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My First Build, a Linux Gaming PC

by tux_computer_systems

22
22 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

Dec. 31, 2016

Date Built

May 11, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

4.5 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

26.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

58.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.594 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

8.008 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

37.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

63.0° C

Description

What started as a plan to make the cheapest PC possible led to many hours spent on the one, the only PCPartPicker, slowly trading i3's and GTX 950's for i5's and 1060's, until a nice, mid-high performance build took shape. The goal was to never sacrifice quality where it counted, a mindset that convinced me to replace a budget chipset with a Z170 motherboard, as well as an unlocked i5 from a Core i3. In the end I got everything I could ask for and more from my first system, and it impresses me considering the low price (not including the stereo or peripherals).

Lets talk about the components;
CPU & Cooler: I've only just begun to dabble in CPU overclocking, and easily reach 4.5GHz with a fixed Vcore of only 1.24V! I don't regret choosing the i5 as its performance should last me many years, and runs cool. That is partly due to the be quiet! cooler mounted atop it, which looks better than the ever popular CM Hyper 212, and works just as well, all while remaining inaudible.

Motherboard: I've heard complaints about ASRock, but have had a great experience so far. The Extreme3 isn't flashy, but it has a nice feature set, stemming from its Z170 heart. It features an acceptable onboard audio chip and a USB 3.1 port and one USB-C, in case that becomes relevant. Also, ASRock included support for both SLI and CrossFire, as well as M.2 NVMe SSDs.

RAM: I admit, I overspent just a touch on the RAM. For some reason my frugal self was overcome by the somewhat random obsession with low-latency memory, so I bought a pair of 4GiB sticks @ 2400MHz with a CAS latency of only 12! (for what it's worth)

Storage: 1TB WD HDD. What else is there to say? (Other than I'm awaiting the funds to justify an SSD of some sort.)

GPU: This was a tough choice. I actually purchased and assembled the whole PC sans the video card in May, while I could recover from the financial hit and make a more informed decision on a good card. At first I thought a GTX 950 would be suitable, then felt that a 960 was worth the delta in price. That was until I decided to wait for Pascal and Polaris. I was disappointed in AMD's Linux support, so I went Team Green. Gigabyte's 1060 G1 Gaming handles 1080p gaming (on Linux) with ease, allowing me to use maximum settings and never needing to worry about temperatures, but the card does whine a bit when the fans turn on and off. As it turns out, I was able to remedy the fan issue by loosening the fan mounting screws on the card (the fans were vibrating against the heatsink). However, for $270, this card performs flawlessly and makes the long wait for a graphics card worth it.

Case: Thermaltake won me for a budget chassis with workable cable management AND didn't even have as many angles and edges as a Lamborghini Veneno! (Sorry/not sorry Lambo fans, I'm a Ferrari guy!) The build was straightforward in this case, to me it looks nice for the deal I found it for, and has enough tie-down points to make cable management work (but could use more). Overall it's a thumbs-up.

PSU: I didn't know of Corsairs' CX line having some issues with output before I bought this one, but I learned that a little too late. It was inexpensive, it works, and has all-black cables.

Monitor: It's glossy, is a sweet-spot in size for 1080p, and looks nice. One dead pixel, but for the low price I can't complain.

Keyboard & Mouse: So satisfying to type on, I'm glad I went mechanical. It was the cheapest one with Cherry switches that I could find, and still has a nice build. No LED's, but I'm not into RGB everything. The mouse is hardly a gamer's choice, and is beginning to frustrate me with signal latency and stuttering, but for now I'm managing.

OS: Linux (Ubuntu Gnome)...because it's superior.

Stereo: I'm an audiophile, who likes to crank it on occasion. Klipsch it is! The H/K is a good ol' receiver from the 90's that my parents are lending to me, which is hooked up to an Onkyo CD player, which is the only part that was purchased used from this whole setup! I'm surprised how well the two floorstanders work at a desk, and while I sit very close to them while on my PC, I'm still "within range" of the horns, and it still sounds a whole lot better than any Logitech 5.1 setup ;-) When I want to listen to music I roll my chair back to a REAL listening position, and proceed to rock out. I have no external DAC for my computer, and I may not buy one, as I don't use my PC as a source for critical listening...I actually turn it off to lower the noise floor!

P.S. Apologies about the redundant part reviews below, I didn't realize how they clog up the build page until they were already written.

Part Reviews

CPU

Solid performance, powerful CPU. Could be cheaper but we'll see if Zen can put AMD back into competition. The 6600k overclocks well, and mine doesn't require much voltage to run stably (4.5GHz @ 1.24V).

CPU Cooler

Great cooler, effective at keeping temps down. A little on the tall side, so be sure to check clearances. Effectively silent!

Motherboard

Well-priced Z170 board. No frills, but many useful features like USB 3.1 and USB-C. Overclocks well, with 8 phase CPU power delivery.

Memory

Fast RAM, low latency. Nothing to report other than no issues.

