Log ThinkStation P350 Tiny - 1L Pocket Rocket Lake with RTX A2000

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Since I'm planning to move my 2.65L RCC-SMALL3 build over to a DENSIUM 4 I was looking for a new portable workstation and came across the LENOVO ThinkStation P350 Tiny - a 1L workstation which can support a low profile single slot GPU and Rocket Lake 65W CPUs up to i9 11900.

Some people already succeeded fitting a GTX 1650 in the P340 Tiny but I wanted a little bit more GPU performance and was wondering if I could fit a RTX A2000 in there.

Specs / parts used for the build:

first of all, I had to make a custom heatsink for the A2000 and see how well it would perform compared to the stock thermal solution - it's still a work in progress but I'm quite happy with the results so far - given that the thickness of the cooler must be <12mm (<15mm from PCB) in order to fit you'll simply have to make some compromises in terms of thermals and noise



next I had to design a custom backplate - not so much for thermals but simply to secure the GPU in place during transport. I choose 0.6mm stainless steel and insulated it with thermal pads all over to prevent any components from the GPU or motherboard touching any metal and possibly frying something. additionally I put a piece of LEXAN on the Q570 chipset heatsink for insulation.



with the shroud I made for my custom A2000 cooler I was not able to close the case because everything is really extremly tight - but I figured since the cover of the case almost touches the cooler anyways I could just thermally couple it with the A2000 to move a bit more heat out of the PC. Only downside - you can fry your breakfast eggs on the case if you run it full load XD



the LENOVO stock GPU I/O bracket does not work with the A2000 and only has a few tiny vent holes so I also had to create something DIY.



the internal WiFi antenna usually sits on a bracket in the front but the A2000 is about 2mm too long - so I just removed the bracket, wrapped the antenna with some insulation tape and squeezed in besides the riser



the case is so thigh, that it even does not allow you to use any thermalpads or heatsinks on your SSDs controller - LENOVO puts some thermal pads under the SSDs but that only works with SSDs that don't have any components on the back...



last but not least - the 0.25L small 230W GaN power adapter when taking the PC with me on the road...

 
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Shrink Ray Wielder
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part two: troubleshooting, optimizing and benchmarks

upon first boot I was rather optimistic that everything would run just fine out of the box - but that would have been too easy

after setting up Windows 10 and installing all drivers I fired up Valley Bench to check thermals and boooom - I was greeted with a black screen and the system rebooted :\ reading trough the threads on Bilibili & Chiphell where some fellow enthusiasts had successfully installed a 75W GTX1650 in the LENOVO Tiny without issues didn't make me much wiser. I mean the A2000 is supposed to have a TDP of 70W total, so it should not be a power problem... Luckily one of my contacts on Discord suggested a solution. He is running his A2000 hot-rod style in a P340 and came across the same issue until he limited the boost clock speeds via Afterburner to 1200Mhz which is the stock base clock. Although this fix also worked for me, it dropped performance quite a lot (-1000 Timespy points). After digging into the problem a little bit further and running endless Benchmarks with the A2000 on a normal ITX motherboard I finally found the culprit why the P340/P350 does black out when stressing the GPU. With stock settings, NVIDIA allows the A2000 to boost up to 2100Mhz for a few milliseconds and that is causing spikes on the 12V rail - shooting over 75W. No problem for a normal ITX board but the PCIe 12V rail on the P340/P350 is much more sensitive since it is actually only designed for ~50W PCIe cards.

Based on my findings I could now set the voltage/frequency curve in Afterburner so that the system does not crash and still giving me the best possible performance. Lazy as I am I just chose to limit the (boost) clock speed to ~1500Mhz and running it at 700mV max. and that works incredibly well. At lower clock speeds, the A2000 will still adjust the core voltage automatically, so no need to worry about that.



speaking of custom curves, the A2000 stock fan curve is not really suitable for my custom cooler so I changed it a bit to find an acceptable balance between temps and noise



another issue I encountered was getting PCIe WHEA errors during stress testing - nothing serious but still... luckily there was an easy fix to that by setting PCIe to Gen3 and disabling ASPM in BIOS



now lets see how the cooler performs in Valley Bench...

open case - about 72C



closed case - about 78C



as we can see, the cooler performs actually quite well - the limiting factor for better thermals/noise is the tiny case which does not provide a ton of airflow

last but not least:
3DMARK scores - case closed, 1550Mhz @ 700mV



interestingly I got only 6000 ~ 6100 GPU points running the A2000 in an normal ITX board with the stock cooler and stock settings.
I assume this could have something to do with the weird boost behavior of the stock card - sometimes boosting up to 1900Mhz ~ 2100Mhz for a few milliseconds and then the next moment going down below base clocks. Limiting the boost clocks to something like 1400 ~ 1600 I noticed that it will run at that speed smoothly without clocking up and down all the time.

