Introduction and First Impressions
The LIVA family of mini PCs has been refreshed regularly since its introduction in 2014, and the LIVA Z represents a change to sleek industrial design as well as the expected updates to the internal hardware.
The LIVA Z we have for review today is powered by an Intel Apollo Lake SoC, and the product family includes SKUs with both Celeron and Pentium processors. Our review unit is the entry-level model with a Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB memory, and 32GB storage. Memory and storage support are improved compared to past LIVAs, as this is really more of a mini-PC kit like an Intel NUC, as the LIVA Z includes an M.2 slot (SATA 6.0 Gbps) for storage expansion, and a pair of SODIMM slots support up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory (a single 4GB SODIMM is installed by default).
The LIVA Z is a very small device, just a bit bigger than your typical set-top streaming box, and like all LIVAs it is fanless; making it totally silent in operation. This is important for many people in applications such as media consumption in a living room, and like previous LIVA models the Z includes a VESA mount for installation on the back of a TV or monitor. So how does it perform? We will find out!
Subject: Systems | May 30, 2017 - 02:18 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: zotac, PC, mini-itx, MEK, kaby lake, Intel Core i7, GTX 1080 Mini, GTX 1080, gaming, computex 2017, computex, computer
ZOTAC has introduces a new gaming brand at Computex, and along with it their first gaming PC. Have no fear, however, this gaming machine is quite compact from the mini-PC maker, as it is built around a mini-ITX motherboard and compact GPU.
"ZOTAC Gaming’s first gaming product, MEK Gaming PC, debuts at Computex Taipei. Built for gaming enthusiasts, it is powered by a ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 1080 Mini, 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a low-profile CPU Cooler to deliver overwhelming performance for high-end gaming and premium entertainment. With a futuristic design, MEK marks the beginning of gaming products for a new brand, ZOTAC Gaming, focused on gaming products fit for all who Live to Game."
The GPU might be based on a smaller than the average PCB, but you are getting a full NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 courtesy of ZOTAC's own GTX 1080 Mini graphics card, which is just 8.3 inches long (and "the world's smallest GeForce GTX 1080," according to ZOTAC).
Other than the above quoted 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor we don't have much information on the specifications for the upcoming MEK Gaming PC, but the images of the enclosure paint a promising picture for small form-factor gaming enthusiasts as it appears to be quite compact.
Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 08:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zotac, zbox
Zotac is announcing two new additions to their line of mini PCs: the ZBOX Pico PI225 and the ZBOX Pico PI335. There’s not a whole lot of information about specifications and other details, but they are both passively cooled.
The smaller PI225
The main difference between the two that one is smaller, but the other has more video connectivity. The ZBOX Pico PI225 is listed as the thinnest ZBOX that has ever been made, and it is capable of powering a single display at up to 4K resolution. Judging by the photos, it looks about SSD sized. The ZBOX Pico PI335 is bigger, but it has the ability to power two displays at up to 4K resolution.
The larger PI335, view of ports
(not visible, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x DC Power on other side)
Zotac has not yet released pricing or availability info.
Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: RX 570, kaby lake, Intel, dell, AIO, amd
Dell has refreshed their XPS 27 All-in-one with two new models. Both of these have their GPU upgraded to the AMD RX 570 and their CPU refreshed to the Core i7-7700, which Dell highlights for its VR readiness. The difference between the two is that the lower-end model, $1999.99 USD, has a non-touch screen and a 2TB hard drive backed by 32GB of M.2 SATA SSD cache; the higher-end model, $2649.99 USD, has a touch screen and a 512GB, PCIe SSD, which makes it a quarter of the storage, but much faster. Both are loaded with 16GB of RAM, but they can be configured up to 64GB.
About two weeks ago, Kyle Wiggers of Digital Trends had some hands-on time with the refreshed all-in-one. He liked the vibrant, 4K panel that was apparently calibrated to AdobeRGB (although I can’t find any listing for how much it covers). The purpose of that color space is to overlap with both non-HDR video and with the gamut of commercial printers, which is useful for multiple types of publishers.
The Dell XPS 27 All-in-one is available now.
What have we here?
The latest iteration of the Apple MacBook Pro has been a polarizing topic to both Mac and PC enthusiasts. Replacing the aging Retina MacBook Pro introduced in 2012, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar introduced late last year offered some radical design changes. After much debate (and a good Open Box deal), I decided to pick up one of these MacBooks to see if it could replace my 11" MacBook Air from 2013, which was certainly starting to show it's age.
