Time to upgrade my desktop PC, which - unlike most people - I do very rarely, which also means that I'm currently quite out of practice with buying new HW.

My computing and graphics needs are not great, so the only reason to upgrade is software's ever growing need for memory. My current PC is now 10ish years old and it reached its 16GiB RAM limit years ago. The OS I run is Fedora 28 (usually upgraded by 2 versions at once), I have 2 WD's 4TiB SATA disks in it (WDC WD4003FZEX-00Z4SA0 and WDC WD40EZRX-00SPEB0), and it's all packed in a very traditional midi tower case.

I prefer to not buy a completely new computer, but only replace the components. Therefore, my major aim is a new motherboard with some serious RAM support, a decent CPU (I'd consider two if not too expensive), and anything I'm forced to replace/add to the mix.

I found ASUS Z10PE-D16 WS, which should be possible to upgrade with more memory for many years. Right now, I'd likely go for 2xCrucial CT64G4LFQ4266 DDR4 64 GB LRDIMM and buy more when this becomes too little. I don't insist on 1 TiB RAM support on the motherboard, but 256 GiB or more would be very welcome.

My first question is: would the above work OK together, on Fedora? Further, are there better suggestions (for example, cheaper ones that don't perform significantly worse), while maintaining upgradeablity of RAM, to avoid the hassle of motherboard shopping in long term.

The second question is obvious: whatever the motherboard suggestion is, which CPU would you suggest with it? I'm looking for a nice balance of power and price since, like I said above, I don't need high-end computing power.

Once the above is decided on, I also need to decide about graphics. I have no interest in high end gaming/rendering GPU, but I do need decent support for 2 screens (Dell U2311H; each supports VGA, DVI-D, and DisplayPort). My current motherboard (HP 3647h) has this built in, but it seems that it's now considered wiser to have a separate graphics card, and most people seem to think that AMD works best with Linux. My third question: what would be a good recommendation in this department?

Last, but not least, do I need to look for a new power supply, or my 10 years old one should work? If I need a new one, what would the recommendations be? My current one shows "not specified" for all fields provided by dmidecode --type 39, including the name and the manufacturer, and it's kinda hard to reach it at the moment.

Bonus points: it'd be nice if all of the recommended stuff was available on AmazonUK, since I feel quite confident with their return policy.

  • As far as the graphics go, you don't actually need to buy a dedicated card, unless you're planning to do something serious with it. The ones provided by the MB normally work fine for everyday use -- my heuristic is, only buy a graphics card if there is something I can't do with the one provided by the MB. As far as the power supply, ordinary power supplies fail within 12 yrs: so I would replace it one way or another-- might as well do it once you know which MB and CPU it would have to power. eVGA power supplies have 12 yr warranty: I have been very pleased with their performance and support – Alex Nov 12 '18 at 5:26
  • Also, I'd like to point out that, the hardware you're looking for is quite high-end. Fedora is pretty rare, but I happen to have a lot of experience with Fedora -- but, nothing near the specs you're talking about. I've left my two pence; so if noone else answers, you'll know why. In that case, please update us on what you've tried, so we can help future people in the same situation. – Alex Nov 12 '18 at 5:33
  • @Alex Thank you. I'd go for lower end stuff, but couldn't really find something with abundance of memory. As for the builtin vs. separate GPU, I think that none of the MBs I found support dual screens. – Vedran Šego Nov 12 '18 at 10:56
  • @Alex Given that the OP will probably be looking at workstation/server (or derivative) gear, a dedicated GPU will probably be required, since they don't have onboard ones. OP, would you be willing to buy used? Especially for high-memory workloads, used server gear can offer great value. Also, what are you doing with your machine? That's a lot of RAM, and I want to make sure your workload really needs it. Also, if you could take a picture/give the model of your PSU, I could more easily say if you need an upgrade or not. – JMY1000 Nov 26 '18 at 21:42
  • @JMY1000, it's not that much the matter of immediate need as is the reluctance to by new MB+proc+... whenever I want to upgrade memory. I could easily go for 64GiB, maybe even 32GiB. I just want to go through this is rarely as possible. Like I wrote in the question, my current PC is 10ish years old. It didn't start with 16GiB, but the fact that I could upgrade saved me time, effort, and money, which is why I'm willing to go for a bit more expensive to save in the longer term. I don't have much experience with used HW. Could I expect it to live long enough? – Vedran Šego Nov 27 '18 at 21:49

Since it sounds like you're just looking for a basic Linux box that has the RAM and processor for some work as a basic server and high-end workstation, is that correct?

