Hardware query please ??

Discussion in 'Linux' started by smallhagrid, Mar 25, 2018.

  1. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    Hi Folks.
    Some years back I set up a system for my elderly friend which was his 1st time using Linux, and he's adored its stability ever since.
    Finally his system has gotten so very old that he needs it replaced because it won't allow lots of videos to play anymore & won't even get any browser updates.

    I'll be using Ubuntu Mate for his system.
    It needs to be very reliable for the long run - he is not a gamer - so it just needs to be rock solid.
    He lives over 100 miles from me which makes stability very important as I cannot just go over to see him alot.

    I have gotten very good results using full ATX Biostar mainboards with AMD CPUs (also what I have in my systems) and it has been a while since I've bought anything like this.

    My queries:
    - Is there any other brand of mainboard which is more stable & reliable than Biostar now ??
    - What other h/w that is also very high quality works best with Ubuntu (I.E: video options) ??
    - Is there any specific AMD CPU chip which is a better value these days than others ??

    The friend this is for is well into his 80's and wants a good system to last for years; he probably realizes that this will be his last upgrade, and I want to help him to be as happy as possible with it.

    All helpful pointers will be gratefully appreciated !!
    Thanks.
     
  2. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    Nobody ?? Nuttin ??
     
  3. John Sutherland

    John Sutherland MDL Addicted

    Oct 15, 2014
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    Hello @smallhagrid - To start, I want you to understand one thing. The last time I helped someone build a desktop PC was about 5 years ago. I'll admit I do a lot of reading about newer hardware, but please don't consider me an expert, and please don't take my advice as the last word. I'm not going to make any specific recommendations, just general ones. I'm sure there are others on this forum who are much better informed, and hopefully they'll have something to add.

    1.) Personally, I've always liked Asus mobos. But if you've used Biostar mobos in the past, and haven't had any issues with them, then there's no good reason to stop using them.

    2.) With graphics, you have three choices: Intel, Nvidia, and AMD. Intel graphics seem to work pretty well with Linux right out of the box, but since you're planning on using an AMD processor, that eliminates Intel. So you're left with Nividia and AMD. And from what I've read, you'd be better off with Nvidia, provided you use Nvidia's own proprietary Linux drivers and not the open source Nouveau drivers. Which exact card is up to you, and depends greatly on your budget. Consider anything from the GeForce 950 and up and you'll probably do well.

    3.) As far as AMD processors, again, it depends on what you're willing to spend. Something from AMD's FX series would be a good starting point if your budget is tight, and if your budget allows it, then something from the Ryzen R5 or R7 series would give you better performance.
     
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  4. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    #4 smallhagrid, Mar 29, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    (OP)
    Thanks Very Much for replying John !!
    As it happens, I did some surveying to see what has been said by other folks in product reviews...and a bit later still have seen your reply here.

    The budget is not tight as he wants high quality.
    At the same time, many, many reviews about the Ryzen series & mainboards to match reported serious bugs & problems.
    The boards themselves are not too spendy - but the CPUs and DDR4 RAM are crazy expensive !!

    What I know of from experiences is that AM3 & AM3+ socket CPUs are trouble free & altogether a known good MB (Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3P)with a FX-6300 6-Core CPU & ~8GB RAM can be had for around $250 right now, so that is my present leaning.

    His existing h/w is based on an Athlon X2 5000 & 4GB RAM, so the above will be a pretty big jump upwards from that.

    All that I'll lack is choosing suitable HDD, PSU & video card to finish the list.

    One thing I forgot when thinking about this is that he absolutely LOVES his 'forever' IBM model M KB, and most newer MBs now totally lack PS2 jacks - leaving the only option to use a PS2-USB adapter, which are not 100% stable & would give him fits, so it is best for this system to go with a MB that has those needed ports.

    I'll post more here as this quest is fulfilled, but in the meantime I'd love to hear more thoughts from other folks ?!?

    Thanks.
     
  5. John Sutherland

    John Sutherland MDL Addicted

    Oct 15, 2014
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    Hello @smallhagrid - I spent a good portion of last night reviewing some hardware specs, doing some Google searches, and asking "What would I do if I were building this for myself?".