Storage

A little noisy, as HDD's are. Relativley fast performance, and lots of capacity per dollar.

Video Card

This video card performs well, but had an issue with the fans. They would rattle against the heatsink when spooling up from their zero RPM mode, in a rather disconcerting way. I was able to loosen the fans' mounting screws such that they are no longer pressed up against the heatsink, mending the issue, but it shouldn't have been a problem in the first place.

Case

A more than decent case for the price, good features and materials, with two included fans (which could be quieter).

Comments Sorted by:

someta 4 Builds 2 points 27 months ago

OS: Linux (Ubuntu Gnome)...because it's superior.

You got that right! :) Linux4ever. Nice build too, you don't see many Linux gaming builds...

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Thanks, I had a great time researching and building my rig. Open source all the way!

someta 4 Builds 1 point 27 months ago

Yeah, I'd like to go open source completely, but I play too many games and run too many applications that require Windows and have no Linux alternatives... But I still use it on servers and whenever else I can.

fn230 8 Builds 2 points 27 months ago

fn230 hisses at the GNOME 3 user! #TraditionalDesktopMasterRace D:<

Hah, just kidding. GNOME's chill. Nice build, well done. :D

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 2 points 27 months ago

Haha, I used Gnome 2 for pretty much all of my childhood, but am testing the waters with Gnome 3 now that I have my own computer... Thanks, I appreciate it! I'm honestly so glad to see so many Linux users on here, the REAL #MasterRace ;-)

fn230 8 Builds 2 points 27 months ago

Welcome. Linux is indeed the true master race. :D

GNOME 3 wasn't quite my thing, though I can see the appeal. More of an Xfce/LXDE person.

Solemnsong 1 point 27 months ago

+1 for the build and as far as a mouse is concerned I love my naga!!! (That's why I have 2)

faridc 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Jealous of your sound System...my wife would never let me have my huge JBL floor speakers in our home office (we both desk there)! Great build there, I also have a Corsair semi modular PSU. It's about 2 years old and works just fine. Your cable management looks great compared to mine.

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Thanks man, yeah I'm lucky that the speakers worked out in their current location! What JBL's do you have? I'm glad to hear that yout PSU is working fine (mine hasn't had any issues). Lots of people complain about Corsairs' budget supplies, but hey, if it keeps working well I'll be a happy camper.

faridc 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

I got the old E80's, I've had them for over 13 years, still sounding great!

CallOfSnowGolem 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Love the build how's Linux as far as steam is conserved there is not much game support

+1

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 2 points 27 months ago

Thank you! Obviously that's a limitation of gaming on Linux, support. Though, you'd be surprised how many games are available on SteamOS/Linux on Steam! (6000+) Of course the biggest difficulty is with Triple-A titles, as often they lack Linux support. Also, many people run games under Wine, supposedly with large success, but I haven't dabbled in that yet. Overall I think it's a quite viable platform for gaming, and if you can't give up your favorite Windows only titles, you can always dual-boot :-)

ConDreeds 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Slick design, I love it! +1

CallOfSnowGolem 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Does Linux cost anything because windows is quite $$$

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Most Linux distributions are free (Ubuntu, Arch, Mint, Debian...) so nope, Linux doesn't generally cost a penny!

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 1 point 27 months ago

Actually fn230 has a great guide to various Linux distros that I'd recommend checking out if you're interested.

techied 1 point 27 months ago

I like your TARDIS clock! :P

themadtux 1 point 27 months ago

+1 for a Linux gaming build. Nice job! Don't forget there's elementary if you're looking for a nice clean Linux distro

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

Thanks! I had a great time choosing components and building the computer. I'll keep ElementaryOS in mind, at some point I want to explore more distros and see what I gravitate towards. Elementary looks nice because it too features hot corners! (A feature I've grown to love in Gnome 3)

Jimbly 1 Build 1 point 25 months ago

Why Linux? From my understanding Linux is very limited when it comes to games available for the OS. Please correct me if I am mistaken. It seems kind of dumb to me to create a rig built for games while using Linux. The trade off for a more customizable interface/OS is not worth it to me in any way.

tux_computer_systems submitter 1 Build 2 points 25 months ago

Well, Linux is significantly more secure than Windows and more stable, as well as having benefits for programming, being open-source, and all-around a better OS in my opinion. I'm into games, but I'm not a hardcore gamer (I tend to enjoy Valve offerings and racing simulators). Sure, if I wanted to play the latest AAA titles, I'd dual boot Windows. However, I'm very satisfied with the games available for Linux and new ones are always coming.

Linux isn't for everyone (even though these days most GNU/Linux distros are very simple to install and use), but it comes down to personal preference. I'd recommend trying Linux at some point, even for gamers I'd recommend it for productivity - most Linux desktops are quite snappy!

Jimbly 1 Build 1 point 25 months ago

Hmm. You make strong points. I guess if you're not a 'hardcore' gamer then Linux would be a good solution.