Ok, that's it for now. Hope you found this interesting.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
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That is a truly compact build. I think I will want to compete among smallest next (though your A2000 will be untouchable in that form factor).
 
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Shrink Ray Wielder
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part two added above in post#2: troubleshooting, optimizing and benchmarks

also did a little bit of fine tuning today:

the shroud fits now after I have shortened it a bit, plus one heatpipe glued on each side of the cooler



added one screw to secure the cover - normally there is a small hook on the original GPU I/O shield but that doesn't work with the A2000



case closed - build complete 🚀

 
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mikejmcfarlane

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Apr 19, 2022
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Really love this build, there is something super cool about Tiny computers and getting the very most from them.

I'm considering a similar build to this with a P350 Tiny and RTX A2000, will be Linux based so no access to MSI Afterburner for tuning the GPU clocks. In theory nvidia-smi and nvidia-settings allows tuning, but nvidia does restrict the controls on some none datacenter cards and I'm not sure if I will be able to restrict the GPU frequencies or power on my ubuntu build with this GPU! I'm looking to use the build mostly for deep learning, it's perhaps not the ideal build, but that is not the point :-)

Do you have any advice?

Why did you chose the 0.25L SAVAGO 230W GaN AC-DC adapter over the stock Lenovo supply?
 

morj

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Feb 11, 2020
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Do you have any advice?

My 5¢ for finding solutions would be to search the mining community, A2000 is fairly popular there so maybe there will be some advice for Linux. Based on a quick Google search I'm fairly confident nvidia-smi should work.
 
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mikejmcfarlane

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My 5¢ for finding solutions would be to search the mining community, A2000 is fairly popular there so maybe there will be some advice for Linux. Based on a quick Google search I'm fairly confident nvidia-smi should work.
Thanks, I had googled generally but didn't know it was popular in that community, will have a look.
 

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Unfortunately I'm not so familiar with Linux but like @morj said, there should be a solution to set clock speeds and power limits somehow.

Apart from that you should be aware that the P350 Tiny gets incredibly loud under load and even in idle it's quite noisy. Unfortunately there is no way to set custom CPU fan speeds and to make things worse, Lenovo decided for us to run the fan full throttle already when reaching just 70C (which happens quick in CPU intensive tasks).

I still use the large Lenovo brick at home. The Savago is just more portable when I take the PC with me.
 

Trov

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Apr 19, 2022
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Have you tried any of the various Thinkpad fan control utilities around such as TPFanControl? It is possible that the Thinkstation uses the same or similar embedded controller, so it may work (such is typically the case in Dell world)
 

SFFMunkee

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Unfortunately I'm not so familiar with Linux but like @morj said, there should be a solution to set clock speeds and power limits somehow.

Apart from that you should be aware that the P350 Tiny gets incredibly loud under load and even in idle it's quite noisy. Unfortunately there is no way to set custom CPU fan speeds and to make things worse, Lenovo decided for us to run the fan full throttle already when reaching just 70C (which happens quick in CPU intensive tasks).

I still use the large Lenovo brick at home. The Savago is just more portable when I take the PC with me.
Does the P350 Tiny have any options in UEFI/BIOS for system/temperature monitoring?

I was under the impression that some of them have options to set the fan curve, but I could definitely be wrong as I haven't used a non-laptop Lenovo/Think____ in a long time.

There have been other Thinkstations with fan issues that were resolved with BIOS updates too, FYI.

Have you tried any of the various Thinkpad fan control utilities around such as TPFanControl? It is possible that the Thinkstation uses the same or similar embedded controller, so it may work (such is typically the case in Dell world)
Good thinking, I forgot about these since I haven't had a personal Thinkpad for a while. Keep in mind that the original tpfancontrol was for the T4x series, and hasn't been updated since 2015. So you'll probably need a more recent fork that is still actively developed:

Later forks ( I have not reviewed/audited/tested any of these, YMMV and use at your own risk ;) ) include:
Original - https://sourceforge.net/projects/tp4xfancontrol/
- forked by Thinkpad-Forum: https://github.com/ThinkPad-Forum/TPFanControl [updated July 2021, minor changes though]
-- forked by Byrnes: https://github.com/byrnes/TPFanControl [updated July 2020]
--- forked by nikolasgd: https://github.com/nikolasgd/TPFanControl-dual-fan [updated Dec 2020, supposedly tested on P1 gen. 3]

I'd probably try the version from nikolasgd first. That said, the 'thinkfan' package on Github suggests maybe there's only BIOS-level control of some of the Thinkstation machines, though there was an update in 2021 saying they were successful after targeting the Nuvoton NCT6683D chip.

Good luck!
 