I'm sure that a lot of our readers, even if they aren't Mac users, are familiar with some of the major changes the Apple made with this new MacBook Pro. One of the biggest changes comes when you take a look at the available connectivity on the machine. Gone are the ports you might expect like USB type-A, HDMI, and Mini DisplayPort. These ports have been replaced with 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a single 3.5mm headphone jack.
While it seems like USB-C (which is compatible with Thunderbolt 3) is eventually posed to take over the peripheral market, there are obvious issues with replacing all of the connectivity on a machine aimed at professionals with type-c connectors. Currently, type-c devices are few and are between, meaning you will have to rely on a series of dongles to connect the devices you already own.
I will say however, that it ultimately hasn't been that much of an issue for me so far in the limited time that I've owned this MacBook. In order to evaluate how bad the dongle issue was, I only purchased a single, simple adapter with my MacBook which provided me with a Type-A USB port and a pass-through Type-C port for charging.
Subject: Systems | May 12, 2017 - 03:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: system guide
2017 has been a good year for system guides as we finally have new hardware with a compelling reason to upgrade. AMD now has new processors and the refreshed Polaris cards may tempt those who have a GPU several generations out of date. NVIDIA released a graphics card which will tempt those who want the best and the SSD market continues to grow exponentially.
The Tech Report have updated their build recommendations for May and you can check out their new builds right here. The recommendations span budgets from around $500 to $5000 so almost everyone is included.
"AMD's Ryzen 5 CPUs are shaking up the midrange CPU market, and we're here to help builders navigate this unfamiliar terrain with the latest edition of our System Guide. We also account for the introduction of AMD's Radeon RX 500-series graphics cards."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Corsair One Pro @ Kitguru
- ECS LIVA Z Plus Review @ OCC
- Overclockers UK Titan Katana System @ Kitguru
- Fierce PC Blackfire Hammerhead @ Kitguru
Subject: Systems | May 3, 2017 - 04:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pro, prebuilt system, ONE, GTX 1080, force LE, Corsair Link, corsair, 7700k
You have already seen Ken's review of the Corsair One Pro, but there was something he didn't have the guts to do; rip it open and expose its innards. The Tech Report were not that squeamish and risked cracking open the machine to see what the layout inside was. The news is good and bad, the components are squeezed into an impressively small space and the layout is very effective at cooling in such a confined space. However it is not easy to swap out components, the watercooling hoses are so short the case cannot be fully opened without disconnecting them and while you could add in an M.2 drive, you need to completely remove the GPU to get at it. Drop by to take a look at the titillating pictures and see what The Tech Report thought of this compact gaming powerhouse.
"Corsair's One Pro promises full-fat desktop performance from a system much smaller than most off-the-rack Mini-ITX PCs. We turned up the heat on the One Pro to see whether Corsair's liquid-cooling know-how can really shrink full-size desktop performance into a 13-liter package."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Dragon Flair Inferno GR4 (i7 7700K/ GTX1080) System @ Kitguru
- ECS LIVA Z @ techPowerUp
- MSI WS63 7RK Mobile Workstation (Nvidia Quadro P3000 6GB) @ Kitguru
Despite its surprise launch a few weeks ago, the Corsair ONE feels like it was inevitable. Corsair's steady expansion from RAM modules to power supplies, cases, SSDs, CPU coolers, co-branded video cards, and most recently barebones systems pointed to an eventual complete Corsair system. However, what we did not expect was the form it would take.
Did Corsair hit it out of the park on their first foray into prebuilt systems, or do they still have some work to do?
It's a bit difficult to get an idea of the scale of the Corsair ONE. Even the joke of "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" doesn't quite work here with the impressively breadbox-size and shape.
Essentially, when you don't take the fins on the top and the bottom into account, the Corsair ONE is as tall as a full-size graphics card — such as the GeForce GTX 1080 — and that's no coincidence.
|Corsair ONE Pro (configuration as reviewed)|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7700K (Kaby Lake)|
|Graphics||NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080 Watercooled|
|Motherboard||Custom MSI Z270 Mini-ITX|
|Storage||960 GB Corsair Force LE|
|Power Supply||Corsair SF400 80+ Gold SFX|
|Wireless||Intel 8265 802.11ac + BT 4.2 (Dual Band, 2x2)|
|Connections||1 X USB 3.1 GEN2 TYPE C
3 X USB 3.1 GEN1 TYPE A
2 X USB 2.0 TYPE A
1 X PS/2 Port
1 X HDMI 2.0
2 X DisplayPort
1 X S/PDIF
|Dimensions||7.87 x 6.93 x 14.96 inches (20 x 17.6 x 38 cm)
15.87 lbs. (7.2 kg)
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Price||$2299.99 - Corsair.com|
Taking a look at the full specifcations, we see all the components for a capable gaming PC. In addition to the afforementioned GTX 1080, you'll find Intel's flagship Core i7-7700K, a Mini ITX Z270 motherboard produced by MSI, a 960GB SSD, and 16GB of DDR4 memory.
