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Zac_S
Paper Tape
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎09-11-2016
Location: US
Views: 605
Message 1 of 6

P70 thermal and dock problems

I have a P70, with Xeon E3-1505 processor, nVidia Quadro M5000M, 32GiB ECC DRAM, dual 256GB OPAL2 NVMe SSD, 3840*2160 screen. I'm trying to use it with the ThinkPad Workstation Dock 40A50230US, and NEC EA304WMi (2560*1600 colour calibrated, landscape orientation) panel and a Samsung SyncMaster 204B (1600*1200, portrait orientation) panel. I upgraded from a W700 with a Core2 Quad Extreme, nVidia Quadro FX3700M, 8GiB DRAM, dual 256GB SATA SSD, 1920*1200 screen. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the improvements afforded by the spec upgrades, though the P70 feels a little less 'rugged' in comparison. I would have, for example, preferred a more 'robust'-feeling hinge and panel with a latch, rather than the magnet they use on the P70 to hold the screen closed. I also preferred the 16:10 ratio on the W700 over the 16:9 ratio on the P70. Granted, the P70 is a bit lighter, but I'd happily take on an extra pound for a 3840*2400 screen with a heftier lid, stiffer hinge, and a latch. The P70 seems to be a great machine spec-wise, but it has some problems, though mostly with the dock, and I'm becoming convinced some of the problems are thermally-rooted, and have been long convinced that the remainder are derived from poor design (using switchable USB power to drive necessary features) or faulty firmware (unwillingness to use native resolution). I'm on my third system board and second dock right now, and Lenovo seems more confused by my issues as things go on. The machine so far has been rock-solid stable when used without the dock. I can run heavy video and processor load stuff on it for hours on end, without glitches or problems. Unhappily, despite this stability, it runs so hot that I need one of those laptop desks that blows cool air up into it if I want to use it on my lap -- I have a bamboo lap desk, but it is still uncomfortable to use the machine even with that. For both longevity of the machine, and greater comfort in use, I would love to be able to change the fans to use a more aggressive speed curve. Lenovo's options of 'balanced' (avoid the fans until the machine has melted into slag) and 'performance' (pulse the fans now and again to prevent the machine melting into slag) are just not sufficient. Yes, there are times when I would prefer it to be quieter, and am willing to reduce performance to achieve that, but I bought a 'workstation' class machine because I often want to push it to high performance mode, and thermal throttling and lap scalding so the fans stay quiet hardly seems a good way to go. With the dock, though, it edges out to the far boundaries of barely tolerable. The spec sheet says the machine supports five displays when docked. I don't see how this claim could be true -- one DP port on the dock also drives the VGA and DVI port, so can't be used with them; the other DP port on the dock drives the HDMI port, so can't be used with that; when docked, the mini-DP port on the machine is disabled, so can't be used for anything. So, counting the built-in panel, I see three screens. Okay, so that's all I need, right? Maybe I'm meant to hook in Thunderbolt connectors as I'm docking the machine to use Apple displays if I want more screen space? But isn't Apple discontinuing Thunderbolt displays? The DVI port seems like a passive wired adapter from the neighbouring DP port (also the HDMI port to the other DP port), so it is single-link and can not drive my dual-link DVI primary monitor. It also does not drive my single-link DVI secondary monitor properly because it consistently refuses to use the correct resolution. Instead of 1200*1600 (remember, it's portrait orientation), I get resolutions that range from 720*1280 to 1024*1280, and if I go to change resolutions once I'm logged in, it suggests I should run it at its native 1200*1600 resolution. So, I change it, but it refuses to stick -- log out, shut down/reboot, or do almost anything of that sort and the resolution drops again. The only way to make it stick is to either use an active DP to DVI adapter (one that requires power and has circuitry to explicitly translate the signals) or to set a custom resolution (at the panel's native resolution). The former means there's a delay of several seconds every time it does anything that would change the monitor's state; the latter tends to be forgotten occasionally, but at least not as often as without it. The DP port on the side of the machine will work with the Samsung monitor without complaint using a basic passive DP to DVI adapter, as well as every other DP or DVI port I have tried on Intel and nVidia cards, so it's something wrong with the dock. So, just to drive my displays, I need over $250 in additional hardware (powered intelligent DP to DL-DVI adapters), plus I need to use external power for them because of the dock's behaviour with USB