Nitropads with Qubes - System Performance

Dear Qubes community,

I would like to ask you for your experience about system performance of Nitropad x230 and Nitropad t430. I would like to buy one of them (16 GB RAM, SSD and i7 processor) and I am thinking which one will be more suitable for use with qubes as a main notebook.

I need to use one Windows 10 machine (Visual Studio, not graphics programs etc.) and in average 10 appvms.

I would like to ask you if is 16 GB really enough? Do you have experience with changing RAM for faster? Did you change SSD for faster? Is it even possible?

I understand that the t430 has a faster processor, but can it be recognised in Qubes at all (+10-15%)?

Thank you very much!

10 App VMs and Windows also… Would suggest 32GB of RAM then, or at least one single RAM with 16GB at the beginning, so you have space for another 16GB module. I promise you, you will order the other 16GB in a couple of weeks.

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thank you @TheGardner it will be great, but unfortunately max RAM on Nitropads is 16 GB :frowning:

@CaesarVialpandom, I am using a ThinkPad T430 that is basically identical to a NitroPad T430 with the i7-3840QM and 16 GB of RAM. I added a full HD screen (not sure Nitrokey offers that) and a Samsung PRO SSD (the PRO is important).

I use a Windows 10 HVM for some tasks (4GB RAM, 2 VCPUs, 100GB storage), which works just fine for Visual Studio, other IDEs and dev tools, Webex/Teams/Office etc. I have added a $20 USB express card to give Windows it’s own dedicated USB controller (for the debuggers, tracers and all the other stuff you need when doing Embedded programming) and a similar priced USB-Audio interface for sound.

I run 11+ qubes concurrently and permanently, all debian-minimal based. My sys-net, sys-usb, sys-firewall etc are all happy with 200MB memory. Vault gets 250MB. Signal 400MB. Offline qubes with LibreOffice, PDF viewer, VLC etc work fine with 500MB. Thunderbird qubes needs 700MB to work well in all situations (large mail database, searching etc). And Firefox qubes need at least 1GB to not be annoying (I have set the concurrent process limit to 1 to make it less memory consuming).

With a setup like the above it is quite unlikely you run out of memory with 16GB. Hasn’t happened to me yet this year :wink:

Things like wake/suspend, docking station just work like a charm :wink: Also I am driving a 4K external monitor with it. There are several NitroPad / T430 users in this forum here. As far as I can tell, they are all quite happy with their machines. Maybe they will comment here too.

I did also upgrade to quieter fan ($30) and exchange the Wi-Fi card (I think Nitrokey offers that as an option).

Couldn’t be happier. I just received a second T430 and are still waiting for the the other parts (display, fan, CPU, SSD, WiFi, RAM) to arrive. I am building a second identical machine. This can be done for ~ $1K. The idea is that I get R4.1 running perfectly on the second one and then switch over when it’s ready. R4.2 back to the other one etc.

That together with nightly backups means I will use this setup for a very very long time.

I understand that the t430 has a faster processor, but can it be recognized in Qubes at all (+10-15%)?

Yes, go for the quad-core i7-3840QM. The number of cores does make a very recognizable difference. This is different form the “speculative execution” topic.

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thank you @Sven for nice answer!!!

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What’s the significance of “PRO”?

Is there a brand you recommend? Does this add a 4th assignable USB controller?

Thanks.

The max SSD speed is limited by SATA 3.0 on these machines.

What’s the significance of “PRO”?

I’ll best quote from this article:

In Samsung SSDs, PRO indicates the SSD uses MLC, EVO indicates the SSD uses TLC, and QVO indicates the SSD uses QLC. MLC, short for Multi-Level Cell, means that one memory cell can store 2 bits of data. TLC, short for Triple-Level Cell, means that one memory cell can store 3 bits of data. QLC, short for Quad-Level Cell, means that one memory cell can store 4 bits of data.
In general, the performance of Samsung PRO SSD is the best, then the EVO SSD, and finally the QVO SSD. The reason lies in the writing and reading mechanism of NAND flash.

I have added a $20 USB express card to give Windows it’s own dedicated USB controller

Is there a brand you recommend?

I am using the StarTech.com 1 Port Flush Mount ExpressCard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Card Adapter (ECUSB3S11).

Does this add a 4th assignable USB controller?

Yes. :slight_smile:

[user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-pci | grep USB
dom0:00_14.0  USB controller: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family USB xHCI Host Controller  sys-usb (no-strict-reset=true)
dom0:00_1a.0  USB controller: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C216 Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #2  sys-usb (no-strict-reset=true)
dom0:00_1d.0  USB controller: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C216 Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #1  sys-usb (no-strict-reset=true)
dom0:03_00.0  USB controller: Renesas Technology Corp. uPD720202 USB 3.0 Host Controller                      windows
5 Likes

Hello @Sven

Is it really possible to handle 4K 3840x2160@60Hz screen resolution for Nitropads (X230 or T430)?

I checked the Lenovo specifications and it states:

Maximum external resolution: 2560x1600@60Hz (DisplayPort via optional Mini DP cable)

This belongs to Intel Core i7-3520M with Intel HD Graphics 4000 but should also apply to i7-3840QM (also Intel HD Graphics 4000).

