Some information about HP T620 Plus Flexible Thin Client machines for network appliance builds...

Discussion in 'DIY Server and Workstation Builds' started by BLinux, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    I had a Jetway N2930 machine that just suddenly died one month out of warranty. It was running as a firewall/router device and so I needed a replacement. I was looking at a Supermicro E200-9B, but @nthu9280 pointed me to this HP T620 Plus. (see this thread https://forums.servethehome.com/ind...es-with-superserver-e200-9a-or-e200-9b.20931/).

    Then, I found a nice deal on these machines here : https://forums.servethehome.com/ind...good-for-network-appliance-pfsense-etc.20954/

    I received the machines today, and so I thought I would share some info. I searched online for information, both from HP's website and other places, but info on this box is a little scarce. Of all places, one of the best videos I found was an Iranian video that showed some footage of the internals. :) So, now that I have one on hand, I figure I post some information to share in case others look for this:

    1) LOTS of expansion capability in this little box:

    [INTERNAL]
    - PCI-E slot: physically 16x, but i think electrically 4x. I installed a i340-T4 NIC in it and it linked at PCI-E 2.0 x4 width.

    - 2x SO-DIMM slots: max RAM is 16GB and you can mix sizes. I had the original 4GB 1Rx4 module and a 8GB Crucial (CT102464BF160B) and it booted up with 12GB just fine. I'm going to run it only with 1x 8GB SO-DIMM though... one interesting thing that I would like to know is if you can put a single 16GB SO-DIMM to max out with a single DIMM vs 2.

    - 2x internal USB-A ports, one near the bottom side and the other is near the front power button. This will be my preferred boot drive choice, as they are easy to replace in a hurry, even though there are more internal boot drive options (more below).

    - 1x mini-PCI slot (don't know much about this, but I saw it. i don't have anything to try in that slot)

    - 1x M.2 slot. this is where the original 16GB flash SSD is installed as boot drive from HP. I'm not using their OS, so this will just be extra storage for me; maybe backup config or emergency boot drive to re-install/restore-config.

    - 1x mSATA slot: this one is at the rear of the PCI-E slot. I have a mSATA SSD I plan to put in it, but the screw I have to hold down the mSATA SSD don't fit the threads. i'm not sure why... the mSATA SSD fit just fine, but it won't stay down without a hold down screw. I'll test this more when i get the right screws.

    [EXTERNAL]
    Front side:
    - 2x USB 2.0 ports in front
    - 2x USB 3.0 ports in front
    - Audio jack out (headphones)
    - Mic in

    Back side:
    - 2x USB 2.0 ports in back (keyboard+mouse?)
    - 2x Display ports
    - PS/2 ports for keyboard+mouse
    - 2x serial ports
    - 1x parallel port
    - audio out (speakers?)
    - mic in

    2) VERY power efficient:

    I'm really, really surprised on this point... the numbers I got are even better than previously reported by @nthu9280 . Maybe it has to do with the OS used (CentOS 7), but I got some very impressive numbers. Measurements taken from a Kill-A-Watt:

    - Empty system w/ 1x 4GB RAM + 16GB M.2 SSD: 6.9W @idle.
    - Empty system w/ 1x 4GB RAM + 16GB M.2 SSD: 16.1~16.2W @under load (running sysbench cpu w/ 4 threads for 60 seconds and observed peak)
    - System w/ i340-T4 NIC (no ports plugged in), 1x 8GB RAM, 16GB M.2 SSD: 10.7W @idle
    - System w/ i340-T4 NIC (1-port plugged in), 1x 8GB RAM, 16GB M.2 SSD: 11.4W @idle

    On my lab workbench I didn't have 4 ethernet ports to try out, but if I extrapolate from that, with 4-ports plugged in, it should idle around 13.5W!! I would have been happy to be under 20W, but this exceeded my expectations!

