I have been reading a lot on Toms and am getting inspired to build my first PC. Please don't flame me if I ask any dumb questions!
This will be my everyday desktop machine for office tasks, internet browsing, BT downloading, and watching videos streaming (e.g. Hulu) and via VLC. No games. I will run Ubuntu. Expect to set up with printer, scanner, monitor, keyboard, Within these parameters, my priorities are 1) low power/eco friendly, 2) budget/prefer <$400, 3) reliability, and 4) speed/graphics.
I am thinking of building around an Intel Atom mini-ITX motherboard combo with integrated graphics, then going with WD "green" HDD and a mid size case for ventilation and ease of build. Does something like this make sense? I am worried because these processors appear to be designed primarily for laptops. THey do not even come up in the PCPARTPICKER tool. Will they fry if used for prolonged periods?
Stay away from the WD Caviar Green drives if you use Ubuntu. This is because they were designed without Linux users in mind, and so they park their heads every 8 seconds. While this sounds fine, on Linux I've been told that it accesses the filesystem every 20 seconds or so - which means that 12 seconds after it parks its head, it will unpark it to access the filessystem, and then park it again.
The WD Caviar Greens are designed with 300,000 load/unload cycles, but with this I ran up to 1680 cycles in just 3 days on Windows. I'd hate to image this on Linux.
There is a tool, WDIDLE3, available to either turn off or set the park timer to 300 seconds which basically solves the problem, and if you're willing to do this step then the Caviar Greens are an excellent low-power choice.
Thanks for the advice. I never would have known that issue with the WD Caviar Green. Should I use the equivalent Linux tool or would you recommend one of the comparable "green" HDD's by Seagate or Samsung?
Personally I hate Seagate with a burning passion for unreliable drives, but it's merely a personal anecdote. If you have had good experience with Seagate in the past, why not try one. Alternatively, if you can still find Hitachi 7200rpm drives in stock, you can grab those. Same goes for Samsung Spinpoint drives. (These two companies got bought out by WD and Seagate respectively and their stocks are dwindling.)
I'm going to comment that the CPU is only good for very basic tasks, and it may feel very frustrating to use. A single Atom core has the performance of a Pentium 4, which is a horrible thing to be using in 2012.
If power use is a major concern, there's no arguing against Atom. However, if there's allowance for, say, a 35W CPU like the Celeron G440, then it opens up a lot more possibilities, not to mention a lot more performance. I still remember the older Atoms struggling to play even 720p YouTube videos.
As for using a mid-sized case, that will not be a problem as long as you keep the power use of components in check. If needed, the cases may offer additional fan slots where you can attach a silent but powerful fan like the Scythe Gentle Typhoon and it will most certainly take care of the heat.
Thanks. I have no dog in the AMD-Intel fight, and am curious to try AMD. I could not find the E-450 or E-350 sold alone, only in the CPU/mobo combos. I don't have any knowledge of these chips but if the E-350 and E-450 are relatively similar my inclination would be one of the E-350 combos which are much cheaper. There is also an ASUS that looks to be comparable but it seems to have gotten a good number of negative reviews. The barebones looks interesting but I am inclined to try a larger case to add a fan and improve ventilation.
I am sticking with the original case I had because I don't see mini-ITX compatibility for the Thermaltake. So this is where I am now, comments welcome: