Project TinyMiniMicro: Reviving Small Corporate Desktops

WANg

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2018
787
433
63
Dell OptiPlex 7070 arrived with a mouse and keyboard as well. I have a trip coming up, but I am pretty sure this one will work with 2x 32GB. I may snag those after I get back.

Also, I may rename the project to Project TinyMiniMicro

Perhaps adding "Tiny" for Lenovo makes it more vendor inclusive.
Or "Corporate NUC" project. You might need to expand the article series down the line to include a comparison of the SFF ranges as well. Seems like there are equal interest in both lines. The Corporate NUCs appeal to people who need a small node (which has limited expandability but size/power efficiency on its side), while the SFFs might appeal to people who needs one or more PCIe slots and more than 2 RAM slots.
 

PigLover

Moderator
Jan 26, 2011
2,964
1,271
113
Oh? What made you sorta-regret the 290 purchase?
They are too large & take up too much space. They end up taking even more space because the primary intake air is on the top which means you cannot stack them. And there is almost zero airflow around the PCIe slot - so anything you put in there overheats quickly. I tried running m.2 SSDs there on a carrier in the x16 slot and they got too hot too fast due to lack of airflow.

In retrospect, I really should have paid a bit more and gone with these "tiny" platforms. Much better option for building a compact cluster.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Patrick

WANg

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2018
787
433
63
I’m watching this as well. Like @zer0sum, I want something with 64gb of memory or more. That is what has stopped me from buying a nuc.
Yeah, but the RAM ceiling is dependent on the memory controller on the CPU/APU itself, and in specific implementations, that's dictated by how many memory channels and slots are built on the chassis.

For example, Haswell can suppport up to 64GB of RAM in non-server setups, but that often pre-supposes 8GB per memory channel. On the Haswell NUCs (or corporate NUCs) there's only 2 memory channels available and 2 RAM slots, so they are limited to 2x8GB DIMMs. If you want 32GB on a Haswell machine, you have to go to a machine with 4 RAM slots. There are also HEDT Haswells with more memory channels available and assigned to the slots (where you can do 16GB DIMMs), but that’s not available on the TinyMicroMinis.

Then there's the question of economy - Skylake NUCs and above have been verified to work with 32GB DIMMs, and with 2 DIMM slots, that's 64GB RAM max. Even AMD APUs found on the HP thin clients (another potential source of cheap tiny machines) have a 16/32GB official RAM ceiling (at least in terms of the t620 plus/730 for DDR3, and the t630/640/740 for DDR4). They can actually accept 2x16GB DDR3 on the t620/730, and 2x32 GB DDR4 on the Ryzen machines (No word on whether this is also the case on the t630).

The problem here is that most manufacturers don't validate those higher RAM capacities because in many cases, they don't make much economic sense. For example, 32GB (2x16GB) DDR3L SODIMMs sell for about 160 USD retail, but a good portion of the machines that can accept it (Broadwell NUCs, and AMD APUs Pre-Excavator) are currently worth LESS than 160 USD on the secondary markets. As for 64GB of DDR4 (2x32GB) SODIMMs, that's roughly 250-300 USD retail, which makes no sense buying for a 200 dollar t640 thin client, and only slightly more sensible for a 400 USD t740, and the same line of thinking exist for a 200-400 USD Skylake/Kaby Lake corporate NUC. You really have to wonder why you need so much RAM.

When I upgraded my 220 dollar t730 to 32GB of DDR3 (190 USD back then), it's with upcycling/upgrading other equipment in mind later on.

If your primary concern is RAM capacity, then you should be looking at a machine with more RAM slots (HP EliteDesk SFFs with 4) and buying more low capacity RAM sticks than dealing with 2 slot Tiny/micro/minis and smaller/higher/more expensive SODIMMs. 4x16GB DDR4 sticks will get you 64GB now on the SFFs, and you can incrementally go to 128GB later, versus maxing out on 64GB on a TinyMicroMini with no expansion options later.

