Description

First things first: The mods here flagged my other post because I had some easter eggs in the photos. I have since edited the photos. Now it's only parts. I'm taking the time to re-post this thing, 100% serious, because I want to help anyone out there wishing to build a Ubuntu/Linux workstation. (Sorry about my prior post, mods. You are the best and I love you.) Lots of people build Windows gaming PC's and Hackintosh units, but I haven't seen many Linux folks.

This is a workstation for me, because I do a majority of my work on Ubuntu servers as a developer, much of it with Juju, so having native support is critical. Being able to develop locally, then deploy a yaml file to wherever I need it is just... well... I can't live without it.

I also do light graphic work, and edit photos. The editing and color correction were mostly the reason I ended up with 32GB of RAM. Is it overkill? Well... only kinda. 99% of the time, I'm going to duck under 16GB, but there have been a few instances when I'm doing heavy-heavy-GIMP'ing, with tons of layers, on a large file, and my RAM (according to my system monitor) is pushing just over 18GB used. This also assumes I have Chrome, Spotify, and Atom open at the same time. Chrome is a memory hog.

Video editing has also been quick on KDen Live. (I haven't tried Lightworks yet.) I do small 0:30-1:00 edits for clients from time to time, so having the headroom with RAM makes things faster.

I chose a few more expensive parts because I care about industrial design: There are cheaper cases out there, but the Fractal Design Mini C is a perfect MicroATX tower. Everything just feels like it's engineered well. The cable routing seems like someone thought it through. The screws align perfectly. The instruction manual is comprehensive. I love how easy it is to customize. It's also really heavy. I'm sure there's a Snatch reference in there about how heaviness equates to reliability.

The same goes for small stuff like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo. Sure, it's just a CPU cooler, but the design just looks nice in the case. Does it matter that much? Not really. But I think every time you walk into your workspace, you should like how things look.

Fans came with the case. I ordered different fans because I liked the stupid blue LED lights. If a client comes into my office, I want them to think, "Wow, this guy has blue lights inside his computer. He must be a pro."

I don't game: Well, I do -- but on my PS4. Please stop shouting at me. When I'm done with work every day, I don't have any desire to be in front of my computer.

Graphics card: I got it because I know integrated graphics just aren't the best option, and for $40, I can have a nice DVI and HDMI out, my mouse is less likely to freeze up, and it allows my CPU to do CPU things, rather than graphics things.

SSD + 2TB 7200RPM setup: Do this. Having my OS and programs on the SSD, and my files on the hard drive is just... oh man. It's so fast. Note, I used GParted to get the HDD formatted, and it only took like 10 minutes for me to figure out how to perma-mount it. I tend to hoard graphics, backgrounds, stock photos, etc. Some of my templates are a little over 1GB each, so having the space is fantastic.

The Monitor: I ordered the 25", 2K monitor because I needed something for accurate color correction on photos. I also take my own photos for clients, and what goes into the camera often needs help. (I highly recommend my Fuji X-A2, for what it's worth. I got a bundle on Amazon for like $550, and it has served me well.) Paired with my existing 23" Acer Whatever, it works.

The Sound: Also not featured on this build list, but leftover from four years ago, and they just keep on truckining -- my Audioengine 2.0's. They have given me zero issues, and still sound fantastic. I cannot recommend them enough.

How did the build go?: It took a while. Full disclosure, the most I have ever done is add memory. Geting a MicroATX board, small case, etc -- it made things a little more difficult, but I'm glad I made all the choices I did. I have large hands, so there were some times I had to remove case fans in order to plug in their tiny pins way down in the back.

Booting it up via USB, Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS ran smoothly, the WiFi got signal immediately, the mouse and keyboard worked... I mean, it was surprisingly easy. The only small change I made was switching to proprietary Nvidia drivers for the graphics card. It made things seem more smooth, but that could also be entirely in my head.

Part Reviews

CPU

It's fast, easy to install, and perfect for anyone wishing to do photo or video editing.

CPU Cooler

Once you get the mounts on the back of your motherboard, it's easy. Some people say it's hard to attach the screws -- and they're sorta right. BUT, it's not that hard. If you have two hands, you'll get it done.

Thermal Compound

It's thermal paste. Use it on your CPU and not your teeth, alright?

Motherboard

East BIOS menu. Easy OS install. Everything was intuitive. The manual and documentation were fantastic. If you don't intend to overclock your CPU, this thing is perfect.

Memory

It's fast, easy to install, and does a commendable job with photo and video rendering.

Storage

Haven't had any issues with it. Looking back, I probably should have gone with a little more space for an extra $80 or so, but this should do fine for a while. If you're on a tighter budget, this is perfect for your OS and programs. Just made sure you get extra storage for other files.

