My First Linux Computer: Hardware Advice?

Regev

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Hi,

I'm a writer by craft. I'm trying to maximize my productivity, therefore a Linux machine. By installing only the barebones of what I need (a browser for internet research, and a writing software), I might be able to increase my output per week. I want to keep things clean, no distractions, no extra apps the OS forces me to see, check, update, etc whenever im working.

What hardware do you recommend? I was thinking:

intel i9 9900 (I can get this one for $260 through the Intel employee program)
some cheap b350m/h310m motherboard
Intel SSD 760 512gb m.2 (can get this one for $95)
16gb ddr
the HHKB classic keyboard (got recommendations from writers)
a screen - have no CLUE what to look for. I'm writing standing up, quite close to the monitor. Was thinking of a 30" ultrawide (or regular) VA/IPS that is 4k, is that a good combo for text creation/consumption and working on a lot of stuff simultaneously ?

Also, should I go for the intel i9900 for $260 or pick an amd processor? I saw that intel has like 250 vulnerabilities while amd only 15 or something like that. is that a valid concern?

I may also learn some coding on this platform. I used to program when I was a teenager, I loved it. maybe its time to get back to it for the sheer fun of it :)
will probably install something like Arch or whatever distro will allow me to start from clean and add only the things I need

thank you so much <3
 


YBtheS

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Also, should I go for the intel i9900 for $260 or pick an amd processor? I saw that intel has like 250 vulnerabilities while amd only 15 or something like that. is that a valid concern?
As it currently stands, an AMD processor is almost always a better purchase when it comes how much money you have to spend for the power you get. That being said, with that Intel discount the Intel processor is probably worth it.

I don't know much about their security problems other than the fact that they fixed many of them which caused their processors to become slower. This is because they had to remove some features that sped up the CPU to achieve this.

Something to note is that if you ever upgrade your CPU, you will almost surely also have to buy a new motherboard if you go the Intel route. This is not necessarily the case with AMD as one of the appealing things about them is that they have been using the same CPU socket for their Ryzen CPUs for something like 3-4 years iirc and said that they will continue doing so for this next generation. I don't know how long that will last though. For just text editing, that CPU is way more than needed so you probably won't need to upgrade for many years anyways.

What hardware do you recommend?
For just writing, 16 GBs is overkill. I'm not sure how much RAM a Linux distro itself will use. Windows tends to use more RAM than Linux for me and 8 GB for text editing on Windows would run just fine.

I can't provide many suggestions in regards to what hardware works well with Linux specifically since I don't know myself. I know more about hardware things than Linux things. Sorry if I wasn't too much help but I wish you luck with your new computer :)
 

Regev

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As it currently stands, an AMD processor is almost always a better purchase when it comes how much money you have to spend for the power you get. That being said, with that Intel discount the Intel processor is probably worth it.

I don't know much about their security problems other than the fact that they fixed many of them which caused their processors to become slower. This is because they had to remove some features that sped up the CPU to achieve this.

Something to note is that if you ever upgrade your CPU, you will almost surely also have to buy a new motherboard if you go the Intel route. This is not necessarily the case with AMD as one of the appealing things about them is that they have been using the same CPU socket for their Ryzen CPUs for something like 3-4 years iirc and said that they will continue doing so for this next generation. I don't know how long that will last though. For just text editing, that CPU is way more than needed so you probably won't need to upgrade for many years anyways.


For just writing, 16 GBs is overkill. I'm not sure how much RAM a Linux distro itself will use. Windows tends to use more RAM than Linux for me and 8 GB for text editing on Windows would run just fine.

I can't provide many suggestions in regards to what hardware works well with Linux specifically since I don't know myself. I know more about hardware things than Linux things. Sorry if I wasn't too much help but I wish you luck with your new computer :)
Thanks man!
As for the RAM, I'm not just writing short stuff. Sometimes for example, on my Mac, I got Scrivener open with half a million words on it. Then typing gets slow (im faster than the cursor) - not sure if its the memory, the cpu, or some slowness caused by the spell checker or something. Im on a 12" MacBook (core m3 + 8gb).

As for the CPU, so there's nothing to worry about security-wise? Im gonna have my bitcoins hosted on this machine :) what motherboard would you go with? Some people said I should go for a Z390 because of "better electricity circuits", tho the H310 and B350 are much cheaper.

And the golden question:

What monitor?? 30" ? 35" ? ultrawide or just wide? VA or IPS? 2K, 4K or 5K? So many options :) The goal is simply maximizing productivity. I used to have an iMac 27" - it was gorgeous, but the text was so small I had to scale it up - but what's the point of a 5k monitor if you have to scale the interface, thus overriding the resolution ?

Thanks again mate. Much appreciated.
 

Alexzee

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If you purchase a Nvidia GPU you will have to install the driver for it to work on Linux.
Nvidia is known for not playing nice with Linux.
Having said that you may want to go with a AMD GPU instead.

