Lenovo ThinkCentere M700 Mini E-Waste Recovery x4

Recently I saved four Lenovo M700 Mini’s from recycling as some quick testing showed me nothing was immediately wrong with them. Only major problem being many missing parts.

CPU specs include:

  • 1x i3-6100T 2C/4T @ 3.20GHz
  • 3x i5-6500T 4C/4T @ 2.50GHz

I didn’t go out of my way to source every missing component I needed for a complete restoration given the cost but I got my hands on everything I knew I’d need for basic functionality.

  • CR2032s
  • Screws for the lid
  • M.2 SATA SSDs
  • Wi-Fi antennas
  • Some nothing special SODIMM DDR4
  • DisplayPort to HDMI adapters
  • Replacement lids for the missing two.
  • And dodgy 20V 65W eBay power adapters.

All in all this was an investment of around $63.50 per computer.

I went through the first Mini already and addressed a few issues it had including a bent heatsink.

Turns out the heatpipe coming off the CPU heatsink plate is incredibly soft and bending it back was no trouble at all.

I did want to do a thorough cleaning of the blower and heatsink fins through so I got it completely dismantled.

This fan was manufactured by Delta and I’m impressed by it’s construction using these cute little metal bearings held in place under spring compression and a little circlip holding all the works together. I feel like it’s over-engineered and I love it.

After removing as much dust as I reasonably could I had to remove the motherboard and detatch one of the plastic M.2 standoffs. I believe it’s for M.2 2242.

I tried installing my 2280 SSD and this was causing the SSD to bow in the middle pushing it up and I did not like that.

Everything looks good though. Cleaned off all the old thermal paste from the CPU and installed the CMOS battery, RAM, & SSD.

Reinstalled the heatsink. Looks a lot straighter now.

Got the lid attached, plugged everything in and got to see if it would P.O.S.T. With no OS on the SSD though I had to try booting off a thumb drive.

And it works! :grinning:

I’ll install an OS to the SSD later. For now time to start on M700 #2.


M700 #2 & #3 were nearly identical restorations with the exception of a few details I’ll go into.

A detail I’m noticing is what looks like these M700’s did not all come from the same work enviroment nor do I believe they have the same milage as indicated by the varying level of dust.

This one’s blower was actually covered in a film of oil. It’s hard to say where it came from but the dust mixed into it and just tacked itself on. It was rather gross.

Getting it taken apart it seems at a time Lenovo changed fan suppliers and either went from AVC → Delta or Delta → AVC. Either way it looks to me like AVC just overbuilt the fan even more by included a brass outer race for the bearings to rest inside. Crazy.

i removed as much dust and oil residue as I could and I’m happy with the results.

I also decided to modify the plastic retention pins used to secure the M.2 SSD. The plastic…string? I might call it, interfered with 2280 SSD’s once installed in the enclosure so to make things easier I just chopped it out. I better not lose those pins now but I suppose I also now have extras if I do. :sweat_smile:

I also decided to replace the body (or shell) of the case since getting my hands on two lids actually came with two lower halfs too. I’m not worried about matching S/N’s and the like but given someone tore the stickers almost completely off the bottom I might find some of the generic information helpful in the future.

One of these particular units came with a VGA module.

Removal is necessary to unplug the CPU fan. Inconvenient but not a chore with the right hexagonal socket or a pair of pliers.

I’m both amazed and disappointed to find if I had bought three of these (for the other Mini’s) it would have ran me in excess of $100. I don’t know what black magic is inside of them but they are not cheap on eBay. :confused:

For now that’ll be it. Currently working on Mini #4 which is slightly different from the others. Good in some ways. Not good in others but dumpster divers can’t be choosers. :laughing:


This particular M700 Mini came with an RS232 optional add-on

Pretty standard rear I/O port on a variety of equipment like servers, old computers, and some laptops but nice little feature to have if I ever want to console into something like a network switch.

Something that should be noted and I’m glad I looked into it prior to buying storage is the M.2 header on the motherboard.

It’s SATA only even though it will accept a NVMe keyed SSD. This detail is outlined in the M700 Mini user manual.

The motherboard uses the B150 Chipset which does provide PCI_e lanes but it’s unclear what they’re being used for as the only PCIe device looks to be the x4 Wi-Fi card. :confused:

This is the particular unit using the i3-6100T.

I haven’t mentioned it but for TIM I’ve been using a generic industrial version of IC Graphites Thermal Pads. It’s a material I found you can buy in sheets and cut to size. Good value. Very effective in my applications.

With that, re-attaching the cooler and putting the lid on I now have four M700’s which all P.O.S.T. and boot to USB storage.

I still need to test if their new (second hand) internal storage is any good and if they can run off it OK. The plan currently is to install Ubuntu Server 22.04.1 LTS on all of them but certain services will change depending on what I want to task each client with.

If anybody is interested in the software testing & setup of things let me know. Otherwise I hope everyone enjoyed. :slight_smile:

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