ThinkStation S30 Upgrades in 2022

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It’s been a while since I didn’t use my ThinkStation S30. You might already know that I already mentioned it in an article. It was sitting in the storage for about 2 years and now I am here to upgrade some pieces on it.

I particularly like this computer because it’s components are cheap and easy to find. Maybe, this a known is fact for all Think series.

Here is the list of things I planned to upgrade on the workstation:

  1. Intel E5-2670 or CPU which its TDP less than 115 watt
  2. RX 470 equivalent GPU
  3. Wi-Fi card. Doesn’t matter what technology it is
  4. Around 200 to 500 GB of SSD

From the first build, I removed AMD Radeon RX 470 graphic cards from the system; instead, I had Quadro 400 which was installed before RX 470.

There is or was a problem. The workstation is quiet the way I like, and in the hot California days that means, the hardware heats up easily. So, I had to come up with an idea: leave the side panel open. That should work.

The workstation comes with 610 watt 80+ gold certified power supply that has been there since 2013, default heat sink that is certified for CPUs up to 135 watt. A side note about the previous CPU, E5-2609, may be required in here: the CPU is fairly low end (but still expensive) and is only 80 watt. That means, I will definitely need additional cooling options or a hack for long term usage.

CPU Upgrade

2 years ago I said I would upgrade the CPU for $40. OK, I will admit it. I was not expect to buy the CPU $6.75 + tax. This is the cheapest thing I bought for something that used to cost like $1500… I am talking about Intel E5-2670.

From 4C/4T to 8C/16T upgrade, I would expect at least 1.5 to 2 times improvements on my regular tasks.

Because my workload does not require higher CPU clocks time to time, I turned off Intel Turbo Boost Technology and similar options. This change was good enough to make the machine 10-15 C cooler.

GPU Upgrade

Because I sent my previous GPU, RX 470, back to my home, I was using Quadro 400 GPU. The card is good enough to perform daily work like writing code and browsing in the web. I could perform light work on both Photoshop and Lightroom without any problems.

However, because I am interested to use X-Plane 11 on my machine, I need to change the graphics card. I also need to run some TensorFlow based software which requires CUDA enabled graphics cards.

Disclosure: I do not run make-art-without-moving-a-brush models in my computer.

Network Card Upgrade

Previously, I was using ethernet cable to connect to internet. In the college housing I am staying, they don’t provide ethernet cables. So, Wi-Fi is the only option. I found some interesting Wi-Fi cards such as Wi-Fi 6 (which routers in here supports); however, I really didn’t want to spend extra instead I picked up the cheapest TP-Link Wi-Fi card.

Hard Disk Drive Upgrade

People say you can’t buy time with money. Sure, you can. You need to have the cheapest SSD in your machine and there you go. You will save great time with that SSD. Ordered Kingston A400 480 GB because that is brand and model I used before, and I am satisfied with the speed I am getting from it.

Installed fresh Windows 10 on SSD and deleted old Windows directories from the HDD. Install all programs in the SSD and use HDD as data directory. In the near future, HDD will require an upgrade as well.

OS-Level Changes

Because I use Windows 10, I also need to configure for my needs. I disabled automatic device driver upgrade with Display Driver Uninstaller and I also installed security updates and then disabled Windows Updates from service.exe. Because I closely follow Windows Updates, I don’t want my computer to tell me when to install updates. I changed default directories such as Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Videos to D:\, so I don’t fill up C:\ with data.

I use GlassWire Network Security solutions to track network activities. I used to use old versions of McAfee Endpoint which it had ask-to-block-if-you-don’t-know-the-application firewall. With the recent version, that behavior changed so I changed the software I am using.