I use my 26 inch Vizio for a monitor and it works great!
I'm not sure if you should go VA or IPS.

Is there a particular monitor you have your eye on?
 

Regev

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Thanks!

Why would I need a GPU tho? The CPU comes with a Intel 630 onboard (supporting 4k/60hz).

Im unsure about the monitor. was thinking 30 or 35, and not sure if I should pick ultrawide for the added productivity (if it helps) - not to mention the beautiful setup and the landscape wallpaper :) or just a regular 2k/4k monitor .
 

Alexzee

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Thanks!

Why would I need a GPU tho? The CPU comes with a Intel 630 onboard (supporting 4k/60hz).

Im unsure about the monitor. was thinking 30 or 35, and not sure if I should pick ultrawide for the added productivity (if it helps) - not to mention the beautiful setup and the landscape wallpaper :) or just a regular 2k/4k monitor .
True the GPU is on the mobo.
I wasn't sure if you wanted a GPU for gaming or not.

A 30 inch monitor with 4k sounds good to me.

I think with electronics you have 14 days to return it if you don't like it.
 

Regev

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ben2talk

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intel i9 9900 (I can get this one for $260 through the Intel employee program)

I'm sure I could write using my i3 4130 processor, no need to go crazy - on a mid range Gigabyte board.
I'm also happy using a HDTV - I don't need to be so close, but I think a decent hi res monitor - or two - would let you mutitask better. Or maybe a high res monitor along with a HDMI to your HDTV.

AMD is a better choice for processor, with decent graphics too. Friendlier on drivers too if you go for a GPU, but integrated graphics works for me.

I'm using Manjaro Linux for the feel of Arch - but it's friendlier than Arch, especially when I have issues with reading the manual (and why else would you go to a forum to ask for advice?).
 

YBtheS

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As for the RAM, I'm not just writing short stuff. Sometimes for example, on my Mac, I got Scrivener open with half a million words on it. Then typing gets slow (im faster than the cursor) - not sure if its the memory, the cpu, or some slowness caused by the spell checker or something. Im on a 12" MacBook (core m3 + 8gb).
Sounds like a different problem. Text doesn't consume much memory at all. As a really really rough estimate you can use the fact that a page of plain text is about 2 kilobytes in size. 8 gigabytes of that would be 4 million pages. Unless you're writing in the millions of pages, I think you should be fine as far as RAM goes lol. I'm not sure what would cause that issue. I've processed a few gigabytes of text before without problem on Linux. That being said, I wasn't using a text editor, I was just having a program I wrote read it all and do various things with it.
As for the CPU, so there's nothing to worry about security-wise?
I can't say for sure. I hope someone else can shed some light on that.
what motherboard would you go with? Some people said I should go for a Z390 because of "better electricity circuits", tho the H310 and B350 are much cheaper.
If you you care about overclocking, Z390 might be the way to go since, iirc, you can't overclock on a H310 board. You can on a B350 however it may be harder to reach stable higher clock speeds than if you were using a higher quality board. You don't need to overclock if you are using the 9900 though.
What monitor?? 30" ? 35" ? ultrawide or just wide? VA or IPS? 2K, 4K or 5K? So many options :) The goal is simply maximizing productivity. I used to have an iMac 27" - it was gorgeous, but the text was so small I had to scale it up - but what's the point of a 5k monitor if you have to scale the interface, thus overriding the resolution ?
That's just your preference and how much you are willing to spend. For simple text editing, you can go really low as far as resolution goes and still have a comfortable experience.
I'm sure I could write using my i3 4130 processor, no need to go crazy
Yah the 9900 is way overkill for word processing.

Here's a cheap PC I would build if I were only to use it for text editing:
Case/Mobo/PSU: ASRock DESKMINI A300
CPU: Ryzen 3200G
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 2 x 4GB SODIMM
SSD: Depends on how much I'd be writing
That comes out to something like $350 more or less depending on SSD size and speed.
 

imagtek

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I buy junk [3-5 year old] name-brand laptops on Craigslist with at least 8 GB, install Ubuntu or CENTOS, keep my work backed up, usually have to replace the keyboard and/or display at some point, and toss them when they die hard.
Not for everyone I know.
 

Regev

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Sounds like a different problem. Text doesn't consume much memory at all. As a really really rough estimate you can use the fact that a page of plain text is about 2 kilobytes in size. 8 gigabytes of that would be 4 million pages. Unless you're writing in the millions of pages, I think you should be fine as far as RAM goes lol. I'm not sure what would cause that issue. I've processed a few gigabytes of text before without problem on Linux. That being said, I wasn't using a text editor, I was just having a program I wrote read it all and do various things with it.

I can't say for sure. I hope someone else can shed some light on that.

If you you care about overclocking, Z390 might be the way to go since, iirc, you can't overclock on a H310 board. You can on a B350 however it may be harder to reach stable higher clock speeds than if you were using a higher quality board. You don't need to overclock if you are using the 9900 though.

