Tiny/Mini/Micro PC experiences

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ReturnedSword

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Jun 15, 2018
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Never underestimate QoL... that's one of my key criteria now. Could you spring for the $180-200 a year for VMUG or even get your work to help pay for it? You would get all these features back and surely otherwise your extra admin time over a year is going to effectively cost way more than $200.

I used Debian, but yeah. I run k8s in k3s VMs as well. I've just started a topic here in the Linux admin section asking for advice on how to best do a mix of containers, VMs, and storage in my environment if you wanted to chip in.

I forget exactly but let's say something like £250 (~$330) door to door. Not a budget item, I think the i7 8700T is a better deal if you need threads or the i7 9700T if you don't, their Passmarks are almost the same as each other (about 10,600 vs the i9 9900T at almost 14,000) but they're a lot cheaper than the i9 9900T.
I can certainly pay for VMUG, but it’s not my primary role or expertise. This is just homelabbing to run some hobbyist stuff, and to stay on my toes for work. I’m never surprised anymore how many times a contracted consultancy (some big names too) claimed they couldn’t do something, even a POC, and if they could, it’d take 10x the man hours and resources. Then I go into the work lab and throw together a POC in a weekend by myself. That being said, I checked and the license of my current client doesn’t include VMUG. They also probably won’t pay for a license for me too since it’s not part of my normal role. I’ll check my former universities later. It’s been years since I attended but I still have access to various university resources.

QoL is indeed important. As I get older I find less time for “hobbies.” I had manually curated my Plex library for years, and recently got into the *arrs. It has been a godsend. Yes, sometimes automating stuff doesn’t grab the version of stuff I would’ve done manually, but the result is I have to spend much less time minding things.

VMWare stack is indeed easier to manage, but at the same time I’m also interested in Promox and haven’t taken a deep dive into it previously beyond a cursory look. You’re probably right though, in the end VMWare might work out better for me, and I should keep Proxmox as a side hobby to learn.

I considered k8s and k3s, but that seems quite overkill for a home lab. Same for ceph. I feel a bit burnt out babysitting my FreeNAS/TrueNAS servers. ZFS is awesome and my new Synology DS1821+ is quite limited but I have to deal with less stuff. I’m even considering moving a lot of stuff to Google cloud since the yearly buying dozens of hard disks to shuck is a huge money sink too.

I switched to AMD a few years back for workstations so haven’t kept up with the Intel side. I had initially presumed the 9700T had HT also, and was disappointed to find out I’d need a 9900T for that. I did see that the PassMarks between a 8700T and 9700T is basically the same. Skylake derivatives are quite power limited in later iterations after all. My initial excitement towards getting a 9900T has been tempered a bit. If I need more cores I’m sure around the corner the P340s will come down in price and I can grab a 10700T or even 10900T then.
 

snowylake

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Dec 4, 2021
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So I’ve got 64 GB SO-DIMMs and 2 x 2 TB NVMe installed as of last night. This made the P330 Tiny node vastly more expensive. I spent more on the upgrade than the P330 Tiny itself ha ha. Granted, I think I got it for a steal. NIB, security seals still intact, apparently it came with an unadvertised P1000 (which has the proper heat pipe going to the CPU HSF shroud btw; unexpected as @Patrick overview P620 had a regular single slot cooler), unadvertised Micron 32 GB in 2 x 16 GB. Bummer it didn’t have a 512 GB NVMe as in the advertisement (it came with a Samsung 256 GB), but I’m not complaining since it had everything else. I jumped on it as soon as my eyes popped after looking up the as-built specs via SN.

Now another thought has come up. There’s no way the 1 GbE connection can handle the throughput of the NVMe drives. Since my P330 Tiny has the P1000 occupying the expansion slot, I won’t be able to shoehorn in a fiber NIC. I ordered a Realtek based 2.5 GbE USB NIC. May improve speed, but still no where close to the NVMe speed.
From what I gathered it appears that the P620 & T600 does not comes with heatpipe while P1000 does.
Does the back of the unit gets very hot when you run some 3D loads on it ? Like a 3D game ?
That happens with the T600 (and I suspect P620)
 

snowylake

New Member
Dec 4, 2021
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More adventures in Tinys : I have an M75-1q which has a Realtek NIC that ESXi does not accept. I'm temporarily using a USB NIC, but I have sourced a Intel-based NIC Gbe card that should go in the WiFi m.2 slot. Online reports suggest I might have to reset the model details in the BIOS in order to get past the BIOS whitelist, but I'll update either way when I receive the card.
You should be able to get ESXi 6.7 (not 7.0) to work with the Realtek NIC, check here :
ESXi-Customizer-PS
(current script is on github)
 

Styp

Member
Aug 1, 2018
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What is the best 'TinyMiniMicro' option with a 10GBE interface at the moment?
Looking for an economical solution, doesn't need to be fully fledged last gen, just something to test a few things...

Cheers!
Martin
 

ReturnedSword

Active Member
Jun 15, 2018
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From what I gathered it appears that the P620 & T600 does not comes with heatpipe while P1000 does.
Does the back of the unit gets very hot when you run some 3D loads on it ? Like a 3D game ?
That happens with the T600 (and I suspect P620)
I haven’t tested this because I didn’t consider gaming on the P1000. The P1000 is based on a GTX 1050 non-Ti 4 GB, so it probably won’t be great at games anyway. Since I haven’t entered my P330 into service yet, I could try running some 3D benches on it to see how hot it gets when I have time.

My guess though is since the P1000 uses a heat pipe to the HSF duct, the heat would be better dissipated than GPUs that have a traditional fan. The GPU intake fan opening on the top of the unit wouldn’t be used at all besides to draw in some extra air.

I noted some anecdotal comments from Reddit that people with P350 units experienced shutdowns though when they tried to game on T1000, which is based on RTX 1650 non-Ti I believe. I’m not sure if those T1000 use a heat pipe or if it’s a regular GPU fan.
 

ReturnedSword

Active Member
Jun 15, 2018
526
235
43
Santa Monica, CA
What is the best 'TinyMiniMicro' option with a 10GBE interface at the moment?
Looking for an economical solution, doesn't need to be fully fledged last gen, just something to test a few things...

Cheers!
Martin
I haven’t seen any TMM PCs with built in 10 GbE NBaseT. If you have a TMM with a PCIe slot you can try installing a NIC though. Due to the constrained space if I were to do it I’d probably stick with fiber NICs or X55x/X7xx for the lower wattage.
 

snowylake

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Dec 4, 2021
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I haven’t tested this because I didn’t consider gaming on the P1000. The P1000 is based on a GTX 1050 non-Ti 4 GB, so it probably won’t be great at games anyway. Since I haven’t entered my P330 into service yet, I could try running some 3D benches on it to see how hot it gets when I have time.

My guess though is since the P1000 uses a heat pipe to the HSF duct, the heat would be better dissipated than GPUs that have a traditional fan. The GPU intake fan opening on the top of the unit wouldn’t be used at all besides to draw in some extra air.

I noted some anecdotal comments from Reddit that people with P350 units experienced shutdowns though when they tried to game on T1000, which is based on RTX 1650 non-Ti I believe. I’m not sure if those T1000 use a heat pipe or if it’s a regular GPU fan.
The main reason I tested that is to check the cooling effectiveness when both the CPU & GPU are in use.
While the heat pipe should be more effective than the regular fans on P620 & T600, it also focus the air intake & outlet on half the unit.
It should be interesting what is the overall impact of the heat pipe in cooling the unit.

I would expect T1000 to be using heat pipe, but have not seen any actual evidence of that.
Note that although T1000 a possible part listed in the P350 PSRef, it is not listed on any published P350 model on Lenovo site.
So that might be a custom build or special bid item.
 

snowylake

New Member
Dec 4, 2021
16
4
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What is the best 'TinyMiniMicro' option with a 10GBE interface at the moment?
Looking for an economical solution, doesn't need to be fully fledged last gen, just something to test a few things...

Cheers!
Martin
For build in NIC, so far it has been only 1Gb.
HP Elitedesk 800/805 G6/G8 has add on options for 2.5Gb, but it appears that they can only be added at purchase time.

Certain models of Lenovo TMM coffeelake & later that allows a PCIe slot card, for 10Gb that is about the only option at the moment.
Note that you will need to remove the existing bracket to fit and there is no solution from Lenovo to secure it fully.
 
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zer0sum

Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2013
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What is the best 'TinyMiniMicro' option with a 10GBE interface at the moment?
Looking for an economical solution, doesn't need to be fully fledged last gen, just something to test a few things...

