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Kubuntu rig - can I do better?

Last response: in Systems
March 16, 2010 2:53:27 PM

Hey there,

I'm a masters student doing extensive simulations in C++/linux and graphing in Matlab. I also multitask profusely, but just office type stuff like browsing and I like having lots of documents open at the same time.

I am in serious need of an upgrade. My current PC is 4 years old, it has a unicore CPU and 1 GB RAM whilst I usually have 50 tabs open in Chrome and 20 figures in Matlab. I'm a serious multitasker, which means Page fault mania - My PC has operated from virtual memory for the past 2 years.

I do play the occasional game just to check it out, but most of the time I'm surfing, coding and waiting for My Computer to open. After a long bout of rehibernations it takes 28 seconds to open My Computer, so right now I'd say I'm spending the most time waiting.

I've mostly used XP all my life, but recently I worked longer in Cygwin than in the doze itself. I realized that I need to make the switch to Linux (Kubuntu) permanently.

I have decided on the following config:

Intel Core i7 860 2.8GHz LGA1156 Processor
Asus P7P55D-E P55 LGA1156 Dual-Channel DDR3 CrossFireX
2x OCZ DDR3-1600 4GB (2x2GB) Gold Low Voltage Memory Module Kit
6x Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB Desktop Hard Drive (HD502HJ) for RAID5
Corsair tx 650w PSU
Lian-li pc-7FW , midi tower , Black , Windowed side panel
Zalman CNPS9900A LED CPU Cooler
Lian-li EX-332 HDD Internal Rack Mount Kit Black
Lian Li SATA-LT90-4 SATA Data Cable - 90 Degree Angle - 4 Port,
Sleeved - 85/81/77/73cm
Coolermaster megaflow silent fan , R4-LUS-07AC-GP
Samsung SH-S223L LightScribe SATA Combo Drive
Samsung 23" Wide P2370 250cdm 50000:1 2ms LCD Monitor
Logitech M500 laser mouse
Logitech Media Keyboard 600
Existing Gigabyte GTS250 Zalman Edition from older rig

I would like to know if any of those components are not advised for linux, and I would welcome suggestions for more fitting components and ways in which my money could be better spent. I don't really have a budget restriction, I just need to know that I'm buying value and components that make sense.

Your advice is greatly appreciated!

More about : kubuntu rig

March 16, 2010 2:58:36 PM

You may want to give us a budget...

First thing I notice is that you're using OCZ RAM. OCZ has some problems as their RAM uses more volts than a lot of boards can supply. Switch it for these G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7.

Second, you're spending way too much on HDDs. Grab 3x Seagate 7200.12 1 TB and save a good $60 for the same capacity and RAID options.

Third, Lian Li makes really expensive cases. Look into the HAF 922, Antec 1200 or HAF 932.

Fourth, grab a Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus for the HSF. It's cheap and one of the best out there.
March 16, 2010 4:52:19 PM

Them some very good advice MadAdmiral!

I'd say my budget is max $2430.47 , without the gfx card which I already have.

RAM change? YES
HDD change? MAYBE

The RAM:
The OCZ low-voltage ram uses 1.65 V and the G.Skill 1.6, so I see your point, and apparently the G.Skill is legendary. Do you think that 8 GB is overkill, will I be fine with 4 GB or is it worth it to go all in?

The HDDs:
According to the Passmark high end hdd charts : the Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB Desktop Hard Drive (HD502HJ) is the fastest non-SSD drive out there. The 1TB one is also highly acclaimed and by comparing the Newegg benchmarks these two drives seem to fail a lot less than Seagate or WD drives, so I'm biased toward Samsung atm. Especially since I have lost half of my Seagate drives to the 'click-click-click'.

On a lighter note, I might be enthusiastically influenced to run 6 of those HD502HJ in RAID just to feel what it's like to fly at that speed. I checked my local prices today, I can't buy from Newegg, and the 500 GB's are $66.95 and the 1 TB's are $152.74. So the way I see it is that I can get 6x 500 GB's with twice the speed for cheaper than 3x 1 TB's, the only thing I'm losing is 3 SATA ports and chassis space.

On the other hand 3x Seagate 1 TB's are $359.25 so the 6x 500 GB's @ $401.70 are more expensive, but more awesome and reliable too.

