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Build

tux's summer home

by tinkertoy

3
5 Comments

Details

Date Published

Aug. 8, 2016

Date Built

July 28, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.7 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

Description

I was trying to build a sub-$500 PC for general computing running Linux with a Windows 10 VM running Visual Studio for school. I might have it do some PVR stuff too, but we'll see. It'll hopefully last me a good 8 or 10 years before having to scrap it for parts and build another one.

I was also going for something a bit more energy efficient, hence the i3-6100 at 51W, DDR4, no graphics card, and the Rosewill 550W 80+ Gold. I looked at some 80+ Platinum PSUs for an extra $25 or $30, but I picked this one to save some money and it had very similar test results per the 80+ website. *Edit -- this PSU ended up RMA due to loud buzzing, and I swapped it for the Seasonic (pics still show the Rosewill) * I spent that on the BluRay drive, which I got for under $40 with a two-day sale at Newegg I stumbled across on the day I ordered everything.

The case is fairly small, even for most MicroATX's, but it was able to fit everything well. I put in the drives in first, then PSU, then motherboard and all the cabling. I was able to stuff most of the cables above the BluRay drive and the rest got tied up with twist ties to keep good airflow. Unfortunately I ordered extra SATA cables thinking that I'd need them, but the motherboard came with 2.

I splurged on the SSD to get as fast a drive as I could get in hopes of making this PC last a bit longer. I went with the M.2 PCIe 3.0 NVMe over the SATA SSD or even the M.2 PCIe 3.0 ACHI (though the ACHI was just a couple dollars difference). I was amazed at the size of it when I got it in the mail. It's pretty quick too, though I haven't run any benchmarks on it yet. The other drives were salvaged from my old desktop machine

It runs Xubuntu 16.04--or at least it will. I tried Unity and just could not bear its lack of panels at the top or bottom. I tried Cinnamon and couldn't stand how much it just crashed. I tried Lubuntu and couldn't get some of the windowing stuff working the way it was supposed to. So I'm headed back to Xubuntu which is what I ran on my old PC and had no major complaints. Somehow during the initial install I managed to get the OS on the SSD, but the swap space on the SATA II (1.5 Gpbs) HDD. Thankfully I didn't ever use swap, but what a disaster that would've been!

The 20" NEC monitor was a great 'scratch and dent' find to replace my old 17" CRT. Well worth it. Local shops were going to charge me nearly the same price for an off-lease Dell 19" widescreen, i.e., junk. This has 1600x1200 resolution with DVI and VGA inputs and a couple USB ports. Plenty for the day-to-day stuff, and a pretty crisp, even display, good viewing angles, etc.

All in all, I am pretty happy for my first solo build (my brother did most of my first build). It's a nice place to keep tux cool in the hot summer weather without racking up the electric bill :)

Part Reviews

CPU

Easy to install. Worked just fine right out of the box with a Gigabyte GA-B150M-DS3H. It seems pretty quick, though I haven't pushed it much yet. More than enough for basic day-to-day stuff.

Motherboard

If you don't care to overclock, it's got everything you could want from the Z170 line at half the price. I like the PCIe 3.0 NVMe M.2 slot, which you won't find in much else at this price point, the USB 3.0 support, and the 3 display outputs. Documentation is good, installation was easy. BIOS works just fine, though the software isn't available for Linux. The 2x4GB HyperX Fury Black RAM sticks were a little tough to push in, but otherwise, everything seated in it rather easily. Just be sure to check compatibility of your SSD before buying - I got the Samsung SM951 NVMe 128 GB drive and it ran with no problems.

Memory

I popped them in (with a bit of force) and they worked. That's about all you can ask for. If you care about looks, they're pretty basic looking. For me, that's an added bonus.

Storage

Worked with no problems on a Gigabyte GA-B150M-DS3H. It's fast, and tiny, though no benchmarks yet on read/write speeds. I'll update when I get them.

Case

I got this for $15 including mail in rebate. I couldn't ask for much more in a case--it holds everything in well, and ventilation is good. I got it mostly because it was the smallest MicroATX I could find, plus the good price with two fans included, and a big plus was NO LED FANS! It also didn't have some ridiculously nerdy design that I didn't need or want. The fans are pretty quiet and seem to get good airflow. Running Ubuntu 16.04 with CPU (i3-6100 with stock fan) core temps just above 30C at light to moderate load.

Some others said they had sharp edges--I didn't have any problems with this. It is still sheet metal though, so if you run your finger along an edge with some pressure, you'll still probably get a cut. So don't do that. Some people also complained about the plastic thumbscrews for the side panels. I found them just fine, though I'm sure if you were to go at them like the Hulk, you'd probably find them flimsy. So don't do that either.

Install drives first, then PSU, then motherboard and cables. Some things were a tight squeeze, especially getting the ATX power onto the MB (Gigabyte GS-B150M-DS3H) with the 3.5" drives getting in the way. I was able to tuck the PSU and case cables above the optical drive. The SATA and fan cables got twist tied and nestled along the side of the case.

I take off one star for three little nit-picky things. The front USB ports seem somewhat flimsy--they have a decent amount of give when inserting a USB device into them. Also, I was a little disappointed with the 1/8th inch gap between the motherboard plate and motherboard--I would've liked a little tighter fit. Lastly, the power LED light is blindingly bright. It lights up the whole room! I have flashlights that aren't as bright as this thing! A little tape on the front solves this problem.

Comments Sorted by:

FACUNDO 13 Builds 1 point 24 months ago

*thugh's

lx003n 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Intel Graphics can have some issues for Linux gaming. I have seen a lot of people pairing with 750 ti or even rx 460. Amd was supposed to have their drivers in kernel but they had their patch rejected lol. Nvidia and Amd both have binaries tho.

+1 Need more Linux builds. I was using Linux Mint which is based on Ubuntu and Cinnamon but I switched to Manjaro which uses Arch and XFCE. Also Wine can run quite a few directX 9 games now. You could for sure run Dolphin too.

How fast does your m2 drive boot into Linux?

tinkertoy submitter 1 Build 2 points 23 months ago

6-8 seconds, including waiting on a down NFS mount. I'm sure that there's some junk I put on and/or configured that's slowing it down too, but most of the time it doesn't get rebooted; it just gets suspended.

I am having a new trouble where the monitor is showing up as "disconnected" after resuming from suspend. I can VNC into it and see the full desktop just fine, but the OS says the display is disconnected. I'm not sure if that's a MB or display issue--since the display is ancient and I bought it used.

lx003n 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

It sounds like Skylake ... I know they came out with kernel 4.9 but i think 4.8 has Skylake fixes.

Added that m2 to my wishlist

pcperson1337 1 point 17 months ago

If i were you I would have gone for a pentium g4560- cheaper, just about as good