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ECS LIVA Z Review: Fanless Apollo Lake Mini PC

Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ECS

LIVA Z Internals and Expansion

Even though our LIVA arrived ready to go with a 4 GB SODIMM and the onboard eMMC available for an OS install, I wanted to open the LIVA Z up and add my own SSD. First things first: opening it up!

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This is a little more tricky than I expected, but it wasn’t too bad. In addition to screws securing the unit on the bottom, the case is secured with some plastic tabs. I carefully went around the perimeter to pop the tabs with a plastic spudger stick and was able to open it without incident.

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Inside we see a very small system board (115 x 111 mm, to be exact).

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At the top of the board there is an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 card in the lower expansion slot, which combines 1x1 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. The M.2 storage expansion slot is positioned above the wireless card, and compact 42 mm M.2 (SATA) SSDs are supported. Onboard storage comes via SanDisk's SDINADF4-32G (middle-right on the board), a 32GB eMMC solution that is actually rated for impressive performance compared to typical eMMC flash with up to 290 MB/s reads and up to 150 MB/s writes.

I went a bit further into the LIVA and fully removed the board, revealing the heatsink that will be keeping the Apollo Lake SoC cool; and this takes up pretty much the entireity of the upper portion of the LIVA Z's enclosure.

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Storage expansion is simple once the case is open, though options are limited to a pretty small number of 42 mm M.2 drives based on my Amazon/Newegg search experience.

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To this end I picked up a low-cost Transcend 64 GB drive on Amazon, and while the read/write speed capabilities of this particular drive are not very impressive (writes are quite a bit lower than the onboard eMMC, in fact), I wanted to compare the internal eMMC to something.

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June 5, 2017 | 09:38 AM - Posted by Mobile_Dom

Makes you wonder, if Windows 10 on ARM is done right (like it looks to be being) these low-end Intel chips will all but die off. to make this fanless it's severely gimped on both the thermal headroom of the CPU cores but also the GPU ones.

Plop in a quad-Core Cortex A73 based chip, or if you're lucky, an A75 one, designed from the ground up to be fanless and low power, and can emulate Win32 remarkably well, and will likely be cheaper than these Intel chips.

June 5, 2017 | 12:43 PM - Posted by CNote

Did you try the ethernet connections?

June 5, 2017 | 01:32 PM - Posted by Xebec

This could make a pretty nice pfsense router..

June 5, 2017 | 02:22 PM - Posted by H380

pfsensebox box exactly my thought. Any one have any idea on out of the box comparability with pfS?

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