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Ideas for a desktop Linux PC


I’m thinking about maybe putting together a new desktop computer. My old one is about eight years old now, I think. It has an i5-3570K, 16GB of RAM, a Z77 Pro3 mobo and a 1070 for graphics (added later, of course). It mostly does fine, but I’ve noticed particularly in Shadow of the Tomb Raider that in some parts the CPU is pegged and the framerate drops noticeably, so I think it’s about time to upgrade.

My budget is going to be around 1200 €, but for a good enough reason I can probably stretch that a little. I’m in FInland, but I think most European retailers will have similar enough prices that they will do for a price reference. I don’t need any peripherals.

I do many things on my desktop computer, but the most demanding task is probably gaming, though I do occasionally stream and record videos with OBS. I have no interest in overclocking or water-cooling. I run Linux (Fedora at the moment) only, so Linux compatibility is key.

As for gaming, I play at 1080p, usually with everything turned up as high as it’ll go. I play a bit of everything, SotTR being one example, but I also play CS:GO, Path of Exile, My Summer Car, and Hearts of Iron IV.

I’d rather avoid a war of red vs. blue, but let’s just say my mind is set on this being an AMD computer. I also want it to be as quiet as possible. One more thing I want is to have a relatively large (500 GB or bigger) M.2 NVMe system drive and a larger (2 TB or bigger) internal storage drive. I do not need a graphics card, as I’ll be salvaging the 1070 from my current PC for now.

Hear is a build I came up with

I have the Fractal design R5 case and same cpu cooler paired with an ryzen 2700x and at Idle I have to put my ear up to the case to hear it when the cpu hits 100% it is audible but by no means loud. I put in a 2tb wd drive but if you have a drive laying around you could easily swap that with a 1tb ssd to store games on. It is a bit of a lavish expense but game load times will be faster and I certainly love having my games on my ssd.

I think even a lower end ryzen would be a joy for you and there no need to spend that 1200 unless you’ve got that money burning a hole in your pocket.

Looking at the recommended specs for Hearts of Iron IV and SotTR, as I think they’re the most demanding games on your list, the 3600x build suggested would definitely meet your needs.

If you wanted to save a bit, go for a 3300x. A 4 core 8 thread cpu.

The rest of the build could stay about the same, with a small change; ditch the aftermarket cooler and run the stock one as you said you do not plan on OC’in the system.

The Intel comparative would be the i3 10300 for a lower price build, or the i5 10600 for more cores and higher frames. I can’t suggest an LGA-1200 motherboard as I don’t know much about them at this point. The Intel builds really do benefit from OCin and higher RAM speeds, but that will drive up the motherboard and RAM costs.

Steve, at Gamers Nexus, did a great piece about the i5 10600k here and on the 3300x here

Right now I’m clocking Linux on a 3400G integrated graphics with 2x8 GB 3200 MHz RAM, B450 motherboard and a 500 GB NVMe drive. Current PC cost me around half your budget, and is working quite decently, but then I skimped on the GPU for now. Already this gives pretty good bang for the buck, but most of my settings are on low-medium quality and I stay clear of the really intensive titles.

My current plan is to upgrade to a decent Zen 3 mid-range CPU like the 4600 when it arrives, as well as an RDNA 2.0 AMD card (The RX 6xxx line of cards). That should last me a decent time, and I might even get some looking glass action with a 4600 APU / 6700 XT combo. :slight_smile:

If I were going for a new 1080p build this summer I’d probably get something like this ( for your convenience):

CPU (~180€): Ryzen 5 3600 6c12t
Motherboard (~130€): Gigabyte B550M Aorus Elite
Memory (~160€): G.Skill Ripjaws V Black DDR4 3600MHz 2x16GB
Storage (~80€): Kingston A2000 M.2 500GB
Graphics card (~320€): PowerColor Radeon RX 5600 XT Red Devil 6GB
PSU (~50€): Corsair CV550 550W
Case (~60€): Cooler Master MasterBox MB311L ARGB

Total cost around 1000€. Do note I left some wiggle room and none of the components are locked in stone, it all depends on availability, preference and so on.

