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118 Posts

02-03-2008

RTP, NC

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Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2019-12-27, 15:58 PM

I saw this thread asking about exactly what I want to do, use an M720q TINY series for a pfSense router. 

 

https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkCentre-A-E-M-S-Series/Thinkcentre-M720-TINY-PFsense/td-p/4503542

 

Today you can buy these systems pre-configured with a 4-port Intel NIC (i350-T4) which is perfect.  IHowever, I already have one of these Tiny units, without the i350-T4, so can I just add a Lenovo branded i350-T4 pNIC to the open PCIe slot or is this Intel i350-T4 a "specially designed" pNIC which only fits into the PCIe slot on these boxes?   The space looks right, I just don't know about that heat sink or if only a specific part number pNIC is whitelisted.   I would hope any Lenovo-branded adapter would work.  Without a multi-port Intel-based pNIC, it's much harder to re-use this a kick-*@(@* router.   I've googled and poked around the Lenovo site for hours but there are no answers. 

 

This is the standard Lenovo i350-T4 / PCIe -> https://lenovopress.com/tips1155-intel-i350-gigabit-ethernet-adapters#os-00D1998 

 

Thanks.  G. Mobley

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4359 Posts

01-01-2012

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Re: Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2019-12-27, 16:55 PM

I believe you would need to add the Tiny riser card:  ThinkCentre Tiny - PCIe Riser card: p/n 01AJ902, Taisol, M920q

 

Is using VLANs over the built-in GigE port into a capable switch an option?  Ie.  NetGear -- Gigabit Smart Managed Plus Switch Series   (8 ports $45.)   Way less than buying that NIC and riser. 

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118 Posts

02-03-2008

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Re: Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2019-12-27, 17:57 PM

Hi, Thanks for the reply.   Yes and No. 

1) Yes, that looks like the "riser" but what models actually have the riser slot can also vary.  Sometimes, the connector is not even on the motherboard - depending on the model.   And as a cost-to-build thing, they will generally NOT include the riser unless your build calls for it.   That post is perfect and what I need - TY!!! (That thread is likely trying to do the same thing).  

 

2) No these units need a minimum of 2 onboard (preferable INTEL) ports to function as a router.  The Realtek onboards  found in most PCs are not always supported and their performance is lacking for a router-type device.  Its fine for most desktops. 

 

For instance, from the visuals I found for the older M910q, that riser is not even on the MB, expecially when the model has the 2.5" SSD slot b/c of space concerns. 

 

Thanks! 

 

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Re:Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2019-12-27, 21:16 PM

The PCI card space is also the 2.5" HDD/SSD space, and from the M720q HMM, it appears that all have the PCIe connector.  See the photos and graphics in this thread:  

 

Lenovo M910x Tiny Extreme: RX 460 graphics option, details and avail.

 

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118 Posts

02-03-2008

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Re: Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2019-12-28, 12:41 PM

Hi, Yes, I think you are right for the x20q series. When I look up serial numbers it shows the motherboards with the connector. But if you want the right angle PCIe connector, then you have to follow the other posting to obtain that part. I'm doubting that's included unless you get PCIe card. 

FWIW, this feels like an awesome solution for a high power pfSense router which probably has a 5-7 year lifespan - depending on what packages you are running as well as your internet connection speeds, VPNs etc..   I'm psyched. 

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118 Posts

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Re: Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2020-01-17, 16:26 PM

^^ Rounding up the parts to build a pfSense router.  So far have I've found

  1. M920q (which has the slot for #2 present on the MB.  (Many of the older models do not) 
  2. A 01AJ902 right angle PCIE connector.  BTW it looks like the this model might also work  01AJ929
    1. https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/desktops-and-all-in-ones/thinkcentre-m-series-desktops/thinkcentre-m920q/10rr/10rrs2ac06/mj09lhh4/parts/display/compatible
  3. I350 (Lenovo FRU03T8760)

The only speed bump is the standard I350 PCIe short mounting bracket does not fit.  The M920Q uses very custom set of rear brackets which only are available with the factory ordered part!!  They are not even shown on the BOM! 

 

Dremeling the short bracket might coax fitting with the case closed. Due to the very close spacing of the metal shielding of the ports directly below what is the rear side of the i350 card, I would be very very cautious about running the card without a support bracket.  I've installed some insulating material (electrical tape) in between the i350 and those lower MB ports.  It looks like without the bracket, the card could easily touch those metal parts which would be game over.   

