Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 Tiny PC

Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 Tiny PC

Why would anyone pay $60 extra for the SSD version when you can buy a 240GB SSD from Amazon for $30?

Even though it’s not rocket science, not everyone is comfortable working on computers. Besides the physical replacement …

There’s the Windows 10 to reinstall too.

(If one were to go with the DIY option, make sure Windows 10 is activated before removing the hard drive. This way, the new installation on the SSD can properly activate with Microsoft.)

All true, but I just meant that paying $60 extra to get a $30 SSD instead of a $20 HDD is a bad deal on its face.

If it were me, and I wanted to preserve Windows, I’d just shrink the HDD partition to 240GB and clone the whole drive to an SSD.

Some cloning programs will do the resizing automatically.

Reinstallation isn’t as huge of a hassle as it was before, as Windows 10 can be downloaded from Microsoft using their media creation tool. One still has to be comfortable doing so, though.


Since W10 licenses are stored on Microsoft’s end, once a computer is activated, it will remain activated even when reinstalled.)

That’s true, I hear. Do you have one you recommend?

Typically I use dd to clone a drive, which just does bare-bones bit-for-bit copying of one device to another. If the source and target are different sizes I’ll use gparted to grow or shrink beforehand or afterward if needed.

Most likely, if I were buying one of these machines, I’d yank the HDD, pop in an SSD and install Mint or Debian or whatever, and tuck the HDD away to be reinstalled if I ever want to sell the computer.

I mostly use Acronis True Image (free versions provided by a drive manufacturer) or Macrium Reflect.

Every time these mini desktops come up, I consider them. They’re compact and power-efficient, good for little utility machines. I used a Dell tiny desktop as a caching DNS and DHCP server for my local network for ages until it finally died, and another for a static web and ssh server to provide a backdoor into my network if the main server crapped out for some reason.

Eventually I migrated the DNS/DCHP to the firewall. Which makes me think: these little machines would make great pfSense or Opnsense firewalls, if only they had dual Ethernet. I suppose you could use a USB Ethernet adapter for the WAN side if your speed requirements were modest.

It’s even cheaper on Amazon, albeit with a 500GB mechanical hard drive, if’n you’re prone to replacing hard drives - $156.00:
M73 tiny 'puter

Larger drive, but not cheaper. The 320gb spinner option was $130 here.

Modest needs = old business laptop for a firewall. Even my 2006-era Dell Latitude D620 (which runs W10) has gigabit.

(I’ll probably repurpose the 2005-era D610 for a pfSense box; its maximum 2GB of ram is probably a bigger limitation than the Pentium M processor.)

Ha, funny you should say that. When the other tiny PC bit the dust (the one that was being a web and ssh server), I replaced it with a Latitude laptop.

That only works if you’re going to accept the throughput of a USB dongle for the WAN side, or you’ll be using VLANs to run both sides on one gigabit port.

Before you go with pfSense, you should know that they’re dropping support for processors that don’t support AES-NI, which a 14-yo laptop certainly will not have. Might want to use Opnsense instead.

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I’m connected via a bridge right now anyway, so the internal PCI-E should work for the WAN side.

I did not know that about the AES aspects of pfSense. Thank you!

You’re welcome. :slight_smile: The current 2.4.x version still supports non-AES processors, but the 2.5 development version does not. It’s become part of the vitriol-spitting between the Opnsense and pfSense communities.

I’m running a Watchguard 515, which is past end-of-life for Watchguard’s own firmware but works perfectly well as an open source box. I started with pfSense, but when the AES thing came up and I realized its days were numbered, I switched to Opnsense. They both seem fine. The web interface is differently organized, but not so different that you can’t use pfSense guides to figure out Opnsense setup and configuration, and you can apply a pfSense backup to an Opnsense box and it’ll mostly work.

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From reading more into it, 2.5 still doesn’t need it, but will be in the future.

They must have revised their plans, then. It was not a popular decision, so I guess that’s not a surprise.