Building My First Linux Box...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Luigi239, Oct 9, 2007.

  1. Luigi239 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    #1
    I've decided I need a desktop, but would like to build it myself, which unfortunately doesn't make this a Mac. I've done abit of research, but I need some help.

    Looking around, the processor options are kinda confusing. I know I want dual core and probably 64bit. I was looking at the Intel Pentium D's, because they fit the job, and the budget. (Most are below 100$ at newegg.) What kind of processor would you recommend? I guess I do have some intel brand loyalty, but if AMD has something better, then I'm there.

    Also, looking at some motherboards, I'm torn between just getting onboard graphics like the GMA950, or an actual card. I'd rather go with the onboard just because of the cost, and the fact that I only plan to be doing some video encoding, web browsing, and some work with photo editing, so I don't really think I need a graphics card for that. I can always add one on later, correct?

    Lastly, a case. What should I look for in one? I want something small, and quiet, a mini tower I suppose. What kind of cooling systems will I need to buy for it, or are they usually included with the case?

    Thanks alot for any help.
     
  2. martychang macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    #2
    DO NOT GO WITH PENTIUM D. They are the hottest, most power hungry chips Intel ever put out, a trainwreck imo. They are cheap, and can be fast, but really get anything other than a Pentium 4/Pentium D, those are NetBurst based, which is the root of the problem.

    For cheap I'd pick up the cheapest AMD Athlon 64 X2 you can find, I've seen them for $50 or less easy, and they're 64-bit and dual core.

    Motherboard, if you're doing Linux make sure it has integrated either way. If you do get a "real" graphics card and Linux has a driver problem with it, you might(possibly) be screwed if you don't have integrated. Yes, you can easily add one later as long as you make sure it has a PCI Express x16 slot.

    Case, just get a typical ATX for the hardware you're describing. I don't know much about minitowers/Micro ATX, but I have heard great things about Mini ITX. .

    For small and quiet, you might try to find a Mini ITX case AND motherboard, with a free AMD/Intel processor socket depending on which you go with(mini ITX sometimes has an integrated 32-bit single core VIA processor, and no socket for your own). The only warning I have about Mini ITX is that it's pretty unlikely you'd be able to add a graphics card, initially or at a later time: Mini ITX is a very small form factor that doesn't usually have those types of slots available, and has neither the physical room nor the slots for heavy expansion. Also, what I said about Pentium D's is doubly true for Mini ITX, it's very small, not a good place to put a burner like a Pentium D.
     
  3. Luigi239 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    #3
    Thank you so much for the help.

    I think that when I build it I will go with the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ like you suggested. It's only 60$ on Newegg! I think I will also go with the motherboard with integrated graphics, as I don't ever plan to use this for gaming, and use the Mini ITX form factor. The only card I would need to add would be a Wifi Card...would there be enough room for that? (I could also just get a usb stick as well, but the card would be nicer.)

    Is there any issue with motherboard compatibility and Linux? I was looking at the Asus M2A-VM, but Ars Technica said "About the only chink in an AMD 690G-based board is less mature Linux support than the nVidia 6150 or 7050-chipsets." Also, how can I tell what form factor a motherboard is?

    Sorry for the noobness, but this will be the first PC I've built.
     
  4. martychang macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    #4
    I'm not sure about the WiFi card, but probably. Mini ITX usually has at least 1 basic PCI slot, which is what you'd be looking at for basically anything other than a graphics or physics card.

    My personal experience is that Linux is friendly with anything less than the latest and greatest in terms of graphics, even more so for integrated. As for chipsets, you might have to do some poking around. I'm sure there's support for Mini ITX in Linux, they're both very "hobbyist," but I can't say off the top of my head. Just remember, when it comes to software support you're looking at the motherboard's chipset, NOT the motherboard itself. There are many motherboard makers, but only a few chipset makers, most mobo manufacturers just license the chipsets from other companies.

    You may have some difficulties with compatibility if you get something with a GeForce 7050 because it's new. This isn't that it won't work: my 8800 GTS is fairly new, and I had to do some work, but it's fine with Linux now. If you're not comfortable booting single-user mode and running some command line installers you may wish to steer clear of anything shiny new. All that said, I highly doubt any Mini ITX motherboard would have a GeForce 7050 ;)

    Newegg is supposed to allow you to search motherboards/cases/power supplies by form factor, but I found this feature wasn't totally apparent last time I was looking. On Newegg it will say in the name what form factor it is 99.9% of the time, if not it will say it in the specifications. Basically, if it isn't Mini ITX it's either ATX or Micro ATX, as far as Newegg goes. They don't carry the weird ones like BTX last I checked...
     

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