 

Update:  This seems to have gone together though I'm not happy with the form and fit without the real i350 bracket.  I'll be installing pfSENSE in a few weeks.   Overall, if you are not handle with parts, then assembling this yourself is not recommended.  It's far simpler to order the M920q outfitted with the i350 cards and not hassel with the manual fitting.   

 

Cheers and Peace. 

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06-04-2020

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Re:Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2020-06-04, 19:10 PM

Thanks heaps for your account as I had the same idea too after realising it has an internal PCIE spot.


Is the main PCIe slot (before/without the riser) compatible with a PCIe card - or does one side have different dimensions or use a proprietary connector?

 

Theoretically would a regular network PCIe card fit in the vertical original PCIe slot if the case was open?  

 

As if so then I’m  wondering whether a regular PCIe extension cable might work rather than the offical 90degrees riser card? it might not be the perfect fit but would be Easier to get hold of.

 

if you happen to have any photos that would be amazing - unfortunately all the reviews and sites out there only show shots of the inside case with the brackets hiding what the PCIe slot looks like.

 

many thanks again

 

 

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118 Posts

02-03-2008

RTP, NC

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Re:Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2020-06-04, 23:18 PM

A standard short PCIe card will fit into the RISER slot physically and electrically at 90 degrees.  But the slot on the motherboard is NOT a standard PCIe slot.  See -> https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkCentre-A-E-M-S-Series/ThinkCentre-Tiny-PCIe-Riser-card-p-n-01AJ902-Taisol-M920q-M910q/m-p/4452024?page=1#4464190 

 

WRT the card, the support bracket on the end of the card is custom to the M series and I've been unable to locate one.  So the card I referenced you can either remove the bracket or the bracket hangs out the back. The little machine doesn't fully close properly if the standard PCIe support bracket is left on. 

 

I cannot get a photograph right now... but all the parts I posted work and that riser makes the PCIe slot usable.  Without the riser - no go. 

 

Search ebay or the other link for the riser part #, they work across several models. 

Look at this one I think it's possible sub, so verify with looking up your make/model/serial on Lenovo's site, then view the BoMaterials...  -> https://encompass.com/item/11670785/Lenovo/01AJ929/ 

 

If I had a do over, I'd almost just brought the configuration I needed with the right card.  It works but it was a real PITA to track down the parts.   The little machine however works well.  I've not gotten to putting pfSense on it as it's running COVID-19 folding.  :) 

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14 Posts

07-16-2020

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Re:Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2020-07-16, 20:48 PM

I'm on the same boat as you guys. I found the I350 assembly for the tiny machine but the price is outrageous. For sure I am not buying one. I have the T4 card. I will just 3D print a bracket probably when I get some time. Hope someone can find the bracket part for Tiny machines. I have the P340 Tiny Thinkstation.  https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/accessories-and-monitors/thinkcentre-and-thinkstation/cables-and-adapters/NET-BO-Intel-I350-T4-Ethernet-Card/p/4XC0R41416

 

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118 Posts

02-03-2008

RTP, NC

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Re:Adding 4-port NIC (i350-T4) to M710/720/910/920q TINY series?

2020-07-17, 11:38 AM

^^^^  Yeah, if you find a source, yell.  I do not think we can get the bracket without the card - unless it's a bracket from back-door China.

 

I've also looked for a month on eBay for used units that just happen to have the 4 port card. No dice - rare - like hen's teeth.   I agree, buying the "proper fitting card" separately is @(@(* outrageous.    

 

I bent my normal bracket to fit and closed the case as best I could - it's not fully closed but also, it does not get moved around and cooling seems fine.  Taking a dremel to it might make it fit better - just haven't been that motivated.  

 

My gut says our est route is try and find one on sale on eBay...either the machine is what you want or take the card and resale the rest.    I also looked a catching a unit built with the 4-port on a Lenovo "sale."  Knowing what I know now, that would be the best route to get a kick butt unit which should make an awesome pfSense FW - probably better than you are going to find anywhere pre-built.  Most of those are still using lower-end pCPUs.   Stay Safe, Stay Alive.  Peace.  Later. 

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