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New System Specs - The Desian Universe
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deskitty
deskitty
Des
Sun, Apr. 23rd, 2006 04:41 pm
New System Specs

So... rather than doing anything productive, I decided to do some research into what I'd want in a workstation (which I'm tentatively calling "siamese"). I don't know that I'll actually get a workstation (I may think about it and decide later I want a laptop), but if I were to get one, what would I get?

This machine should be:

  • At least somewhat kick-ass, but without being incredibly expensive (somewhere in the ~$1500-2000 range is good)
  • Well-balanced (for instance, a quad-core machine with 256MB RAM doesn't make much sense)
  • Quiet (I'll use it to listen to music, at least, if not watch movies and the like)
  • Reliable -- if I have problems with even one component during its first 5 years of life, it fails the reliability test.
  • Running Linux, and only Linux (unless Windows happens inside VMware or something)
  • A good development box (which means at least dual-core -- yay threads)
  • A good library (I have lots of music and anime, and will only collect more as time passes)
  • An okayish gaming machine (if anyone ever gets around to releasing Linux games...)

I picked components by going through Newegg and looking first at the brands and specs -- did the brand seem reliable, and did the product come with a lengthy warranty? Did the specs fit with the rest of the machine (for instance, getting 1.5GB/s SATA drives is silly when the motherboard supports 3.0GB/s)? Did the device fit within a reasonable price range (neither really cheap, nor really expensive)?

I'm pretty clueless about hardware, so I would like you, my lovely readers, to give me feedback.

[Edit: Yes, I know the prices might be a bit on the steep side. I've done no shopping whatsoever -- just threw the numbers together to get a ballpark figure.]

[Edit again: Dropped the CPU speed, because I found a 2.2GHz with 1MB cache for ~$200 cheaper. :p]

Component Specs Manuf. Model Price (Newegg)
Case
Fans
CPU 2.2GHz Dual-core (1MB L2 per core) AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ $460.00
Motherboard Sock 939 4 DIMM, SATA2, PCI-express DFI Lanparty UT CFX3200-DR $230.00
RAM 2GB DDR 400 (PC 3200) Kingston ValueRAM 2GB $160.00
Video 256MB PCI-express x16 ASUS GeForce 7600GT $190.00
Audio Dolby 6.1 SPDIF Creative Audigy2 ZS Platinum $200.00 Supported in Linux?
Hard Disks SATA 3GB/s Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 st3300822as
300GB $120.00
300GB $120.00
DVD Burner 16x (IDE) Plextor PX-740A $80.00
$1,560.00


And now, here are my questions:

  • Does anyone have experience with the Audigy2 under Linux? I know the first generation works, but what about the second?
  • What is the difference between Athlon 64 X2 and a dual-core Opteron? I couldn't find any explanation of this on AMD's website, and their specs look to be the same (even though the Opteron costs ~$100 more).
  • Anyone know anything about the virtualization instructions AMD is supposedly putting into its newer processors? Can I buy a CPU with that now, and if so, which ones have it?
  • I'm thinking about the SATA version of the DVD burner, but it's more expensive and I'm not sure it gives me any benefits. Thoughts?
  • What sort of power requirements will this machine have?
  • Any case/fan/PSU recommendations? (Keep in mind, the machine needs to be quiet, although I'm OK with reasonably large cases.)
  • Any positive or negative experiences with the brands I've listed? Please share.
  • Can you think of any better brands/products? If this were your machine, how would you change the configuration?
  • Is there anything at all wrong with the configuration of this box?


-- Des

Current Mood: goofing off
Current Music: A-Ha - Take On Me

16CommentReplyShare

robbat2
robbat2
Robbat2
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC)

I've used the SATA version of that DVD burner, and quite simply, it's really solid hardware, however at the time the Linux support was a little shaky - however that was nearly 9 months ago - and libata has come a long way since then.


ReplyThread
deskitty
deskitty
Des
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)

Yeah... it just doesn't seem like there's really much reason to use SATA for a DVD burner. Is the IDE bandwidth really a bottleneck?


ReplyThread Parent
robbat2
robbat2
Robbat2
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 01:26 am (UTC)

The only positive benefit I saw was extremely low CPU usage, practically unmeasureable.


ReplyThread Parent

deskitty
deskitty
Des
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
Re: Case reccomendation and comments

OK, so since I'm not building an uber-server, I probably don't care about the Opteron too much.

Haven't had any experience with Kingston RAM, Crucial and Corsair have been good to me. Get some low latency RAM. I'm assuming you'll be getting two 1gig DIMMs for dual-channel RAM goodness.

Yes.

Kingston has a lifetime warranty... I actually had to RMA one of their DIMMs a while ago, they took it back and replaced it very quickly, no questions asked. Presumably if they're willing to offer a lifetime warranty, they're OK. IIRC one of either Crucial or Corsair (I don't remember which) only offers 1-year, but I'll have to look at them both again.

Didn't know I had to worry about latency for RAM. I thought all DDR 400 RAM was the same... but I'll have to look into that further.

No personal experience with DFI. Hm, looks like that one is an ATI chipset. Make sure that's all good with Linux, I know that ATI has historically had poor Linux support. Also, do you think you'll ever be adding a second video card for SLI? If not, there's not much reason to put forth the extra money for an SLI board.

Yeah... probably not going for SLI. The motherboard really is suboptimal as far as ATI is concerned ... but everything that matters (SATA controller, network, USB) is something-not-ATI that is supported by Linux. I may still try to find an nForce though, we'll see.

Thanks for your feedback. :)


ReplyThread Parent

deskitty
deskitty
Des
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)

Well, damn. I wonder if I should wait for AM2 then.

Although I bet it'll take a couple years to get it worked out to the point where it's stable and cheap enough for me to be interested in it, and by then I might be ready for another machine anyway. :p

I don't know...


