[clug] New desktop PC

Chris Smart clug at christophersmart.com
Wed Jul 15 03:27:43 UTC 2015

On 10/07/15 18:18, Mike Carden wrote:

> Ideas?


I haven't skimped on quality components, plus I've checked for
compatibility. Your needs will probably differ, but this is what I'd
look at getting.

IMO the Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) units are great for what you
get, if dual-core i7 (with hyperthreading) and no discrete graphics are
OK. Limited storage, but making use of a M.2 SSD (which supports latest
PCIe 3.0 x4, so I've added one of these new fast drives) means you can
also have a 2.5" drive for data. Intel 7265 80211.ac wifi and bluetooth,
Intel e1000e NIC, Intel GPU with dual display (display port, mini hdmi),
4k support, USB 3.0 with charging port, etc. All very well supported
under Linux.

Intel NUC5I7RYH Core i7 5557U (Broadwell) 3.1GHz dual-core NUC ~$679
Crucial 2xCT102464BF160B 16GB (2x8GB kit) SO-DIMM ~$182
Samsung SM951 256GB AHCI M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 80mm SSD ~$327
Korora 22 GNOME x86_64 ~$0

Total ~$1188


Building a mini-itx unit, allows for a quad-core i7 or i5 (Haswell),
more storage and discrete graphics. Asus mainboard with latest 9 series
Intel chipset (H97 is fine, don't need overclocking capabilities of Z97)
provides M.2 PCIe 2.0 x2 slot as well as 4 x SATA3, multiple display
output (up to 3), Intel wifi and ethernet, USB3.0, etc. Or you could go
a Gigabyte GA-H97N-WIFI mainboard which by comparison has dual ethernet,
6 SATA3 ports but no M.2. Find a small case you like, such as Fractal
Design NODE 304 or Thermaltake Core V1 and pair it with good powersupply
that's quiet and will run cool. If desktop real estate isn't an issue
you perhaps consider Micro ATX board and/or case instead.

Intel Core i7 4790S 3.2GHz quad-core (64W) ~$435
ASUS H97I-PLUS Motherboard ~$140
Crucial 2xCT102464BA160B 16GB (2x 8GB Kit) PC3-12800 ~$176
Samsung SM951 256GB AHCI M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 80mm SSD ~$327
Thermaltake Black Core V1 Mini ITX Chassis ~$55
Silverstone SX500-LG 500W Gold SFX Power Supply ~$129
Korora 22 GNOME x86_64 ~$0

Total ~$1262

Just a few ideas for you, anyway :-) As for retailers, I've had good
success with PC Case Gear, Scorptec and AUSPCMarket. If you don't mind
poor service then head out to MSY.

TL;BIRA (too long; but I'll read anyway):

Intel Broadwell (tick to Haswell's tock) 5th Generation Core were
finally announced last month [1] and might eventually actually land..
which should reduce the price of Haswell chips. They will only be
available in high-end i7 and i5 [2], which is probably what you'd be
looking at anyway.

Broadwell will give you things like hardware codec support for VP8, if
you care about such a thing. However, if it were me I'd just get a
Haswell (or maybe wait for Skylake).

In terms of multi-thread support, most of the Haswell i5 and i7 CPU's
you'll find are quad-core, the latter coming with hyperthreading. If you
want to play with virtualisation then an i7 with its hyperthreading
might be handy. If you require pci-passthrough though, you'll need a
server/workstastion grade chipset, like X99 or C22X.

If you run specific single threaded applications that require high
processing power you're perhaps better off with a K version of the i7
(such as 4790K), as it has a higher clock speed than the i5 and regular
i7 models.

Intel's ARK is a pretty good resource for compare their CPUs, e.g
i5-4690 vs i7-4790 vs i7-490K:


There are other sites like cpuboss:


If you care about wattage, seek out a T (35/45W) or S (65W) model
(regular is 84W) that also balances the required cores and clockspeed.
Bundle this with a good, 80 plus gold rated powersupply.

When it comes to picking a specific CPU over another, I usually go for
the one that provides the best price point; just before the big jump in
price to go up a few MHz.

My pick:
Intel i7 4790S

Sockets, chipsets and mainboards:
Haswell was refreshed with new models mid-2014 and a new 9 series
chipset was released (although you can still buy 8 series and flash the
UEFI to support the newer Haswell chips).

There are two main sockets, *1150* (with H97/Z97 and C22X chipsets) and
*2011-3* (X99 chipset). The X99 workstation and C224/C226 server
chipsets will provide things like 6 SATA3 ports and support for
unregistered ECC (but if you need ECC then only Xeons, Pentiums and some
i3's support it).

I quite like mini-ITX as a form factor, so long as it gives you enough
PCI slots and has enough clearance around the CPU socket, and GPU if you
get one, etc. This has to be balanced with the CPU you're getting, heat
dissipation and air-flow, however.

My pick:
Asus H97I-PLUS Motherboard

If you don't need support for super fancy graphics, then the integrated
Intel GPU has great driver support. Some mainboards, like the above, can
support up to 3 displays (DVI-D, HDMI and Display port).

If you do, then NVIDIA is the way to go, IMO.

If desktop space is a scarce resource then consider mini-itx or a NUC if
one is suitable. I like them even if I have lots of real estate though.
If you require lots of storage this will change the game slightly,
although some mini-itx cases like Silverstone DS380 supports 8 hot swap
3.5" SATA drives (I'll probably use this for my next NAS).

The mini-itx case should be well-laid out and provide good air flow.
Preferably supporting a standard ATX power supply for ease of
replacement and range of choice.

My pick:
Thermaltake Black Core V1 Mini ITX Chassis

I like SSDs but I tend to go for the bigger brands these days, although
the chipset and firmware is the most important thing. Personally I stay
away from the Samsung EVO as they've had a few too many problems. The
Pro line seems OK though and I have a few of those but IIRC doesn't have
power-off protection.

The Intel 730 range is pretty good and is their third generation. Not as
fast but a pretty consistent performer and seems to have decent firwmare.

If you can afford/want it, the new PCIe SSDs are pretty fast. There are
lots of standards in M.2 though [3], so be careful and make sure it's

Anandtech has a pretty good benchmarking site, where you can compare
different SSD's. Here's the Samsung 850 Pro vs their PCIe offering:


Performance wise, you probably care mostly about the 4kb random read and
write results.

Hope that helps!





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