That's just your preference and how much you are willing to spend. For simple text editing, you can go really low as far as resolution goes and still have a comfortable experience.

Yah the 9900 is way overkill for word processing.

Here's a cheap PC I would build if I were only to use it for text editing:
Case/Mobo/PSU: ASRock DESKMINI A300
CPU: Ryzen 3200G
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 2 x 4GB SODIMM
SSD: Depends on how much I'd be writing
That comes out to something like $350 more or less depending on SSD size and speed.
It's not just heavy text (novels/book) editing that I'm doing. I'm also working on the browser, plenty of websites and services simultaneously - that's why im aiming for high-res.

As for the CPU... 100% an overkill, but for that price? ;) Where im from (Israel), the Ryzen 3200g costs $115. The 3400g costs $197. The i3-10100 is $160. Then again for the i9-9900 from Intel Employee Program I'll pay $260. Would you still pick the 3200g?
 

Regev

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Btw can anybody shed some light on the current state of things when it comes to security and vulnerability issues of AMD/Intel ? YBtheS said "I don't know much about their security problems other than the fact that they fixed many of them which caused their processors to become slower. This is because they had to remove some features that sped up the CPU to achieve this."
 

YBtheS

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It's not just heavy text (novels/book) editing that I'm doing. I'm also working on the browser, plenty of websites and services simultaneously - that's why im aiming for high-res.
Fair enough

As for the CPU... 100% an overkill, but for that price? ;) Where im from (Israel), the Ryzen 3200g costs $115. The 3400g costs $197. The i3-10100 is $160. Then again for the i9-9900 from Intel Employee Program I'll pay $260. Would you still pick the 3200g?
Ah yah I forgot about differing prices in different places. If I were in your shoes, it would depend on what I plan on doing in the future to decide which CPU. If I know that I will only ever do text editing for the rest of the computers lifetime than I'd go with the cheapest thing that I can get that will be fast at doing the task. The 3200G or Athlon 3000G sound like good contenders for that. I suspect that with a better processor, sometimes you might feel a difference between one of those CPUs and a 9900 but mostly you won't. That's just my guess though. The 9900 is over double the cost with potentially negligible performance increases in the tasks you want to do.

On the contrary, if I cared about doing other stuff aside from text editing with my computer I would then consider more options such as the 9900.
 

Regev

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thanks man!
Let's see:
Gaming? if ill feel the itch, Cloud Gaming will be there. Video editing? 100% none. Photo editing? 90% none, perhaps some basic stuff. Programming? I'd say 50% I'll delve into it again to some degree, nothing too crazy. Mostly just writing and managing a gazillion open tabs on the browser.
Don't forget the resell value :) my previous iMac I bought for $2700 and sold after a year for $2550.
 

YBtheS

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If it's just non-intensive programming then the Ryzen 3200G or the Athlon 3000G will do just fine. I don't know much about reselling and depreciation so I don't know what a use CPU would cost a few years down the line. If you really think that the 9900 is more economical then go for it.
 

jglen490

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For writing and research, an i9 is overkill, but at the price that you can get it at, nothing to worry about. If you have multiple pages of one or more documents open simultaneously, then a 30" monitor makes sense even at close range. Just make sure it's a good quality monitor, even at 4k.

For a good quality publishing software system, your biggest asset will be having as much RAM as you can afford, and very good graphics hardware. Most motherboards come with a decent GPU, but a dedicated graphics card, will likely be more stable and responsive.

Buy the very best for what you really need for the present, by the time you are overwhelming that hardware, stuff that is not on the market right now will become available and the stuff you have won't be worth much except for maybe flea market prices. Stick with SSD/NVMe storage (for now), so much more responsive, and prices are pretty decent. You can use a spinner for archiving old stuff if you want, but EVERYTHING electronic has a shelf life, so keep up with that too.

This machine is the tool for your vocation, while not truly an investment in itself, it is an investment in support of your work.
 

Regev

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For a good quality publishing software system, your biggest asset will be having as much RAM as you can afford, and very good graphics hardware. Most motherboards come with a decent GPU, but a dedicated graphics card, will likely be more stable and responsive.
Thanks for the feedback!
What do you mean by a "good quality publishing software system" - why will I need a dedicated graphic card at all for a publishing software (text manipulation) ?
 

jglen490

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Well, maybe I have it wrong, but the text editing part is not too much of a load, while the publishing software generates files that are not textual. If you don't do the publishing part, but someone else does, then just a good word processor is all you need.
 

Regev

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Well, maybe I have it wrong, but the text editing part is not too much of a load, while the publishing software generates files that are not textual. If you don't do the publishing part, but someone else does, then just a good word processor is all you need.
the files are .mobi and .epub and pdf, for Printed versions we send the text to a place that layouts everything and sends for printing.
 


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