Project TinyMiniMicro: Reviving Small Corporate Desktops

WANg

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What do you guys think is the best unit these days for a HTPC setup ? I'd obviously want HDMI -- preferably NVMe and support for 1-2 2.5" or 3.5" drives...
Depends on what content you are planning to play and if you are planning to do transcoding. Probably something at least Kaby/Coffee Lake and AMD Ryzen based.
 

Tcalp

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Oct 15, 2020
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Depends on what content you are planning to play and if you are planning to do transcoding. Probably something at least Kaby/Coffee Lake and AMD Ryzen based.
No need for transcoding, 1080p HVEC/x264/x265/etc. Not too worried about 'horsepower' in that respect.
 

WANg

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No need for transcoding, 1080p HVEC/x264/x265/etc. Not too worried about 'horsepower' in that respect.
Which OS? Windows or Linux? I would say that any for something cheap and cheerful probably something like a Lenovo M700 Tiny or m725q Gen2. depending on the SKU they might/might not have a caddy for a 2.5" SATA SSD.
 

good4y0u

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Aug 26, 2021
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I see a lot of you running hypervisors on your boxes. I'm just trying to run opnsense or pfsense and replace an older atom E3805 which is having trouble handling gig speeds.

Which box is generally used for this? I felt this project was the place to ask.

For perspective I've looked into the Dell Wyse 5070 J5005 (both extended and slim which would require modification for a dual or quad port Intel NIC) and Wyse J4105.
 
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WANg

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I see a lot of you running hypervisors on your boxes. I'm just trying to run opnsense or pfsense and replace an older atom E3805 which is having trouble handling gig speeds.

Which box is generally used for this? I felt this project was the place to ask.

For perspective I've looked into the Dell Wyse 5070 J5005 (both extended and slim which would require modification for a dual or quad port Intel NIC) and Wyse J4105.
Are you expecting nearly line speed off the TMM node running as a guest VM? Eh, virtualized networking always extracts its pound of flesh (unless it's running an a virtual function off an SRIOV capable NIC, and most embedded NICs won't do SRIOV)..

There's not that many TMM nodes that can deal with SRIOV using a compatible NIC (Intel i350/710, Chelsio Terminator 5, Mellanox ConnectX3 or whatnot), and then you might still have to hack the Virtual Functions (VF) driver in. I think there's the Lenovo ThinkCentre P320/330 (the real estate is tight and you'll need to shoehorn card bracket support) or the HP t740, which is not really a TMM node, has limited SRIOV support (no PCIe ACS so limited to 7 VFs or less, and functional in Linux only).
 

good4y0u

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Are you expecting nearly line speed off the TMM node running as a guest VM? Eh, virtualized networking always extracts its pound of flesh (unless it's running an a virtual function off an SRIOV capable NIC, and most embedded NICs won't do SRIOV)..

There's not that many TMM nodes that can deal with SRIOV using a compatible NIC (Intel i350/710, Chelsio Terminator 5, Mellanox ConnectX3 or whatnot), and then you might still have to hack the Virtual Functions (VF) driver in. I think there's the Lenovo ThinkCentre P320/330 (the real estate is tight and you'll need to shoehorn card bracket support) or the HP t740, which is not really a TMM node, has limited SRIOV support (no PCIe ACS so limited to 7 VFs or less, and functional in Linux only).
Oh, I meant I want to bare metal the the firewall and routing. I use switches for as much of the networking as I can to reduce the load on the CPU. I plan on using a pcie NIC for sure, not the internal one. I need at least two ports. One in for WAN and the LAN out to my switches.
 
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Parallax

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I see a lot of you running hypervisors on your boxes. I'm just trying to run opnsense or pfsense and replace an older atom E3805 which is having trouble handling gig speeds.

Which box is generally used for this? I felt this project was the place to ask.

For perspective I've looked into the Dell Wyse 5070 J5005 (both extended and slim which would require modification for a dual or quad port Intel NIC) and Wyse J4105.
I am not quite at 1Gbps speeds because my internet connection won't handle it, but I do get up to 850Mbps fairly regularly, with Opnsense running under Proxmox. For this I use a Lenovo M720q Tiny which I added a riser and a 4 port Intel NIC to, initially with 2, then 3 cores of an i3 9100T assigned to it. With everything turned on (Suiricata and Sensei) it did struggle a little at busy times, so I swapped it with another M720q with an i5 8400T and 3 cores assigned and that's fine.

On bare metal the i3 would probably have been just sufficient, but I would still prefer an i5 given the cost differential is small.
 

good4y0u

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Another thing you want to check is that your CPU supports AES-NI.
This only really matters I think if you want to do VPN things with openvpn or similar. If you plan on Wire Guard it's not really useful. (This is for home use specifically). Though I would plan on trying to make sure I get something with it. Both the Intel® Pentium® Silver J5005, and its similar but slightly less powerful cousin the Intel® Celeron® Processor J4125 support it.
 

zer0sum

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Are you expecting nearly line speed off the TMM node running as a guest VM? Eh, virtualized networking always extracts its pound of flesh (unless it's running an a virtual function off an SRIOV capable NIC, and most embedded NICs won't do SRIOV)..