    3) VERY quiet:

    Using a phone sound meter app, the room measured at 23 dBA, holding the phone with the mic right above the right side of the unit (with HP logo), which is where the intake fan resides. When I powered on the machine, it when up to 27-28 dBA. More subjectively, if you're in total silence standing 2-ft from it, you can sort of hear it. Any further away, it's very hard to hear it. Put another way, it is quieter than my current temporary replacement Supermicro SYS-5018A-FTN4 machine, even though that's also pretty quiet machine, the T620 Plus is even quieter.

    4) Miscellaneous info:

    - the BIOS POST is REALLY FAST. other than a quick glace at an HP logo, it immediately went to the boot drive. this is really nice as a little appliance, but might be a pain if you ever need to interrupt POST.
    - the onboard 1Gbps NIC is a Realtek R8169. it connects to the system by PCI-E 1.0 x1.
    - i saw many of these units sold without the power supply. now that i have a working power supply on-hand, here's the info on the PSU:
    and here's a eBay search for them: HP (519330-001,463955-001) -(generic) | eBay

    (note: in my ebay search, I removed "new" items because they tend to list sub-standard knock off power supplies. by choosing "used", the search came up with more genuine HP PSUs. but adjust accordingly to your preference)

    UPDATE on PSU:

    The above part number is for the 90W power adapter. For most of us using this device as a router/firewall/network appliance, we're likely only using 10~20W at most. So, I suspect the 65W power adapter would work just as well, and perhaps more efficiently? Here's the HP P/N for the 65W: HP 708778-001 65W WARNING: The 65W power adapter from the smaller T620 WILL NOT work on the T620 Plus.

    Some negatives I noticed:
    1) the PCI slot is recessed. unplugging ethernet cables may require using some tool to reach in there to unlatch the RJ45 jack.

    2) the CPU looks like it is passively cooled by a heatpipe on the left side that carry the heat to a heatsink at the top, while the side with the PCI-E slot is cooled with a quiet fan that also blows through the heatsink at the top, in effect cooling both sides exhausting at the top. There's ventilation on 4 out of the 6 sides of the unit. however you place this unit down, if you're not using the stand (mine didn't come with one), you need to prop it up with something so as to not block the vents. I plan to use this in the vertical position, so i suspect the vents on the bottom side are import to draw cool air in as the hot air rises out the top. and the 2 sides should not be obstructed either. so, this is not something you want crammed near other components.

    UPDATES:

    7/3/18: discovered that HP doesn't use the standard M2x3mm screws for the mSATA/M.2/mini-PCI stand-offs. I just bought a pack of M2 screws and none of them fit and appear too large in diameter. searching elsewhere online, i see people complaining similarly about other HP machines not using M2x3mm screws and someone said they are M1.6 screws. I just ordered a pack of M1 through M1.6 screws so we'll see when I get them.

    7/9/18: confirmed the screws to hold down the mSATA and mini-PCI are indeed M1.6 threads and can take at least a 4mm long screw. however, most M1.6 threaded screws do not have a large enough head to hold down a standard mSATA SSD card so you will need to add a washer. I found some black nylon M2 washers that did the job. i also found screws that would work out of the box, but they were very expensive ($50 for box of 100) - if you insist, search for "M1.6 wafer head screws".
     
    #1
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018 at 10:21 AM
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  2. nezach

    nezach Member

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    Thanks for sharing this. Mine got shipped today and should arrive in a few days.
     
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  3. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    updated OP with correction about CPU side cooling method, and also info on the PSUs so people can buy these without PSUs and get them separately.
     
    #3
  4. nthu9280

    nthu9280 Active Member

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    Great write-up. Now watch the prices on these go through the roof. :)
    I imagine my Intel PRO/1000 vs your I340 accounts for the power consumption difference.

    The mini pci 1x slot is for Wi-Fi card.
    The plus version comes with 90w and the base version with 65W power supply. Haven't tested but I'd imagine HP laptop PS would be compatible too. Interestingly, these are on HP site not HPE

    Here are the links for:

    HW Reference Guide:
    http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c04046809

    Drivers & Downloads.
    HP t620 PLUS Flexible Thin Client - Driver Downloads | HP® Customer Support
     
    #4
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  5. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    Ok. BIOS update process is a little cumbersome...