Hard decision to make for me.

I struggled to pick a value chassis, since I have a few requirements.

1) I want my earphones to reach my ears with the chassis on the ground, so the chassis ideally needs to have the audio ports at the top front.
2) I am willing to pay for silence, so the chassis needs to have hdd anti-vibration measures.
3) Ideally the chassis has to collect as little dust as possible, with dust filters and as few fans as necessary.

The selected Lian-li has the top audio port, hdd anti-vibration, two fans and a dust filter.

I built my fathers skulltrail rig in a HAF, and the sound of the moving air is almost a bit too loud for me.
The Antec 1200 looks real neat, it has the top audio, washable air filters, but I'm not sure about the hdd anti-vibration measures.

Maybe I'm nitpicking too much, about this, I mean I can turn off the extra fans I don't like, and the hdd vibrations won't really bother me. What is your experience?

I see that there are almost twice as many buys of the Zalman CPU heatsink than the Coolermaster one, probably because everyone thinks the Zalman is more premium at twice the price. The Coolermaster does look solid though.

You have given me food for thought and I will reevaluate my choices.

Any more advice or opinions would be fantastic!
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March 16, 2010 7:45:32 PM

Regarding the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus, I've seen the following complaint on Newegg for the p7p55d-e pro board:

The Ram slots are a bit close to the CPU, my CM 212 with a fan blocks the first RAM slot so if I go 8gb in 4 Dimms, i will have to find a new cooler.

From the following picture I can see how there may be a clash if 4 RAM sticks are installed, even with just one fan, since you don't want the hot air to blow over the ram by placing the fan on the other side:

I'm not sure now whether the Zalman won't have the same problem, I've searched but couldn't find people using this HSF on this board. There is one guy though who managed to put 4 RAM sticks together with a Megahalem on this board, but maybe that was without a fan?

Will the CM 212+ work with 4 sticks ram do you think?
March 16, 2010 7:56:22 PM

Unas said:

The HDDs:
According to the Passmark high end hdd charts : the Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB Desktop Hard Drive (HD502HJ) is the fastest non-SSD drive out there. The 1TB one is also highly acclaimed and by comparing the Newegg benchmarks these two drives seem to fail a lot less than Seagate or WD drives, so I'm biased toward Samsung atm. Especially since I have lost half of my Seagate drives to the 'click-click-click'.

I'm surprised MadAdmiral didn't recommend the 1 TB Samsung drives...he usually remembers them.

1 TB Samsung Spinpoint F3s are $90 at newegg...approximately the same as 3x Seagate 7200.12 1 TB.

The Seagate 7200.12s haven't had the problems the previous generation had, so if for some reason you need to stick with 500 GB drives, they're the best price/performance out there. At 1 TB, your options are Seagate, Samsung, and a WD drive that costs $30 more (per drive).
March 16, 2010 7:56:52 PM

I'd be surprised if it won't. It's not that big of a cooler. You can also just reverse the fan to be in a pull configuration.

@coldsleep: I considered the F3s, but right now, you've got to pay $8 to ship them, and the Seagates are just as good.
March 16, 2010 7:59:08 PM

Shipping! That's where they getcha! ;) 

Good catch.
March 16, 2010 8:14:40 PM

You can raise the fan slightly on the Cooler Master 212+ to clear the RAM heatsinks. I recently build a system that used the 212+ and 8GB of G.Skill Ripjaws RAM. All I did was raise the fan about 1/4" and it worked just fine. The fan just clips on with four clips and you can raise or lower it as needed.
March 17, 2010 8:24:43 AM

Raise the fan or put it in a pull position, brilliant, thx.

I've checked the P7P55D-E Memory support list, and I cannot find the G.Skill Ripjaws 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 [F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM] in the list.

One guy in the Asus support forums had this to say:

I am currently in the process of building a computer and am running into a similar problem.

MoBo: P7P55D-E
Hardisk: Samsung HD501LJ 500GB
RAM: G.Skill F3-12800CL9D-2GBNQ 2x 1GB sticks (Had some 2GB sticks but turned out the board didnt support them according to the Manual)
CPU: Intel Core i7 2.8GHz
OS: Windows XP

I assume that 4x2GB G.Skill Ripjaws will still work right?