Hi @Sven. Which RAM product do you use and/or recommend for fastest performance on a T430 i7-3840QM?

I have no reasoned thoughts on this. I use Crucial RAM 16GB Kit (2x8GB) DDR3 1600 MHz CL11 Laptop Memory CT2KIT102464BF160B and are very happy with it.

On performance: the longer I observe this forum and use Qubes OS personally the more I see a divide in the use cases. My own use case involves standard comms (email, messaging, teams/webex/zoom/jitsi), light web browsing (3-4 tabs max per qube/instance), embedded software development (GNU tool chain, C compiler) and standard office documents (text, spreadsheet, presentations). I usually have 13-16 qubes running concurrently, all based on debian-minimal consuming between 250MB (sys) to 1600MB (teams/webex monster). Most consume 500-800MB. This works perfectly well for me. Starting a new qube takes 8 seconds. I never see a qube not starting because there is no memory. Maybe the way I use my environment has evolved so I don’t see it. I use the shutdown-idle script.

HOWEVER, other user’s use cases involve things like mining crypto currency, playing games, running Windows HVM and doing things like Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop in it or just wanting to run a Chrome/Firefox instance and have 10+ tabs open at the same time and expecting them all to interact instantly … those users will probably need more than 16GB and a (much) stronger CPU. I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone.

The other thing I can’t put my finger on really is that if I run my environment on a T430 with i7-3840QM I swear it feels more fluid than on a P51 with double the memory and a i7-7820HQ. I suspect both the integrated graphics and the SSD to be the cause. However, I’ve never seen the i7-7820HQ crash/freeze while with the i7-3840QM things are more complicated: it never froze on kernel 4.19, very frequently on 5.4, less frequently on 5.10 and now very rarely and only during updates on 5.15. Again, not able to explain why … just what I am seeing.

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@initialize I’ve seen the same spec but can confirm that it works via display port only and at a lower frequency:

[user@dom0 ~]$ xrandr
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 3840 x 2160, maximum 16384 x 16384
LVDS-1 connected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
   1920x1080     60.00 +  59.97    59.96    59.93  
   1680x1050     59.95    59.88  
   1400x1050     59.98  
   1600x900      59.99    59.94    59.95    59.82  
   1280x1024     60.02  
   1400x900      59.96    59.88  
   1280x960      60.00  
   1440x810      60.00    59.97  
   1368x768      59.88    59.85  
   1280x800      59.99    59.97    59.81    59.91  
   1280x720      60.00    59.99    59.86    59.74  
   1024x768      60.04    60.00  
   960x720       60.00  
   928x696       60.05  
   896x672       60.01  
   1024x576      59.95    59.96    59.90    59.82  
   960x600       59.93    60.00  
   960x540       59.96    59.99    59.63    59.82  
   800x600       60.00    60.32    56.25  
   840x525       60.01    59.88  
   864x486       59.92    59.57  
   700x525       59.98  
   800x450       59.95    59.82  
   640x512       60.02  
   700x450       59.96    59.88  
   640x480       60.00    59.94  
   720x405       59.51    58.99  
   684x384       59.88    59.85  
   640x400       59.88    59.98  
   640x360       59.86    59.83    59.84    59.32  
   512x384       60.00  
   512x288       60.00    59.92  
   480x270       59.63    59.82  
   400x300       60.32    56.34  
   432x243       59.92    59.57  
   320x240       60.05  
   360x202       59.51    59.13  
   320x180       59.84    59.32  
VGA-1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
HDMI-1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
DP-1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
HDMI-2 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
HDMI-3 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
DP-2 connected primary 3840x2160+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 697mm x 392mm
   3840x2160     30.00*   29.97  
   2560x1440     59.95  
   1920x1080     60.00    59.94  
   1680x1050     59.95  
   1600x900      60.00  
   1280x1024     75.02    60.02  
   1440x900      59.89  
   1280x800      59.81  
   1152x864      75.00  
   1280x720      60.00    59.94  
   1024x768      75.03    70.07    60.00  
   832x624       74.55  
   800x600       72.19    75.00    60.32    56.25  
   640x480       75.00    72.81    66.67    60.00    59.94  
   720x400       70.08  
DP-3 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
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Thanks @Sven. I appreciate the time you put into answering my question.

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Regarding performance of these systems, does anyone have experience in overlocking an i7–3840QM on Nitropad / T430 or W530 with Heads firmware? How can that be done?

Also, would putting some (or half?) of the templates and qubes on the second SSD (DVD drive turned into SATA SSD drive) using this method increase system performance?

Last question to @sven. I tested the speed on Samsung SSD PRO 850 and Samsung SSD PRO 860 using:
$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=1M count=1024; sync
And I never got more than 260 MB/s. Although they’re advertised as 500+ MB/s. Is that your experience too? Or do I have a wrong configuration somewhere?

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@oijawyuh

[user@dom0 ~]$ sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=1M count=1024; sync
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB, 1.0 GiB) copied, 1.78859 s, 600 MB/s

Note that I am using BTRFS because it gives me a recognizable performance boost on both my T430 laptops. I have no idea if that is related to your issue.

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