Project TinyMiniMicro: Reviving Small Corporate Desktops

EVOJEMM

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Apr 6, 2016
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Kingston, Jamaica.
Hi Everyone,

I have a HP Prodesk 600 G4 here @ home as a loaner from work (Core i7-8700T). So I decided to try upgrading it to 64GB of RAM. I hope to have two of these Mini/Micro nodes in a XCP-NG cluster. These are the ram modules I ordered :



Crucial 32GB DDR4-2666 SODIMM | CT32G4SFD8266 | Crucial.com

Unfortunately, they did not take, with BIOS beeps out the wahzoooo... It will post with one of these 32GB DIMMs**.

The BIOS beep/led codes correspond to : "The embedded controller has timed out waiting for BIOS to return from memory initialization."

The 600 G4 is running the latest BIOS Q22 Ver. 02.11.01. I see on this reddit thread that someone got the EliteDesk 800 Mini up to 64Gig of ram. Perhaps this is locked out of the Prodesk 600 G4 models as suggested in that thread.

~sigh

Anyways, all is not lost, this RAM is listed by Crucial as being suitable for the G5 variants which officially support 64GB. I will buy two of those unless there is a better choice ..

Thanks to @Patrick and all the other community members for highlighting this affordable homelab solution!

p.s. Both Exsi 7.0b and XCP-NG recognise the built in Intel Nic out of the box...

** Update : See Post below!
 
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EVOJEMM

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So ... it looks like I have a bad stick of RAM, it will post with 32GB STICK B in either slot.
STICK A alone or in combination with STICK B causes the fault code.
 

turns2stone

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Apr 12, 2020
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For fans of the Lenovo ”tiny” models: ThinkCentre M710q, ThinkStation P330 Tiny, etc.. You may read about capability of adding a Thunderbolt 3 PCIe card to the P330. I goofed around and spent way too much time (and money?) figuring out how to order one of these and install it in a Think Station P330 SFF. Yes, it’s one size up from the Tiny, but has many of the characteristics of the small machines in this topic i.e. Win10 Pro, Xeon CPU, widely available, cheap.

Adding TB3 gives me lots of flexibility in a small box, and I also like the performance of the Xeon E-2144G in my particular machine.

If anyone wants more details on adding TB3 via PCIe, let me know.
 
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risysadmin

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Sep 19, 2018
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I just bought a Dell Micro 7050 with an i7 6700T and am very impressed with it. Runs ESXi 7 without an issue and sips power, roughly 10W on idle. With my transition to docker I'm looking to replace a DL360p which idles at 10 times that. Before I order 2x16GB sticks of RAM to replace the 2x8 it came with, has anyone tried a 32GB stick in one of these? The CPU and chipset supposedly support it, but I'm not brave enough to try.
William Lam has reported that 32GB sticks work in 6th gen NUCs here: 64GB memory on the Intel NUCs?
I finally bit the bullet when I saw that there was a warehouse deal on these 32GB Samsung sticks of RAM. I can happily report that the Optiplex 7050 micro is working great with 64GB of RAM under ESXi 7.

The exact RAM I bought: Samsung 32GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM Memory Module for Laptop Computers (260 Pin SODIMM, 1.2V) M471A4G43MB1
Screenshot from 2020-09-01 13-40-59.png
 

EVOJEMM

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Apr 6, 2016
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Kingston, Jamaica.
I finally bit the bullet when I saw that there was a warehouse deal on these 32GB Samsung sticks of RAM. I can happily report that the Optiplex 7050 micro is working great with 64GB of RAM under ESXi 7.
Nice Looking out @risysadmin ! ... Did not know that these Optiplex 7050 micros supported the Intel® i219-V Gigabit NIC for some sweet ESXi compatibility! ;)

Thanks for providing validation on RAM as well. I have some crucial 32GB sticks in my EliteDesk 800, but its good to have alternatives, plus your Samsung sticks are slightly more affordable.
 
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wardtj

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Jan 23, 2015
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I've been on a bit of a search recently for a really small system that can run as my ESXi box at the gateway of my network.
I do a lot of testing and spin all sorts of different firewalls up and change security monitoring VM's or dmz systems constantly :)

For a while I was running a T620+ and then a E3C224D2I+E3-1265Lv3, but I've moved on and my searches led me towards certain Intel NUC models or an Asrock deskmini.

For my purposes the requirements are as follows:
  • Must support ESXi, but doesn't need to be 100% official
  • CPU that supports at least 4 cores and 8 threads
  • 64GB or more memory
  • 1 or 2 NVME drives
  • 2 LAN interfaces
There are various models of the 6th gen or newer Intel NUC can work really well for this if you add a Thunderbolt/USB network adapter.
The Deskmini A300 is sort of interesting as it supports Ryzen5 3400 :)
Or I might be able to work with a HP T740 I think.

