Lenovo M90n IoT

I came across this device, and while it might seem a bit of overkill for a router for the time being, it should make a good option for those looking for a powerful device with the rapid increase in Internet speed.

With Intel i3 8th generation, 4GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD, dual Gbps (I think) LAN, built in 2x2 ac wifi plus m.2 slot for WiFi2x2 ac WiFi in m.2, all for $215, that can be something way better than brandless grey Market x86 machine.

I've never had experience with OpenWrt on x86 -- are the Intel WiFi devices well-supported on Linux?

Intel wireless usually explicitly doesn't support AP mode (at least not on the 5 GHz band).


Depending on your particular version you may get one Intel NIC, or you may have none. The second NIC will definitely be a RTL8111.

Still, an i3 processor and two NIC (of any sort) is unusual at that price point.
The wifi card is removable, it could be replaced with another M2 card unless they're doing the laptop thing with locked BIOS.

1 Like

Check out the Gigabyte BRIX IoT too.

I just got the i3 version of the M90n this week and it has 2 Realtek NIC's. But oddly the RJ-45 jacks are sourced differently. I also have the M75n AMD version, but those only come with a single NIC port. I tested with both W10 and Ubuntu.
The M75n uses a crippled Ryzen Raven Ridge (Athlon Silver 3050e 2C/4T) to get it down to 6W with Vega3 graphics.
The M90 has the Intel UHD 620 and 8th Gen Core at 15W.
As for benchmarking the M75n is adequate for certain tasks and if not for the PCI 4.0 SSD that comes with it, it would probably have fared worse. It tests about 10-25% above a RaspPi4 in many tests. This one has no fan, just a large heat sink in the case.
The M90n tests as typical for Gen 8 Core does for the family. (Whiskey Lake I believe).
Both come with the extra M2-SSD slot and the M2 LTE slot with the SIM card holder next to it.
Both models has the case snap holes to fit the 2 LTE antennas, but right now Lenovo does not offer them and I have been hard pressed to find a SKU for them. The Lenovo online order tool does not offer LTE as an option, (but is listed as a feature) so I have a feeling this option is for bulk order only.
None the less, I will try to source the antennas, install the T-Mo SIM and see how well it does. Reportedly it supports the CAT16 Fibocom LTE card.
Last note, these are made in Monterrey, Mexico, not Asia. So getting them was not difficult. The other issue to look out for is Lenovo has cycled the specs several times in 12 months and recently had a holiday blowout to clean out old stock. So you will come across some webpages that show a discontinued model. The AMD version was $139 and the Intel version was $219 at that time. The prices appeared to have gone up to something outrageous again.

2 Likes

Thanks for the info. For you try installing OpenWrt on the i3 version and see how it works?

When I made the topic, the i3 version (without wireless mouse and keyboad) was on Lenovo US site for $215, but it seems to have run out of stock the very next day. I saw it on Lenovo ebay store for a bit more though.

with poor realtek nics this is not worth single penny

I was hoping to try OpenWRT with the LTE installed, but I can give it a run without it. I was going to install several products on it anyway. With the dual SSD slots, it gives me a lot of options. Other info, these are designed with milspec (probably why they are made in mexico) and have wide temperature endurance. Lenovo says they are really for industrial use. When I was pricing various Pi4/Odroid/Seed boards, cases, accessories, etc. the holiday pricing makes these incredible options. The 2 serial ports make for good interfaces with industrial controls instead of using dongles or a custom hat. Yes, I have had my run ins with Realtek over the years, especially with non-Windows OS'es.

It was also suggested that I simply install my own SMA passthrough kit for the LTE antennas where the precut holes are as that is what it was designed for, so I will look at that too.

1 Like

I have been using this as a router with a separate AP. Needs a snapshot build. Doesn't work with 19.07 due to lack of realtek drivers and/or firmware.

1 Like

After several rounds with Lenovo tech support, sales, tech sales support and finally parts, I ordered a Lenovo branded Fibocom LTE CAT9 card for the M90n with a dual antenna and SMA kit. They say it will work, but we will see. They say it was certified for both the Nano IoT and the regular Nano. But man, what a tooth pull.

1 Like

hi, I actually own the m90n-1, purchased a few months ago during an online sale at Lenovo... I've been running OPNSense (FreeBSD) firewall since day 1 with zero issues.

It also has the RTL nics:

re0@pci0:2:0:0: class=0x020000 card=0x314d17aa chip=0x816810ec rev=0x15 hdr=0x00
    vendor     = 'Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd.'
    device     = 'RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller'
    class      = network
    subclass   = ethernet
re1@pci0:4:0:0: class=0x020000 card=0x314d17aa chip=0x816810ec rev=0x1b hdr=0x00
    vendor     = 'Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd.'
    device     = 'RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller'
    class      = network
    subclass   = ethernet

It has been running great.. zero issues. I'm here to see if OpenWRT can run on this or built for it?

[edit] Oh, and if you're curious.. here's the wifi (Its' Intel)

Cannon Point-LP CNVi [Wireless-AC]

It's a standard x86 PC, so I would imagine the x86_64 OpenWRT image would work fine.

1 Like

Last week these were back on the Lenovo site for $215 so I bought one. It arrived today. Now they are gone again though.

Running OpenWrt is no problem. The BIOS supports legacy boot. For now I removed the M2 SSD (which is a Samsung by the way) and run 19.07.7 from a USB stick. Removing two screws and sliding off the bottom cover gives easy access to four M2 slots, two of them empty. One is full length for an additional drive and the other is probably only suitable for a LTE modem. The Intel ac wireless works as a client but as noted AP mode in 5 GHz is not possible. The card is 2x2 with one RP-SMA external antenna and one internal antenna somewhere in the plastic top section.