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mikejmcfarlane

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It's curious that the P350 is so noisy under load. Given "noisy" is very subjective and dependent on use case and environment e.g. I tend to sit in a room with music on in the background and quite like computer fan whir while I'm working, but more sensitive if watching a film! I have an i7-6700 Thinkstation P320 Tiny running ubuntu and with a nvidia T600 (with active fan which required some case mods to increase air flow) and it is "ok" noise under prolonged all core high CPU load (e.g. benchmarking so different from a stress test or games perhaps, but can see the CPU temps go up then the fan keeping them under control). Mostly I can hear the GPU fan when it is at 100% for prolonged periods and even that is ok with the fan never getting above 67% when running deep learning training.

There are options in the BIOS to manage the fan. Including set the fans at full speed all the time, and yea the fans are very noisy then, I've never had them anywhere near that noisy during testing of the CPU or GPU. I tend to set the BIOS fan management at "best acoustic performance". https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkStation-Workstations/P320-Tiny-fan-acoustics/m-p/3766848

Maybe the P350 is different fan profiles as suggested, but I'm slightly surprised as the case is so much better vented than the P320 tiny.

I think this build is really inspiring, but I'm starting to think for my RTX A2000 build I'm going to go away from a Tiny 1L case to something a little bigger to improve ventilation and acoustics, and will be a bit cheaper. I can't find many used P350 Tiny on eBay that aren't near new prices or don't need shipped from abroad.

Thanks for links to the fan utilities, and other replies.
 

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Have you tried any of the various Thinkpad fan control utilities around such as TPFanControl?

Thanks for the suggestions. I actually have tried those and checked all the forums / support pages I know of. It seems none of the OS based fan control software is working on this machine.

Does the P350 Tiny have any options in UEFI/BIOS for system/temperature monitoring?

not really. you have three options for the fan profile to choose from and nothing more: "full throttle", "balanced" and "performance". Currently using "balanced" but I wouldn't mind the option for "silent" :p

It's curious that the P350 is so noisy under load. Given "noisy" is very subjective and dependent on use case and environment e.g. I tend to sit in a room with music on in the background and quite like computer fan whir while I'm working, but more sensitive if watching a film! I have an i7-6700 Thinkstation P320 Tiny running ubuntu and with a nvidia T600 (with active fan which required some case mods to increase air flow) and it is "ok" noise under prolonged all core high CPU load (e.g. benchmarking so different from a stress test or games perhaps, but can see the CPU temps go up then the fan keeping them under control). Mostly I can hear the GPU fan when it is at 100% for prolonged periods and even that is ok with the fan never getting above 67% when running deep learning training.

There are options in the BIOS to manage the fan. Including set the fans at full speed all the time, and yea the fans are very noisy then, I've never had them anywhere near that noisy during testing of the CPU or GPU. I tend to set the BIOS fan management at "best acoustic performance". https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkStation-Workstations/P320-Tiny-fan-acoustics/m-p/3766848

Maybe the P350 is different fan profiles as suggested, but I'm slightly surprised as the case is so much better vented than the P320 tiny.

sure, noise is subjective and I'm usually not tooo sensitive on this matter but if I can hear it through my headphones under full load I'd say it is noisy XD

maybe your P320 is less noisy because it uses a less powerful fan (mine has a 18W one vs. your 9.6W) or the CPU fan curve is just better tuned on the earlier model? not sure...

I have ordered a 5A step down module today to see how well that works to get my build a little bit less noisy 🤞

This is my P320 Tiny build with nvidia t600 and extra case vents. Also a before shot with the original Quadro P400.

that's a nice mod with the DIY vents!
 
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mikejmcfarlane

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Apr 19, 2022
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sure, noise is subjective and I'm usually not tooo sensitive on this matter but if I can hear it through my headphones under full load I'd say it is noisy XD

I have ordered a 5A step down module today to see how well that works to get my build a little bit less noisy 🤞
yea, sounds noisy. Reminds me of the time at work we were looking for a new GPU server for the office, and not knowing any better as never having been in a data centre to know how noisy rack servers are, I ordered a Super Micro rack server for our office. The first time that booted and the fans went 100% for the POST, oh dear, I got some pretty worried looks from my colleagues, who were all wearing noise cancelling headphones. Given our office was surrounded by city construction sites and was already a very noisy place ... The server went to a co-lo soon after!

I'd be keen to know how you get on with the step down mod, keep us posted.

Lenovo had a deal on i7 P350 Tiny yesterday, so I ordered one, and a PNY RTX A2000 12GB :-) I'm going to go hot rod like you describe for your friend. Thanks for sharing your build and giving me the confidence to proceed.
 

mikejmcfarlane

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Apr 19, 2022
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re the existing fan, it's not a standard sized fan header connector, from googling it appears to be a "laptop molex connector". Does that seem right to you? Do you know what part number that connector is pls?
 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
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re the existing fan, it's not a standard sized fan header connector, from googling it appears to be a "laptop molex connector". Does that seem right to you? Do you know what part number that connector is pls?

I need to measure it when I take the build apart for the fan voltage mod...

Here is a picture I took last time:

NOTABLE-00106.jpg