selective suspend. Didn't need this for the dock on my W700 to drive the same displays. Sometimes when docked, I can not reboot -- it just hangs with what looks like a text mode cursor in the upper left of the screen (except it's not blinking), just before it would display the logo or the diagnostic screen. Without the external monitors attached to the dock, this does not happen. Without being docked, this does not happen. It happens whether using 'dedicated' or 'hybrid' video. Yes, I upgraded the firmware on the dock to the most recent, which seems to have made it less frequent, but not eliminated it. It took a call to Lenovo's paid software support line to update the dock firmware, since it would always tell me that it was the wrong device (it told them that many times, too, but they just kept trying for a couple hours). Oh, yes, Lenovo has told me that I must disable USB selective suspend on the P70 whenever it is docked if I want to use a screen connected to the dock. So the dock's buggy DP splitter is powered by USB and can be switched off to save power but not directly (affected by some other USB device's selective suspend)? This also confirmed by their paid software support line. The reason I'm on my third system board is how the machine behaves docked. When put under any heavy load, it simply switches off after a little while. Does not ask, display a warning, or anything else. Looks like a panic shutdown, but it's not always clean; Windows logs usually indicate it was not shut down correctly. A heavy CPU + heavy GPU load killed it in a few minutes when docked on the first two system boards, and only stressing either GPU might let it run fifteen minutes or more before dying. Switched out power converters, same connections to the machine with and without the dock; inserting the dock causes failure, removing the dock lets it run. The third board can run maybe thirty minutes at GPU load without dying, but still only gets a few minutes stressing both. No difference between the two docks. Can run something like LinPack docked, but only if the GPU is essentially idle, and looking at it I notice that the CPU fan intake is not constricted by the dock. But the most annoying part of this is that I'm convinced the shutdown problem is thermal. Despite the shutdown happening even before the fans kick up to their max RPM, I have done some experiments. Providing cool air aimed *under* the machine (so it gets drawn in from below by the onboard fans) improves the time to failure so significantly that I can hear it hit max RPM on the fans a few times, and let it run for a few hours, before it dies. Peak temperatures are 94C for the CPU cores, and 84C for the GPU, and it seems to need to hit this level before the fans ramp up to full (and they slow back down quickly, as soon as temperatures fall to 91C for the cores or 81C for the GPU). Finally I am experimenting with the dock and machine on a mesh platform. The platform support is solid, except in front, which is open. This prevents the exhaust air (out the sides and back) being drawn back under the platform. Under the platform, I have two fans blowing through the mesh against the bottom of the dock and the bottom of the machine. So far with this arrangement, I have been able to achieve more than 40 hours continuous heavy load for both CPU and GPU, and the onboard fans have not ramped to full yet (max 92C on the CPU and 81C on the GPU). The W700 never gave me this kind of trouble even though the CPU and GPU both seemed to put out more heat, docked or not. Other than redesigning the dock's physical shape so the machine can draw in air more freely (it's a bottom-breather, so the dock should not obstruct so much of the bottom of the machine), I see no real way to remedy the thermal issues without resorting to suspending the whole assembly on a mesh platform and forcing cool air up it. But considering how poorly the dock deals with its job (connecting the PC to power, peripherals, displays), maybe a total redesign is in order. Even with the mesh platform, I still want a way to turn the fans UP. I want the machine to run COOLER. If I want to browse the web in silence, I'll set low performance mode or dig out a toy like my Asus T100TAM (which neither has nor needs a fan). If I want to do heavy computing or gaming (optionally while on the go), I'll use the P70 (unhappily with an external fan for now). I would feel a lot more comfortable (not just my lap, but in my expectations of how long the P70 will last) if it could run cooler. Attaching four fans to the side and rear vents to suck the hot air out faster might help too, but that would consume all the USB ports... I think I finally have figured out how to live with the miserable dock, so if Lenovo or someone could offer me a way to add a more aggressive fan curve to the cooling options, I think I might approach being happy with this new system (as long as I don't find some other problem).
p600
Broadband 3G
Posts: 484
Registered: ‎10-03-2011
Location: CA
Views: 559
Message 2 of 6