I'm still researching at this stage though, and I'm looking forward to the results Patrick :D
I'm pretty close to what you are looking for,

The Dell 7040 Micro, I have it running with,

- 64GB DDR4 SODIMM (2x32GB, the manual says it only supports up to 32GB, but runs 64GB anyway)
- NVME - XPG GAMMIX 2TB S11 Pro
- SATA - 1.6TB Intel DC S3510 series SATA
- 2 NICs - Built in 1GBe + Solo5G USB3 5.0/2.5GBe adapter
- ESXi 7.0
- i5-6500TE 4/4
- The CPU on these systems is removable. You can put in a i7-7700T or a i7-6700T (I would go with the 6700T personally) As long as you stay with 35W CPU it will work.
 

wardtj

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Jan 23, 2015
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@wardtj : did you have to add a driver to Esxi 7.0 to get that Solo5G USB adapter recognized? Any problems so far?
Yes, but it's really easy. VMware has a fling and a driver for many USB3 & USB2 adapters.


Works pretty well, sans a couple bugs on auto-neg which I found.

@Patrick 's article on the 5/2.5/1Gbe SFP+ modules was very helpful. I have a 5Gbps connection working on a Unifi XG-16 switch. I get 5Gb in a 10Gbe port!
 
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WANg

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newabc

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Jan 20, 2019
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I bought StarTech first but some of them don't have status LEDs and I thought the USB on the SYBA is something I might be able to use in the future. If there is a way to fashion a USB cable that can be routed to one of the Prodesk's external ports, I could make a "management" VM that would monitor the health of the drives and report back, thus removing a task from my staff.
Hi @bort, sorry for bothering you.

Has your SYBA raid enclosure met heating issue?

Recently I got 2 Micron m.2 sata(5100 pro, firmware upgraded to 071) and put them in the startech box. After I tried to create GPT on the raid1 by Win 10's "disk management" tool before the partitioning, with a sata to USB 3.0 UASP adapter, its temperature rushed from 30 Celsius to 50 C(My hand also felt the heat). Then I think it will overheat if I really use it.

I appreciate your comments. Thanks again.

By the way, the Ableconn one on amazon also got a japanese review as "If you load ssd and connect usb, the chip will be scared to get a terrible hot temperature. This is so horrible that I can't use." (Translated from Japanese by Amazon)

Update: I am thinking how to stick the board in the box and remove its cover.
 
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rippiedoos

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Mar 7, 2018
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I finally bit the bullet when I saw that there was a warehouse deal on these 32GB Samsung sticks of RAM. I can happily report that the Optiplex 7050 micro is working great with 64GB of RAM under ESXi 7.

The exact RAM I bought: Samsung 32GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM Memory Module for Laptop Computers (260 Pin SODIMM, 1.2V) M471A4G43MB1
View attachment 15592
Did you manage to get data in the Monitoring Tab under hardware? My Prodesk 600 G5 is complaining about that it 'has no IPMI capabilities'. I would love to get SOME temperature-info from my hardware.

Maybe someone else with ESXi on these TMM-boxes with hardware-info? If temperatures are available under lower versions of ESXi, like 6.5 or 6.7, I will go back to that version.
 

risysadmin

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Sep 19, 2018
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Did you manage to get data in the Monitoring Tab under hardware? My Prodesk 600 G5 is complaining about that it 'has no IPMI capabilities'. I would love to get SOME temperature-info from my hardware.

Maybe someone else with ESXi on these TMM-boxes with hardware-info? If temperatures are available under lower versions of ESXi, like 6.5 or 6.7, I will go back to that version.
I've got no temp monitoring like I do with my 'real' rack servers. Maybe there is a way to utilize AMT or something as a poor man's IPMI, but I don't think so.
I've since grabbed a cheap HP Elitedesk 800 mini G2 to add another node. If anyone has good suggestions for ESXi 7 compatible NVME sticks that would be great. The Asgard AN3 drive I have works in 6.7 but not 7.
 