Hey @Patrick this would probably be a very good thing to add to the testing checklist for the TinyMicroMini - can the machines take 32GB DDR4 SODIMMs? Very likely for the Intel machines post-Broadwell, and unverified for Broadwell, Bristol Ridge (most likely not) and Raven Ridge (should work).
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Marsh

WANg

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2018
787
433
63
They are too large & take up too much space. They end up taking even more space because the primary intake air is on the top which means you cannot stack them. And there is almost zero airflow around the PCIe slot - so anything you put in there overheats quickly. I tried running m.2 SSDs there on a carrier in the x16 slot and they got too hot too fast due to lack of airflow.

In retrospect, I really should have paid a bit more and gone with these "tiny" platforms. Much better option for building a compact cluster.
Hm...I wonder if they can be stackable if you stick thick felt pads on the top of the chassis to create air gaps, and then put a fan with a HEPA filter in front (with bungee cords) to cool them...

Mad Scientist Time.jpg

But yeah, it'll probably get ridiculous quickly. Those 290s were...ghetto-fab. But it's considered ghetto fab for good reasons. If you have to put in so much work to make it work, its probably not a great idea in the first place.

That being said, I do want to buy a TinyMicroMini in support for a special project...
 
Last edited:

newabc

Member
Jan 20, 2019
61
15
8
@newabc those end up being much more expensive.

i7-7700 16GB / 256GB is $425 + 37 shipping. That still does not have the Windows 10 Pro license. You get a lot of 1GbE ports but lose the USB/ USB-C and extra display outputs for the smaller form factors. That i7 is probably ~10% faster than the i5-8500T but as a 65W v. 35W TDP CPU. The power bricks for these are usually ~65W so they are a different class of power consumption.
Yeah, the power efficiency is much much more important than other points in such a project with more than 10 machines.
 

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
11,905
4,866
113
Waiting for a call to start right now. I have the HP EliteDesk 600 G4 with the Core i5-8500T running GROMACS next to me. 83F in my office (windows open.) It is audible, but not annoying by any means.
 

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
11,905
4,866
113
I hope that’s a dry heat
California. Windows open, nice breeze, and shade. Not too bad.

ProDesk 600 G4 arrived with mouse and keyboard. Interesting on this one is that the system had 1x 16GB for the 16GB memory configuration.
 

zack$

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
432
162
43
Lenovo is clearing inventory on the M90n i5-8265U, 512GB and 8GB at $399 on ebay (down from $1,249). Can't wait for these to reach secondary market prices.

Here's to the project's V2: MiniMircoNano
 

WANg

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2018
787
433
63
Lenovo is clearing inventory on the M90n i5-8265U, 512GB and 8GB at $399 on ebay (down from $1,249). Can't wait for these to reach secondary market prices.

Here's to the project's V2: MiniMircoNano
Soldered RAM, M2 storage (probably 1 slot) though. It's basically like an X1 Carbon minus the screen, battery and human interface devices. That's a very large price to pay for not much expansion options down the line.
 
Last edited:

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
11,905
4,866
113
I am just taking a note for myself here.

Power consumption seems to be in the 9-12W range for OS idle. Max is usually in the 45-55W range with 16GB RAM and a SATA SSD.

That seems to be fairly consistent through the units tested thus far.

This is actually important. Idle at the lower end of the spectrum is basically less than you get with two typical BMCs only without the systems.

Interesting find on the M90n. Do you know if that version supports vPro?
 

BlueFox

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2015
951
419
63
I am just taking a note for myself here.

Power consumption seems to be in the 9-12W range for OS idle. Max is usually in the 45-55W range with 16GB RAM and a SATA SSD.

That seems to be fairly consistent through the units tested thus far.

This is actually important. Idle at the lower end of the spectrum is basically less than you get with two typical BMCs only without the systems.

