Last Updated on April 19, 2021
This is a weekly blog looking at the Lenovo M93 Ultra Small Desktop PC running Linux.
We previously published a series of articles on the AWOW AK41, an inexpensive quad-core mini PC. Rather than put a different mini PC under the spotlight, we plumped for an enticing alternative, a refurbished Lenovo Ultra Small Desktop PC.
Along the way, we’ll make comparisons to the AWOW. We chose a refurbished Lenovo that retails on ebay for £185 in the UK. The Lenovo is cheaper than the AK41 but as it was supplied with a painfully slow 5400 RPM mechanical hard drive, we replaced that component with a spare SSD. The secondhand value of the SSD when added to the cost of the Lenovo brings parity in cost.
While the price point of the two machines is the same, there are lots of differences between them. Besides the Lenovo being a refurbished machine with a much shorter warranty (only 3 months), it’s also impossible to know how much it has been used, although visually it’s in mint condition. The Lenovo is older technology than the AK41 but has 16GB of RAM compared to 8GB of RAM in the AWOW.
In the design stakes the Lenovo stands head and shoulders above the AWOW. The Lenovo’s case is robust, helped a lot by its construction (metal as opposed to the plastic AWOW). The Lenovo has a larger footprint (dimensions of 182 x 179 x 34.5mm), but it’s still ultra small.
Like the AK41, the Lenovo has USB 3.0 ports (one more on the Lenovo), headphone and microphone jacks, LAN port, but doesn’t offer a MicroSD card slot, HDMI connectors, Bluetooth, or a Type-C connector. The AWOW can drive 3 monitors at 4K / 60 Hz. While our tested Lenovo is limited to 2 monitors via its DisplayPort and VGA connectors (yes sadly only 1 digital connection), it’s possible to add an HDMI port to drive 3 monitors.
The Lenovo’s inside is much better designed, with a basic but sensible airflow system, easy disassembly, and offers better upgrade facilities. For example, unlike the AWOW, we can upgrade the processor and change the RAM.
Our refurbished Lenovo comes supplied with a power supply, but no cables are provided, nor a bracket to attach the PC to a monitor. Wireless was provided by an external USB key.
Why purchase a small form PC? Both the Lenovo M93 and AWOW AK41 are inexpensive computers. And they have low power consumption which offers a significant cost savings in the long run. The chart below shows their power consumption. They are fairly cheap to leave running all day. And with both sporting small footprints, they are ideal for a lounge or a small room where space is at a premium.
As the above chart below illustrates, the Lenovo machine consumes 22w when idle. Coincidentally, the AWOW has the same power consumption when all its four cores are fully utilized.
But the Lenovo’s result is closer when both machines are idle. And it’s possible to shave off four or five watts with tweaking in the BIOS and with Powertop, a tool provided by Intel to enable various power-saving modes in userspace, kernel and hardware.
Let’s look at the specifications in more detail.
Complete list of articles in this series:
|Lenovo M93 Ultra Small Desktop PC|
|Week 6||Recording video using OBS Studio|
|Week 5||We put the M93 through some light gaming|
|Week 4||Multiple operating systems running on the Lenovo M93|
|Week 3||Video and audio are tested on the Lenovo machine|
|Week 2||Benchmarking the Lenovo M93 Ultra Small PC with other low power machines|
|Week 1||Introduction to the series including wiping Windows and installing Manjaro|
This blog is written on the Lenovo M93 Ultra Small Desktop PC.