Rationale: 5600XT is great bang for the buck for absolute majority of titles, especially at 1080p. AMD because better drivers on Linux (in general). B550 for a slight upgrade path, but double check VRMs. 3600 and 32 GB RAM because best bang-for-buck, 500 GB NVMe boot drive is damn fast and covers a lot of your needs, buy a mech if you need more storage. PSU is good enough to drive this system but be careful with more power-hungry cards (a 700W PSU covers 99% of all needs today). Case had RGB fans, a window, and had a decent price but feel free to exchange to whatever you feel best.

Upgrade path right now is kinda in a tricky spot though, since the AM4 is probably going End-of-life soon. It’s not a bad idea to wait for the AM5 platform at this stage unless you absolutely need the upgrade, but that is another 18 months down the line, at the very least.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

Wow, I had no idea pcpartpicker knows about Finnish retailers now. Neat!

This sounds very nice. I’ll definitely be taking a good look at this build, though I would want to change the M.2 drive to an NVMe one.

In my current desktop machine I have two 1 TB hard drives in a RAID0 array that I use for storage. I put the games I play on the SSD I’m using as a system drive, and then offload them to storage when I’m done with them. That’s why I really do want a 2 TB storage drive (having just the one drive will be simpler and easier than having an array), but it doesn’t need to be fast.

Perhaps, but then I don’t mind spending the money, and I do want to be somewhat future proof.

How loud is the stock cooler relative to the Noctua NH-D15?

As it happens, the reason I’m not so worried about buying a graphics card right now is that the 1070 will do for now, but I plan to buy an AMD card later for, as you said, their better Linux support.

I’m not in any great hurry to upgrade right this instant. If the next platform is coming up then I might just choose to wait for that instead.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I have some thinking to do.

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For a 3300x or 3600x, in a decent case it would likely be negligible, or could be not noticeable. The AMD stock coolers have gotten pretty good.

Depending on your fan curve you might find it annoying as it is a smaller fan, but in general your GPU fans would be louder than it once they ramp up.

The biggest complaints, I am aware of, re the stock coolers is the noise from them ramping up/down. If you control the curve they are generally not noticeable. As always this is subjective and YMMV.

You could also probably start with the stock cooler and see if it is tolerable if not you could buy the Noctua. I mostly bought the Noctua because I was building a server so it was always on and it was in my bedroom so I wanted it as quite as it could get but I never tested the stock fan.

I don’t think amd and intel will change their mounting for a while so a BigAss heatsink would be a good investment for years and builds to come

I’m a fan of the big downdraft cooler noctua has because it cools the vrms
Phanteks are great too, I have their bigass double tower cooler

a 3600X is fine but an 8 model will really be last the test of time a bit better especially if you stream ocasionally

If you want a cheap interim “boost” you can drop in a 3770 (non k) for under €100 or an overclockable 3770k for around €150. That may give you another cycle out of the system to save up for the latest ryzen.

If you resell the 3570k you could recoup half that.

I appreciate it is wasted money in the long run but if you are generally happy with the system a CPU boost can help and those 3770s are still potent.

Low end Ryzen but still a nice jump in IPC. Also pretty efficient and because of single CCX design lower latency than other Ryzen models. Makes it a nice little chip to base a NAS on later, especially with it’s ECC support as well.

Otherwise pretty much what you said you wanted plus tons of upgrade options. PSU and board will allow for any GPU and any AM4 CPU up to 3950X or even Zen3 and the RAM can be doubled without worrying about issues.

ASRock boards do pretty well with linux.

@Gibson I can definetly vouch for the fractal case. I have an r5 and its just amazing. loads of space to work in and if you have some old 3 pin fans you can plug it in to the built in fan controller and control it there.