My computer was showing signs of retirement and old age, so I assembled a new desktop computer for my workstation use. The old one was assembled in 2014. While working on my recent projects, the unbearable sluggishness, made it obvious that I needed an upgrade. Although a bit late now since I purchased and assembled this computer in September, I am going to share my experience with this exercise.
I researched the components on Reddit and Internet forums. Linux compatibility is a big factor affecting the purchase decision for me since I use only Linux for my work. Most forums and websites target the international computer assembling enthusiast market, gaming and windows users, etc so the information related to Linux art computers was a bit hard to find. People would always suggest the most hyped and top-tier component even when there is no real need. I managed to take time amidst my work and tried to come up with a build spreadsheet.
The forums are filled with western audiences so the parts they would suggest may not be available here in India. It was also a period of global chip shortage and electronic scarcity (which is a bit artificial here I think). I tried to salvage any component from my older computer that I can. My older computer was going to be repurposed for my son’s daily usage. My son’s computer was an older machine which was my second personal computer bought in 2009, it would now go for recycling or donation.
I got most of my components from local shops across India. I got help from an excellent website created for Indian PC building enthusiasts to find the price of various components at various local stores that deliver to your home.
Here is the list of components that I narrowed down for my build:
|Processor||Intel i7 12700 (non K version)|
|Motherboard||MSI MAG Mortar B660M Wifi – DDR4|
|Memory||G.SKILL Ripjaws V 32GB (2 * 16GB) 3200 Mhz DDR4 – Dual channel|
|CPU cooler||Noctua NH-D15 chromax black|
|Computer Case||Fractal Design Meshify 2 Solid black|
|Power Supply Unit||CORSAIR RM650 650 Watt 80 PLUS Gold|
I reused these parts from my old computer
|Hard Disk for archival and storage||Two Western Digital Blue – 1 TB each|
|SSD for primary usage||Samsung 860 EVO 1TB|
|Graphic Card||Nvidia Geforce 750 ti 2GB|
|Operating System||Fedora Linux 36|
When I was about to purchase the components there were two tough decisions I made. One was to opt for DDR4 instead of the new DDR5 and the second was about getting the 12th generation Intel processor instead of the 13th generation one, which was still a month away from release when I was purchasing things. DDR5 is still new and I am not convinced to put in a huge amount of cash for beta testing it. I went with the 12th generation because the improvements in the 13th generation won’t be noticeable for me and it is not logical to wait here, there will always be new shiny things around the corner. I ordered the non ‘K’ version because the K version was not so much of an improvement for my work. I avoided buying a graphic card since the old one works well and the prices are still insane thanks to the collective insanity and greed of cryptocurrency miners and scalpers..
The components arrived safely and without an issue. The local suppliers are good at packing and shipping things better than Amazon.
Build Process and Review
I was amidst a busy schedule and hectic work week when the components arrived. I didn’t assemble it until the return window was nearly closing for the components. I must say computer assembling has become easier now.
The Meshify 2 case from Fractal Design was an absolute joy to work with. It was spacious and cable management was a breeze. The case is airflow-based and has good front panel ports. The front has a hinged mesh door to easily access fans to clean. The side and top panels are fitted with simple press and lock mechanisms no need for screwdrivers. The front bottom and top are covered with an extra removable nylon mesh dust filter.
I had specifically ordered the black solid side panel version since I experienced glass breakage when assembling a computer for my friend Sameer. After that incident, I would advise people to get a metal side panel.
The MSI mortar motherboard has a good number of USB ports and good coverage of a solid metal heat sink to dissipate heat. It also comes with the IO shield attached to the motherboard. There is also a bios update via USB flash drive functionality so I do not need windows to update my bios.
This motherboard was listed on most websites as the best in terms of price and performance for this processor. The wifi, sound, and ethernet chipset are all compatible with Linux provided you are not using ancient distributions. Having onboard wifi and Bluetooth module is a plus and I can now move my desk to any corner of the house without the need to rewire the LAN cable.
The Noctua fan was a bit of an overkill but here in my place it gets really hot during summers so good fan won’t hurt. The Corsair power supply was in the A tier of Cultists Network PSU tier list and my earlier corsair power supply unit has served me well. The modular PSU makes it really easy for assembling and cable management.
There was a lot of space left in the front part of the case, but It can be made into a hard disk rack. This cabinet has two 3.5-inch hard disk mounting brackets by default inside the case and comes with 4 extra hard disk mounting brackets which makes it 6 and I can convert this into a storage server if required.
The back has a good cable management option with well-defined cable routes and velcro straps. The SSDs are mounted at the back. The PSU unit and the HDD bays are covered with a plastic cover to keep them clean. I was a bit worried by this because it packs in all the cables of the PSU tightly.
How good is it?
I am not a professional reviewer or bench-marking person, so take this section with a pinch of salt. Having said that the difference was apparent. My older machine has i7 4790k 4 core processor, 32 GB of DDR3 ram on an Asus Z97A motherboard. The graphic card, operating system, and SSD are the same on both.
The new i7 12700 processor has 12 cores (8 performance + 4 efficient cores). This upgrade was a breath of fresh air for me. I was unaware of how slow my earlier computer was. It is a night and day difference. We can’t compare the 4th generation processor with the 12th generation one, things will be fast in the newer one. Big brushes in Krita felt much smoother and faster. Here is a demonstration of a Gaussian blur on the same artwork on both machines. The older machine takes around 10 seconds while the newer one takes around 3-4 seconds.
Here is a demonstration of random strokes of a 500px smudge brush, “wet-bristles-rough” to be specific on a 10000px X 10000px canvas in Krita.
I more often work on huge canvas sizes and have multiple filter layers and transformation masks, on my new machine it feels snappier and I get faster previews. In addition to this, my blender renders are approximately 50% faster.
The above is a simple test file created in blender. The render engine is set to cycles. The output is 2000px X 2000px and the render sample number is 128. My older i74790k took 8 minutes and 12 seconds to render whereas the new i7 12700 took 2 minutes and 33 seconds. Kdenlive renders were also significantly faster and I love how I get no lag while scrubbing now. Opening large PSD files in Krita is faster.
Advice for you
Overall I am happy with the upgrade. I hope this computer works for another 10 years like the previous one.
I would advise people who want to build a new personal computer to be used with Linux to check compatibility first. I did not encounter any issues because I thoroughly researched my specific motherboard. Websites such as Linux-Hardware.org help a lot in making a decision. I also searched for problems with this motherboard on Reddit and other places but did not find much. Having a good recently released distribution also helps as new drivers are often released in newer Linux versions.
While buying the case, graphic card or ram make sure to check the specifications like height width etc. Make sure the cooler you are buying will actually fit in the case or if there is enough clearance for the ram if the cooler covers it.
In case you have any queries regarding this hardware feel free to ask in the comments. I hope this post will help you in some way. I will keep on updating this post with any new findings or issues.