECS designed the Z87H3-A3X with a liberal amount of gold, from the gold plating on its capacitors to the gold tint on its integrated heat sinks. This board is a steal at it $119.99 MSRP with its Intel Z87 chipset and performance-oriented components.
Courtesy of ECS
ECS powers the Z87H3-A3X motherboard with a 6-phase digital power regulation system to ensure consistent power delivery to the CPU under all operating circumstances. The Z87H3-A3X includes the following integrated features: six SATA 6Gb/s ports and one eSATA port; an Intel GigE NIC; two PCI-Express x16 slots for up to dual-card support; four PCI-Express x1 slots; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support. The 80P button configures what information displays on the diagnostic display once the board has successfully initialized.
Courtesy of ECS
Courtesy of ECS
Being part of their L337 Gaming series boards, the Z87H3-A3X includes the Durathon power delivery solution and innovative cooling solution. The board's heat sinks are designed to enhance airflow over key components to aid in cooling, while the Durathon system incorporates enhanced power modules to maximum performance and minimize failure potential.
Courtesy of ECS
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ECS
ECS seems to like gold and catchy titles. Building on the reputation of their previous generation Z77-based Golden Board series, ECS designed the Z87-based Z87H3-A2X Extreme to dominate the competition. ECS liberally spread the gold, giving all capacitors and connection pins a nice 24k coating. They even include a small fan hidden under the upper VRM heat sink for active heat pipe cooling. At an MSRP of $239.99, ECS priced the Z87H3-A2X Extreme board to aggressively compete with other manufacturers' high end offerings.
Courtesy of ECS
ECS integrated a full 12 digital power phases into the board's CPU power regulation system for optimal stability and power delivery under the most demanding circumstances. The features designed into the Z87H3-A2X Extreme include: nine SATA 6Gb/s ports; mPCIe/mSATA port; dual Realtek GigE NICs; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; one PCI-Express x1 slot; one PCI slot; on-board power, reset, BIOS reset, Boot to BIOS, BIOS backup, 80P, and Quick-OC buttons; 3-digit diagnostic LED display; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support. The 80P button configures what information displays on the diagnostic display once the board has successfully initialized.
Courtesy of ECS
Courtesy of ECS
As part of their L337 Gaming series boards, ECS redesigned the power delivery and integrated cooling solutions for a better gaming experience. The Z87H3-A2X Extreme has the latest generation cooling technology encompassed in ECS' QoolTech V. Additionally, all VRM-related power components have been cherry picked by ECS for operationally longevity under extreme duress.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | July 5, 2013 - 03:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: elitegroup, ECS, H87, B85, H81
ECS has some great news for those who want to upgrade to Haswell but aren't able to afford one of the high end Z87 motherboards. They've announce three motherboards all designed with overclocking in mind. If you save a bit on the motherboard you can use those savings to pick up a faster 'K' model to put in your motherboard!
2013/7/5 Taipei, Taiwan – Now you don’t necessarily need K-Series CPU along with Z-Series chipset to experience the joy of overclocking. ECS recently announced that ECS motherboards with all Intel® 8 Series chipset, including H87, B85, and H81, have the CPU overclocking ability, giving non Z-Series motherboard users an additional benefit of CPU overclocking performance.
ECS has achieved the Non-Z Series CPU overclocking with H87, B85, and H81 motherboards by simply adjusting the CPU Ratio in BIOS setting, offering an extremely easy way of performing CPU overclocking. More importantly, H87, B85, and H81 CPU overclocking ability provides an affordable solution for all different levels of overclockers.
Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2013 - 02:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SoC, KBN-I, Kabini, ECS, A6-5200
ECS' new KBN-I board simply needs you to add some RAM and storage to become a fully functional computer. The integrated 2.0Ghz A6-5200 with its accompanying HD 8400 graphics are enough power for general computing duties and perhaps even newer titles if you turn the settings down somewhat. If you do plan on gaming there is a PCIe 3.0 16x slot for an expansion card, though you might be better served with a TV capture card instead of a graphics card.
19th Jun 2013, Taipei, Taiwan - Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) reveals its latest Mini-ITX motherboard family－KBN-I－featuring the world 1st Quad Core SoC (system-on-a-chip) processor with the newest “Jaguar” 28 nanometer architecture. The ECS KBN-I is integrated AMD Quad Core A6-5200 APU with AMD Radeon HD 8400 Graphics, support new generation DirectX 11.1 graphics, and offer 50% longer battery life performance. The ECS KBN-I with official Windows 8 WHCK certification (Windows Hardware Certification Kit) allows users to take full advantage of the touch browser and function-oriented design of Windows 8. The NM70-I is optimized for home, general computing productivity and multimedia applications.
Up to 25% More Power Efficiency
Designed to save space and energy, the ECS KBN-I is the ideal solution for small-form factor systems, with the AMD Kabini Quad Core SoC processor and maximum of 25W low power consumption. It improves a better power efficiency with up to 25% more power efficiency thru clock gating and unit redesign compared with current generation low power platform. Thanks to new generation design of increasing the amount of core, instructions per clock(IPC), and boost clock speed, the ECS KBN-I reducing energy usage by operating at lower frequencies when performance is not necessary. The ECS KBN-I also has 9W fanless Heat Sink design, full electrostatic discharge protection and 100% solid capacitors to maximize the reliability and longevity of your system.
Excellent Extension Support
Even with the mini-ITX size of the KBN-I, ECS has kept in mind the expansion needs of future-proof minded customers. The ECS KBN-I supports video and storage upgrades with 1 x PCI-E x16, 2 x SATA 6GB/s connections, 2 x USB 3.0 ports and 4 x USB 2.0 ports. For industrial applications, the KBN-I is equipped with Serial port output (COM). The Mini-PCIe slot is designed for laptops and other small-footprint computer systems and supports Mini-PCI card (one full-card and one half-card) for mini-Wireless, mini-TV tuner and so on. Moreover, users can enjoy high definition media as the KBN-I support HD 1080p output including HDMI and standard analog D-Sub VGA output. The NM70-I is bundled with additional software including Norton anti-virus, Muzee, Cyberlink Media Suite, and the ECS iEZ utility, which combines eBLU BIOS Live Update Utility, eDLU Drivers Live Update Utility and the eSF Smart Fan Utility.