New Machine

My faithful primary home machine, castor, after 4.5 years, was showing its age, and was especially sluggish with Eclipse, which with I’d begun dabbling in Android work. (Past tense, since I’ve put Android on hold while working on a different project, DiffJ).

So it was off to newegg for the parts for a new machine. The main criteria were speed (CPU and disk), and cost, preferably under $1000, and ideally under $900. (OK, actually ideally would be $0, but that’s quibbling.)

Without much elaboration, here’s the final setup:

Case – Antec 300 Illusion

This is for my newly-claimed, newly-painted, newly-furnished (thank you, Ikea!), and newly-decorated home office, where “home office” no longer means “table in the kitchen, and desk in the bedroom”. Since I have the tendency to start working early in the morning, I wanted a machine with lights. (The missus was no fan of the blue nocturnal illumination in the bedroom, so the lights of my Sonata case had been taped over.)

The Illusion does provide no shortage of illumination, with three bright lights, good for my wee-hour stumbling into the (home) office. And at $70, it was quite affordable.

Motherboard – ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3

I’ve gone with Gigabyte and ASUS exclusively, and the Gigabyte motherboards supporting 6.0Gb/s SATA were not favorably reviewed on newegg, so this time it was ASUS’s fortunate turn. I also wanted onboard video, DVI specifically, since after getting a work machine with DVI, I’ve noticed the difference. ASUS motherboards are easy to work with, so this was an easy choice (after an hour or two of reading reviews). $150 at newegg.

CPU – AMD Phenom II X6 1075T

I generally prefer AMD for cost to performance, and this was very highly rated at cpubenchmark.net. At $175, it was right at the point of what I wanted to spend.

PSU – OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W

I’m not a gamer, and don’t have 6 SLI cards in my machines, but I wanted something above 500 watts. I’ve had a couple of failures of Antec CPUs, which I’ve exclusively used before, so I was looking for a modestly-priced alternative, and this was $75.

Memory – Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333

To me, memory is memory, and the other web sites (Crucial, Corsair) were klunkier, so at $85, Kingston was king.

SSD – OCZ Vertex 2 60G

After working with an SSD, I’ll never use anything else for development. (Well, not until the next better alternative comes along.) At $105, this was pricey, but less so than the others. And it was from the same manufacturer as the PSU, appealing to my OCDness.

HDD – Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s

$85 for one terabyte, and I use only WD drives, so this was an easy choice.

DVD – ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner

Mostly a ???, but same manufacturer as the motherboard. $25.

Network adapter – TP-LINK TL-WN851N PCI Wireless Adapter

I’ve had good luck with TP-Link and Linux. $27.

Keyboard – Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

The only Microsoft anything in this system, but I find their keyboards so much better than Logitech, and at $42, the 4000 is my favorite. Actually, I wanted the 7000 (wireless), but newegg wasn’t keeping them in stock. Maybe some day.

Mouse – Logitech M510 Black 5 Buttons Tilt Wheel USB RF Wireless Laser Mouse

Again, I’m not a gamer, but like the right-handed, full-sized mice the most, and opted for Logitech, at $40. I like my other mice, all Microsoft, but it’s becoming more difficult to find a non-“mobile” (read: small) mouse, and my big mitts don’t work well with those.

Assembly was straightforward, other than my being a bit befuddled by the EATX auxiliary power cord (8 prong, not 4), which resulted in black-screen at first boot. After some head-scratching (and reseating some dislodged memory), all was well.

Linux Mint is what I’ve been using for the past three or four machines, because It Just Works. No RPM fuddling, enabling restricted repositories, etc. Just boot, install, and off we go.

The trickiest part was how to mount and partition the SSD and HDD. Here’s mine, where the SSD is sda, and the HDD is sdb:

    /dev/sda1 on /boot type ext4
    /dev/sda5 on / type ext4
    /dev/sdb1 on /home type ext4
    /dev/sdb6 on /var type ext4
    /dev/sdb5 on /tmp type ext4
    /dev/sdb8 on /srv type ext4

That way the OS is on the SSD, as is /tmp. I do my development under /proc (it was /Files and /Depot, but I’m fighting the FHS less now).

The machine smokes, but only in the figurative sense. Far faster than before, and on par with my Intel X8 box.

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