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Old 08-20-2004, 02:22 AM   #1
wmanzoul
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Question Building a linux exclusive machine


Hello everyone!


I'm a linux newbie looking to build a computer system to run exclusively under suse linux 9.1 personal. It will be used for internet surfing, word processing, multimedia (like burning cds, listening to music and watching dvds) and intermediate gaming namely ut2004. I don't have too much money to spend, around $400. I've been running around in circles trying to decide on what hardware to buy for it, mainly the CPU, ram and video card. ill list out my questions to make answering easier.

Is linux less of a resource hog than windows? If so could i get away with getting less advanced hardware?

which combination is better: faster processor/less ram or slower processor/more ram? (i know ideally that fast processor more ram is best; i just dont have a lot of money)

CPU: I'm having trouble deciding between the amd 2000+, 2200+, 2400+ and the 2500+ (barton core). Should i get a less expensive processor and use the money saved for a better video card or more ram? Or just buy the 2500+ with the barton core?

Motheboard: how much of a difference does a good motherboard have?

Ram: 256 DDR or 512 DDR? is 512 too much?

Video card: give me a recommendation on a good, inexpensive video card. it doesn't have to be top of the line. im looking to spend $50-60 max on the video card.

I'm looking to build a "lean mean linux machine". Feel free to give additional suggestions on things that i may not have listed.

thanks for your help!

 
Old 08-20-2004, 03:25 AM   #2
jax8
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I would recommend spending money on ram as opposed to Processor.

Look at getting an NVIDIA Graphics card. I use a NVIDIA 440MX and it works fine. They have very good drivers for linux.

My computer is an AMD 1100, 256 RAM, NVIDIA VIDEO. It works smoothly for all my purposes and I play Americas Army.

I would not look a spending too much on this sort of stuff, as long as it will play games properly it will be fine, We leave the big spending to those Windows users :- )

Last edited by jax8; 08-20-2004 at 03:26 AM.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 03:50 AM   #3
wmanzoul
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Great! Great!

So I could get by well with an XP 2000+ with 256 (or 512) DDR Ram, for example?

I know the question may sound redundant, but I've been having lots of trouble getting a straight answer on it.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 03:52 AM   #4
jax8
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yep that will work fine.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 04:02 AM   #5
wmanzoul
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Thank You!
A straight answer.

So i've just saved myself a lot of money.

Do you have any other suggestions? I'm gladly taking all of the advice i can get.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 04:10 AM   #6
amosf
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I built an XP2400 with 512DDR and an nvidia FX 5600 and 80 HDD card for about AU$800 so that would be about the right ballpark figure when converted to US$ I think - depends on the drive size you want. A 440MX and smaller drive would bring the price down a bit. Also probably the XP 2000 would be heaps of power - heck my main linux workstation and gamer is still a P3-700...

MB with the nforce2 chipset works with the latest linux versions inc sound and ethernet.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 04:34 AM   #7
Mikhail_16
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Few things, number 1) Forget about the graphics . ATI cards are your best friend when running linux. They have good support, stable and don't require proprietary drivers. If you are not planning to play any serious games that require 3d acceleration (as if there are many of those ) go for a good stable ati card. This baby works pretty good i found over the years: http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduc...102-153&DEPA=0 plus think of all the money you'll save. Although you can always go a low-end radeon (7500 or 8500 are good and stable and pretty cheap now)

Ok memory, you want 512 MB. More would likely be overkill and less is stressing the system a bit (not too much, but its nice to have a bit of overhead).

You'll probably want at least a 40 GB HD and i recommend Seagate. They are pretty fast, stable and have good warranty. 40 is your absolute minimum for a desktop so think about getting another 100 gb one for storage as a second drive or something.

Network Card. 3Com Cards are recommended (best linux support afaik, only rivaled by intel cards). Get a nice pci card and you are all set.

You don't really care about the motherboard as it does not make a whole lot of difference, although i would HIGHLY suggest to go with something brand name. Try to avoid nforce boards.

You'll want sound blaster for sound: http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...102-165&depa=0 its up to you to decide, but that one is fairly good

CPU, i'll be honest with you, i'm an intel fan but since AMD's are pretty good so you are welcome to go AMD, pic the cpu with the highest L2 cache, it really helps the OS. Otherwise pick the best for your budget.

After all that, plan so you'll have another $50 or so left to get a UPS (which is important to have, trust me) and some minor things, like a keyboard and a mouse or a kvm for yourself.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 04:46 AM   #8
Mikhail_16
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Re: Building a linux exclusive machine

Quote:
Originally posted by wmanzoul
1) Is linux less of a resource hog than windows? If so could i get away with getting less advanced hardware?

2) which combination is better: faster processor/less ram or slower processor/more ram? (i know ideally that fast processor more ram is best; i just dont have a lot of money)

3) Motheboard: how much of a difference does a good motherboard have?

4) Ram: 256 DDR or 512 DDR? is 512 too much?
1) Generally linux requires less resources and has much less memory leaks not to mention more efficient resource utilisation.

2) It all depends on what machine will be doing, if you need to do lots of heavy computations then you need cpu muscle, if you need for lots of programs to run over long period of time (aka server) you need more ram. But then there is minimal and maximum amounts where the cpu vs ram debate tips one way or another, the minimal ram is about 128 MB now and maximum point is 1 GB or so. So you lose performance if your ram is less than 128 MB and don't really gain anything beyond 1 GB.

