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18 Posts

11-15-2017

United States of America

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M55 Power Supply and Graphics Card Upgrade Experience

2021-03-21, 17:57 PM

Posting here as my experience might help others to continue to get value from their Lenovo M55 hardware investment.

 

M55 power supply failure mode observations. 
My M55’s OEM power supply was a Lite-On 300 watt power supply (part# 41N3449) that did its job for a little over 12 years.  I suspected trouble when I could hear a changing pitch tone coming from the power supply.  When I started hearing beep codes at startup, I knew it was done.  

 

Replacement power supply model selection.
At first, I considered getting an identical replacement unit from eBay.  Despite ample availability and low prices, I passed because those used units are probably all near their own end-of-life.  MTBF might even be less than 12 years for the average desktop power supply.  Fortunately, new power supplies are inexpensive.  I settled on an EVGA 450BR 80+ Bronze, 450 watt power supply unit (model #100-BR-0450-K1).  I paid $50 for the unit, and the same unit has been even cheaper recently, possibly because EVGA is reducing inventory before discontinuing the model.  I have been running my M55 for over a year with the 450 BR power supply, and it has not missed a beat.  Kudos to EVGA.

 

Testing the power supply out-of-the-box.

What EVGA doesn’t tell you (nor do they document in the product literature that comes with the 450BR) is that you need to jump start the power supply if you want to test whether it works out-of-the-box.  They call this the paper clip test.  EVGA even made a video explaining how to do this test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buPMx9dw0LU .  If you don’t know about the paper clip test, you might confuse a perfectly good power supply with a DOA unit.  

 

Power Supply Swap-Over.
Swapping in the new power supply for the old one was straight forward. This video explains the swap process working with a similar EVGA replacement power supply and a machine that is similar to the M55 from a power supply connection perspective:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZvHGzefH10 . There are two power connection points on the M55 motherboard, and the design is old enough that you do not need any adapters between the power supply leads coming off of the 450BR and the motherboard.  You do need such adapters on later model Lenovo motherboards (such as the M92) as Lenovo decided to deviate from the ATX power supply standard somewhere along the way.

 

Graphics Card. 
I installed an ATI Radeon HD 4850 card in my M55.  These cards are plentiful and inexpensive on eBay, and AMD/ATI still publishes the drivers for download.  This particular card has 512MB of dedicated graphics memory, which is better than most for an M55 period-correct graphics card.  Plan to spend some time cleaning out the card as the prior owner probably didn’t clean it out before passing it on.  The design of these cards is perfect for trapping dust.  One reason for choosing this card is that there are other posts on this forum that indicate that the next generation 5xxx series of ATI Radeon HD graphics cards are not going to work on the M55.  Another reason to choose this card is that it supports Direct X 10.1, which can be important for some applications.  A more detailed write-up on this card can be found here:  https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/radeon-hd-4850.c493 .  Note also that AMD/ATI recommends a 450 watt system power supply to run this card.  The card has it’s own 6-pin power supply connection, and the EVGA 450BR has a dedicated power lead just for that purpose.

 

Another Case Fan. 
The ATI Radeon HD 4850 runs hot-- 50 to 60 degrees at idle.  I suspect that I need to disassemble the heat sink on the card and replace the GPU thermal paste in order to lower this card’s temps.  Meanwhile, I installed another case fan, which is worth about 3 - 7 degrees of ambient temperature reduction inside the case while the graphics card is running.  You just cannot have too many fans on the M55 (I have 6:  3 hard drive fans, 2 rear-case fans, and the front-case fan for the CPU cooler.  Thermal performance never was the M55’s strong suit.

 

Roles for the M55.
Although it is neither a web browsing machine nor a gaming machine, the M55 is still useful for a number of tasks: 
-- Photo repository and light photo editing.  You can indeed run ACDSee Professional 2021 on an M55 with the ATI Radeon HD 4850 (as it possible to configure the M55 to dual boot into a Win 7 Pro instance; see this thread: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkCentre-A-E-M-S-Series/M55-Dual-Boot-Tips/m-p/4357149?page=1#4357149 )  
-- Music and file repository.  There are 4 SATA ports on the M55 Tower motherboard.  When it comes to file repository, two 500GB SSDs and a WDRed Pro 2Tb HDD go a long way for me.  Acronis True Image 2021 Standard also runs just fine on Win 7 Pro on the M55.  
-- Workbench machine.   I have a heard of laptops running around the house.  With time, laptop drives invariably need maintenance and, occasionally, cloning.  It is a simple matter to temporarily repurpose M55 SATA and power connections and spool up my decade-old copy of Acronis Disk Director.  It still works fine.  It is also handy to have a workbench machine that can be dedicated for running long, uninterrupted SpinRite sessions to do repair and recovery from problematic HDDs.  
-- Legacy software.  There are no upgrades available for some some legacy software applications.  To run them, you have to have a period-correct machine.  Fortunately, doing so is one of the least expensive things going in computing.  

 

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6063 Posts

08-02-2018

Philippines

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Re:M55 Power Supply and Graphics Card Upgrade Experience

2021-03-22, 12:54 PM

Hi JibHalyard!


Greetings


Thank you for the suggested steps. Hope these steps will help others. 
Cheers!

 

 

 

Jwes_Lenovo



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5777 Posts

01-01-2012

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  • Message 3 of 4

Re:M55 Power Supply and Graphics Card Upgrade Experience

2021-03-22, 13:20 PM

@ JibHalyard wrote:

 

Another Case Fan. 
The ATI Radeon HD 4850 runs hot-- 50 to 60 degrees at idle.  I suspect that I need to disassemble the heat sink on the card and replace the GPU thermal paste in order to lower this card’s temps.  Meanwhile, I installed another case fan, which is worth about 3 - 7 degrees of ambient temperature reduction inside the case while the graphics card is running.  You just cannot have too many fans on the M55 (I have 6:  3 hard drive fans, 2 rear-case fans, and the front-case fan for the CPU cooler.  Thermal performance never was the M55’s strong suit.

 

 

If you haven't done so, replacing all the solid PCI slot covers with maximum vented covers will lower GPU temps, as you want to maximize the cool air flowing across the GPU fan intake.  As a test, you can remove all the solid covers before ordering the vented. 

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18 Posts

11-15-2017

United States of America

31 Signins

391 Page Views

  • Posts: 18
  • Registered: ‎11-15-2017
  • Location: United States of America
  • Views: 391
  • Message 4 of 4

Re:M55 Power Supply and Graphics Card Upgrade Experience

2021-03-22, 13:46 PM
Great idea. I'll give that a spin.
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