Re: P70 thermal and dock problems

Lenovo promises that 3x1920x1200@60Hz will definitely work with the dock -  https://support.lenovo.com/ca/en/documents/pd029622 , and with M3000 + dock they  do work 100% reliably for me.

 

For the  extra 2 monitors (to reach Lenovo claim of 5 in total) can use Thunderbolt 3->DisplayPort adapter, which are plenty on Amazon at ~$30/piece. That's the only way to hookup more than one 4K@60Hz monitor to P70, for example.

Zac_S
Paper Tape
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎09-11-2016
Location: US
Views: 548
Message 3 of 6

Re: P70 thermal and dock problems

Thanks; that link says a lot more than I could find before I bought the thing. When I was looking into them early-on, I saw in similar documentation that the dock supports two displays up to 3840*2160@60Hz, but never saw any mention that the HDMI is at 30Hz for anything above 1080p (though that was expected) or that the DVI connector was not dual-link (this came as a surprise, and is only implied by the resolution limit in the current table). I'm glad they finally filled in the details better. How did you manage to connect a 1920*1200 panel to the analogue port? Still, the dock is absolutely reliable in misusing my 1600*1200 panel, which works with several other machines, and even works on the P70's onboard mini-DP using a simple wired (passive) DP to DVI adapter. Using a direct connection or a simple converter, no matter where I connect it to the dock (DP1, DVI, DP2, HDMI), it keeps trying to pretend it's a half-def (720p) or 1280*1024 panel, or somewhere in between (I have had it pick 1280*768 a few times), and then Windows tells me I should run the panel at native resolution (so does the panel), but setting it thus just refuses to stick -- even logging out drops to one of the lower resolutions. Running this screen through an active powered DP to DL-DVI-D adapter works properly. I'm convinced this is a bug in the dock's DP splitter. Yes, the display is on before the machine, in accordance with that one line warning buried in the user manual that DVI monitors need to be turned on first. I also have USB selective suspend disabled. It also regularly fails to reboot when docked, as long as the dock has a screen attached. Pull the screen and it works. Pull the dock (attach the screen to the mini-DP port), and it works. Dock with a screen attached and it usually hangs just before the Lenovo logo or the boot diagnostics screen (whichever you have selected). Maybe that has to do with how poorly it interacts with my smaller screen, too, since the recent firmware claims to fix a similar bug on a certain 16:9 panel.
p600
Broadband 3G
Posts: 484
Registered: ‎10-03-2011
Location: CA
Views: 499
Message 4 of 6

Re: P70 thermal and dock problems


@Zac_S wrote:
Thanks; that link says a lot more than I could find before I bought the thing. When I was looking into them early-on, I saw in similar documentation that the dock supports two displays up to 3840*2160@60Hz, but never saw any mention that the HDMI is at 30Hz for anything above 1080p (though that was expected) or that the DVI connector was not dual-link (this came as a surprise, and is only implied by the resolution limit in the current table). I'm glad they finally filled in the details better. How did you manage to connect a 1920*1200 panel to the analogue port?

 

The "new" Workstation dock was a major disappointment. Lenovo later revised/clarified the statement "dock supports two displays up to 3840*2160@60Hz" , as that does not work. ALL dock video connections together must be within bandwidth of one 4K@60Hz. And once it gets close to that number (and with your monitor resolution it seems very close, if not slightly exceeding it), things might get unreliable. 