    Download the "HP Recovery Image and Software Download Tool (ThinUpdate) here:

    https://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp85001-85500/sp85330.exe

    You'll need to run that in Windows 10 or something similar. Use that tool to create a bootable recovery USB drive with ThinPro 5.2 (not newer, the newer versions require workaround to update BIOS) - just use ThinPro 5.2.

    Boot the recovery USB drive, and choose the option to "Write image to flash" which will basically install Thin Pro 5.2 onto the 16GB SSD. Once that's done, remove USB and reboot.

    Once booted into Thin Pro 5.2, you will get a prompt to set admin password. Just pick something to set it. Once it is set, you should enter "admin" mode and the border of the screen will be red. Launch the X term app so you get a command line.

    Now, download the BIOS update (from the Windows section, not the Linux section because the Windows section has a newer version 2.14 Rev A.) here:

    https://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp78001-78500/sp78303.exe

    Run that program and extract the BIOS file to local disk. Should be some *.bin file. Copy that to a USB drive, and then insert that drive into the T620. Copy the bios image off the USB drive to some place local, I chose to copy it into /root.

    Next, run the bios update command with the BIOS image file:

    # hptc-bios-flash ./BiosImageFile.bin

    Once that is done, you are good to go. Feel free to install whatever OS over the SSD or whatever you plan to do. The whole point of installing Thin Pro 5.2 was just to have access to the hptc-bios-flash utility.
     
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  6. nthu9280

    nthu9280 Active Member

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    IIRC, There is an option in the BIOS to update in HP systems. Just extract the BIOS.bin file on a USB. I either used this method or DosFlash tool from T610. Been a while not 100% sure.

    Startup Menu / F10 Setup BIOS Flashing
    The HP Business Desktop systems provide a BIOS upgrade option through both the Startup Menu and the F10 Setup utility using the "Flash System ROM" feature. Reboot the PC and press the Escape key to display the Startup Menu. Use the arrow keys to select Utilities, and then select the Flash System ROM option. Alternatively, reboot the PC and press F10 to access the BIOS Setup utility. In the File menu, select Flash System ROM. Either method requires that removable media be present (USB storage or data CD) that contains the BIOS binary image file in the root directory. The binary image file can be found in the DOS Flash folder and is named xxx_MMmm.bin where "xxx" is the BIOS family, "MM" is the major version number, and "mm" is the minor version number. To create a CD for updating the BIOS, use a blank CD-R or CD-RW disk on a system with a CD-RW or DVD+RW drive, and write the binary to the disk using any CD-burning software (Windows 7 and Vista support burning data CDs without additional software). If a BIOS Setup password has been set, the password will be required before being able to access the "Flash System ROM" menu. The user is notified when the process is completed. The new BIOS code will not take effect until the PC is restarted.
    .
     
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  7. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    updated OP. caution folks, if you plan to add mSATA or mini-PCI card, the screw is not the standard M2x3. it *might* be M1.6x3.. i just ordered an assortment to test and will report back.
     
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  8. Marsh

    Marsh Moderator

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    Disclaimer , my experience is not with HP T620, but with another HP think clients ( forgot the model number this minute).

    I was stuck looking for the msata mounting screws. By luck, I have many pairs of broken reading eyeglass.
    The tiny screws from the hinges was a perfect fit, I had to add a plastic washer to hold down the ssd.
     
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  9. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    Hmm... I'm not having much luck installing pfsense or opnsense on this box, at least not on a usb flash drive:

    1) pfsense install from usb drive installer to another usb drive inside the unit completed successfully, but it will not boot off the internal usb drive. closer examination looks like the boot sector wasn't setup on the usb drive. any suggestions?