Assuming so, pretty much anything from either major manufacturer (AMD, Intel) will do the job. AMD tends to be a little cheaper on the processor for a little less performance (not like the old K6-2 days where they were always superior to Intel) and both companies make phenomenal multi-core processors. The flagship of the Intel line is the i9 series, but I recommend anyone that isn't using the computer for enterprise-level stuff go with an i7 for the value - to - performance as you won't see much of a difference unless you really tax that thing. I use an i7-8700k overclocked to 5.3 ghz and it's a good value for the processor. AMD's ThreadRipper is an amazing home server core, but is really more in competition with Xeons than it is the i-series. Both companies now have video processing on-die so no video card is necessary, especially if your motherboard has more than one VGA, DVI, Displayport, etc. You can just plug one into each connection.

Motherboards are basically Manufacturer + features. Reliability isn't much of a measure here until you dive into the "nobody" boards. Just pick the Asus, Gigabyte, etc. board of your choice based on features.

Processor frequencies aren't moving much because of both heat and the lack of need over the last several years. They consume less power now, but require cleaner power to perform well. Your old PSU might work, but I wouldn't risk it, not when you can get a brand spanking new 650w EVGA Bronze PSU for about 60 bucks on sale. it's also possible your old PSU doesn't have the second power connector for the motherboard, which won't stop the computer from working but it will make it less stable and prone to clocking itself down.

16GB of RAM is now the "High End Standard" for home users. 8GB is the standard for retail. 32GB is for gamers and enthusiasts and we don't even use that much, 64GB is for people with more money and need for bragging rights than sense, and anything above that is for server work and massive, multiple-application environments like running VMWare hosts.

If I were you, I'd scale down the requirements and spend more money on storage. That's the new nightmare for computer users; local storage runs out really fast in the age of selfies and downloading everything and sharing memes and larger software. Visual Studio on Windows 10 by itself takes up 20GB with some of the features installed.

  • 1
    "AMD tends to be a little cheaper on the processor for a little less performance." It's more complicated than that, by a good bit. Right now, a better summary would probably be "AMD tends to be much cheaper on per-core basis at the cost of some single threaded performance." Processor frequencies are still going up, just slower. I generally agree with your summary on memory usage, but it really does depend on workload. – JMY1000 Nov 26 '18 at 21:45
  • What about heating? Last time I shopped for HW, AMDs were pretty much cooking devices. :-) – Vedran Šego Nov 27 '18 at 21:50
  • AMD's native heat management is pretty good, but I recommend the Noctua D-15 or D-15S to anyone. It's under $100 and cools on air so well that I keep my i7 overclocked to 5.3Ghz on the regular. Now it's the go-to for my air-cooled builds. It also has AMD brackets and Noctua supplies adapters to its customers if you move it to a processor that has a newer fitting than it would have been in the package. – CDove Nov 28 '18 at 13:03

After some reconsideration, prompted by the responses above, I went with 64GiB with no space to upgrade, which really does seem more than enough, even in long term. (It's not "for bragging"... I simply hate it when system starts swapping and I want to postpone the next hardware upgrade as much as possible :-))

I also discovered System Builder, a site that many of you are likely familiar with, which greatly simplified choosing of components, as my greatest problem was "will the components that I pick work together?".

I ended up taking these, plus some no-name tower when I realised that my previous one has a built-in back mask (for motherboard's plugs) which suits only my previous motherboard. I never saw that before and didn't think to check before starting the assembly.

A big thanks to @CDove for the helpful reply, and to others who gave useful comments.

P.S. It seems wrong to accept my own answer, especially when there is a helpful one above, yet it is this one that describes what I went with in the end. What is customary on this site in these cases?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.