Subject: Systems | April 19, 2017 - 08:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tinker board, iot, asus
The ASUS Tinker Board is a full system in a tiny form factor, similar to Raspberry Pi or Arduino's products to name a few competitors in the now busy market. At its heart is the Rockchip RK3288, four ARM Cortex-A17 CPU cores running at 1.8GHz with a Mali-T764 GPU at 600MHz. They are available now for slightly more than the announced $54.99 and will run a Debian based OS called ASUS TinkerOS.
Inside are an array of options for add-ins, including a 40-pin GPIO header, a 15-pin MIPI DSI and a15-pin MIPI CSI as well as a2-pin contact point for PWM or S/PDIF signals. Externally you will have four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack to give you flexibility in how you utilize your Tinker Board. For connectivity there is a wired NIC as well as 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. You can read the full PR below.
Fremont, CA (April 19, 2017) -- ASUS, maker of the world’s best-selling, most award-winning motherboards, is excited to launch the ASUS Tinker Board in North America today. Imagine the freedom to make your ideas come alive, the ability to invent an IoT device for a connected home or just having fun creating an entertainment hub for the family or powering your DIY robot project at school. With Tinker Board, the possibilities to create personalized devices are endless. Tinker Board is a single-board computer (SBC), which makes it the ideal foundation for makers, hobbyists, educators, and electronic DIY enthusiasts to develop and build low-cost, great-performing computers.
Features & Functionality
ASUS Tinker Board offers class-leading performance, robust multimedia support, IoT connectivity, and enhanced DIY design and compatibility with a wide range of leading SBC chassis and accessories. The result is a near credit card sized computer that offers people the freedom to tinker and apply their ingenuity to create platforms for a wide variety of uses.
Key features of Tinker Board include:
- CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 SoC quad-core processor
- GPU: Mali-T764 GPU Video:
- HD/UHD video playback support – including H.264/H.265 decoding Audio: 192kHz/24-bit audio support
- Memory: 2GB of dual-channel LPDDR3
- Storage: Micro SD(TF) slot features SD 3.0 support
- Connectivity: Bluetooth° 4.0 + EDR and on-board 802.11b/g/n WiFi
- Networking: 1Gb Ethernet
- Ports: (4) USB2.0 ports, (1) HDMI 1.4 out port, (1) 3.5mm audio jack
- I/O Ports: (1) 40-pin GPIO interface header, (1) 15-pin MIPI DSI, (1) 15-pin MIPI CSI, (1) 2-pin contact point for PWM and S/PDIF signals
- Power: Suggested 5V/2A AC adaptor via the micro-USB port (power adaptor not included)
- OS: (Debian-based Linux) & Android Support
- Dimensions/Weight: 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm, 45g without included heatsink
Subject: Systems, Mobile | April 19, 2017 - 08:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: notebook, Lenovo, laptop, Flex 11, convertible, Chromebook, 2-in-1
Lenovo’s Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 convertible notebook design powered by a 2.1 GHz quad-core ARM processor and running Google’s Chrome OS. It features an 11.6-inch IPS multi-touch HD display, up to 10-hour battery life, and a weight under 3 lbs.
"Packing the fun of a tablet with the power punch of a PC, and designed with Android apps in mind, the Flex 11 is a 2-in-1 laptop optimized for entertainment and productivity. Its 360° hinge and 11.6" multi-touch display gives users the flexibility to shift between four dynamic modes (watch, tent, laptop, and tablet) for any combination of work and play activities."
Lenovo says the Flex 11's hardware is designed to be rugged, with drop and liquid spill resistance including a water-resistant keyboard (up to 1 cup) with “channels beneath the keyboard to drain liquid, keeping it away from sensitive electrical components”. In addition to Chrome apps the Flex 11 will support the Google Play store (Lenovo says this is "coming soon").
I/O includes USB 3.0, USB Type-C, HDMI, a mic/audio jack, and an SD card slot. As to pricing/availability, the Flex 11 Chromebook starts at $279 and will be available this month.