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tigweld0101

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If anyone has good suggestions for ESXi 7 compatible NVME sticks that would be great. The Asgard AN3 drive I have works in 6.7 but not 7.
Is that really a thing? You've got to hand it to VMware to cuk up some super standard like NVMe and make some devices not work. That's crazy.
 

risysadmin

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Sep 19, 2018
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Is that really a thing? You've got to hand it to VMware to cuk up some super standard like NVMe and make some devices not work. That's crazy.
Looking for something that's TLC with DRAM at 1TB for as little as possible. With SSD prices falling I'll just wait to upgrade that box to 7 until I can swap something else in. The Asgard AN3 was super fast when I tested it under Windows -- it will go into my desktop eventually, replacing an Intel 750.[/QUOTE]
 
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istqian

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Jun 9, 2016
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Fukuoka, Japan
I think the Lenovo M920Q is the best micro computer for homelab. it supports

  • Intel i7 8700T
  • 64G RAM(32GB*2)
  • 2 NVMe 2280(better for zfs mirror)
  • a PCI expansion riser card, which you can put Intel i350-T4(or I340-T4), which has an official support,or dual port 10G LAN adapter for better network performance.

I own one, it runs FreeBSD 12.1 and a couple Virtual Machines as a home gateway.
as FreeBSD supports passthrough IGD to VM(near future), you can use IGD for decoding. (such as plex App)
 

dmarshman

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Nov 24, 2019
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Parallax

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I joined the forum to confess I have a little farm of three Lenovo Tinies at home, sitting on top of a HP Microserver Gen10 Plus (upgraded to i3-9100F). I would like to say I started TinyMiniMicro before it became fashionable, but actually I needed them because I live in central London and space is at a super premium. ;)

I have :
1x Lenovo M75-1q (Ryzen 3400GE 4C/8T) with 32GB RAM, 256GB NVMe, 512GB SSD ("Hex")
1x Lenovo M720q (Intel i5-8400T 6C/6T) with 16GB RAM, 256GB NVMe, added 4 port NIC ("Clacks")
1x Lenovo M720q (Intel i3-8100T 4C/4T) with 16GB RAM, 256GB NVMe ("Watch")
and
1x HPE Microserver Gen10 Plus (Intel i3-9100F 4C/4T) with 32GB of RAM, 256GB NVMe in an add-in PCIe, iLO Enablement Kit, 4x 4TB spinning storage ("Unseen")

Prize for identifying the source of my home device naming scheme, since it's a bit obscured here. All four boxes are running Proxmox so I can move workloads around. I'm still trying to decide whether I'm better running Docker in a VM or in an LXC, each has pluses and minuses and I'm running both at the moment to declare a winner in a month or two. I will also try k3s at some point in the future, I tried out RancherOS which I liked but ended up with some challenges on shared file ownership, so Docker is just running in pared-down Debian VMs/LXCs for now.

If you're interested in the process of adding a 4 port NIC to the M720q, I did a build report on that with plenty of photos over on, uhm, another forum which focuses on Small Form Factor. I bought the special bracket and riser from China through Superbuy (I include links in the referenced post) and a generic Intel 4 port NIC off eBay, luckily whitelisted by the Lenovo BIOS. Mine runs OPNsense on 2 (out of 6) cores and with everything switched on (Sensei, Suricata etc) it's happy looking after my 500/80Mbit home Internet connection. The remaining cores and RAM are earmarked to run TPot (a package of honeypot servers in Docker containers) but that's on my to-do list for now.

I do work in IT, but in networking and not on the software development side, so most of the workloads I run are related to providing media in the house, the surprising amount of stuff it takes to run my home infrastructure, and network security, plus a little learning for me.
  • Hex runs an ELK stack for OPNsense and other logs, a Unifi controller, a local MusicBrainz instance, Internet throughput reporting, and Observium. This is also the test and development area and the server doesn't run anything critical so it can be offline as needed.
  • Clacks just runs OPNsense but I will add some honeypot capability as mentioned above.
  • Watch is new and it has two main tasks, one will be to act as a HA failover for Clacks, and the second is to run overall network and security management. I'm trying out a few options for SIEM and NMS (evaluating Zabbix at the moment, want to try LibreNMS etc) and will decommission Observium in time.
  • Unseen runs all the home's storage in a ZFS array, and then it takes around 20 containers to perform file sharing (Samba), cloud backup (Duplicati), media (Plex, Jackett, Sonarr, Radarr, Lidarr, Hydra2, Deluge, NZBget etc) and all the other tasks that benefit from or require direct access to the primary storage, like storing snapshots. This Gen10+ replaced a Gen8 and I'm still getting it set up how I would like, the current problem is even with 3C assigned to it the Docker LXC is ungodly slow at unzipping or unraring video so I need to dig into that.
My "HTPC" is mostly the apps - like Plex, Amazon Video, iPlayer etc - on my LG TV, but I also have an Nvidia Shield, which is mostly beneficial when playing 4K HDR content because the TV only has a 100Mbit network port on it (why?!).