Idle power consumption on 120V power we saw 11-13W idle for the quad-core unit. We generally assume these nodes will use 9-12W idle so this was a bit higher. Again, these are used units so it may vary a bit.
The power supplies are 65W Lenovo power adapters from the company’s notebook line. We hit 54W on our unit putting as much stress as we could on it. This is still a relatively low power consumption. Most nodes used for labs, or even as desktops, will sit idle most of the time.
Something that we will note is that the power adapter that came with this unit had a lot of lint and cobwebs attached to the velcro strap. Most of the TMM nodes we get come with clean power adapters, but this was the exception. Still, it worked fine.
At idle, the noise is not significant. Under CPU and/or GPU loads, the fan spins up and the system is audible. An advantage is that one can move this system to avoid direct noise by mounting it on the back of a TV or monitor, under a desk, or elsewhere. These are designed to be quiet so many of them can fill rooms of small cubicles or co-working desk space so these need to be designed to be relatively quiet.
Next, we are going to discuss key lessons learned before getting to our final thoughts.
Key Lesson Learned for TMM
In this series, we wanted to also focus on some key lessons learned. Since we have already tested well over a dozen different models, we are taking away key pieces of advice from each that we wanted to share.
Our key takeaway is to pay attention to both the CPU model number along with stickers. In this particular unit, even though it was not listed as having an OS nor vPro when we purchased it, we saw evidence to the contrary.
The Core i5-6500T was the lowest-end processor to support vPro in these machines. When we saw the Core i5 vPro sticker we were reasonably certain it had vPro. Likewise, it was listed with “No OS” however, we saw the Windows Pro sticker on the photos of the bottom of the unit. There was no OS installed since there was no drive, however, this sticker is affixed to units that have the embedded Windows 10 Pro license.
Of course, there is some risk in looking at stickers as the systems may have been altered after purchase making the stickers incorrect. At the same time, we thought it was a high likelihood that these systems would be OK.
Our key takeaway, therefore, is if you are looking at similarly priced systems for hardware, double-check the stickers to see if one provides more value for additional features.
We came away with two primary views of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M900 Tiny. First, at $160 used, it was an excellent value. It is highly competitive with a Raspberry Pi 4 8GB once the 8GB model has a nice case. The expandability to 16GB or 32GB of RAM in this system plus the SATA and NVMe drive slots means that one can effectively consolidate 2-4 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 8GB models into a single system like this, especially in cases where one is RAM limited. Further, the Intel HD 530 graphics are well supported for applications such as Plex transcoding with QuickSync offload. Likewise, it is an upgrade over the more expensive Mac Mini (late 2014 until the next-gen was launched in 2018) in many ways. The value is strong here.
The other side of this system is what happens when we look at what comes after. The Core i5-8500T is a 6 core processor. Newer systems also have 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen2 ports and some Type-C ports as well. There are quite a few of these small features which we miss on an older system like this. Once memory and storage are added, the cost to get those extra two cores is not great. For example, we purchased a HP ProDesk 600 G4 with a Core i5-8500T, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB NVMe SSD for $350. That may well be worth the incremental price especially if one is thinking of clustering systems.
Overall, the key distinction of this system is the price. When the reduced memory and storage are accounted for, it was similar in price to the Project TinyMiniMicro HP EliteDesk 705 G3 Mini we looked at. It does have a better processor and vPro which we prefer over DASH. As a result, for some, this is going to be the better buy. In this space, there is a lot of nuances and personal preference involved.