    2) opnsense installer from usb drive just fails and reboots itself.

    trying to install CentOS7 on a usb drive right now... i know booting off a pre-installed CentOS 7 usb drive works just fine.
     
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  10. fohdeesha

    fohdeesha Active Member

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    I've been using a t620 for a couple years now to run the main touchscreen interface for my home automation system - Fohdeesha/home-automation

    I always wanted to get it to iscsi boot off my main ZFS storage for the house so I could eliminate it relying on a local drive, but the built in NIC had awful/nonexistent bootROM options

    Your great thread has inspired me to stop being lazy and stick another NIC in it (probably the intel i340) and make it happen. these really are useful little boxes, have also used them as lightweight boxes to run big projection displays (webpages and/or looping videos at events) - 2x independent projector feeds per box, almost no power usage! Will be running the network for a 200+ person LAN party in october, will probably use a t620 to run a pair of projectors with fullscreen Grafana showing live network and power usage info
     
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  11. nthu9280

    nthu9280 Active Member

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    That's a valuable info. I actually have a few of these screws and did not know they fit.

    What bothers me is that all these companies -- HP, Dell you name it, go out of their way to customize. How hard is it to design so the fasteners are of the more common ones such as 6#32, 4#40 M3 etc.
     
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  12. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    well, this is getting very annoying. so, i confirmed the thread size is indeed M1.6 and 3mm or 4mm long are both just fine. the problem is that M1.6 screws usually come with a small head as well, but this requires something bigger or the head will just pass through the PCB that holds the mSATA SSD.

    so, i'm going to have to return a few things, but it looks like what is needed here is a M1.6 x3/4mm, wafer head Phillips drive with a diameter larger than 3 or 4mm?
     
    #12
  13. Marsh

    Marsh Moderator

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    I used a small plastic washer to hold the SSD down.
     
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  14. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    I don't know why, but this issue is so annoying to me... i'm thinking of ordering some M2x0.4 taps and drilling out the M1.6 hole and re-threading it for M2...
     
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  15. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    #15
  16. fohdeesha

    fohdeesha Active Member

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    So after going to update my in-use t620's BIOS and realizing what a PITA it is, I developed an easier way. Some posts and HP readme's reference an easy to use "flash ROM" option in the BIOS, but none of my T620's have had this. note: all the below applies to both the t620 and t620 plus, same BIOS for both

    Also, HP's site is a ****ing mess, as always (I do not miss having to use their servers). If you run through all the OS options on their drivers download page, it turns out the very latest BIOS version (released four months ago!) - v2.17, is hidden under "windows 7 embedded" - because it's HP and **** you that's why

    I noticed the BIOS download comes with an EFI shell application to update the BIOS, so I simply used the open source EFI shell bin from the EDK2 project - https://github.com/tianocore/edk2 to create a bootable EFI shell image, and stuck the HP bios update efi application in the root of it, renaming it to update-t620.efi - I then wrote all this out to an ISO file linked here: http://fohdeesha.com/data/other/t620-bios-v217.iso

    so just use your favorite tool to write that to a USB drive (GPT or MBR, doesn't matter), and EFI boot the thumb drive on the t620. Make sure EFI boot devices are enabled and secure boot is disabled in the bios settings. It'll boot to a simple EFI command line - just type update-t620 and it'll begin the BIOS update. Once it finishes, just power off/reboot and remove your flash drive
     
    #16
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  17. fohdeesha

    fohdeesha Active Member

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    Also @BLinux wasn't lying, it boots very fast. less than 5 seconds from pressing the power button to landing on the gnome login screen (debian) on mine with the stock 16GB sandisk SSD
     
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  18. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    #18
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  19. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    yeah, with Linux it boot pretty fast, perhaps thanks to systemd. ironically, for the many people who are probably looking at this for pfsense, that doesn't boot as fast. The POST is really fast though...
     
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  20. BLinux

    BLinux Well-Known Member

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    added HP P/N for the lower 65W PSU to OP.
     
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