Compact Comet Lake NUC Clone Cuts Corners

ECS is a well known OEM in computing circles, identified for constructing motherboards, computer systems, and industrial / embedded methods for different distributors. A few of their motherboards and small form-factor PCs are marketed below their very own model identify – for instance, their LIVA collection of ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) machines serves markets that aren’t straight addressed by the Intel NUCs. On the 2020 CES, the corporate launched the LIVA Z3 Plus and LIVA Z3E UCFF machines primarily based on the Comet Lake-U processors from Intel. The Z3 Plus has 4 variants – two primarily based on Core i7 processors and one every primarily based on the i5 and i3 SKUs. ECS sampled the pre-built Core i5-based LIVA Z3 Plus providing out there within the North American market to place via our analysis course of. This evaluate takes a take a look at the efficiency and worth proposition of the product towards the opposite selections available in the market.

ECS Liva vs Intel NUC

A resurgence within the small kind issue PC market has been seen in the previous few years, thanks in no small half to ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) and gaming methods. Intel’s NUC line-up has been ruling the roost, prompting ASUS, ASRock, ECS, GIGABYTE, and Zotac to introduce their very own ‘NUC clones’. The LIVA collection from ECS initially began off with the Atom-series CPUs in an try and create NUC net-tops. Through the years, the corporate has expanded to introduce fashions primarily based on the Core collection and in addition experimented with small form-factor variations to breathe recent air into the line-up.

In the direction of the tip of 2018, we had reviewed the LIVA Z2 and the Intel June Canyon NUC primarily based on a Gemini Lake processor with the Goldmont (Atom) structure. Quick ahead a few years, we now have the LIVA Z3 Plus going head-to-head towards the Intel Frost Canyon NUCs. Within the LIVA Z2 evaluate, we had famous the passively cooled nature of the ECS system as a giant differentiation over the comparative Intel NUC. Within the LIVA Z3 Plus, nonetheless, there’s a lot much less differentiation in comparison with the identical technology of Intel Frost Canyon NUCs. We could have extra dialogue on the comparability factors all through this evaluate.

ECS has 4 CPU variants of the LIVA Z3 Plus, however solely the i5 model is obtainable within the North American market. This SKU makes use of the Core i5-10210U processor and comes with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Disregarding the RAM and SSD, the LIVA Z3 Plus goes straight towards the NUC10i5FNK barebones within the UCFF market.

The LIVA Z3 Plus has dimensions of 117 x 128 X 35 mm in comparison with the NUC10i5FNK’s 117 x 112 x 38mm. The marginally bigger footprint with a smaller Z-height permits the LIVA to sport a smooth look and still have well-spaced out I/O ports. As is typical in machines with this form-factor, the Core i5-10210U comes soldered in the primary board. It’s a quad-core octa-threaded (4C/8T) processor with a nominal TDP of 15W, however able to working within the 10 – 25W vary.

The specs of our ECS LIVA Z3 Plus evaluate configuration are summarized within the desk under.

ECS LIVA Z3 Plus Specs
Processor Intel Core i5-10210U
Comet Lake-U, 4C/8T, 1.6 – 4.2GHz
14nm, 6MB L2+L3, 10-25W (15W)
Reminiscence Group Group DDR4-2666 SODIMM
19-19-19-43 @ 2666 MHz
1×4 GB
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
Disk Drive(s) kimtigo KT128GM28S3
(128 GB; M.2 SATA III 6Gbps)
(Silicon Movement SM2258XT Controller)
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
(2×2 802.11ax – 2400 Mbps)
1x Intel I219-LM Gigabit Ethernet Controller
1x Realtek RTL8111 Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Audio 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Able to 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Sort-A
1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Sort-C
Working System Retail unit is barebones, however we put in Home windows 10 Enterprise x64
Pricing (As configured) $556
Full Specs ECS LIVA Z3 Plus Specs

The ECS LIVA Z3 Plus package would not include any pre-installed OS, however the drivers may be downloaded from the ECS assist web site for the product. Along with the primary unit, the opposite elements of the bundle embody a 90 W (19V @ 4.74A) adapter, a US energy twine, and a VESA mount (together with the mandatory screws).

Comparative PC Configurations
Side ECS LIVA Z3 Plus
CPU Intel Core i5-10210U Intel Core i5-10210U
GPU Intel UHD Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
RAM Group Group DDR4-2666 SODIMM
19-19-19-43 @ 2666 MHz
1×4 GB
Group Group DDR4-2666 SODIMM
19-19-19-43 @ 2666 MHz
1×4 GB
Storage kimtigo KT128GM28S3
(128 GB; M.2 SATA III 6Gbps)
(Silicon Movement SM2258XT Controller)
kimtigo KT128GM28S3
(128 GB; M.2 SATA III 6Gbps)
(Silicon Movement SM2258XT Controller)
Wi-Fi Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
(2×2 802.11ax – 2400 Mbps)
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
(2×2 802.11ax – 2400 Mbps)
Worth (in USD, when constructed) $556 (as configured / No OS) $556 (as configured / No OS)

The desk above has an summary of the assorted methods that we’re evaluating the ECS LIVA Z3 Plus towards. Be aware that they might not belong to the identical market phase. The related configuration particulars of the machines are offered in order that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or towards the ECS LIVA Z3 Plus after we come to these sections.

Platform Fast Look

Intel’s Comet Lake-U processor has all kinds of IO configurations, and we begin withthe configuration used on the LIVA Z3 Plus board by ECS.

All of the 4 USB ports within the entrance panel are behind a single root hub, they usually all function at USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) speeds. One of many USB ports on this hub additionally connects to the WLAN card for Bluetooth performance. The i219-LM community port is straight from the processor, whereas the Realtek RTL8111 resolution interfaces utilizing a single PCIe lane. One other PCIe x1 lane is utilized by AX200 WLAN resolution. Because the M.2 slot is occupied by a SATA SSD, we wouldn’t have the main points of the PCIe lanes routed to it within the above configuration diagram.

Benchmarks and Efficiency

Within the the rest of this evaluate, we’ll first take a look at BAPCo’s SYSmark 25, adopted by numerous UL benchmarks and miscellaneous workloads. We additionally current some storage and networking efficiency numbers. An in depth take a look at the HTPC credentials of the system is adopted by testing of the ability consumption and thermal resolution.

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