 

So I ended up not using the dock where I needed 2x4K monitors (and connect the laptop directly with 1x miniDp , 1x Thunderbolt3->DisplayPort adapter), and moved the dock to another location where there are 3x1920x1200 monitors on my desk (via VGA, DisplayPort and DVI on the dock). No problems with the resolution sticking at either place, and Windows 10 picks up configuration automatically.

Zac_S
Paper Tape
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎09-11-2016
Location: US
Views: 477
Message 5 of 6

Re: P70 thermal and dock problems

(2560 * 1600) + (1200 * 1600) == 6016000

(3840 * 2160) == 8294400

(4096 * 2560) == 10485760

(3840 * 2160) + (1920 * 1200) == 10598400

 

On the page you referenced, Lenovo claims it supports 3840*2160 + 1920*1200 both at 60Hz, so 6M pixels total on my displays verus 10M pixel limit has me pretty well under the limit (about 60%).  Based upon that, it can even take what I'd like to see as my next display -- 4096 * 2560 (though I don't expect that to work any better than the 1200*1600 panel).

 

Since it still insistently mis-sets the resolution even with only the 1200*1600 display, I don't think it has to do with the bandwidth limit.  I don't think it is the display either, or the connection to it, since several other machines also running Windows 7 detect the display and use it correctly.  If I connect this panel through an active DP to DL-DVI adapter (like I'm using for the 2560*1600 panel) then it works.  Even if I use a passive adapter on the onboard mini-DP port, it just works.  It just doesn't work on the dock's DVI port or using simple wired HDMI to DVI adapter or simple wired DP to DVI adapter with the dock.  The dock just doesn't like anything but DP, which is hardly a surprise since probing it looks like it has a single DP connection to the PC that is split on the dock into three ports -- VGA, DP+SL-DVI, DP+HDMI.  I'm convinved this DP splitter is the source of all of these display issues.  The dock firmware release notes make me suspect it is the source of the reboot hang I'm seeing, too.

 

I've finally coerced it to work well enough for now on this front, using an active DP to DL-DVI adapter like I have with the 2560*1600 panel (both powered by an external power source), and I've suspended the dock and PC over a mesh frame with fans blowing up on the bottom of the dock and PC to keep it cool enough to not die under heavy load before the onboard fans get a chance to kick up to full RPM, so that much is covered, too.  Funny that I don't have the shutdown problems unless it's in the dock, even with the same devices connected and running the same code, and that forcing cool air up the assembly of dock and PC seems to resolve this problem.  Maybe the video being on the left side and the dock almost completely obscuring the intake on that side has something to do with the shutdown problem?

 

Now if I could just figure out what I need to do or hack to make it where 'rebooting' with it in the dock does not cause it to hang on the screen just before the Lenovo logo (or diagnostics screen) is displayed.  It's as easy to do a shutdown and then hit the power switch on the dock as restart (and then hit the power button on the dock).  I don't see this problem either if it's not docked.

 

I'm quite disappointed.  Out of ten, I might rate the dock a 2 or 3.  It gets that many points because it does something basic I expect from a dock -- plop the machine down on it and it connects power, video, audio, peripherals.  In much every other way it's disappointing.

 

Pity this dock seems to be the 'best' such option for the machine.  I expect the display pixel count limitation of 10M pixels at 60Hz is stuck (the dock connector on the PC) but it would be nice to have a dock that doesn't suffer the same other restrictions and problems, so I can hope Lenovo may one day do a revision that takes into account the problems with this one.  Not holding my breath though; Expecting the P70 will sell as well as the W700 long term if this is the best they can do.

 

AHahn
Punch Card
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎01-19-2016
Location: CA
Views: 462
Message 6 of 6

Re: P70 thermal and dock problems

Thank you Zac_S for initiating this thread. Your strrong opinions finally nudged me to abandon my own Workstation Dock after struggling for months to resolve display issues. In the latest incident my P70 was refusing to recognize the new monitor's max display resolution (2560x1440) but now it boots up like a charm. I couldn't be happier. I even took the opportunity to follow your advice and prop up the laptop to maximize the underneath airflow and it is running cooler.

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