[sf-lug] new linux box

U So sait8so at gmail.com
Sun Nov 18 08:59:45 PST 2007

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the personal message.  I asked Arnold to post this on the
forum for two reasons.  First, sadly, I'm not all-knowing and if I
need to be corrected I should.  Second, some other people might
benefit from reading this.  Anyway, onto geeky tech-talk...

Good choice on keeping up the research.  I probably went through about
6 months of neurotic research before winding up with what I wanted...
which wasn't everything I wanted... but I didn't know that until I
built it.  Then I spent more money than I thought, making what I
wanted.  That's the fun of building your own computer. =)

I think an Intel processor currently gets you much more bang for your
buck.  AMD has stayed competitive mostly because of it's pricing, not
performance.  Yes, Phenom is coming out very soon, but I doubt you'd
really be needing a quad-core processor.  And if you do need
quad-core, by most estimates Penryn is going to whomp everyone out
there anyway.  For my build, I went with a $60 AMD processor and
overclocked it to a $140 processor, but that was more for having fun
and playing around.  If I was going to do it again I'd go Intel.

I would recommend getting either a low-to-midrange (E4500, E2160,
etc..) Intel processor and upgrade later if it suits you, or get a
near-top of the line now in the form of an E6750 like you were looking
at and don't plan on upgrading.  From a normal desktop user
standpoint, an E4500 would suit you just fine and be more than enough
power for most anything you want to do.  I would check out
Tomshardware's CPU charts for a good estimation of software use (I
think they include a Photoshop benchmark, which would be comparable to
GIMP).  Core 2 Duo chips are also highly overclockable if you're into
that.  Also, I wouldn't spend a huge amount of your budget on the
processor.  The case and cooling solution matters a lot in day-to-day
use.  For example, with the better processor a file takes .5 seconds
longer to open, but if your case doesn't have sound dampening or the
processor heatsink is inefficient, you may have to listen to a loud
whining noise all day.  But then, I mentioned before I'm a freak about
silencing my computer.

For motherboards, from my experience (and please correct me if I'm
wrong) Intel has some of the best Linux support there is.  I have an
Intel-based laptop and everything "just works."  There's a ton of
variations on what motherboards can have, so you're gonna have to
spend some time thinking about what's important to you and what flavor
of motherboard you want.  IMO, you could do a lot worse than getting a
G965 chipset with 1066 FSB support and whatever bells and whistles you
want on it.  That would give you something relatively recent with
decent on-board graphics for Linux eye-candy.

As an aside, integrated graphics come NOWHERE close to a dedicated
card.  Getting a cheapie $60 PCI-e graphics card will give you enough
power to do most anything you want in Linux besides intensive 3-d
gaming.  Nvidia was previously the only way to go if you wanted Linux
support, but ATI has been making great strides to close the gap.  I
haven't tried my ATI card with Linux because my Nvidia card "just
works," but it might be worth looking into.

Happy hunting with your parts, Alex! (Don't worry, you'll find the
-perfect- one about a month after you build your computer ;)

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