Cheers!
Martin
The Lenovo's are the easiest - M920Q, M720Q
 

Parallax

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Nov 8, 2020
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And take a look at the specs for power consumption on the card; the lower the better since this translates directly into heat, and the airflow/cooling in that part of the Lenovo Tinys is not amazing.
 

mobilenvidia

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Sep 25, 2011
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It's most like a MCDP2800 LSPCON chip on there. Those support HDR and were very common on Intel 7-8th generation hardware. Intel even used them in the NUC line.
You almost had it, its a MCDP2900A4
Difference to 2800 looks to be 2900 is a DP 1.4a to HDMI 2.0b vs 2800 DP 1.2a to HDMI 2.0b

Really impressed with shipping speed, had no confidence in things coming from China, but came 2 weeks before even earliest estimated arrival date

I'll not be able to play with it will probably tomorrow, Xmas functions galore at the moment

IMG_3370.JPG
 

mobilenvidia

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Sep 25, 2011
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Hmmm, snuck home from work to give it ago, can't help my self with new bits
Easily fitted
Take out the metal tab out of case, fit the card, the cable loops round 180deg on Mobo socket
2x supplied screws
Nice and neat finish, way better than an active dongle

At first boot which took ages, complained Date/time was not set and in WIndows AHCI driver install needed a reboot
Not sure if related to this, seems odd

BUT I can't get 4k60 to work with cable I tried with, 4k30 as before my limit
I've got some more cables, I'll try those later
Or Firmware update is needed, do have the latest FW somewhere I found at Intel for their NUCs

IMG_3371.JPG

IMG_3372.JPG
Note in back ground the trailer that survived Wild fire, one of only 2 things recovered

Update, not the Firmware couldn't find any for the 2900, Intel uses the 2800
But I have 2x identical looking cables, I knew I bought one capable of 8k60
Tried other cable and 60hz available
Allows me to enable HDR in Windows
And movies are now in HDR, I'm quite happy

So this device works as it should and is highly recommended for any Optiplex 60x0 and 70x0 possibly others too

IMG_3374.JPG
 
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ReturnedSword

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Jun 15, 2018
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Is anyone running a P3x0 with Quadro in the PCIe slot AND also a SATA drive? The SATA drive wouldn’t have a mounting bracket, but just thinking of a way to hold the boot drive while leaving the NVMe slots free. Definitely wouldn’t be able to use a full 2.5” drive but any luck with SATA to M.2 Type B converters?
 

Parallax

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Nov 8, 2020
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Don't the P3x0s have two m.2 slots in the base, like the M920x (I don't really know the differences in all the "workstation" model Tinys)? Are you looking to fit three drives?

I think apart from physical space the other problem will be heat, you might end up causing throttling somewhere. You could also look at the m.2 wireless slot and try extending something off that as well; but personally I think if you want a bunch of storage in a Tiny you may as well use an external enclosure off the USB3 ports, then you have the flexibility to add full size 2.5"/3.5" drives if required. 10Gbps should be OK speed-wise?

Even though there are pads marked on the Tiny motherboards for Thunderbolt, unfortunately I've never seen it mentioned on the spec sheets.
 

ReturnedSword

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Jun 15, 2018
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Don't the P3x0s have two m.2 slots in the base, like the M920x (I don't really know the differences in all the "workstation" model Tinys)? Are you looking to fit three drives?

I think apart from physical space the other problem will be heat, you might end up causing throttling somewhere. You could also look at the m.2 wireless slot and try extending something off that as well; but personally I think if you want a bunch of storage in a Tiny you may as well use an external enclosure off the USB3 ports, then you have the flexibility to add full size 2.5"/3.5" drives if required. 10Gbps should be OK speed-wise?

Even though there are pads marked on the Tiny motherboards for Thunderbolt, unfortunately I've never seen it mentioned on the spec sheets.
The P3x0 does have two M.2 Type M 2280 slots on the bottom side. I’ve got mine filled with 2 TB NVMe :D

I was just looking to find a way to put a small Proxmox/ESXi boot drive in there. I wasn’t thinking about heat throttling on a SATA based drive (via converter), but was more worried about shorts since it wouldn’t be mounted on anything. A 2.5” drive chassis definitely won’t fit with an add-on card occupying the PCIe/drive bay.

I also ordered a Sabrent Realtek based 2.5 GbE USB NIC, but haven’t had the chance to test that yet as it arrived yesterday evening.

