Lenovo M720Q Tiny Build Documentation and Guide

A huge thank you to the community for providing knowledge and help that contributed to create this project.

Lenovo M720Q Tiny Build

CPU: Intel i3-8100T
IGPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
SSD: SK hynix SSS0L24743 128GB 2242 M.2 SSD NVME PCIE
Ram: Samsung M471A1K43CB1-CTD (2x8) 16GB
Ethernet Card: Dell intel I350-T4 Quad Port

OpenWrt Version: 22.03
Target Build: X86_64 EFI
OpenWrt File System: Squashfs with ext4 partition / preserved partition table
OpenWrt Custom Image Build: Yes

The Lenovo M720Q, if you are willing to take the time, it makes a great router.

You will need

  1. A Lenovo M720Q of course!

  2. Riser Card (Original Model).

  3. PCIe I350-T4 Quad Port.

  4. Baffle/Back Bracket.

  5. SSD M.2 Nvme PCIe

Power Source:

Lenovo states that you will need to use a 135W power adapter if you choose to use the proprietary PCIE (You will need a proprietary Lenovo riser card).

I have been using the 65 Watt power adapter but YMMV.

 
PCIE slot and the Proprietary Lenovo Riser Card:

The PCIe slot is 3.0 x8 low profile according to the documentation.

PCIe x16 Riser Card works fine and can be ordered from Encompass the official Lenovo parts store.

fru is 01AJ940

 
The Ethenet card:

thank you @frollic for helping me source the I350-T4 Quad Ethernet Card.

The Dell intel I350-T4 Quad Port works great. (I can not comment on comptability with other ethernet cards).

Warning: There are a lot fake ones out there. If you are looking for a Intel I350-T4 Quad Port Card make sure the delta chips is embossed.


 

 
The baffle:

You will need to purchase a baffle that is made specifically for this case.

It took about 3 weeks.

To purchase the baffle you can you use superbuy, Backplate

 
The Sata Hard Drive:

You can not install a sata hard drive if you are going to have a PCIE Card in due to space.

Instead on the back of the case a m.2 nvme ssd can be installed.

 
Possible issue you may run into:
When first booting the mini pc I ran into the issue of the ports not being assigned.

This was solved from some help by @mk24

 
Openwrt Image built with squashfs and a reserved extra parition that survives updates:

Shout out to @fantom-x and @takimata

(Make sure you read the image building documentation so you can install all the required packages for your linux distro to be able to build the image.)

  1. Using a linux distro download the latest openwrt-imagebuilder-22.03.0-x86-64.Linux-x86_64.tar.xz and extract the archive.

  2. In the extracted folder Edit the .config file sections to CONFIG_TARGET_KERNEL_PARTSIZE=32 CONFIG_TARGET_ROOTFS_PARTSIZE=2048

  3. Open a terminal in the extracted folder and run make image PROFILE="generic" FILES="files" PACKAGES="unzip tar htop fdisk luci block-mount"

  4. Extract the generated x86-64-generic-squashfs-combined-efi archive (Images show up in bin/targets).

  5. Flash the image to the M720Q.

  6. Before booting into openwrt, use gparted to create a extra partition from the unused space on the openwrt drive.

  7. Boot into Openwrt.

  8. Check internet connectivity.

  9. If you have ethernet port issues use @mk24's fix.

  10. Backup the fstab and 'network file' from /etc/config to somewhere that is not your openwrt machine.

  11. Use image builder to create a second image. You will be using the same edits to the .config file, the same commands to create the image but first create a folder inside image builder called files.

  12. inside files create a folder called etc and a folder in etc called config. Place your fstab and network file into 'config' then use image builder to create the image.

  13. On OpenWrt run the command sed -i 's/ALLOW_BACKUP=1/ALLOW_BACKUP=0/' /usr/libexec/validate_firmware_image to prevent any previous configs from conflicting before upgrading using the new image.

  14. From luci flash the new image. Make sure the new image is not extracted or else it will it will fail to flash.

  15. Reboot OpenWrt and make sure your extra partition still exists.

  16. You should then be able mount it using blocks from luci.

 

 
Final Words: The build was a good learning experience and although its not for everyone its something you want to think about if you are planning on using 1Gbp's internet speeds.

Thank you everyone for all the help and hope the information in this post will be of help to those who are considering doing custom router builds.

5 Likes

There is a quad port card with I225 chips + Riser + the baffle for Lenovo :
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004678867769.html
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004681623172.html

"4x 2.5gbe can arrive (deliver?) 2.1gbe at the same time" ?

Per port, or combined?

if you scroll the page a little there are some screenshots, they say :

The 4 Port One-Way Measured Data is as Follows:

The 4 Port Two-Way Measured Data is as Follows:

1 Like

Very nice

May I ask:

How loud is that Lenovo stock fan?
It looks like the cooling system is a custom thing: radial fan sucking from top and blowing to some air duct leading to the left side?

Can the BIOS be configured to boot on power-connected?
Does the BIOS allow to boot from USB Drives?

I never used AliExpress before but I checked out the links.

The first link: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004678867769.html

Description says:

Tiny5 Series: M720Q M920X P330 M920Q (Bracket adapter board is optional)
Package Contents

• 1 x PCI-Express to 10 /100/1000M/2.5G Ethernet Card
• 1 x User Manual
• 1 x Low-profile bracket

The second link:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004681623172.html

Appears to include everything you need compared to the first link?

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I will have to fire her back up, been out of commission for a little while.

I am unsure if it is a axis or radial fan but other users have stated that is the only fan that provides cooling inside the case so I assume its axis based off those statements. The air exhaust does come from back the left side of the case.

Not that I recall.

Yes.

for both links you have to click on the correct thumbnail on the right of the picture. They both offer the complet kit : NIC + riser + backplate
when you click on the thumbnail, the price should change.

1 Like

btw i don't understand why the Nic need a fan...according to intel the TDP for this chip is 1.95w so for 4 chips it's less than 8w...the heatsink isn't enough ?
i saw QNAP is using the same design for its card.

The Intel Ethernet Controller I225-V (which has two or three different revisions to my knowledge) is known for drop connection issues over both windows and linux based operating systems.

The B2 "resolution" was basically a driver fix that disabled it running at 2.5GBp/s.

The B3 was a hardware fix although people still report issues with this chip.

I have no idea why a fan is placed on it as I doubt it fixes the issues with last revision, unless the issues are heat related somehow.

Honestly its probably better to just avoid that Intel Ethernet Controller I225-V.