ReplyThread Parent
xenithtoast
xenithtoast
Xenith
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 09:07 am (UTC)
Initiate the RDF!

You know you want it.

Or, for a less expensive option, we have the kawaii model.

/me passes the kool-aid


ReplyThread
deskitty
deskitty
Des
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Initiate the RDF!

No. No, I really don't.

Maybe if they came with Athlon 64 X2s, and maybe if I could, you know, actually stick more than one hard disk in them... otherwise, just no. Mac fails. :p

(Besides which, OS X annoys me... not quite as much as Windows, but still.)


ReplyThread Parent
xenithtoast
xenithtoast
Xenith
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Initiate the RDF!

Yea, it's a shame the intel towers aren't out yet. Those actually have dual chips and more than 1 HD. :)

But yea, I'll talk to you about your options if I can snag you on AIM. :)


ReplyThread Parent
elvendude
elvendude
The Elf
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Initiate the RDF!

As was pointed out in one of the articles I read about the Intel mac stuff and the dual bootable macs...if Mac really wants to boost the sales of OS X and get it to a more mainstream audience (which is one of the stated purposes of the program that lets you put Win on a Mac), then they would release OS X for non-Mac built machines. *nod* I would use it. As it kicks Window's ass in almost every respect.

And, as I point out below Des, I don't have the foo to get a proper distro of Linux working. Until Linux just *works* straight out of the box, it cannot be mainstream. OS X and Win do.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Linux mainstream. But it has to work first.

And sorry xenithtoast, this rant just happened to come out here. Not even really sure why. *grin*


ReplyThread Parent
deskitty
deskitty
Des
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Initiate the RDF!

And, as I point out below Des, I don't have the foo to get a proper distro of Linux working. Until Linux just *works* straight out of the box, it cannot be mainstream. OS X and Win do.

True, true. But Linux is a lot closer now than it was even a year or two years ago. (Looked at Ubuntu at all?) Except for a few key areas (like wireless networking and accelerated video cards), it mostly Just Works(tm). There are varying levels of support, yes, but at least basic functionality is usually supported.

::shrug:: I find both OSX and Windows annoying (though OSX less-so) when compared to Linux. But, that's because (a) I'm weird like that, and (b) I have a large number of power-user tweaks in place that are difficult if not impossible to do on other platforms. (I don't think Windows would like it very much, for instance, if I tried to remap my Ctrl keys to F13 and F15, respectively. It wouldn't know what in the world to do with F13 and F15 if it saw them.)


ReplyThread Parent
elvendude
elvendude
The Elf
Tue, Apr. 25th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Initiate the RDF!

True, true. But Linux is a lot closer now than it was even a year or two years ago. (Looked at Ubuntu at all?) Except for a few key areas (like wireless networking and accelerated video cards), it mostly Just Works(tm). There are varying levels of support, yes, but at least basic functionality is usually supported.

*nod* True, true indeed. I was futzing with SuSe this time around. And, indeed, it worked and even had a very happy installation program that made me smile. My problems were getting my wireless networking and video card working. Both absolutely essential to what I use my computers for. I have already gone over my video problems. As for the wireless...I could not find any options that would allow me to access a secured network. Non-secured worked just fine.

But, yes, the system as a self-contained unit, worked perfectly.

And I will look at Ubuntu. Give it a poke. :)


ReplyThread Parent
fairyspell
fairyspell
Fairyspell
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)

The only thing I understood out of all that IT intelligence was:
What sort of power requirements will this machine have?

and my un-needed advise and opinion on that is a wall outlet and a plug. Wish I could help, sweetie. Im afraid my brainpan isnt up to par when it comes to these things. Now...chocolate chip cookies, roast pork loin, choreography, fingerpainting, THESE things I know about! XOXO


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elvendude
elvendude
The Elf
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 10:07 pm (UTC)

As a bit of a side tangent...

As for games under Linux, I know a number of people who have had wonderful success with games using WINE. Of course, you do have to have at least some Win files installed for it to work at that level. But I know of a number of people who play WoW under WINE. I would be myself, but my laptop's hardware is weird and I can't get the 3D acceleration working under anything I've tried. And I don't have the foo to get something like gentoo working.


ReplyThread
deskitty
deskitty
Des
Mon, Apr. 24th, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)

As for games under Linux, I know a number of people who have had wonderful success with games using WINE. Of course, you do have to have at least some Win files installed for it to work at that level. But I know of a number of people who play WoW under WINE.

Yeah. I've played basic things like Starcraft under Wine, but that's about it. UT actually has a native Linux port, which makes me happy... but I'm not really that into FPSes.

Knowing my habits, if I wanted to get into video-gameishness, I think I would probably just get some sort of console (Xbox or PS2 -- not sure I'd bother with the newer ones).

I would be myself, but my laptop's hardware is weird and I can't get the 3D acceleration working under anything I've tried. And I don't have the foo to get something like gentoo working.

Is it an nVidia card or something else? If it's nVidia, acceleration should be fairly straightforward with their closed-source drivers. If it's something else ... well, who knows.


ReplyThread Parent
elvendude
elvendude
The Elf
Tue, Apr. 25th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC)

Is it an nVidia card or something else? If it's nVidia, acceleration should be fairly straightforward with their closed-source drivers. If it's something else ... well, who knows.

It's an ATI Radeon Mobility something-or-other. Their released Linux drivers make X (running KDE this time around) unbootable after install. :)


ReplyThread Parent
deskitty
deskitty
Des
Tue, Apr. 25th, 2006 06:56 pm (UTC)

Yeah, that's ATI for ya. The open source drivers (i.e. the ones that come with X) are usually OK for at least getting the thing running, though unaccelerated.


ReplyThread Parent