A nonlinear spectral approach is proposed to simulate the post critical convective state for thermogravitational instability in a Newtonian fluid layer heated from below. The spectral methodology consists of expanding the flow and temperature fields periodically along the layer, and using orthonormal shape functions in the transverse direction. The Galerkin projection is then implemented to generate the equations for the expansion coefficients. Since most of the interesting bifurcation picture is close to criticality, a perturbation approach is developed to solve the nonlinear spectral system in the weakly post critical range. To leading order, the Lorenz model is recovered. The problem is also solved using amplitude equations for comparison. The similarity and difference among the three models are emphasized.