3) Motherboard does make a difference but not so much that you as a user would notice any difference.

4) 512 is a good number. While linux will sertainly run on 256 and 128 and i'm pretty sure it will work on 64 MB (even with X and KDE) of ram, the performance really takes a dive when there is less than 128 mb ram, because cycles are used up for memory management. Basically just go with 512 and you'll get a solid performance out of your box.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 04:52 AM   #9
amosf
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Everyone has their opinions, and mine is to avoid ATI. They work but you are still likely to need a binary driver to get 3D and their drivers are not as good. The nvidia cards might not be quite as good as the ati, but the 3D binary driver is better and easier to use.

I always used seagate and still have a couple, but the last drives have been WD which are good too. But hey, I have a working IBM deathstar that works, so maybe I'm just lucky.

ethernet. 3com, intel are good. Heck they all work and I have most brands. I had a linksys die but that's about it. I don't mind realtek and have never been let down by those either.

I liked intel til the p4 which seems nowhere. So go AMD. I still like my p3's tho

nforce boards work, now. You might find something better, but they work. Some VIA are okay and some are not. Some models of some brands are okay and some are not. Luck of the draw really
 
Old 08-20-2004, 05:01 AM   #10
wmanzoul
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I've come upon a slight conflict...
XP2000+ has 256 L2 cache and is $60 retail
XP2500+ has 512 L2 cache and is $89 retail

Which processor would be better for a computer that will be used for mainly word processing, internet, and modest amount of multimedia and games (UT2004 mostly)?

I can see how a user with an Intel preference would stress more L2 cache, as I believe most (maybe all) of their P4 have at least 512L2 cache (I'm not sure, i think so though). However, can an AMD XP2000+ processor do well in linux without the extra cache?

Would it be worth saving (or spending) the extra cash?

I've read some generic 512 RAM on sale for about $55. Good Idea to purchase, or should I spend a bit more for a name brand?

Will i be able to do with a motherboard with integrated sound and Ethernet card?
 
Old 08-20-2004, 05:12 AM   #11
wmanzoul
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Also, can someone give a good explanation of what to look for in a 3D accelerator card...I've always been bewildered by the options...

How much ram should I get? 64? 128? 256?
How do the bits work? 64-bit vs. 128-bit vs. 256-bit?
etc...

Here are the system specs for UT2004, if it'll help
Operating System: Windows® 98/Me/2000/XP

Processor: Pentium® III or AMD Athlon 1.0 GHz processor or faster (1.5 GHz or faster processor recommended)

Memory: 128 MB RAM minimum (256 MB recommended)

Hard Disk Space: 5.5 GB free

Video: Any Windows-compatible video card(NVIDIA GeForce 2 or ATI Radeon with at least 64 megs of video memory recommended)

Sound: Windows®-compatible sound card. NVIDIA® nForce(tm) or other motherboards/soundcards containing the Dolby® Digital Interactive Content Encoder required for Dolby Digital audio

DirectX®: DirectX® version 8.1(included)or higher

Multiplayer: Internet (TCP/IP) and LAN (TCP/IP)play supported | 33.6K baud modem or broadband Internet connection recommended



Last edited by wmanzoul; 08-20-2004 at 05:17 AM.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 05:15 AM   #12
amosf
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The XP2000 would do the job fine. The XP 2500 would be better, probably $30 better, sure, but it depends on what you want and how much you want to spend. The 2500 might have a longer life slightly.

The last PC I built had a nforce2 chipset and the onboard sound and 10/100 worked fine. I prefer my old SB tho
 
Old 08-20-2004, 05:18 AM   #13
Mikhail_16
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Quote:
Originally posted by wmanzoul
I've come upon a slight conflict...
1) XP2000+ has 256 L2 cache and is $60 retail
XP2500+ has 512 L2 cache and is $89 retail

Which processor would be better for a computer that will be used for mainly word processing, internet, and modest amount of multimedia and games (UT2004 mostly)?

2) I can see how a user with an Intel preference would stress more L2 cache, as I believe most (maybe all) of their P4 have at least 512L2 cache (I'm not sure, i think so though). However, can an AMD XP2000+ processor do well in linux without the extra cache?

Would it be worth saving (or spending) the extra cash?

3) I've read some generic 512 RAM on sale for about $55. Good Idea to purchase, or should I spend a bit more for a name brand?

4) Will i be able to do with a motherboard with integrated sound and Ethernet card?
1) Look at your budget and how much you are willing to spend. linux will work on both also think of the future a bit, as maybe you'll want to install windows 6 months from now on that machine. i would go for the better CPU if i could afford it, and there isn't much of a difference here, we are not talking $100.

2) Generally benchmarks show that L2 cache does help with performance (check out linux section at anandtech)

3) As long as its good quality, go ahead with that ram, and first thing you do when you get it is run memtest 1.20+ on it. that will tell you all the info and check if there are any bad sectors on the ramdacs. if the tests come out clean you are set. I've seen brand names fail and generics work for years under stress. A good test would be SANDRA burn in test, but you need windows to do that.

4) yes as long as there is linux support for those integrated devices. (seach the linuxquestions and google, i'm sure some one else bought it too and runs linux on it)
 
Old 08-20-2004, 05:29 AM   #14
amosf
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Video Card:
Look at some reviews and get the fps / $ that you want.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 05:37 AM   #15
Mikhail_16
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Fine, there you go : http://www.newegg.com/app/searchProd...0&InnerCata=48
 
  


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