$219 mini PC is the best, cheapest way for developers to try Windows on ARM | GeekComparison

The ECS LIVA QC710 mini PC.
enlarge The ECS LIVA QC710 mini PC.


Developers interested in testing the ARM versions of Windows have not had much flexibility when it comes to testing hardware. At one end of the spectrum are $1,000-esque tablets like the Surface Pro X, which, especially for indie developers, are a lot of money to drop just to dabble in a new hardware ecosystem. And while you can technically running Windows 10 and 11 on a Raspberry Pi 4, performance even on a 4GB or 8GB Pi leaves a lot to be desired (it’s also not really allowed by Windows’ licensing restrictions).

But there is now a solution to this problem in the form of the ECS LIVA QC710, a modest Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Windows mini PC currently available on the Microsoft Store for a relatively reasonable $219. The box comes with the ARM version of Windows 10 Home and at 1.38 × 4.69 × 4.59 inches, it is comparable in size to a set-top box such as the Apple TV.

The low price is reflected in the specifications of the computer. It only packs 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB (presumably eMMC) storage, expandable only via a microSD slot on the side. The Snapdragon 7c chip is also a step back from the Snapdragon 8c, 8cx, SQ1, and SQ2 chips that power tablets like the Surface Pro X. The SoC includes a pair of “big” Kryo 468 Gold cores and six “small” Kryo 468 Silver cores, plus an Adreno 618 GPU, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 support. Connectivity is limited to a single 5Gbps USB Type-A port, one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port and a 100Mbps Ethernet port, plus a USB-C port used for power.

If those specs aren’t enough to keep you from considering the QC710 your next small desktop PC, the Microsoft Store’s return policy will do it for you: Microsoft explicitly states that it will not issue a refund for the QC710 and that it “intended for developers, not consumers.” Imperfect as it may be, for developers looking to release native ARM builds of their software or write ARM Windows-compatible drivers for their hardware, the QC710 provides an affordable and officially supported way to give the non-x86 versions of Windows a spin. to give.

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