Storage

It stores files. It was easy to install. What more could you want?

Video Card

I'm using this with Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS to run two monitors. I don't game with it, so I can't tell you how it works with that regard. (I take that back -- I play OpenRA, a port to Linux from 1998. That's smooth, if you care.) It's smooth, and worked with my setup perfectly. I recommend using the proprietary Nvidia drivers versus the open source ones, but that's a little 3 minute switch once you have the OS installed.

Case

I cannot say enough great things about this case. The cable management, the documentation it comes with, the fans (it comes with two, which I replaced with fancy blue ones) -- everything is fantastic. You're probably thinking you can spend $40 less and get a nice case. You probably can. But this case... oh, it's worth the extra few bucks. Do it.

Power Supply

It's a power supply. The cables were easy to plug in and route. It's reasonably quiet. It came with zip ties -- very nice.

Wireless Network Adapter

It worked out of the box with Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS, for those of you going that route.

Case Fan

I can't state this with any scientific research behind it, but I'm pretty sure these fans increased my CPU speed by about 2,000%. Blue means faster. Everyone knows that.

Also, they're quiet.

Monitor

It doesn't tilt. It doesn't have any mounts other than the base. The display quality is really nice, but I wish I would have gotten something with a tilting screen. I ended up putting it on a riser about 10 inches tall to get it at eye level. It works, but there are better ways to get a monitor at eye-level.

Custom

The keys have a nice clicky feel to them. I use this for coding, so I have to spend a ton of time on it, and it's... amazing. Honestly, it's up there in feel with many mechanical keyboards. The mouse has a nice feel in my hand, if a bit small. (I have really big hands because I'm a big guy. I have never really been able to find a large mouse, so if you're in the normal size range, you'll likely love this mouse.)

Comments

  • 22 months ago
  • 3 points

One more note: I couldn't find a desk that I liked, so I ended up building this one myself. I found some plans online, which is a lot easier than making a go of it from scratch.

The plans were free, I got the wood from a local cabinet shop, and they sold me a bunch of odds and ends for $20. The plans ended up modified a bit because I was dealing with legs that were meant for a rolling/island cutting board-thing.

Anyway, sand, stain, cut, etc -- the whole desk only set me back $60.

  • 22 months ago
  • 3 points

Love it. Looks great. What's pixeled out in the middle of the desk?

  • 22 months ago
  • 4 points

Nothing at all. I don't see any pixels. (Mods nod approvingly)

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

why would it get flagged for having easter eggs in the photos ???

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

"Easter Eggs" = "Hidden things you're only supposed to notice if you look closely"

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

i thought you meant like easter eggs with candy LUL

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

Personally, I would have chosen a locked i7 over an unlocked i5 due to what your use the computer for, but it is still a great build and plenty powerful enough for your needs. BTW, there is no such thing as too much RAM imo. Setup a couple virtual machines and that RAM will quickly disappear. :)

+1

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

You know, the prices don't reflect it, but when I was looking at both, Amazon gave me a deal on the unlocked i5, and the locked i7 cost a bit more. Prices are weird, dude.

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

It's not a problem. :)

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

How's your GT 710? I honestly wouldnt've thought that it was a suitable GPU for ANYTHING today!

Also, What do you mean by "Easter Eggs"? (NVM, You already answered that to someone else)

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

The GT 710 is good for exactly what I use it for: Light video editing, two monitors, and not being an integrated GPU. I saw on Phoronix that it was a nice light-duty GPU for the work I do, and for $40, why not, right?

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

For 40 bucks, I can't see a problem! Nice find!

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

But the i5 has integrated graphics that perform similarly while also has way better Linux drivers support.

  • 21 months ago
  • 2 points

Its so awesome to see anoher linux machine builder!!!! I'm also a linux user, I use Linux Mint 18.2 as my daily driver. I love linux!

Awesome Build, if you have a chance check out my linux build, The latest contain the video card!

  • 20 months ago
  • 2 points

What distro?

  • 22 months ago
  • 1 point

Good to see a linux build! Great choice on that case, I cheaped out and used the Cooler Master n200 and I wish I had gone with yours. How quiet are the sickleflow fans? asking for a friend :)

  • 22 months ago
  • 2 points

I really like these fans a TON. I have two, plus one case fan it came with, for three total. (Two intake, one exhaust, one CPU cooling fan.)

They're reasonable. I'll just put it like this: When I have the air conditioning on in my office, the AC coming through the vent in the floor makes more noise than the computer does.

Another thing, and this is just me -- usually I either have headphones on, or quiet piano music playing, so I don't tend to notice the fans anyway.

  • 22 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank You! I was hoping to add a few Cooler Master fans to my case so that every thing is the same brand. Glad to hear they are good fans. Now I just need to wait on a deal! :D