I’m new to this TMM thing, so after my initial excitement it seems there has to be quite a few compromises made. No real way to have 10 Gbit networking for example if I already have the Quadro :/

Are there any M.2 Type E 2230 NVMe out there? I did see something similar to the Type E Intel NIC you mentioned previously. I also saw some Type E to PCIe x1 adapters but those use riser cables. Don’t think those would fit in there!
 

Parallax

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I changed my approach with the TMMs over time. I think in retrospect I started taking a "big server" mentality to them and trying to stuff every function I thought I needed into one box, which as you say doesn't work. Since they're relatively cheap I've started creating roles for each one, or for pairs, and going that way. So then you can have a rendering one, a storage one, a high core count one, and so on, and then put taints or tags or whatever on each node to guide automated application deployment and orchestration.

You almost certainly will end up with bulk storage on a NAS-type non-TMM box anyway, and it may make sense to put your graphics card in that too, then you're processing files which are stored in the same box and you don't have to ship files all over the network. In short, you probably need an architecture with some workflow planning baked in and assume multiple nodes. I currently have five TMM nodes plus a NAS-style box, and I keep two or three turned off until I need k8s or whatever for lab purposes.
 

ReturnedSword

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I’m coming from the “big server” way of thinking too. Whether it’s me being foolish or not, most of my homelab stuff is a bit newer than the Xeon v1-3 most are running. Indeed, newer than the Xeon L series.

I have been following TMM for a while and had this idea in my head that I’m going to downsize to 1-2 storage boxes, mergerfs the rest into the cloud once I get around to switching to gigabit internet, and just run everything else on TMM. This is on theory to save on power and noise.

I’ve come close to outgrowing my 24 port 1G core switch, and the prospect of buying a bunch of 10G switches to supplement the 10G portion of the network would be an expensive one. I don’t think Mikrotik switches are capable to running copper transceivers on all ports anyway to handle the to be planned 2.5G stuff, which seems is all the TMM can be upgraded to at this point.

Seriously thinking of a new use for TMM, and going back to planning new NAS that will house the transcoder.
 

Parallax

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Yeah, I basically think of the Tinys as a cluster of compute and local storage where it's required for the apps themselves.

I have three Tinys with 1TB NVME for the OS plus the VM images, and 1TB of SSD storage for logs, databases and the like - 1TB is actually a lot for that purpose, I'm finding. Then a dedicated router Tiny with a 4 port NIC, and finally a high core count Tiny with a 9900T and 1TB NVME.

I said before the NAS box is the HPE Microserver Gen10 Plus, so that has the local media stores for home use and all the stuff that benefits from direct local access to those files - for transcoding, indexing, etc. Then I share that via NFS into the cluster, as well as base images, doing backups etc. At some point I might want a bit more bandwidth to the nodes, but at the moment even doing things like migrating VMs and using Longhorn works perfectly acceptably on 1Gbit. Probably the realistic limit is 2.5Gbit via USB on these, or some sort of extension of the WiFi m.2 slot to take a 10Gbit card, which I think would have to sit outside the case somehow.

In general these TMM nodes hold their value fairly well for the last couple of generations, so I'm opportunistically replacing my M920qs with M70qs when I see bargains for the storage/compute nodes, and eventually M90qs where I think I'll need the PCIe slot. As time progresses 2TB and 4TB will make economic sense in the m.2 slot and I can do away with the SSD, using the PCIe for other things.
 
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ReturnedSword

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I like the HP MicroServer gen 10+, but one thing I wish it had was additional SATA ports internally for a boot disk.

In my use case, I’d have to store media for Plex across the network because it became a situation of “if you build it you will use it.” I have about 200 TB storage on my network and it’s nearly 70% full with Plex libraries ha ha. That would necessitate re-architecting my home network to have one big NAS or connect everything over 10G. Then my seed box is independent so that the NAS arrays don’t get hammered constantly.

I’ve also realized that having two 2 TB NVMe in the P330 was probably overkill. I’ll just keep it like this for a while to see how I use it and perhaps drop down to 1 TB or even 256 GB + 1 TB later when I add nodes.

How is the ISP in the UK nowadays? When I lived there for work in Cambridge all I had access to was DSL, and slow at that. I can get 1 Gbit here now, but don’t have a use case for it yet unless I start sharing my Plex library.
 
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