Monday, March 20, 2023

Adding 10Gbe networking to the Lenovo ThinkCentre M75q Gen 2

 This post has been a process, but finally, I'm happy to report that 10Gbe works on the M75q Gen 2 and also with ESXi 7.0. There were several challenges that needed to be addressed:

  • No PCI-e slot
  • No expansion chassis
  • Only 1x SATA and 1x NVMe
  • Realtek NIC onboard

The reason I wanted to use this system is because of how compute dense it is for the form factor - a <1L system that houses 8 Ryzen cores and 64GB of DDR4 would make a great power sipping small box for the homelab; adding 10Gbe networking would allow it a better storage option for VM consumption. I've addressed how to overcome the Realtek NIC in a previous blog post by utilizing the USB fling, now we'll cover what it takes to add the 10Gbe card.

Our BOM is as follows:

The case extender was designed by me, which allows a single slot PCI-e card to be installed and has a hole on the side to allow a screw driver to affix an M3 screw to secure the card, and a slot in the back to pass the USB to SATA cable through.

Once the card has been connected, ESXi can be booted and the card should be recognized:

The only real issue that I've run into so far is what cards are supported by this setup. I have an Intel X550 (Lenovo OEM) which physically fits the slot, but wasn't detected on boot. I assume this is a power delivery limitation, as I doubt the USB adapter can provide enough juice. I would like to test the quad port Intel i225 card provided by QNAP, and may do so in the future as having supported NICs would make booting this much easier.

Evacuate ESXi host without DRS

One of the biggest draws to vSphere Enterprise Plus licensing is the Distributed Resource Scheduler feature. DRS allows for recommendations ...