There's not that many TMM nodes that can deal with SRIOV using a compatible NIC (Intel i350/710, Chelsio Terminator 5, Mellanox ConnectX3 or whatnot), and then you might still have to hack the Virtual Functions (VF) driver in. I think there's the Lenovo ThinkCentre P320/330 (the real estate is tight and you'll need to shoehorn card bracket support) or the HP t740, which is not really a TMM node, has limited SRIOV support (no PCIe ACS so limited to 7 VFs or less, and functional in Linux only).
Forget SRIOV and just do hardware passthrough of the whole network card to the firewall VM :p
It's trivial to do in either Proxmox or ESXi.

My M920Q with Mellanox CX3 running ESXi and OPNSense is very fast and handles with 1G Symmetric Fibre link perfectly :D
 

good4y0u

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Forget SRIOV and just do hardware passthrough of the whole network card to the firewall VM :p
It's trivial to do in either Proxmox or ESXi.

My M920Q with Mellanox CX3 running ESXi and OPNSense is very fast and handles with 1G Symmetric Fibre link perfectly :D
This is likely what I would do, I do this with my server now which runs proxmox and my pfsense install in my lab.

I'd hope your i7-8700T is able to run that! What's the power draw like?
 
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WANg

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Forget SRIOV and just do hardware passthrough of the whole network card to the firewall VM :p
It's trivial to do in either Proxmox or ESXi.

My M920Q with Mellanox CX3 running ESXi and OPNSense is very fast and handles with 1G Symmetric Fibre link perfectly :D
That’s overkill for 1G symmetric. Hell, even my t730 can handle the traffic just fine with a Broadcom Tigon quadport NIC.
 

memilanuk

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Jan 31, 2021
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I use a Lenovo M720q Tiny which I added a riser and a 4 port Intel NIC to
This touches on something I've been curious about... is there an easy way to know/tell which of the "Tiny/Mini/Micro" boxen can be expanded like that? It seems like one of these would make a great bare metal platform for pfsense/opnsense, but the various Dell Optiplex's (7040 and similar) that I have only have one NIC, and don't *look* like they'd be all that easy to add on to... I've seen other recommendations to use one of the slightly larger SFF versions, but that's more size/space than I'm willing to give up at this point. Is the Lenovo the only USFF/1l box easily expanded like that?
 

WANg

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This touches on something I've been curious about... is there an easy way to know/tell which of the "Tiny/Mini/Micro" boxen can be expanded like that? It seems like one of these would make a great bare metal platform for pfsense/opnsense, but the various Dell Optiplex's (7040 and similar) that I have only have one NIC, and don't *look* like they'd be all that easy to add on to... I've seen other recommendations to use one of the slightly larger SFF versions, but that's more size/space than I'm willing to give up at this point. Is the Lenovo the only USFF/1l box easily expanded like that?
Yes - unless indicated otherwise, just automatically assume that none of the TMM nodes have PCIe full/partial (x4 and above) slot expandability like that.
 

memilanuk

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Jan 31, 2021
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Yes - unless indicated otherwise, just automatically assume that none of the TMM nodes have PCIe full/partial (x4 and above) slot expandability like that.
I get that. But is there any listing or way to find the ones that *do* have that kind of expansion capability?
 

snoturtle

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Apr 11, 2017
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This touches on something I've been curious about... is there an easy way to know/tell which of the "Tiny/Mini/Micro" boxen can be expanded like that? It seems like one of these would make a great bare metal platform for pfsense/opnsense, but the various Dell Optiplex's (7040 and similar) that I have only have one NIC, and don't *look* like they'd be all that easy to add on to... I've seen other recommendations to use one of the slightly larger SFF versions, but that's more size/space than I'm willing to give up at this point. Is the Lenovo the only USFF/1l box easily expanded like that?
I have been looking for one of these to do the same and the models I have found that have the PCI-E slot are.

Lenovo
m720q tiny
m920q tiny
P320 tiny
P330 tiny

There may be others
 

WANg

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I have been looking for one of these to do the same and the models I have found that have the PCI-E slot are.

Lenovo
m720q tiny
m920q tiny
P320 tiny
P330 tiny

There may be others
On the GhettoMIniMicro side?
Wyse 5070 Extended
HP t730/t740

The t730 has the AMD embedded equivalent to the FX7600p, while the t740 is equivalent to the Ryzen 5 2600H.
 

matkisson

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Apr 11, 2017
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Ironically this was the first thread I saw in here today and perfect timing. Just snagged 2 Dell wyse 3040s (4c 2GB ram 16GB storage) for my home network so I can separate it from my play zone.

Looking to install Ubuntu server and pi hole on both then a few small services for the family. I'm also going to test windows server 2019 core for AD just to see how it works. Might need a slightly beefier one for that.

Good bit of info in the thread though.
 

Boris

Member
May 16, 2015
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Hello micro PC fans.
Please tell me, has anyone tried to connect them to monitors with higher frame rates?
As I can see from the specs, all brands claim support for 4K at 60Hz.
Is there any chance that there is support for 120Hz?
I am considering purchasing one (like DELL 3060 or 3070, with intel 8xxx or 9xxx) to connect to a 3840x1600 120Hz monitor. Is there a chance for success?