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First post, by RandomStranger

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I've been looking to get an emulator box/workshop PC so I checked out some thin clients. What I needed for it to be as fast as possible, passively cooled and compatible with Windows 7. That's where I found the HP T630 which looked like it could tick all the boxes:

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CPU performance only about 14% below a Q6600 and GPU performance on the level of an 8800GTS-320 is basically enthusiast level performance from 2007. So I started browsing the selling sites and I found one for a fair price on Ebay from Poland. Made my order and in 2 business days I already held it in my hand (damn their international shipping is faster than our domestic postal service!). Upgraded the SSD to 240GB and windows installed without any issue. Finding out which drivers work took some attempts, but it didn't take long to have it up and running. And there came the issues.

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The performance was underwhelming. Roughly a third to what it supposed to be. At first I thought it might be a BUS issue, but apparently that's normal for iGPUs. It's common for me that my builds underperform in 3DMark bot overperform in real gaming, so I proceded with the gaming tests. I chose the settings so it'd be at least somewhat comparable to my XP/Vista build. Instead of being about 50% the speed, that's the difference between the graphics cards, it's between ~25-35%. I was also planning to test the Afrika Korps vs. Desert Rats demo, but it's starforce protected and couldn't make it work.

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Around the fourth game, I just noticed the GPU clocks almost never go above 300MHz where the reference clock should be 626MHz. That would explain the lower than expected performance. The GPU doesn't overclock with MSI Afterburner so went back to research, and it turns out, this thin client has some aggressive power management to keep it cool. It works, it almost never reaches to 60˚C. Apparently performance can be improved by undervolting the CPU and then some of the TDP quota might be allocated to the iGPU. I'll revisit it later to see what happens.

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I didn't really find experiences on this kind of use case for this specific thin client so maybe there are some benefit to me wasting my time on it 😁

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Reply 1 of 7, by GoblinUpTheRoad

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I've been a big fan of the HP thin clients for a few years now, as I'm off-grid for electricity, low power consumption is important for me.

I started with the t610 Plus then went to the t630 and now I'm on the t730 Plus.

The t610 was ok for general browsing and vid watching but running 2 monitors with Netflix on one and a browser on the other, it struggled sometimes, so I upgraded to the t630.

The t630 performed much better and even less power usage, usually sitting around 8 watts which is pretty amazing. Unfortunately I fried the primary DisplayPort on this recently when I accidently shorted the powerjack to the case.

The t730 uses more power at around 30 watts, but it's performance is very impressive. Recently I've played through Ember and Stardew Valley on it with no performance issues.

Reply 2 of 7, by Ensign Nemo

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I'll be looking forward to future updates from you, as I've also been thinking of picking up a faster thin client for my collection. I have a few games that won't run on anything past Windows 7, at least not without a lot of work. I also don't have the room for another tower or desktop on my desk, so I need something in a small form factor. I can't justify paying much for just a few games, so a used thin client might fit the bill.

Reply 3 of 7, by giantclam

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I use these types of machine for Amiga emulators, but typically in USFF/USDT form factor ...ie; Dell 9020 usff ...HP 800 G1 usdt ..and my latest is a Lenovo M93P tiny micro. They're all based on the intel Q87 chipset, using the HD4xxx IGP for graphics. They're all around the 3GHz i5 CPU (socket CPU).. all have a mSATA slot (some also have m-pci slot)...and the HP 800 elitedesk units also have a pci-e slot for MXM type GPU cards. Great little machines for around the $70 mark...

Reply 4 of 7, by RandomStranger

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GoblinUpTheRoad wrote on 2023-09-15, 00:31:

The t730 uses more power at around 30 watts, but it's performance is very impressive. Recently I've played through Ember and Stardew Valley on it with no performance issues.

The T730 is fast, but it doesn't go further back than Windows 10. I wish it had W7 drivers.

giantclam wrote on 2023-09-15, 05:17:

I use these types of machine for Amiga emulators, but typically in USFF/USDT form factor ...ie; Dell 9020 usff ...HP 800 G1 usdt ..and my latest is a Lenovo M93P tiny micro. They're all based on the intel Q87 chipset, using the HD4xxx IGP for graphics. They're all around the 3GHz i5 CPU (socket CPU).. all have a mSATA slot (some also have m-pci slot)...and the HP 800 elitedesk units also have a pci-e slot for MXM type GPU cards. Great little machines for around the $70 mark...

Those are mini PC-s with active cooling. Small and fast, but I'm unsure about their GPU power. Not that the T630 has all that much of it, especially limited to 40% of its output.

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Reply 6 of 7, by Ensign Nemo

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wierd_w wrote on 2023-09-15, 05:59:

(tries to wrap head around the notion of "Thin Client" that has local storage)

I've found that the majority of thin clients that I've seen listed on buy/sell sites or eBay have flash storage where the OS is installed. Thin clients without any are usually described as "zero clients". I don't know if they are less common or people just don't see any reason to sell them, but I don't see them show up that much.

My Wyse CX0 came with a 128MB DOM chip, which is the lowest of the three I own. I own the HP T5710 that everyone loves and it came with 512MB. Best of all, these can be swapped for compact flash, so I was able to install Windows 98 on them and load them up with games. My newest thin client is an HP T620, which came with 16GB of flash storage. That was more than enough to install Linux on it.

Reply 7 of 7, by giantclam

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wierd_w wrote on 2023-09-15, 05:59:

(tries to wrap head around the notion of "Thin Client" that has local storage)

You should see the BIOS in some of them ~ cloud/diskless operation is all fathomed in, you have to open them up and set the management jumper to change anything ; this is how they manage to qualify as thin-clients...

....but a lot goes on, initially, choosing the purchase (this is business/corporate meanderings at meetings I've been part of) ... if you want to economize to the nth degree, you don't include optical drive, sata ports, msata/m-pci slots, you barebones it right down to a netbooting thin-client, but when you're doing this you're factoring in the eventual obsolescence/replacement of the machines you're buying now, and the resale/sell-on value for 'true' thin-clients is very low ~ if you've got the other options (even though you might not use them), the machine is worth more at EOL just because it can be deployed as a stand-alone desktop machine.

The m93p is the peach, not only due to it's size but also HDMI out... any time I go to niece/nephew/grandchildren on visit, I always throw it in a bag with a couple of SFC pads, plug into any teevee/HDMI display, good to go for retro gaming =)

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