Appropriate section of the forum?

Is the the appropriate section of the DLN forum to ask for advice and input on building a new desktop system?

Having used laptops for so many years, it’s been a long time since I built (or had someone else build) a desktop system from scratch. And since the new system will be involved in some future podcasting and (likely) some video-content creation, I’m straying into new territory hardware-wise. “Measure twice, cut once.” Thanks!

Definitely the right place for this topic.

You’ll get 1000 different suggestions. It makes a world of difference if your a gameboy or a computer guy. I just built a machine for about $500.

The 2 questions that matter most to me, when building a new system are: how much do i want to spend and what does it have to do?

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Thank you, @Ulfnic: Now that I know this thread is in its proper home, I’ll continue. Thank you, too, Murdock2525, for your response: I didn’t want to get into the specifics of the new system until I knew this was the right place in the forums to pursue the subject.

Playing off of the questions @Eltuxo put forward (regarding cost and purpose), let me address immediate and probable future purpose:

Immediate need: A 2- or 3-monitor system to aid in the writing, research, editing, website maintenance, and book publishing work that I do for our non-profit. Right now, I operate with a three-monitor kludge run by my Lenovo Thinkpad (2460x1440), a 24-inch Samsung (1920x1200) and a much older Dell pivoted to “portrait” orientation (1280x1024 [or, pivoted, 1024x1280]). (All the equipment is my own, as the non-profit’s >10-year-old Core 2 Duo was put out to pasture two years ago.)

Short-term need: Within 3 months I hope to get back to editing audio messages and publishing podcasts.

Probable need starting sometime in 2021: Begin producing instructional videos. I don’t want to get to that point and have to say, “Whoops. If only I had known that the system should have been capable of such and such!”

It’s especially because of the audio work (which I have done before) and the likely video work (of which I have done very little) that I’m seeking input on building this workstation. That, and I’m sure I’ll need some monitor guidance as well.

As to @Eltuxo’s other point, namely cost: I had originally envisioned doing all of this for about US$1,000. I have approval for that much. Then, after more consideration, especially the video editing, I thought perhaps the “box” itself could be done for $1K with the monitors extra (an additional $600-$800?). “More” might be possible, given that there is an unusual end-of-year surplus.

No, there will be no gaming on this rig, not only because it’s a “corporate” machine, but because I’ve never had any interest in gaming.

The machine currently envisioned would be something like this:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen with 8 cores / 16 threads. (This could well be an “emotional” preference, given Ryzen’s new “hotness.” I can be reasoned with if some Intel offering is better in the long run.)
  • RAM: Minimum of 16 Gb (given that I have to run one or more virtual machines with older research-related software that will never be ported to Linux, and for which there isn’t even a remotely similar equivalent), BUT with the option of being able to add an additional 16 Gb to the initial 16 Gb for a total of 32 Gb. Also, I generally run 6 workspaces, each of which has its own multi-tab session of Firefox open.
  • Video card capable of driving up to 3 monitors. Does it need to power them via DisplayPort? I don’t know – diminishing my ignorance is part of why I started this thread. And, of course, expanding into video editing is in view (pardon the pun).
  • QUIET! — Fan noise drives me up the proverbial wall. But since I have to maintain this machine (I am “tech support”), and I am not the most dexterous of fellows, I don’t want to fiddle with liquid cooling. (Though we are a Christian organization, I would live in constant fear of a motherboard “baptism,” either by “sprinkling” or “immersion”! 8-P) Since the early days of integrated mobo graphics, I haven’t had to deal with an actual video card, and the thought of a whining, multi-fan graphics card gives me the heebie-jeebies. (During brief periods of intense processing during video and audio compilation, sure, I understand. But not while writing, thinking, doing online research, etc.)
  • I don’t want to dump every desired spec in this one post, but let me say this about the monitors: I work best when I can have multiple LO Writer documents (and PDFs and Jutoh documents) open side by side. I can pretty well display two “full height” documents side by side on my personal 24-inch 1920x1200. It can be done (and perhaps better) on my Thinkpad’s 2460x1400, but at a mere 14-inch diagonal, it’s not ideal when I’m “pushed away” from the screen (in order to take in all three screens). Would 2460x1440 be the ideal for all three monitors (factoring in the increased cost over 1920x1080 screens)? Would there be any scaling issues with Ubuntu Maté 20.04x (our organization’s OS of choice)?

That’s it, for now. I hope I haven’t killed the discussion with an initial dump that’s too large. Thanks in advance for any advice!

I don’t think you killed it. I think you gave it more fuel. :smile:
It’s good that you’ve envisioned the machine you want.
Seeing that you’re thinking in dollars (i’m based in Europe), i’ll leave this to my fellow American members here.

Quiet coolers like the noctua dh-15 are nice.
Just ask @TheWendyPower or @dasgeek.
You do need to consider case space as they are rather large.

I in the end rebuild a system with an existing case that wouldn’t be able to house.
I wound up using a Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH Edition that works nicely and nice and quiet.

One thing you haven’t mentioned yet is storage. If I can recommend one thing, it is go for NVME over sata ssds. The price difference is getting smaller and smaller continuously and the performance boost is really noticeable.

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Gracias, Eltuxo.


  1. Storage: Based on the loosely held choice of the mobo currently under consideration (an ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-plus ATX [and, no, I won’t be gaming]), I think I have two NVME slots available to me. I have an NVME in my Thinkpad X1 Carbon. Loosely and experientially speaking, they are as much faster than SSDs as SSDs are to “spinning rust” HHDs. If At some point in the future, I’d like to semi-“archive” completed audio/video work to a mutli-TB drive (either spinning rust or SSD) within the same system. In order to keep the initial system cost down, though, I might buy just one NVME (1 Tb should work for now), partitioning ~35Gb for the OS. At some point, when prices drop, I’d add a 2 Tb NVME in the second slot for speedy “work in progress.”

  2. Cooling and Case: I figured there wasn’t much sense in thinking about case size until I’m sure about the components. And the big unknown here was the size of the CPU heatsink/cooling “tower.” It used to be that the number of drives weighed heavily on the case size. With 2.5-inch SSDs and NVMEs, the biggest factors seem to be the graphic-card size, CPU-cooler height, and the power supply.

Any suggestions about a case? I don’t need anything fancy. “Tool-less” is nice, but not essential. I certainly won’t need a “window” into the system, as I won’t be setting up any internal sources of “rainbow vomit” (that phrase is trademarked by @TheWendyPower).

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If you go noctua you should look at their compatibility lists.

Fit the case to what you’re going to need.