Life without Windows or OS X

GNU/Linux is quite possibly the most important free software achievement since the original Space War, or, more recently, Emacs. It has developed into an operating system for business, education, and personal productivity. GNU/Linux is no longer only for UNIX wizards who sit for hours in front of a glowing console. Are you thinking about switching to Linux and want to learn how to use it? Have you been using GNU/Linux for some time and want to learn even more? This is the place for you.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Linux AMD Ryzen PC Builds: Part 2

This is part two of my post about putting together a Linux PC. There are plenty of people out there building Windows "gaming-rigs", but very few people talking about building GNU PCs.   

One of the more daunting aspects of putting together a GNU+ Linux is making sure the software and hardware you buy actually work with each other. It’s tedious and time-consuming to be sure. So its best not to worry too much about getting the latest and greatest. When trying to so-called future-proofing a PC you will find it isn’t a very good idea. A lot of expensive components provide diminishing returns. Mid-to-high components is that best way to go. You get more for your money. Build 2 was put together for around $700.00 U.S. It does everything I need it to. Software development, general office use, and light gaming. I can even run processor-intensive tasks such as video encoding and the project will get done, but the tradeoff is the time it will take.

This is my personal test PC. I have been distro hopping and throwing everything at this system since August of this year. This is the base version of the PC I built. If you buy the parts below and you're going to have an amazing GNU/Linux machine. And it does very well with all Linux distributions running kernel 4.10 or higher. I am posting this entry running System76s, Pop!_OS.

At the heart of my RYZEN Linux build is the AMD RYZEN 3 1200.This is a four core, four thread CPU has a base clock of 3.1GHz and max turbo speed of 3.4GHz. It has a total L1 cache of 576KB, a total L2 cache of 2MB, and a total L3 cache of 8MB. As with all other Ryzen line processors, this CPU is unlocked and ready for overclocking. This processor fits into the AM4 socket and is built on 14nm. The processor comes with a Wraith stealth cooler, which is a phenomenal value considering it is free. I also used  Arctic MX-4.  I got it to replace the stock thermal paste that came with the Wraith stealth cooler. MX-4 spreads quite easily and is not electrically conductive so it allows a beginner some leeway for mistakes and will not fry out their motherboard or other parts. The processor draws 65 watts of power and can safely reach up to 95 degrees C. Now keep in mind the best temperature for your PC is less than 70'C more than 80'C is hot and will reduce the lifespan of this CPU. The Ryzen 5 1200 supports DDR4 memory in a dual-channel configuration.

I went with the GNU/Linux friendly. ASRock AB350M Pro4 motherboard. This is a good board for the price and comes with the B350 chipset which will allow me to overclock the AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor. This motherboard supports four (4) modules of DDR4 RAM clocked from 2133MHz to 3200MHz and up to 64GB total memory. There are six (4) SATAIII, 6 GB/s ports, and onboard USB 3.0 headers. 

For ram, I am running 8GB PatriotSeriesViper Elite (Model PVE48G240C5KRD)  DDR4 2400 (PC4 19200). The computer booted fine, but RAM speed defaulted to 2133MHZ. I entered the motherboard bios, set XMP then rebooted. Upon next boot, RAM was at 2400MHZ with no problems.

For storage, Intel 545s Series 2.5" 256GB  64-Layer 3D NAND Solid State Drive for the boot drive and a Western Digital Blue 1TB 7200 RPM mechanical hard drive. So the system does boot up fast with the Intel 545s Series drive and it will have adequate storage with the 1TB mechanical hard drive.

Cryptocurrency mining has sent graphics card prices skyrocketing. It’s impossible to find most graphics cards at anywhere near MSRP.The graphics card I have chosen for this build is the Sapphire Radeon PULSE RX 560 4GB video card. If you want to play AAA games, go with Nvidia card they clearly have much better performance in GNU/Linux plus some games don't even support AMD at all. This system is not meant for gaming so it is a moot point and AMD RXs are great because of the better open source driver. Radeon RX 560 was tested with Linux 4.13 + Mesa 17.2.2. 

Last but not least, I went with the MasterBox Lite 3 case. This case is a great option, especially if you're looking for a case to hold any kind of drive. It has plenty of room to build in.The case ships with a single 120mm fan pre-installed in the rear, with additional space for two 120mm fans, or a 240mm radiator, up front. I added two be quiet! BL070 SILENTWINGS 3 PWM 120mm HIGH-SPEED fans up front. The system is cooled with positive air pressure. The two fans upfront is pulling in more air than the rear fan can push out. The surplus of air is forced to push air out of the case through the many cracks inside a chassis. The one constraint when employing positive air pressure within a PC enclosure is that the intake fans MUST have good filters installed on them. That no problem because the MasterBox Lite 3 as a magnetic front dust filter over the two SILENT WINGS fans that can be easily removed without tools and cleaned. I installed EVGA 450 B3,450W fully-modular power supply which has more than adequate power to support all of the components of this build. Its 80 Plus BRONZE and has the ECO Intelligent Thermal Control System that eliminates fan noise at low to medium loads.

Note: Keep in mind the above list of components does not include a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and either a set of speakers or a headset for audio.

Note: You can save over 100.00 U.S. on this build by getting rid of the SSD and only going with the mechanical drive and going with 2 budget 120mm front fans.


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