    1.) I'm changing my minimum recommendation for a graphics card. Instead of choosing the Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 as a starting point, I now think the GTX 970 would be a better choice, for these two reasons. a.) The GTX 950 has just 2GB of memory, while the GTX 970 has 4GB. b.) More importantly, the GTX 970 supports 4K video, the GTX 950 does not. I don't know if your friend is considering a new LCD monitor as a part of his upgrade, but I wanted to mention this just in case. If he ever does want to upgrade to 4K video now or in the future, then the GTX 970 won't be holding him back.

    2.) Be very careful of what you see on Amazon or some of the other retail websites. Sometimes things are not what they appear to be. I remember seeing one AMD Socket AM3+ motherboard for just $149.99 on Amazon last night, but when I clicked the "Buy" button, it turned out that price was for a refurbished board. If I wanted a brand new one, the price was $389.95. Big difference. Caveat emptor.

    While on the topic, when you receive the mobo, check for two things: a.) The shipping box should have just one layer of tape, and should appear that it has never been disturbed. If it looks like the original tape was removed and replaced, or if you see two layers of tape applied, that's a warning sign that it's a repack. b.) If it's a brand new mobo, it should be in an anti-static silver bag that has been heat sealed. If it's been taped or it's a zip-lock style bag, I would be a little more skeptical. It might be new, it might not. And if there's no anti-static bag at all, that's a big red flag, you're probably inheriting someone else's problem. Send it back ASAP.

    3.) Don't skimp on either the power supply or cooling. Most of the AMD FX series CPUs need 125W, and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 needs 145W. Then there's the mobo, the memory, and all the peripherals that need to power. I'd be looking for a PSU somewhere in the 650-750 watt range. Better to have 100-150W in reserve than to find out that a 500-600W PSU just isn't cutting it. Same applies to the CPU fan, buy the best one you can afford. You're better off overcooling the CPU than waiting until the build is done to find out that the CPU is running on the hot side.

    4.) Since this is a "LInux only" build, seriously consider buying a small capacity SSD (120GB) along with a large capacity HDD (1-2TB). Then you can put the UEFI boot and root partitions on the SSD, and the home and swap partitions on the HDD. Doing this will give you better boot times and better overall system performance, while at the same time saving the SSD from excessive write/rewrite cycles. If you're familiar with using the "Something Else" option when installing Ubuntu, it should be no problem. If not, either start a new post here or send me a PM and I'll walk you through it.
     
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  6. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    Thanks again for replying John !!
    As it stands right this minute I am considering what stuff as I've got on hand from 'retiring' several business grade PCs.
    If this option proves best to get him a slight upgrade at lower cost I'll do it because mainly what he's objected to is being without his PC for any more than a day or 2, which I cannot manage at this distance if I take his here to upgrade it.
    The plan all along has been for me to make something better in a case just like his, then move the data when I bring it to him.
    If all this takes is a new PSU & HDD to get him very up to date, that may be he best solution.
    I'll know more after I spec out what is sitting around here...
     
  7. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    OK, finally got this puzzle figured out...here are the gory details:
    Even with just a dual core CPU in an advanced cooling case my friend's PC ran hot as he keeps his place all closed up & very warm - like even when it is over 90F outside, so a really fast/hot CPU would likely burn up pretty fast for him.

    The good news is that I have a proven, perfectly good 3-core CPU on a really solid Biostar MB, with RAM, so=>
    Got him a new PSU, video card & HDD & will have all that inside a really well ventilated case.

    This way he gets all that he wants & needs with a MB that natively supports his needed KB, etc..
    There is no need for any sort of fire breathing fast, hot, fancy rig here - just something that will allow his daily activities to continue unhindered, reliably - which this h/w will do easily.

    Phew. Glad to have this all figured out now...just waiting for the new stuff to arrive !!

    Thanks.
     
  8. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    Finally have this project well in hand & hope to have it ready to walk out the door in a day or 3 here.
    Ubuntu Mate 18.04 zooms right along on this h/w & I need have no concerns about it getting too hot at his place.

    On another note - I must soon make a new box for someone else to run this same OS, but with VM capabilities also so it looks like I won't have any time to get bored, that's for sure !!
     
  9. totalbeliever

    totalbeliever MDL Junior Member

    Oct 22, 2015
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    Asus and Biostar are both good!