Interesting find on the M90n. Do you know if that version supports vPro?
There's an interesting IoT version of the M90n that's fanless, but has a lower end Celeron as the base SKU (you do gain some serial ports). If you get the i3 SKU, you get a second NIC too. Stuck at 4GB of RAM though.

Regarding vPro, seems only one i5 (i5-8365U, but not the i5-8265U) and i7 variant offer it. Jumping to the i7 nets you 16GB of RAM (and a much lighter wallet).

Seems like with your findings, AMT makes essentially no difference in terms of power consumption?
 

Marsh

Moderator
May 12, 2013
2,273
1,084
113
Power consumption seems to be in the 9-12W range for OS idle. Max is usually in the 45-55W range with 16GB RAM and a SATA SSD.
I observe the same behavior.
There is no major difference in idle power consumptiom between I5-4xxx , I5-6xxx , i5-7xxx , i5-8xxx HP mini system.

I am pleasantly surprise how little power HP G1 mini use during OS idle ( 9-10w with 2 x 8 ram , 1 ssd), for such old platform.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Agremlin

Agremlin

New Member
May 3, 2020
23
5
3
This thread inspired me to look at minis which I hadn't considered before. Haven't found a HP G2 DM or Dell /lenovo i5- 6500t equivalent (or G3/newer) at bargain price (for me) but did find a HP prodesk 600 G5 at a great price. More than i need so is going to be my wifes new desktop. Thanks all
 
  • Like
Reactions: Marsh

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
11,905
4,866
113
@Agremlin that is somewhat the idea as well. These are going to be very capable web browsing platforms for some time to come. After using them for 2-3 years, you could likely sell them or use as web browsing boxes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Agremlin

WANg

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2018
787
433
63
Last edited:

mbosma

Member
Dec 4, 2018
62
8
8
Just came across this thread, just wanted to say that I think these mini desktop pc's are really useful for a lab or small docker/vm hosts.
I've been running an HP prodesk 400 g2 mini with an i5 6500t, 32gb memory & 256gb + 1tb ssd for a few months as a docker host and it works great.
It has plenty of power considering it's power usage of around 15w on normal usage to 80w under high load.
The integrated GPU can be "passed through" to a plex container for hardware transcoding.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Marsh

Flazabancy

New Member
Dec 20, 2018
9
7
3
The $302 model with a Ryzen 3400GE is an amazing deal. Seems like a misprint as it's cheaper than the other m75q models listed on clearance but has the better processor. Giving my wallet a break otherwise that'd be the one I'd buy. Having slept on it, I bought first thing this morning. 3400ge ryzen, 256gb nvme, 8gb ram in a new thinkcenter tiny with 3 year warranty. Wow! Too bad it doesn't have dual ethernet.
 
Last edited:
  • Wow
  • Like
Reactions: Tha_14 and teafarer

teafarer

New Member
Jan 23, 2020
11
6
3
VA
Wow those M75q's seem like a great deal. About half of the new price from Lenovo for that model.

I'm tempted to get one as an HTPC/Living Room/Media system, because it's so nice and compact, and should have a decent integrated GPU (Vega 11, I believe?) for those purposes, and maybe even light gaming on the side.
 

Flazabancy

New Member
Dec 20, 2018
9
7
3
Received two Thinkcentre Tiny M75q's in. Very impressed with the value and build quality for $302. Beats the pants off an Intel Nuc imho, that 3400 ryzen and nvme make for a very zippy machine. Came with a new keyboard and mouse although I can't tell if the machine was used or not. It arrived marked as bstock with a worn shipping box, but otherwise appears new. It also activates Windows Pro but has a Windows 10 Home license in the bios. They also come with an attached dvdrom drive that I wasn't expecting but was easy enough to remove. The tiny itself is really tiny and really well built. Love the all metal black case.

Here's a photo of the two Tinys sitting on top of a Prodesk G4.
 

Attachments