On the low end

Being on the low end of technology means you don’t have anywhere to go but up. Yet another story of life with a Lenovo ThinkCenter Edge 72.

Lenovo makes very nice hardware. We have two Lenovo’s here at Casa Lembo: a Thinkpad Edge E430 and a ThinkCenter Edge 72.

The ThinkCenter is my personal workstation. It’s marketed as a quality low-cost business class desktop. Packed with 16 Gb of RAM, this little mini tower with an i3-3220 makes a great platform for my virtual lab. After replacing Windows 7 Pro with Fedora 17, I’ve been running several kvm guests as test systems without having it break a sweat.

The integrated Intel HD 2500 graphics were adequate for most uses, but I decided to try a relatively new ColorPower AMD Radeon 5450 taken from my retired Dell 5150n into the ThinkCenter as an alternative. Installing the fanless, low profile 5450 did require removing the parallel and serial port I/O extensions, since they were blocking the slot opposite my pci-e connector. Once I had these vestiges of technology gone-by out of the case it didn’t seem worth the effort to find a way to reinstall them.

On paper the 5450 is better than Intel’s integrated graphics. Fedora 17 includes the proprietary drivers, including kernel module, in its yum repository, so getting the most out of the card on Linux didn’t even require a visit to the AMD web site.

After running the 5450 for a couple of weeks I decided to remove it for basically 3 reasons: (1) It didn’t really didn’t improve graphics performance in my own use cases; (2) graphics were actually degraded in the case of kvm virtual machines; and (3) the 5450 adds about a 25W power draw over the stock Intel integrated graphics. Those last two were the kicker. I’ve recently been renewing efforts to reduce our overall power consumption here (the little D-Link NAS I bought a few years ago is once again acting as our primary DNS and DHCP server), as well as finally focusing on getting the virtual lab in order by creating a variety of guest machines (this was the primary reason I upgraded to the new ThinkCenter).

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).